Snooker fans outraged as BBC axes star Willie Thorne after 30 years

Shocked Thorne, 63, was dumped after more than 30 years with the broadcaster. Yesterday fellow stars hit out as snooker fans called for a boycott of BBC coverage of the sport, branding the decision “a disgrace”.

Willie, a former Strictly Come Dancing star, said he was now facing a bleak festive season.

He had been preparing to commentate at next month’s UK Championships in York and next year’s world event in Sheffield.

Thorne, who has been battling cancer, said: “I was told by the BBC that they wanted to change tack… I’m almost speechless. It was income I expected for Christmas.”

Fellow BBC commentator and seven-times world champion Stephen Hendry branded the move a “bad decision”.

Hendry, 48, wrote on Twitter: “Gutted my friend Willie will not be at York and Sheffield.” Snooker fan Alastair Rutherford said: “We will get you back on our screens soon Willie! BBC needs boycotting! Total disgrace!”

Keith Knight wrote: “You are the Peter Alliss of snooker. Another baffling decision by those employed via the TV licence.”

Overwhelmed Thorne wrote on Twitter: “Thank you for all the kind messages. Appreciate that you thought I was OK at my job. Loved every minute.”

Thorne, from Leicester, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2015. He had previously made a suicide attempt after racking up gambling debts of £1million and becoming bankrupt.

Last night a BBC spokesman said: “This is an editorial decision. Willie has done a great job and we wish him well in the future.”

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