Back to the Baize…
A dramatic retelling of the ‘golden age of snooker’ might sound like an extremely tedious affair to some, but being a big fan of snooker I was interested to see how the BBC would fare with this exclusive to iplayer production.
In reality, whilst it is easy to mock snooker, Alex ‘The Hurricane’ Higgins and Barry Hearn were genuinely larger than life characters and when combined with the reserved stoicism of Steve Davies and some great cameos from Bill Werbeniuk and Cliff Thorburn, the result is a rip roaringly, funny affair.
Whilst the characters here are obviously exaggerated versions of the real life people they represent, Luke Treadaway and Will Merrick are captivating as Higgins and Davies respectively. Kevin Bishop is a little too over the top as Barry Hearn but he has a lot of fun and this is infectious, with Treadaway in particular sharing some great scenes with Bishop.
Obviously a lot of the stuff presented here simply never happened but the actual snooker itself during this time period was genuinely exciting. To have all the above also rubbing shoulders with Jimmy White made for a period almost comparable with WWF’s Attitude era in terms of charisma and drama.
The main criticism of The Rack Pack is that it never fully represents how good Higgins actually was, which is a shame because there is no doubting he was an exciting and incredibly talented player. Higgins was a performer first and a snooker player second and it is this juxtaposition that makes a biography almost easy pickings. Despite not quite doing The Hurricane justice, the BBC has done a good job with The Rack Pack. By going down the stream only route they have been able to produce something a bit more niche and challenging – The Hurricane even drops a C bomb at one point!
The Rat Pack is captivating, laugh out loud funny but also a fitting tribute to a legend. Well worth a watch.