World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn has lodged a complaint with the BBC after it pulled the plug on coverage of Ronnie O'Sullivan's opening Crucible match last night when victory was in sight.

Rather than show O'Sullivan polish off a first-round Betfair World Championship win in his first match since announcing his comeback, BBC2 switched to show a repeat of Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em.

Sports fans expressed anger on social networks when the BBC left the snooker at 8pm to screen the vintage comedy re-run, as per its schedule.

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It was also unavailable on the 'red button' service, with the BBC website the only medium through which to view O'Sullivan complete a 10-4 win against Marcus Campbell.

The complaints were founded on the notion that the BBC could have shown flexibility in order to complete its coverage of a match it began showing at 10am.

Hearn was alerted to the issue and today wrote on Twitter: "Sorry to all snooker fans for the poor BBC coverage last night. Letter of complaint sent to BBC today."

World Snooker and the BBC have a close working relationship, and Hearn knows its importance to snooker, indicating his criticism today was considered.

The BBC recently signed up as host broadcaster of the World Championship, UK Championship and Masters tournaments until the end of the 2016-17 season.

Jason Ferguson, chairman of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA), welcomed the public response to the BBC's scheduling decision.

Ferguson wrote on Twitter: "Snooker Fans, World Snooker letter of complaint has been filed with the BBC over yesterdays coverage, thanks everyone for your comments."

The BBC was expected to respond to Hearn's remarks.