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Pot Black

1 9 6 9 – 1 9 8 6 (UK)

Snooker was first televised by the BBC in 1950, but it was Pot Black – which aired for the first time on 23 July 1969 – that made it really popular with the British public.


The BBC had begun 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 filmed at the BBC Pebble Mill studios in Birmingham and featured eight players: Gary Owen; Jackie Rea; John Pulman; Ray Reardon; Fred Davis; Rex Williams; Kingsley Kennerley and John Spencer.

The first series was hosted by Keith Macklin and then by Alan Weeks until 1984. David Icke took over in 1985 and 1986.


The show continued until 1986, by which time more and more snooker events were being televised and the Pot Black format was becoming outdated.

Pot Black is credited with producing one of the most memorable British sports quotes. Legendary 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.”

The iconic theme tune, Black and White Rag, was recorded by Winifred Atwell in 1952 and became well-known in households across Britain.

The show was revived in the 90s and noughties for some one-off tournaments. A Junior Pot Black ran for a few years in the 1980s and a Senior’s Pot Black for the over 40s in 1997 was won by Joe Johnson. In 2006 there was a version for Sports Relief, won by Steve Davis and Vernon Kay.