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In the late 1960's television was actively seeking low budget programmes to which colour was intrinsic. The strategy was to increase the sales of colour TV sets, by providing audiences with programmes utilising colour. Clearly snooker was an ideal choice, as the game could only be enjoyed on screen if viewers could differentiate coloured balls from each other.

After some deliberation a producer of BBC, Philip Lewis, devised a competition using a one-frame format and Coined the title 'Pot Black'. Recording at the BBC's studios in Birmingham then began and on the 23rd July 1969 the first televised programme of Pot Black went out on BBC 2, the only television channel on which colour was available.

Expectations for the new programme were not high. Snooker had not been marketed professionally for so long that it was hard to quantify what the response from the general public would be like. Surprisingly, the programme raced to second place in the BBC2 ratings, demonstrating that the potential televised audience for snooker was greater than previously imagined. This illustrated the fact that televised snooker was primed for growth and could command huge viewing figures if properly presented.

The one frame, once a week, televised format worked well but how could it be adapted for championship snooker and matches of longer duration? Professional snooker could not see pass this hurdle, as it feared losing credibility if matches were made shorter to fit in with the schedules of busy television companies.

Over time the reluctance to reduce the length of matches was overcome by the need for snooker to be promoted via the television. This was a necessity if the game was to attract corporate sponsors and advertising and to ultimately be recognised as a main stream sport, by the British public.

Shorter matches were introduced and are now the norm in most competitions. Best of 35's have been replaced by best of 7's and 9's, often to the detriment of tournaments. Televised snooker is now commonplace on both terrestrial and satellite television and is broadcast to a world wide audience.

Who would have thought that Pot Black in the 1960's would play such an important part?

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