|Venue||Sheffield City Hall|
|Organisation(s)||World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association|
|Final champion(s)||Ken Doherty|
Pot Black was a BBC television series of annual snooker tournaments held in the United Kingdom from 1969 to 1986, which carried no ranking points, but played a large part in the popularisation of the modern game. The event was revived in the form of several one-off tournaments throughout the 1990s and up to 2007. Pot Black helped transform snooker from a minority sport with just a handful of professionals into one of the most popular sports in the United Kingdom. Mark Williams holds the event's highest record of 119.
The BBC began broadcasting in colour in 1967 and was looking for programmes that could exploit this new technology. Broadcasting snooker, then still a minor sport, was the brainchild of the then controller of BBC2, David Attenborough. The first Pot Black was held in 1969 at the BBC Studios in Birmingham. The programme first aired on 23 July 1969, on BBC2. The event featured eight players, namely Gary Owen, Jackie Rea, John Pulman, Ray Reardon, Fred Davis, Rex Williams, Kingsley Kennerley and John Spencer. The event continued until 1986, by which time more and more snooker events were being televised and the Pot Black format was becoming outdated. It returned in 1990, but was discontinued after the 1993 event.
A one-day Pot Black tournament was held on 29 October 2005, and broadcast on the BBC's Grandstand. The event featured eight players, namely Ronnie O'Sullivan, Stephen Hendry, Stephen Maguire, Matthew Stevens, Paul Hunter, John Higgins, Jimmy White and Shaun Murphy, with Stevens beating Murphy in the final. The 2006 edition of Pot Black took place at the Royal Automobile Club in London on 2 September 2006. Mark Williams beat John Higgins and achieved the highest break in the history of the tournament with a 119 clearance in the final. The 2007 edition, the final Pot Black to date, was aired on Saturday 6 October 2007 on BBC One. It was won by Ken Doherty, who beat Shaun Murphy 71–36, making him the first Irishman to win the competition.
There have only been six century breaks in the history of Pot Black. Eddie Charlton notched the first-ever century in 1973, and his 110 break stood as the event record for many years until eclipsed by Shaun Murphy's 111 against Jimmy White in 2005. The Pot Black highest break record is currently held by Mark Williams, with his 119 in 2006.
In the history of Pot Black the tournament used many formats. In the first year eight players participated, but overall the number of players varied between six and sixteen. It was originally played as a knockout tournament, but later employed a round robin format. A player's total number of points scored could often become crucial, so matches always ended with the potting of the .
All matches were played over one frame, except the final, which used many different formats. Initially it was played just over one frame, but in 1974 an aggregate score of two frames was tried. This was however abandoned and the single frame final returned in 1975. From 1978 to 1986 and in 1991 the final was decided over three frames. In 1991 a "time-frame" format was added, which limited the time each player could spend at the table.
A junior version, called Junior Pot Black, ran from 1981 to 1983 and that was also revived in 1991, for a single year. It was won by Dean Reynolds, John Parrott (twice) and Ronnie O'Sullivan. The event was revived as a side event to the World Snooker Championship, with the final played on the main match table. The event remained there until 2009. A senior version, called Seniors Pot Black was held in 1997, featuring players who were over 40 at the time. Joe Johnson won the series.
A Celebrity Pot Black was held on 15 July 2006 in aid of Sport Relief. It was contested between the team of Ronnie O'Sullivan and Bradley Walsh and the team of Steve Davis and Vernon Kay. Davis and Kay were the winners. It was presented by Dermot O'Leary, commentated by John Parrott and refereed by Michaela Tabb.
In 1980 the games company Waddingtons published Pot Black Snooker Dice, a dice game designed by David Parlett based on the show - using custom dice to represent the reds, colours and miscued shots. The game represented snooker rather well, but as with many dice games, it was mostly a game of chance. There were some elements of skill, for example, the use of snookers. Welsh snooker player Ray Reardon endorsed the game.
The events were recorded in a single day at the BBC Studios in Birmingham, but the matches were shown in half-hour programmes over the winter. The press co-operated and revealed the scores only after a match had been transmitted. Between 2005 and 2006 the whole tournament was broadcast over one day. Pot Black's theme tune was the ragtime classic "Black and White Rag", composed by George Botsford and performed by Winifred Atwell. Atwell had made the recording in 1952, on a specially de-tuned grand piano, not the upright piano she acquired later and made famous.
The first series of Pot Black in 1969 was hosted by Keith Macklin and it was then hosted by Alan Weeks until 1984. David Icke took over in 1985 and 1986. Eamonn Holmes hosted the event in 1991 and 1992, but was replaced by David Vine in 1993. Vine also hosted Senior Pot Black in 1997. The latest revival of the event was hosted by Hazel Irvine. Pot Black is credited with producing one of the most memorable British sports quotes. Commentator Ted Lowe, aware that not all viewers had colour televisions, said "and for those of you who are watching in black and white, the pink is next to the green."
Junior Pot Black
|Year||Winner||Runner-up||Final score ()||Final score ()|
|1981||Dean Reynolds||Dene O'Kane||151–79[n 2]|
|1982||John Parrott||John Keers||169–70[n 2]|
|1983||John Parrott||Steve Ventham||1–1||Pink ball game|
|1991||Ronnie O'Sullivan||Declan Murphy||2–0||126-0, 98-30|
|2006||Stuart Carrington||Anthony McGill||1–0||58–46|
|2007||Mitchell Mann||Jack Lisowski||1–0||76–23|
|2008||Jason Devaney||Duane Jones||1–0||61–28|
|2009 ||Ross Muir||Jak Jones||1–0||24–13[n 3]|
|2010 ||Jamie Clarke||Tom Rees||1–0||43–30|
Seniors Pot Black
|Year||Winner||Runner-up||Final score ()||Final score ()|
|1997||Joe Johnson||Terry Griffiths||2–0||85–32, 70–17|
- Final decided on aggregate score over two frames. The individual frame scores were 77–37 and 70–49.
- Final decided on aggregate score over two frames
- Events were played with the six-red snooker variant.
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