Pot Black this Saturday is primarily a bit of fun and a way of filling the BBC's Grandstand with something popular but the importance of the competition to snooker's development as a major television sport should not be underestimated.

The year was 1969 and colour TV was being introduced. The controller of new channel BBC2, David Attenborough, now a widely respected presenter of natural history programmes, wanted something to showcase the new invention and snooker - with its various coloured balls and cloth - fitted the bill perfectly.

The first edition of Pot Black was transmitted in the same week as man first walked on the moon. It proved to be one giant leap for the sport. Soon, the players, who had all been merely scratching out a living on the exhibition circuit, were household names: Ray Reardon, John Spencer, Eddie Charlton among them.

The popularity of the weekly Pot Black programme led to the BBC - and later ITV - broadcasting whole tournaments, leading to the extraordinary snooker boom of the 1980s.

No honeymoon lasts forever, but snooker today is still attracting healthy TV audiences in the UK, is enjoying a huge following in Europe thanks to Eurosport's extensive coverage and is also booming in China, helped of course by Ding Jun Hui's success.

All of this is down in no small way to Pot Black, which is reason enough to cheer its return this weekend.

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