Big Break, presented by Jim Davidson and refereed by pro snooker player John Virgo, was a UK quiz show based around the billiard game of snooker. It ran for 14 series on BBC1 from 1991-2002, then the reruns joined the lineup of Challenge TV in 2011.
The game was played in three teams, each comprised of a contestant and their assigned snooker player, decided by drawing colored balls from a bag at the beginning of the show.
The three rounds of gameplay were thus:
Red Hot: With a base time of 10 seconds, the contestant is given three questions worth an additional 10 seconds each for up to 40 seconds. This is then given to the snooker player to pot as many of ten red balls as possible. The contestant on the team that comes in last gets to attempt a "Trick Shot" set up by John Virgo for a consolation prize.
Pocket Money: This time, the table is set with six reds and the six colored balls, worth £10 per regulation point and marked accordingly, and doubled if sent into that color pocket, all of which must be potted under snooker rules (A colored must follow a red, and the latter are not returned to the table). If the player fails to pot or hit a certain ball, the contestant must answer a question in a category assigned to its color for the player to continue. Each turn lasts a total of 90 seconds.
Make Or Break: With the same setup as Pocket Money (except the balls are not numbered), this round opens with the player's break, and then the contestant having the start of 90 seconds to answer five questions, each correct answer removing one red from the table. The player then has the remainder of the time to pot the remaining balls, again by snooker rules but also in order of point value. Prizes are awarded for each color, up to the "Mystery Star Prize" on the black.
"Deep breath now, JV...Explain to us the purpose of the following section."
"...List as menneh tropes as y'cahn."
- Bonus Round: The "Make Or Break" round.
- Bonus Space: The colored pockets in "Pocket Money", which double that color ball.
- Celebrity Edition: The Christmas episodes, with the players and hosts in costume, a different theme every year.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The categories in "Pocket Money", which correspond to each color ball.
- Red - Pot Luck
- Yellow - Past
- Green - Music
- Brown - Places
- Blue - People
- Pink - Sports
- Black - Screen
- Cosplay: The celebrity Christmas episodes, a different theme every show.
- Ham and Deadpan Duo: Jim and John.
- Heads or Tails?: To decide who gets choice of first go in "Pocket Money".
- Hilarious Outtakes: Collected in the 1997 VHS release of Unseen Big Break.
- Home Game: A fairly loosely-adapted one, which switched the balls and cues out for chips and dice, was produced by Paul Lamond Games in 1991.
- Rules Spiel: For "Red Hot"...Wait for it...Pot as many balls as you can.
- Signing-Off Catchphrase:Jim: Say goodnight, J V!
John: Goodnight, J V!
- Timed Mission: (Up to) 40 seconds for "Red Hot", 90 seconds for the other rounds.
- Whammy: Potting the cue ball may be this, but amounts only to losing a few seconds to return it to the table.