Uncle Ted

Ted Nancarrow is Cormoran Strike and Lucy‘s uncle, their mother’s brother. Strike describes himself as the “spitting image” of his uncle1 — his reference is to his physical appearance, but Strike is much like his Uncle Ted in many other ways.

Uncle Ted and Aunt Joan have played a significant role in Strike and Lucy’s life as surrogate parents. It is at their home in St Mawes in Cornwall that the brother and sister spent half their childhood, with their aunt and uncle frequently rescuing them from dicey situations in their mother’s itinerant lifestyle. They were even willing to drive all night from St. Mawes to London to collect their niece and nephew.2

Ted Nancarrow (IAN REDFORD) in Strike – Troubled Blood (Credit: BBC/Sam Taylor)

A former member of the Royal Military Police, or a “Redcap,” Ted heavily influenced his nephew’s early interest in police work by telling him “thrilling stories of travel, mystery and adventure.” 3 He is the only person in Strike’s life who supported his decision to drop out of university to join the army.4

Ted is a big Arsenal F.C. fan — something his nephew also became — although “why Uncle Ted supported the Gunners, when he had lived all his life in Cornwall, was a question Strike had never asked.” 5 Strike took his uncle to Emirates Stadium for an Arsenal vs. Manchester City match during a recent visit his aunt and uncle made to London.6

Ted is described as being a peacemaker, as well as being very tidy and orderly — another characteristic Strike picked up from him as a boy — “from his toolbox to his boathouse.”7 Ted enjoys fly-fishing.

Troubled Blood answers a question that many fans have been wondering for years now: What is Ted and Joan’s surname? Polworth provides the answer to that when he’s arguing Cornish nationalism with Strike, telling him “By rights, you’re a Nancarrow.”8

Ted Nancarrow is visited by his niece and nephew throughout the book as the family comes together to support each other through Joan’s illness. Once the local lifeguard9 and a “tall, fit and muscular man”,10  and while still strong, Ted now stooped slightly and his “dense, curly hair” was now completely white and “his deep brown face more cracked than lined.”11

Strike clearly thinks very highly of his uncle, calling him his “dad”12 and thinking that Ted had “provided the model of manhood to which Strike had aspired.”13

Ted visits Lucy a couple of times during the course of The Ink Black Heart.  The busy Strike manages to squeeze in a coffee with him the weekend he visits (Chapter 32), and Ted comes with Lucy to visit Strike in the hospital (Chapter 107).

1: The Cuckoo’s Calling, Part 3 Chapter 6
2: Career of Evil, Chapter 10
3: The Cuckoo’s Calling, Part 4 Chapter 10
4: The Cuckoo’s Calling, Part 4 Chapter 11
5: The Silkworm, Chapter 5
6: The Silkworm, Chapter 9
7: The Silkworm, Chapter 5
8, 9: Troubled Blood, Chapter 1
10:Troubled Blood, Chapter 44
11: Troubled Blood, Chapter 4
12: Troubled Blood, Chapter 31
13: Troubled Blood, Chapter 17