The story tells of the rivalry between Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins - whose natural talent and showmanship transformed the image of the traditional game and captivated audiences across the country - and Steve 'The Nugget' Davis, who under the guidance of manager Barry Hearn dominated the sport throughout the 80s and ushered in a new era of professionalism. Written by
BBC Media Centre
THE RACK PACK tells a straightforward tale by contrasting the life of clean-cut Steve Davis (Will Merrick) with that of maverick Alex Higgins (Luke Treadaway). Obsessed with snooker from an early age, Davis was taken up by manager Barry Hearn (Kevin Bishop) and transformed into a media personality. His trademark gestures on the snooker table was carefully studied; and he was encouraged to make jokes about his allegedly boring public persona. Success on the table only helped to increase his profile; throughout the Eighties he was always the man to beat.
Higgins was the complete antithesis. A genius at the table, he led a wild private life dominated by drink. He had a family, with a long-suffering wife (Nichola Burley) and two children, but they eventually left him. He had plenty of money and spent the lot; in desperation he approached Hearn to manage him, but was abruptly refused. His star declined; by 1990 he had been eliminated in the first round of the World Snooker Championship.
Brian Welsh's production tried to adopt an even-handed approach, but it was palpably clear that Higgins's story was dramatically more effective, thereby proving Barry Hearn's point that people respond to failure more enthusiastically than success. Luke Treadaway's performance was thoroughly creditable, combining relentless self- confidence with chronic insecurity. He needed the company of others, especially his practicing (and drinking) partner Jimmy White (James Bailey); when White signed up for Hearn, Higgins was left completely isolated.
The only real criticism that can be leveled at this production was that it did not really take account the positive aspects of Higgins's life. He was certainly self-destructive, yet he also put snooker on the map as a televised sport. In the days of Ray Reardon and John Spencer the game was perceived as respectable yet rather staid, the kind of thing suitable for the BBC's POT BLACK yet not a ratings winner. Higgins's colorful personality helped to transform the game into a huge success during the Eighties, attracting viewing figures far in excess of mainstream sports such as soccer.
Nonetheless, Welsh's production made a thoroughly competent job of recreating snooker's glory days, with its recreation of the Crucible Theatre and John Sessions's memorable impersonation of "Whispering" Ted Lowe's commentary interspersed with the BBC's original soundtrack.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?