While the majority of the snooker fraternity is battling it out in Antwerp this weekend, a six-time world champion is lapping it up in a luxurious 5-star hotel in Australia.
Of course, that will only last for a couple more days as Steve Davis will begin his quest to become King of the Jungle on ITV’s I’m a Celebrity, Get me Out of here.
This isn’t the first time that a snooker player has taken part on the reality TV show that pits familiar faces with an outback jungle experience – Bushtucker Trials and all.
Jimmy White appeared on the show a few years ago and, despite appearing to do little other than retrieve water from the well, finished a highly respectable third, perhaps highlighting just how popular he remains with the British public.
While the ‘Whirlwind’ will forever be regarded as the People’s Champion, Davis was once a revered figure as he romped his way to one championship title another.
However, as age began to creep up on the ‘Nugget’, and his appearances on the big stage became less and less, people grew to increasingly like his interesting character.
What has particularly helped this has been his stint as a snooker analyst on BBC, with his dry wit and deep knowledge for the game endearing him to many.
On a personal level, the 56 year-old’s decision to participate in this competition is a little peculiar.
At 59th in the provisional money-earned standings, he is by no means guaranteed to finish in the Top 64 places that will provide a Main Tour place again for next year – a concern that is also effecting White, as I highlighted earlier in the week.
However, it could be argued that Davis’ entry could be a good thing for snooker in general as it approaches a busy winter period.
It’s no secret the strong bond that is shared between Davis and supremo Barry Hearn – indeed, they have been friends and partners since the outset of the former’s career.
So with the inaugural Champions of Champions – also being broadcast on ITV – coinciding with I’m a Celeb’s opening week, could Hearn have asked for a little favour to help remind Joe public that snooker is still a thriving sport?
If Davis makes it far, and the bookies are tipping him to do so, a significant audience will be watching and reading about him.
If they are watching and reading about him, they will be thinking and talking about snooker.
If they are thinking and talking about snooker, there’s more likelihood that they’ll tune in and watch some.
Who knows whether this has been the reason behind Davis’ participation but Hearn is a shrewd and clever businessman, so I wouldn’t put it past him.
Furthermore, with the UK Championship and the Masters on the horizon, both televised on terrestrial BBC, there’s even more relevance to raising awareness on the topic of snooker.
At any rate, Davis has been a consummate professional for nearing four decades and has put the sport first his entire career so for anyone to question what he should or should not do at this stage of his life is laughable.
As for the show itself, I must say I’ve been a sucker in the past and succumbed to the nightly viewing, not least for the hilarity of presenting duo Ant and Dec.
Being thousands of miles away I won’t be watching any this year, but I wish Steve all the best.
Especially if he has to eat any Kangaroo testicles.
David, thanks for a very interesting article. I was surprised to read about that. Please keep us informed about Steve’s performance.
I’ll try my best but won’t be watching any of the show this year.
Sergei, are you on Twitter?
I read that you won’t be following it, but perhaps you come across any article about this on the Internet. I also do not like to watch such TV-Shows as they are not only very time consuming, but also too artificial. There are a lot of events that are far worth watching.
Yes, I am on the Twitter. My login is SMinkov.
There’s a good snooker community on Twitter. You would probably enjoy following it. Mine is @SnookerHQ