BBC Snooker: Pot Black and beyond

Date: 01.05.2015     Last updated: 22.06.2015 at 09.37
Back in 1969, David Attenborough admitted "I had a few colour cameras in existence, and I was absolutely strapped as to how to employ them..."

During a meeting of BBC programme executives, the innovative Bryan Cowgill, then head of sport,came up with the idea of snooker, enthusiastically received by Attenborough:

"I wanted to put stuff on BBC Two that didn't appear on anything else. But then I realised I could do 48 hours of transmissions in three days on that one simple screen.  

In terms of production of colour pictures it was an absolute godsend and absolutely invaluable in getting the service on the air. Then there was the sport itself, and the obvious drama with all the characters involved. I watched it all the time when it was on."  

It was also a godsend to young snooker players: "I've got great memories about Pot Black - it was a breath of fresh air when it arrived on television in the 1970s," Steve Davis told BBC Sport in 2005 

"When it started I always used to tune in with my father - it was really the first time you could watch snooker on television. “

Stars of the 70’s included charismatic players, Alex Higgins and Ray Reardon. (Picture shows (l-r) Alex Higgins, John Pulman, Percy Thrower, Jack Rea, Rex Williams, Fred Davis, Ray Reardon)

Pot Black, 1973

 

Later the classic show returned with a twist as professionals and celebrities teamed up to compete for the Sport Relief Trophy. The line-up included Ronnie O'Sullivan, Bradley Walsh, Steve Davis and Vernon Kay and was presented by John Parrott and Dermot O’Leary. 

Ronnie O'Sullivan during Sport Relief 2006

 

The sport meant as much to some of the commentators as the players: David Vine - “Snooker to me means 25 years of my life”. Dennis Taylor, on whose epic World Championship final win against Steve Davis in 1985 Vine commentated and earned an audience of 18 million, described him as "the face of snooker".  

Read the BBC's obituary for David Vine and watch his snooker memories  

David Vine during the World Snooker Championship in 2000