Snooker's man on the mic

Rob Walker is the man on the mic at the World Snooker Championship. Richard Hercock reports.

He started the week ringside in Las Vegas with Joe Calzaghe, finished it at the World Snooker Championship in Sheffield; life is varied for Rob Walker.

You might not recognise the name, but you will nod knowingly when you see the face and jump out of your seat when he booms his voice across the room.

For Walker is a former BBC journalist who is now a freelance reporter, coupled with the more public role of MC. It's a career which has taken him around the world covering all the major sporting events, even ones a little obscure.

For the football World Cup he did a one-man series, flying to all of England's opponents to do a on-the-spot report. And it really was one man and his camera, 38,000 miles in 28 days.

"I was working 12-hour days, filming, editing and reporting," said Walker.

"Diary of a World Cup Tourist" was a piece I made for the BBC1 Football World Cup highlights shows. It involved me previewing every England game from the opposition country. My broadcasts from Paraguay, Trinidad, Sweden, Ecuador and Portugal, gave an unusual angle to the World Cup and was extremely cost effective.

"Having network producing experience also means I have a clear idea of what is needed to make an item work, without a producer having to accompany me on a shoot. It's a fantastic way to make a living."

Well the Crucible is a long way from Ecuador, but Walker is the MC at the World Championship, the presenter with the patter who introduces the players to the theatre audience and watching millions on TV.

So how does a straight-laced BBC man turn into a larger-than-life character, an MC?

"It's just an extension of being a reporter," he said. "It's broadcasting, and something I really enjoy. It's good fun.

"I only have one gear, I'm just full on," added Walker, who has been the MC at several snooker tournaments this season and hopes to secure a long-term deal with World Snooker for next season.

Walker had to miss the first couple of days in Sheffield, as he was the ringside reporter for Setanta at the Joe Calzaghe fight in Vegas.

"That could have been the last British fight for some time in Vegas," said Walker. "Working on that fight was one of the most exciting things I have done in my career." High praise when you consider Walker is a veteran of events like the Olympics, football and rugby World Cups and the World Athletics Championships.

This summer he will be presenting a triathlon series for Channel 4 as well as travelling to Beijing to cover this year's Olympics, working for the BBC as their sailing reporter.

But what's he like away from the cameras?

"At home I'm just an ordinary guy, although sometimes I do run through my routine in the shower."