For sports fans of a certain age, Willie Thorne was more than a household name, he was part of your life. A constant presence of BBC snooker coverage long after his playing days wound down, Thorne was also one of the foremost characters in the golden age of snooker. He was a star of trick shot specials, a regular guest on Pot Black and Big Break, and one of the central characters in Chaz and Dave's legendary song Snooker Loopy.
Sadly, the news has emerged this morning that Willie Thorne has passed away at the age of 66. In March, Thorne tweeted that he'd been diagnosed with Leukemia. Last night, surrounded by family in a hospital in Spain, Thorne went into septic shock and died.
I realise everybody is having a tough time minds just got worse I’ve been diagnosed with leukaemia I’m deveststed start chemotherapy tomorrow I’m in Spain were the health care is hopefully second to none love to you all willie x
— Willie Thorne (@TheWillieThorne) March 18, 2020
Famously, Thorne and fellow Leicester man Gary Lineker were longtime close friends and the Match of the Day presenter was among the first to express his sorrow on social media.
Deeply, deeply saddened to hear that my friend Willie Thorne has passed away. One of life’s great characters. A marvellous snooker player and a lovely man, who’s potted his final black much too soon. RIP Willie.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 17, 2020
Snooker players and fans of all ages are also waking up to the sad news.
Very sad news today,Willie was one of my favourite people in snooker.
I know he had faults and weaknesses(we all do) but he was one of the games greatest ever characters,I’ll miss him ☹️
— stephen hendry (@SHendry775) June 17, 2020
RIP @TheWillieThorne..a great Character,had some fun times in my early years,a fantastic player..Snooker has lost another star x
— Joe Swail (@joeswail) June 17, 2020
Gutted to hear that snooker legend Willie Thorne has passed away. A real character who, when in his company, had that gift of being able to light up the room. RIP Willie
— Chris Kamara (@chris_kammy) June 17, 2020
So sad to wake up to the news of the passing of Willie Thorne. Memories of happier times. RIP Willie. pic.twitter.com/Cczm0D2XUi
— Pete Conway (@poppapete299) June 17, 2020
Spent a weekend with Willie Thorne at Archerfield a few years back. A complex, and fascinating man, working on his troubles but so warm, friendly, funny and such extraordinary good company. I’m very sad to hear he’s passed. He was genuinely lovely.
— Georgie Bingham (@georgiebingham) June 17, 2020
RIP Willie Thorne, 66.
Great snooker player & a wonderful character. Sad news. pic.twitter.com/bdMtOsDnSD
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) June 17, 2020
Really sad to hear about the death of Willie Thorne. He was a big part of the golden age of snooker on TV and full of fun away from table.
— Dan Walker (@mrdanwalker) June 17, 2020
So sorry to hear of the death of Willie Thorne. Spent lots of time with him in Sheffield, and came back with so many funny, but unrepeatable stories. RIP.
— Richard Osman (@richardosman) June 17, 2020