Snooker commentator 'Whispering' Ted Lowe dies at 90

Ted Lowe

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Crucible remembers commentating great Ted Lowe

Former snooker commentator Ted Lowe has died at 90, the BBC has learned.

Lowe, born in Berkshire, became a household name through the hit television show Pot Black in 1969 and retired after the 1996 world final.

He died on the morning of the first session of the 2011 Snooker World Championship final in Sheffield.

Lowe's unmistakable hushed tones earned him the popular nickname "Whispering Ted" and he was the BBC's lead commentator on many occasions.

His wife of 21 years, Jean, said: "His health had been deteriorating for the last 10 weeks. He went into a hospice a week ago and I never left his side. But I could see he was slowly going. He still loves snooker and was watching it on TV."

John Virgo, a former player before becoming a co-commentator alongside Lowe, said: "He set a standard for us all. He was wonderful, he had an impish sense of humour and while cricket had its John Arlott and Wimbledon had its Dan Maskell, we had Ted Lowe.

"He was one of the BBC greats. It's a sad day for snooker and he'll be sadly missed."

Dennis Taylor's winning performance in the remarkable 1985 final was, inevitably, commentated on by Lowe, who called him "the 36-year-old smiling Irishman" at the time.

Taylor, who has since turned to commentating, said on Sunday: "I first worked with Ted around 30 years ago. He welcomed me to the box and gave me such good advice.

"He was a great one to travel with. I remember many trips we took to Australia in the 1970s for the old Pot Black tournaments.

"We went by jumbo jet, and they hadn't existed for very long at that time. We used to get to go upstairs into the lounge, which was the business-class area, because of Ted, and the pilots would always want to speak to him and hear his commentary voice.

"He had a lovely, lovely voice. To hear his voice and have him commentating on the 1985 final makes it special.

Ted Lowe

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Lowe remembers the 1985 final

"One thing I remember is him taking a long time over signing autographs too, he was so precise about that. No praise is high enough, I had such great times with him, and I couldn't have learnt from anyone better."

Multiple world champion Stephen Hendry, once described by Lowe as the "wonder bairn of Scotland", told BBC Sport: "I remember playing Junior Pot Black, I was only 12 and he was a complete gentleman. Me and my father were down there and he was so nice to us."

On Twitter, former pro Jimmy White said: "Still in shock and so saddened. Absolutely gutted. He was a great friend of my dad's and an absolute gentleman. I loved him dearly."

Born in Lambourn, Lowe came from a background steeped in horse racing.

Speaking to BBC Berkshire in 2007, he said: "My father was an apprentice before joining [trainer] Ossis Bell as travelling head lad.

"I well remember Felstead [in 1928] winning the Derby and my Father leading him home into the village from Epsom.

"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 until then, I had been playing billiards at my uncle and aunt's pub in Lambourn, the Lamb."

"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 four-black start and made the local news!

"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 1940s."

He got his big break when regular BBC broadcaster Raymond Glendenning reported for work feeling the worse for wear, meaning the reins were handed over to Lowe.

He recalled in the BBC Berkshire interview: "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."

Listen to Lowe's commentary on BBC2 at 1800 BST for the famous 1985 black-ball final involving Dennis Taylor and Steve Davis