Although snooker seems to have been ever-present in the television schedules, that’s not really the case. As a large part of understanding the flow of the game is knowing exactly where the colours are it’s no surprise that it didn’t really work in the black and white era.
But when BBC2 begun colour transmissions in 1969, channel controller David Attenborough was looking for something both cheap and colourful – and the single frame tournament Pot Black was born. It would still be a few years before the sport’s top event – the World Championship – was covered in any depth though (and it seems remarkable that the 1972 World Championship – which saw Alex Higgins win the title for the first time – received no television coverage at all).
When the World Championship moved to the Crucible in 1977 things began to change. By the late 1970’s there was substantial coverage and the BBC made the decision, still in place today, to record every frame of every match.
Given that the BBC has such a substantial archive of snooker footage from the last forty years it’s always been slightly irksome that they’ve rarely exploited it beyond the obvious (the Dennis Taylor/Steve Davis final frame decider from 1985 for example, which is regularly wheeled out).
So the Crucible Classics series, running in the early hours on BBC1 during the duration of the championships, is very welcome. Whilst it’s not surprising that many of the programmes focus on finals, there are a few other notable matches. It kicked off with Steve Davis v Tony Knowles from 1982 – the infamous first round match where defending champion Davis was humbled 10-1.
Since most of the frames won’t have been seen since their original broadcast, Crucible Classics offers a rare chance to relive some classic matches and hopefully this is a sign that the BBC might continue to open up their sporting archives.