Blog/John Virgo: Illness and missing out on the 2020 World Championship
John Virgo: Illness and missing out on the 2020 World Championship
3 min read

John Virgo: Illness and missing out on the 2020 World Championship

3 min read
john-virgo-illness
Eloise BrattSep 15, 2021

John Virgo's health status and mystery illness have been widely speculated after his absence from the BBC coverage of the 2020 World Championship. Thrillz investigates.

A bit about John Virgo

John Virgo is a former snooker player and current English commentator and TV personality.

His first notable appearance in a major tournament was during the 1973 American Pool Tournament for The Indoor League where he lost during the semi-final. He turned professional in 1976 and his popularity increased even more after his win at the 1979 UK Championship.

In 1993 he failed to qualify for main events at the UK Championship which led to his retirement in 1994 after almost four decades in the game.

John Virgo then continued his career as a TV personality and commentator.

John Virgo reached the semi-final of the World Championship in 1979 (Image credit: Getty/Contributor)
John Virgo reached the semi-final of the World Championship in 1979 (Image credit: Getty/Contributor)

Does John Virgo have an illness?

During the 2020 World Championship John Virgo's absence became apparent straight away to fans. This in turn led to speculation that the commentator was not present due to an illness.

However, this was not the case. The actual reason for John's absence was due to coronavirus restrictions. He was in Spain and due to Government rules regarding the pandemic, he could not be present in Sheffield for the coverage. Stand-in presenter Jason Mohammad confirmed this.

Instead, the BBC did a video call with him as part of the channel’s tribute to Willie Thorne who had passed away a month prior.

John Virgo and Willie Thorne were good friends (Image credit: Adrian Murrell/Getty Images)
John Virgo and Willie Thorne were good friends (Image credit: Adrian Murrell/Getty Images)

Why was John Virgo not at the 2020 World Championship?

John Virgo was in Orihuela, Spain attending the memorial service of his long-time friend and fellow snooker player, Willie Thorne, who died aged 66 on June 17 from septic shock during chemotherapy treatment for leukemia.

John, who is a Manchester United supporter, voiced his disagreement that the Real Madrid team were allowed into the UK to play against Manchester City in the Champions League on August 7 without having to go into isolation, while he would have to isolate for 14 days upon arrival from Spain.

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He told the BetFred podcast: “The 14 days isolation arriving in the UK from Spain doesn’t apply to the Real Madrid team arriving in Manchester.”

“I’m a British citizen and I pay my taxes – it’s a case of one rule for them and another for me,” said John. “I suppose that’s life."

He said: "Thanks for all the nice words. Strange world at the moment, I am missing being there, but what a great tournament it's been."

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TV presenter Hazel Irvine was also absent from the World Championship. Jason Mohammad said her absence was due to a family illness and wished her all the best.

John Virgo is now a TV snooker commentator. He works primarily during the BBC coverage of ranking events. He was also co-presenter of the snooker-based TV game show Big Break with Jim Davidson from 1991 to 2002. He coined the catchphrase "Pot as many balls as you can" in reply to Jim Davidson, when asked each week to explain the rules to the snooker players on the show.

John Virgo appeared as a co-host on BBC TV's Big Break (Image credit: BBC)
John Virgo appeared as a co-host on BBC TV's Big Break (Image credit: BBC)

John is also well known for shouting "Where's the cueball going?" during his commentaries, whenever the cueball looks as though it may go into one of the pockets. He would also shout a similar phrase if one of the colours looked like it was getting too close to a pocket.

While you're here

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Eloise Bratt
Eloise BrattContent Creator
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