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28 October 2014

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Ted with the Pot Black team
Ted Lowe with the Pot Black team

BBC Berkshire speaks to the Voice of Snooker

By Andy Stevenson
Now 86, Ted Lowe retired in 1996 after 50 years in the commentary box. Born and raised in Lambourn, even non-snooker fans will remember Lowe from the popular TV programme Pot Black in the 1970's.

Click here to listen to Ted Lowe in conversation with BBC Berkshire's Andy Stevenson, or read excerpts below.

The interview is split into two parts.

Lowe on his Berkshire roots

"I was born in the racing village of Lambourn which is populated by racehorses and stable lads. My father and Grandfather were in racing. My father was an apprentice before joining Ossis Bell as travelling Head Lad.

I well remember Felstead (in 1928) winning the Derby and my Father leading it home into the village from Epsom."

Lowe on a significant maternal influence

"My Mother's side of the family were all publicans which gave me a lovely mixture between horses and pubs.

To their wisdom and my good fortune I was sent to some relations in south London who had a delightful pub with a full-size snooker table. Up till then,  I had been playing billiards at my Uncle and Aunt's pub in Lambourn, the Lamb."

Lowe on moving from player to commentator

"I was terribly lucky. Being fairly proficient at the game, I got into a snooker club and I cheekily wrote to the great Joe Davis asking him to open the Club.

Behind my back, some people told him that I was a good young player so he challenged me to a game. I beat him with a 4 black start and made the local news!

Snooker arena
Ted Lowe's workplace for 50 years

Because of that I was invited to become general manger of the Leicester Square Hall, the home of professional billiards and snooker. It was there that I started broadcasting in the 1940's."

Lowe on his first commentary

"The commentator at the time was Raymond Glendenning and I helped him out by writing notes for him. There was no commentary box in those days, you were just in the middle of the audience.

Raymond came to one broadcast feeling he worse for wear from a party the night before. With 30 seconds to air the Producer said to me 'You do it!'. I was scared to death commentating on Joe Davis, who was a God to me.

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 on Pot Black

"It was my idea. I kept saying an hour programme dedicated to snooker would be a winner because the game was dying and something needed to be done.

In 1969, I suddenly got a phone call from a producer saying 'Do you want to put a series together?'. I said 'Can ducks swim?!'. I wanted 8 players but there were only 7 professionals at that time!".

The show lasted 18 years and I knew we had a success from the word go. We eventually took it round the world."

Lowe on his favourite players

"The one and only Joe Davis is the greatest. He had such a foresight, he had thoughts that bore fruit in years to come and looked immaculate.

His performance on the table has been surpassed."

Lowe on the modern game

Stephen Hendry
Stephen Hendry: one of Lowe's favourites

"I think the game is easier now because people can watch the game on the box and go to their local club and practice.

The talent has come out...Ray Reardon took Joe's mantle in a way as a great champion and ambassador, Steve Davis dominated the '80's, and Stephen Hendry has surpassed them all."

Lowe on Ronnie O'Sullivan

"Ronnie is a problem in my book. He has a fabulous talent of course, but you've got to be so much more in any sport.

You must, in my opinion, dress nicely and have politeness and etiquette."

Lowe on current snooker commentators

"The producer said to me 'You might be interested to know that 18.5 million viewers are listening to you right now'. It was fabulous."
Ted Lowe

"In my day I promoted the players. Today, commentators are promoting themselves."

Lowe on Davis vs Taylor in 1985 World Snooker Final

"It's one of the highlights of my career.

Just after midnight, the producer said to me 'You might be interested to know that 18.5 million viewers are listening to you right now'. It was fabulous."

Lowe on legacy

"I often think of the likes of Henry Longhurst, John Arlott and Peter O'Sullevan. They are wonderful voices who you always refer to if you have any interest in their sport.

I sincerely hope that will happen in my case when people remember that whispering Ted Lowe bloke off the snooker."

last updated: 15/03/07
Have Your Say
Who are your favourite commentators? Do you remember Pot Black? Do you agree with Ted's thoughts on the modern game? Let us know here.
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Ann Miller
I would like to pass on my thanks the the kind gentleman who helped me contact Ted Lowe. I spoke to him last night and he is looking forward to being reunited with my sister (who was his long time secretary many years ago). Thank you once again for your very prompt help, it was much appreciated.

Alan from Australia
"snooker plus" orange 8 and purple 9

stuart vale
which web has pictures from snooke rpot black 2007 from reply to

Anyone know the answer to these questions - Ted Lowe would know it.In the late 1950s, there was an experiment to add 2 new colours to the snooker game.What were the colours, what was their value and did the new game have a name ?Please reply to me by email on - thanks.

Always nice to hear the great Ted Lowe. We should never forget the work that him and the leading players of the time, Fred Davis, Rex Williams and John Pulman did to revive snooker in the 60's

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