Crucible characters day 10: Ted Lowe

By Mark Staniforth, PA
·2-min read

For every Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry, snooker also boasted its bit-part players: the what-might-have-beens and never-minds, who left their own small but indelible mark upon the sport.

For the duration of the postponed World Championships, the PA news agency is turning its focus on the Crucible characters on the table, as well as a handful of household names behind the scenes.

Ted Lowe

“Whispering Ted”, the voice of BBC snooker for generations, evolved his unmistakeable commentary style out of the sheer terror of interrupting the sport’s first great world champion, Joe Davis.

“I was scared to death commentating on Joe Davis, who was a God to me,” recalled Lowe. “Of course, sitting in the crowd I was terrified they would hear what I had to say, so I started whispering. The producer loved it.”

Lowe devised and presented the BBC series ‘Pot Black’ from 1969, causing some controversy by his refusal, for five years, to offer an invitation to Alex Higgins.

“He didn’t like me and he told me so many times,” Higgins wrote in his autobiography. “I wasn’t exactly a fan of his, either, so the feeling was quite mutual.”

Alex Higgins file photo
Alex Higgins and Ted Lowe were not close friends (PA)

Lowe’s surprising exclamation of “no” when Steve Davis missed the cut black in the final frame of the 1985 final, effectively handing the title to Dennis Taylor, was a masterpiece in commentary understatement.

Like all great commentators, he was linked to a few gaffes: the audience was “literally electrified”; Higgins had “literally come back from the dead”; Fred Davis was “struggling to get his leg over”.

Lowe retired after commentating on the 1996 final between Stephen Hendry and Peter Ebdon. “And I feel the candles are starting to flicker,” intoned Lowe as the Scot proceeded with his final, title-winning break.

Lowe died at age of 90 on the first morning of the 2011 Championships, and the Crucible rose to remember him with a minute’s applause.