Steve Davis, OBE
, was born in 1957, and has won the World Snooker
Championships six times (1981, 1983, 1984, 1987 and 1989). Although he didn't win in 1982, he made the first ever perfect 147
break in a major tournament match in that year, against John Spencer
(who was presumably bored, then incredulous, then despairing).
It's hard to express how famous Steve Davis was in the 80s. Snooker had been televised since the early 70s, but it wasn't until the 80s that it took off in the public imagination. People watched it because of the personalities - there was Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins, the 'bad boy' of snooker; Jimmy 'Whirlwind' White, the wild-haired perpetual bridesmaid, always losing by a fraction; and at the top of the heap was Steve 'Interesting' Davis, n-times world champion (although, like the World Series, all the players in this 'world championship' seemed to be British).
What was the key to Davis' appeal? Simply the fact that he was almost surreally normal. He was gangly and looked as if born to be an Advanced Dungeons and Dragons fan, or to collect model trains, and in interviews he had a droning voice, and appeared blandly pleasant - not a bad thing, of course.
Britain produces personally uninteresting sportspeople. Both Nigel Mansell and Nick Faldo have won the BBC's 'Sports Personality of the Year' poll, despite seeming not to possess a shred of personality. Davis also appeared uninteresting, but in an interesting way, and furthermore he seemed aware of this and unashamed. This lack of shame was crucial. You can get away with anything if you don't show shame. Way back in the 80s we all accepted Davis because he was one of us, in a way that very few television celebrities and sportspeople are nowadays. He appealed to those of us who know our limitiations.