Former Blue Peter Presenter Radzi Relishing Challenge Of Being Snooker's Fresh Face

The former children's TV presenter is now indulging in his sporting passion
12:10, 25 Nov 2021

Radzi Chinyanganya is the new face of snooker at Eurosport, the broadcaster that devotes more hours to the sport than any other during the season. And the youthful former Blue Peter presenter is fired up by the challenge of luring in new viewers to the current core TV audience, and also working with “genius” Ronnie O’Sullivan in the studio. 

The 34-year-old admits it was a “no-brainer” accepting the role when offered it after working with parent company Discovery during the summer’s delayed Olympic Games in Tokyo. And fronting coverage of the Triple Crown tournaments - snooker’s Holy Trinity of Betfred World Championship, Cazoo UK Championship and Masters – combines career move with a lifelong passion. 

It has been a turbulent few months in the Eurosport studio, who unlike the BBC also cover many of the other, less high-profile events during the campaign including the Home Nations tournaments. Former lead presenter Colin Murray stepped down in May after the blue-riband tournament at the Crucible to focus on his EFL work with Quest, and BBC Radio Five Live commitments. 

But with a vacancy for the No1 spot open, more of a surprise was the sudden departure of No2 presenter Andy Goldstein just a couple of days before the Northern Ireland Open, with the talkSPORT radio presenter announcing he wanted to focus on a new position hosting the Drive Time show in the afternoon slot. 

Former roving reporter Rachel Casey performed so strongly coming in for the Home Nation events that she has secured that number two position. But the whispers behind the scenes were always that a new face would come in at the helm, and so it proved with Radzi having worked on the snooker for the BBC as well as having many other sporting credits at both summer and winter Olympics, and the World Championship athletics. 

Any TV studios in Sheffield, York, Alexandra Palace or Chiswick are unlikely to throw up quite the same level of adrenaline-fuelled stunts as Radzi undertook on the long-running kids magazine programme. Those included skydiving from 13,000 feet and climbing the world’s tallest man-made climbing wall. All good experience to have in the locker if the Rocket and fellow pundit Jimmy White start getting lively. 

Radzi, born in Oxford and raised in Wolverhampton, with family in both Scotland and Zimbabwe, said: “The opportunity came about after working in Tokyo at the Olympic Games for Discovery and Eurosport. They knew I had a massive passion for snooker, one that not everyone my age has. For me it was an absolute no-brainer.  

“I was just a little sad leaving the BBC snooker coverage as I have learned so much from legends like Hazel Irvine. 

“Seldom in TV do you get this sort of opportunity cropping have where you get a bit of a blank canvas. I want to make it inclusive but also a destination that real fans can go to and not be patronised. Eurosport give people more freedom to try things. 

“If we’re talking about widening the appeal, there is no doubt I have interests that might raise eyebrows. I like wrestling and watch a lot of WWE. Sometimes people say ‘You do know it’s not real, don’t you – it’s fake?’ And I occasionally react and say ‘Did you see such and such a film last night – you know that’s not real?’ It is entertainment. 

“Sometimes I’ll say ‘I love the snooks’ and I’ll get back ‘You’re joking aren’t you?’ So for me it is about conveying a passion, because passion is contagious. The person at the helm has a big responsibility. As well as the nitty gritty, I want to know what goes through players’ heads at all times of a match, or how they react to certain situations or make choices and judgments. 

“If 20 seconds of us just happens to grab someone’s attention, they might hang around and watch a frame. I want to make snooker more clickable and add younger fans to the existing audience. 

Despite a lack of prowess on the green baize - Radzi reckons his highest break might be 22 – the on-screen relationship with O’Sullivan promises much, with the pair sharing also a deep love of athletics. And the broadcaster is hoping to quickly add to his list of highs in sports coverage. 

Radzi added: “If anyone had said to me in say 2008 when I was at university that in 13 years’ time I’d be working alongside Ronnie O’Sullivan, I’d have said you were winding me up. He is the man. On the table is unparalleled, unplayable sometimes, unprecedented. A six-time world champion, seven-time UK champion and seven-time Masters champion with 37 ranking title wins. He is a genius. 

“But off the table he is great to talk to about all sorts of things nothing to do with snooker. I talk to him a lot about athletics which is a shared passion. And he just sees the game and interprets things differently to almost any other player. Jimmy White is a rock star of snooker – while Alan McManus is the brains of the studio. With Neal Foulds there as well, it’s a dream team. 

“In terms of a highlight so far, I got to interview Eliud Kipchoge, the first person to do that after he crossed the finish line having run a sub two-hour marathon. My dad, who was from Zimbabwe and passed away a few years ago, got me into athletics.  

“And I stood there with Wilson Kipketer, who was the 800m world record holder and still the 800m indoor world record holder that me and my dad watched him break – seeing Eliud make history himself and my dad would have loved that. Also up there are at the Winter Olympics in was handing to the skeleton men’s final in Pyonchang in 2018. I tried to make the 2014 team in skeleton bob myself but it didn’t happen. And so I wasn’t in it taking part, but at least I was involved.” 

*Radzi Chinyanganya will present Eurosport’s coverage of the Cazoo UK Championship from November 27th. Stream the UK Championship LIVE on Discovery+ and Eurosport app from November 23rd*

**Image credit: Nathan Cox**

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