Big Break

From Academic Kids

Big Break is a BBC game show combining quiz show questions, with snooker, presented by comedian Jim Davidson, and snooker player and later commentator John Virgo. The tone of the show is light hearted.

In the first round, "Red Hot", each of the three contestants is allocated a snooker player, who will play on their behalf, corresponding to a snooker ball picked from a bag. The contestant must earn their player time to play, by answering questions. There are 3, normally simple, questions, and each correctly answered adds 10 seconds, to the basic 10 seconds. The snooker player has to then pot as many red balls as possible, from a table with only red balls on it. A familiar catchphrase from the show is John Virgo's deadpan "Pot as many balls as you can", to explain the rules of "Red Hot". The contestant whose player does the worst then leaves the show.

However, so they don't go away empty handed, the losing player is given a chance to win something, in the trick shot round. Here, John demonstrates a trick shot, then helps the player win a prize by successfully completing it. This part of the show became infamous for its out-takes, in which it would take John 10 or so attempts to even get it right himself.

In the next round, "Pocket Money", the contestants have a chance of winning some money. The snooker player attains to continue a break, each ball potted earning the contestant 10 pounds for each point of its value. If the player fouls, or fails to pot a ball, the contestant is asked a series of general knowledge questions, the subject determined by the colour of the ball the player attempted to pot, until they get it right. This continues until the time runs out, and the player with the most money wins the round.

The final round is played by the winner of the previous one. It is an attempt to pot all the balls, according to the usual snooker rules, but with no penalties for fouls, missed balls, etc, so the player in effect plays as both players in an ordinary game of snooker. However there are only six red balls rather than the usual fifteen on the table. Before the round begins, with the clock running, the contestant attempts to answer five questions. Whatever number of questions they get right, that number of red balls is removed from the table. So, at best, there will be one red ball and the six coloured balls to pot. The more of the balls they pot, the better the prizes the contestant wins, and if the black is potted, the contestant wins all the prizes.

In this round, the player has 90 seconds, minus any time taken by the contestant in answering questions.

The show's theme song is "The Snooker Song", composed by Mike Batt and performed by Captain Sensible. It was originally composed for a musical version of Lewis Carroll's Hunting of the Snark. In the musical the song is sung by the "billiard-marker".

Web links

UK Gameshows Page: Big Break (


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