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
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 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Best of 35's have been replaced by best of 7's and 9's, often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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