Whirlpools World

Snooker stars and fans were shocked as the BBC suddenly axed popular Willie Thorne from his job at the microphone commentating on the sport’s top two events.

The 63-year-old former professional player had been preparing for next month’s UK Championships in York and the world competition in Sheffield next year – leaving him with just a job at February’s Welsh open.

Willie, who has starred on BBC hit Strictly Come Dancing, has undergone a series of personal problems, including a battle against cancer, and admitted he was stunned.

He used social media to announce the news: “I was told by the BBC that they wanted to change tack…I’m almost speechless; it was income I expected for Christmas.”

Fans called for a boycott of BBC coverage of the sport, describing the decision as “a disgrace”; snooker stars and broadcasting colleagues underlining Willie was “one of the best” – former world champion Stephen Hendry underlining he was “gutted”.

Despite problems with a gambling habit and suffering from depression – making a suicide bid as debts mounted and being rescued by his wife – Willie has remained one of the sport’s most respected voices.

He later thanked everyone for their support and said he loved every minute of the job but was at a loss as to why the axe fell – the BBC later saying it was “an editorial decision” but wishing Willie well in the future after doing “a great job”.

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