Jim Davidson
John Virgo
Colin Ward Lewis (1991–1996)
Zora Suleman (1997)
Charles Nove (1998–2001)
Big Break (1)
Big Break (2)
BBC1: 30 April 1991 – 9 October 2002

Big Break was a game show that combined the game of snooker with a traditional game show.


Three contestants competed in this game. To start the game, each contestant would draw a snooker ball from a bag. Each ball was a different colour (either red, yellow, or blue) and each colour represented a different snooker player introduced by Virgo. The snooker players would remain with the same contestants throughout the show.

Main GameEdit

The game was played in two rounds, with a mini-game in between.

Round 1: Red HotEdit

Davidson would ask three questions to one of the contestants. These were usually riddles or trick questions, with the second question often asking the contestant which two words sound the same by answering clues.

In early series, the contestant started with 10 seconds, and each correct answer added that much more (for a maximum of 40 seconds). In later series the contestant started with 40 seconds, and each incorrect answer lost five seconds (for a minimum of 25 seconds).

After the questions were answered, the snooker player had that amount of time to pot ten red snooker balls, which Davidson and Virgo described as being very complicated rules.

The contestant whose player potted the fewest balls would be eliminated and would play for a consolation prize.

Virgo's Trick ShotEdit

Virgo would set up a trick shot for the eliminated contestant. Once he demonstrated it, he would set it up again for the contestant. If they could do it successfully, they won a prize. If not, either host would knock the ball into the pocket. In the rare occasion the contestant lost, Davidson would offer an old record by an unpopular artist whom the contestant would not recognise.

Round 2: Pocket MoneyEdit

In this round, the remaining contestants were given a chance to win money. Each snooker player would play by traditional rules for 90 seconds (or rarely, two minutes). Each ball was worth £10 multiplied by its traditional point value, as follows:

  • Six red balls: £10 each
  • Yellow ball: £20
  • Green ball: £30
  • Brown ball: £40
  • Blue ball: £50
  • Pink ball: £60
  • Black ball: £70

Each pocket also had a designated colour. If the player potted a coloured ball into the pocket hole with the same colour, the money for that pot would be doubled.

If the player missed, the contestant had to answer a question on a specific subject based on the ball that was missed. The categories for each ball were:

  • Pot Luck for Red
  • Past for Yellow
  • Music for Green
  • Places for Brown
  • People for Blue
  • Sports for Pink
  • Screen for Black

If a question was answered correctly, Davidson would shout "Play!" and the snooker player would continue. An incorrect answer meant Davidson would have to ask another question. If the contestant continued to give wrong answers, Davidson would give them clues, over-articulate the right answer or, if he got lost with the questions, give up and shout "Play!" anyway.

When both snooker players had each had a turn, the contestant whose player earned them the most money would play the bonus round. Both contestants kept their winnings.

Bonus Round: Make or Break?Edit

In this endgame, the contestant could win a variety of prizes. To start the player would do a breakshot of the six red balls. Davidson would then ask the contestant five questions. Each correct answer allowed the snooker player to remove one ball from the table.

Once the questions were asked, the snooker player and Virgo would discuss which of the red balls to discard, based on their positions after the breakshot and therefore ease to pot them. The amount of time it took for the contestant to answer the questions, right or wrong, was deducted from a starting time of 90 seconds, and the remaining time was given to the snooker player to clear the snooker table with any red balls remaining on the table. One red ball was worth a small prize, and each coloured ball was worth increasingly valuable prizes based on their traditional point value. The black ball represented the Mystery Star Prize, which was often a holiday.

The snooker player would play by traditional rules to clear the table and pot all the balls. The first red potted won the first prize; however, the contestant could not win any more prizes until the player had cleared all the reds from the table, and began potting the yellow ball up to the black ball.