BBC criticised for taking five-hour snooker game off air seven minutes before end

BBC criticised for taking five-hour snooker game off air seven minutes before end
Mark Selby shakes hands with John Higgins at the end of their match at the York Barbican. Photo: Mike Egerton/PA

Angry armchair snooker fans criticised BBC coverage of the sport after a five-hour match at the UK Championship was taken off air moments before the winning balls were potted.

A tense quarter-final between world champion Mark Selby and John Higgins was locked at 5-5 when BBC2 stopped its broadcast to allow Strictly Come Dancing spin-off show Strictly: It Takes Two to start in its scheduled 6pm slot.

Selby was 44-39 ahead in the deciding frame, and seven minutes later his 6-5 victory was complete.

The BBC2 coverage had started at 1pm, and snooker continued on the red button, and on Eurosport.

On social media, critics of the BBC decision suggested the popular dancing show should have been delayed.

One Twitter user - @SalisJack - wrote: "BBC leaving it there? Invested 5 hours in a decider? Quick switch to Eurosport."

Another, Darren Belfast LFC (@ddot42), wrote: "Eurosport does not leave a brilliant game of snooker to talk about celebrity wannabes talk about dancing. You're a disgrace. @BBCSnooker"

BBC presenter Jason Mohammad replied to frustrated fan @chrisroberts405, who wrote to him: "How bad is BBC at snooker? Taken off at 5 each, I don't have the red button so I'm snookered. Terrible coverage."

Mohammad wrote back: "Never easy Chris but we had to leave for Strictly"

When asked about BBC2's decision to leave the snooker, Selby jokingly said: "I'm not surprised. I think if I was sat at home watching the last few frames I'd have probably flicked it off as well."

Update 11.30pm: A BBC spokesperson said in a statement to Press Association Sport: "We are obviously disappointed that we weren't able to show the conclusion of this match on BBC Two but after extending coverage for a few minutes we had to switch to the scheduled live Strictly it takes Two so we continued coverage of the snooker on the red button."

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