Pot Black

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Pot Black

Pot Black was a UK television snooker tournament that played a large part in the popularisation of the modern game.

In the late 1960s the BBC started broadcasting in colour, and were looking for programmes that could exploit this new technology. The game of snooker, with its multi-coloured balls, was suggested. The format of a knockout tournament, with weekly single-frame matches, was devised by BBC Birmingham producer Philip Lewis, and the programme first aired on July 23, 1969, on BBC2. The first tournament was won by Ray Reardon.

The success of Pot Black was immediate and phenomenal, and it became the second most popular programme on BBC2. Matches always ended with the potting of the black ball, which is often not bothered with in multi-frame matches.

Pot Black ran from 1969 to 1986, by which time professional snooker, with its long matches, had become so popular that the single-frame matches that Pot Black offered seemed almost irrelevant. There was a single "time-frame" tournament in 1991. A junior version, called Junior Pot Black, ran from 1981.

Pot Black's instantly recognisable theme tune was the ragtime classic Black And White Rag, composed by George Botsford and performed by Winifred Atwell.

It is often said that Pot Black is responsible for producing one of the most memorable British sports quotes. Legendary commentator "Whispering" Ted Lowe, aware that not all viewers had colour televisions, said "Steve is going for the pink ball - and for those of you who are watching in black and white, the pink is next to the green.". However, this quote is quite possibly apocryphal and even if Lowe did say it on air then it was more likely to have occurred during a live snooker match, and not during the pre-recorded Pot Black.

Pot Black featured all the top players of its time, among them many well-loved personalities such as Fred Davis, Ray Reardon, Graham Miles and Alex Higgins. Pot Black helped transform snooker from a minority sport with just a handful of professionals into one of the most popular sports in the UK, where every tournament is fiercely contested and the top players earn millions annually, but there is much nostalgia for the simpler, friendlier days of Pot Black.


Year Winner Opponent Final score
1969 Ray Reardon John Spencer 88 - 29 (points)
1970 John Spencer Ray Reardon 88 - 27 (points)
1971 John Spencer Fred Davis 61 - 40 (points)
1972 Eddie Charlton Ray Reardon 75 - 43 (points)
1973 Eddie Charlton Rex Williams 93 - 33 (points)
1974 Graham Miles John Spencer 147 - 86 (points from 2 frames)
1975 Graham Miles Dennis Taylor 81 - 27 (points)
1976 John Spencer Dennis Taylor 69 - 42 (points)
1977 Perrie Mans Doug Mountjoy 90 - 21 (points)
1978 Doug Mountjoy Graham Miles 2 - 1 (frames)
1979 Ray Reardon Doug Mountjoy 2 - 1 (frames)
1980 Eddie Charlton Ray Reardon 2 - 1 (frames)
1981 Cliff Thorburn Jim Wych 2 - 0 (frames)
1982 Steve Davis Eddie Charlton 2 - 0 (frames)
1983 Steve Davis Ray Reardon 2 - 0 (frames)
1984 Terry Griffiths John Spencer 2 - 1 (frames)
1985 Doug Mountjoy Jimmy White 2 - 0 (frames)
1986 Jimmy White Kirk Stevens 2 - 0 (frames)
1991 Steve Davis Stephen Hendry 2 - 1 (frames)

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