Peter Ebdon arrived at Alexandra Palace in good time for his debut full live commentary stint with the BBC alongside Dennis Taylor for the Stuart Bingham v Ding Junhui evening first-round match on opening Sunday.

Being a former world champion, Ebdon very much fitted the mould for recent BBC appointments in the role, and Taylor and fellow former Crucible king and broadcaster John Parrott spent time reassuring Ebdon in the salubrious surroundings of the media centre canteen area before he took up his place in the booth.

For Parrott, this consisted mainly of telling Ebdon that Taylor once couldn’t speak in the commentary box with a large boiled sweet in his mouth, which led to the wise-cracking Scouser immediately offering him another one.

But Taylor had his own victory to celebrate, having finally won a battle lasting several years with the bean-counters to install some more comfortable chairs for the late-night finishes.

Ebdon was helpfully told by the press that swearing, shouting ‘Vegan Power’ at full volume and discussing the merits of organic carrots were all de rigeur as a commentator – advice he wisely chose to ignore.


There is plenty of intrigue over which of the former world champions no longer on the tour will take advantage of Barry Hearn’s offer and assume their place in qualifying for this year’s World Championship at the Crucible.

Joe Johnson was cagey on the question on the eve of the German Masters, but we here at Inside Snooker are still putting him down as a probable, along with Steve Davis and Dennis Taylor. For the last two mentioned that would have extra poignancy (and hopefully column inches) given it is the 30th anniversary of their epic final battle.

Cliff Thorburn remains a possibility, John Parrott an outside chance and Terry Griffiths a likely non-starter.

Much of the focus will be on Stephen Hendry’s intentions, but the Scot, a record seven-time winner in Sheffield, continues to tease the snooker public – dropping the odd hint that he misses the competition, but also insisting that he has nothing to prove and will not be making a comeback as a mere PR stunt and prelude to a big and embarrassing defeat.

There is also some speculation that contractual issues with his current paymasters at a rival Chinese table manufacturer might make it difficult to play in a Star tables tournament, but presumably even if true those could be negotiated if the will was there.


Masters week often coincides with Dennis Taylor’s birthday, an event that sees the 1985 world champion being taken out for a meal by his fellow commentators and pundits.

This year Northern Ireland’s Taylor was actually due to turn 66 on the Monday following the final, so fellow former Crucible king and BBC stalwart Ken Doherty took it on himself to make the arrangements for the Friday night when the pair were off duty.

And for a brief moment earlier in the week the media centre went all ‘showbiz’ with the visiting Andy Goldstein offering a helping hand getting a Friday night reservation at the very sought-after Berners Tavern on Berners Street in the upmarket Fitzrovia district of London off Oxford Street.

One phone call from the talkSPORT, Eurosport and Sky presenter later and Taylor’s night was all sorted.