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
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.
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
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 Best of 35's have been replaced by best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?