Pot Black was a UK television snooker tournament that is the single reason for the popularity 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, presented by Alan Weeks, with match commentary by Ted Lowe. 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.

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 were no longer needed, since the game had now established a fan base. 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.".

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.

A one-day Pot Black tournament was held on October 29, 2005, and broadcast on the BBC sports programme, Grandstand. The invitational event featured eight players, namely Ronnie O'Sullivan, Stephen Hendry, Stephen Maguire, Matthew Stevens, Paul Hunter, John Higgins, Jimmy White and Shaun Murphy, with Matthew Stevens beating Shaun Murphy in the final. The tournament continued in 2006, and looks set to continue for future years in its new format. By 2006, the one-frame appeal was rekindled, because it was so different to anything else. The format was required again to offer something different.


Year Winner Score Runner Up Score
1969 Template:Flagicon Ray Reardon 88 Template:Flagicon John Spencer 29
1970 Template:Flagicon John Spencer 88 Template:Flagicon Ray Reardon 27
1971 Template:Flagicon John Spencer 61 Template:Flagicon Fred Davis 40
1972 Template:Flagicon Eddie Charlton 75 Template:Flagicon Ray Reardon 43
1973 Template:Flagicon Eddie Charlton 93 Template:Flagicon Rex Williams 33
1974 Template:Flagicon Graham Miles 147 Template:Flagicon John Spencer 86
1975 Template:Flagicon Graham Miles 81 Template:Flagicon Dennis Taylor 27
1976 Template:Flagicon John Spencer 69 Template:Flagicon Dennis Taylor 42
1977 Template:Flagicon Perrie Mans 90 Template:Flagicon Doug Mountjoy 21
1978 Template:Flagicon Doug Mountjoy 2 Template:Flagicon Graham Miles 1
1979 Template:Flagicon Ray Reardon 2 Template:Flagicon Doug Mountjoy 1
1980 Template:Flagicon Eddie Charlton 2 Template:Flagicon Ray Reardon 1
1981 Template:Flagicon Cliff Thorburn 2 Template:Flagicon Jim Wych 0
1982 Template:Flagicon Steve Davis 2 Template:Flagicon Eddie Charlton 0
1983 Template:Flagicon Steve Davis 2 Template:Flagicon Ray Reardon 0
1984 Template:Flagicon Terry Griffiths 2 Template:Flagicon John Spencer 1
1985 Template:Flagicon Doug Mountjoy 2 Template:Flagicon Jimmy White 0
1986 Template:Flagicon Jimmy White 2 Template:Flagicon Kirk Stevens 1
1991 Template:Flagicon Steve Davis 2 Template:Flagicon Stephen Hendry 1
1992 Template:Flagicon Neal Foulds   Template:Flagicon James Wattana  
1993 Template:Flagicon Steve Davis   Template:Flagicon Mike Hallett  
1997 Template:Flagicon Joe Johnson   Template:Flagicon Terry Griffiths  
2005 Template:Flagicon Matthew Stevens 53 Template:Flagicon Shaun Murphy 27
2006 Template:Flagicon Mark Williams 119 Template:Flagicon John Higgins 13
2007 Template:Flagicon Ken Doherty 71 Template:Flagicon Shaun Murphy 36

List of Snooker Televisions

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