Logo used from Series 4
|Created by||Colin Dexter|
|Based on||the novel series|
by Colin Dexter
|Developed by|| Anthony Minghella |
|Written by||Varied (one per episode)|
|Directed by||Varied (one per episode)|
|Starring|| John Thaw |
|Theme music composer||Barrington Pheloung|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||7 series (1987–1993) and 5 specials (1995–2000)|
|No. of episodes||33 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer||Ted Childs|
|Producers|| Zenith Productions |
Central Independent Television
|Running time||98–105 min|
|Original release||6 January 1987 –|
15 November 2000
|Related shows|| Lewis |
Inspector Morse is a British detective drama television series based on a series of novels by Colin Dexter. It starred John Thaw as Detective Chief Inspector Morse and Kevin Whately as Sergeant Lewis. The series comprises 33 two-hour episodes (100 minutes excluding commercials) produced between 1987 and 2000. Dexter made uncredited cameo appearances in all but three of the episodes.
In 2018, the series was named the greatest British crime drama of all time by Radio Times ’ readers.In 2000, the series was ranked 42 on the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes compiled by the British Film Institute.
It was followed by the spin-off Lewis and prequel Endeavour .
The series was made by Zenith Productions for Central Independent Television, and first shown in the UK on the ITV network of regional broadcasters. Between 1995 and 1996 the commissioning company was Carlton Television, and towards the end of the series it was a joint venture by Carlton and WGBH.
Every episode involved a new murder investigation and depicted a complete story. Writer Anthony Minghella scripted three, including the first, "The Dead of Jericho"', which aired on 6 January 1987 featuring Gemma Jones, Patrick Troughton, and James Laurenson. Its other writers included Julian Mitchell (10 episodes), Daniel Boyle (five), and Alma Cullen (four), and its directors included John Madden (four episodes), Herbert Wise (three), Peter Hammond (three), Adrian Shergold (three), and Danny Boyle (two).
"Morse" is frequently repeated on the principal and subsidiary ITV channels (ITV, ITV2, ITV3, ITV4) in the UK,although repeat broadcasts also aired on Channel 4 during the show's original run. Repeats are also shown on television channels in other European countries and in Australia.
Other recurring characters:
Main production credits:
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Morse was played by John Thaw and his assistant, Detective Sergeant Lewis, by Kevin Whately. The character of Lewis was transformed from the elderly Welshman and ex-boxer of the novels to a much younger Geordie police sergeant with a family, as a foil to Morse's cynical streak. Morse's first name, Endeavour, is revealed on only one occasion, when he explains to a lady friend that his father was obsessed with Captain James Cook, so he was named after HMS Endeavour. On other occasions, he usually answers, "Morse. Everyone just calls me Morse." or dryly replies "Inspector", when asked what his first name is.
Thaw appreciated that Morse was different from many other classic detectives such as Hercule Poirot and Sherlock Holmes. Morse was brilliant, but he was not always right. He often arrested the wrong person or came to the wrong conclusion. As a result, unlike many classic sleuths, Morse does not always simply arrest his culprit; ironic circumstances have the case end and the crime brought to him[ clarification needed ]. Morse was also a romantic, frequently mildly and gently flirting with or asking out colleagues, witnesses, or suspects—occasionally bordering on the unprofessional—but he had little success in love.
Morse is a character whose talents and intelligence are being wasted in positions that fail to match his abilities. It is mentioned several times that Morse would have been promoted above and beyond Chief Inspector at Thames Valley Police CID, but his cynicism and lack of ambition, coupled also with veiled hints that he may have made enemies in high places, frustrate his progression despite his Oxford connections. In the episode "Second Time Around", it is revealed that Morse opposed capital punishment and long sentences, which was upheld by his former superior who later became assistant commissioner of Metropolitan Police and his former colleague thought of him as "a poor policeman and a very good detective".
Morse is a highly credible detective and a plausible human being. His penchant for drinking, his life filled with difficult personal relationships and his negligence toward his health, however, make him a more tragic character than previous classic sleuths.
Morse's eventual death in the final episode "The Remorseful Day" is caused by heart problems exacerbated by heavy drinking, although in the books his death is diabetes-related.
Inspector Morse was filmed for ITV using 16 mm film stock. Since its production, a number of releases of the show on DVD have been made using various remastered editions of the episodes in the 4:3 ratio. In recent years, ITV has overseen a high-definition restoration of the drama from the original 16 mm negatives so as to boost the HD content on ITV3 HD. Many of these HD episodes retain the original 4:3 ratio, though some of the later episodes (including the series finale) have been opened into a 16:9 widescreen frame. These more recent remastered editions have not been released on Blu-ray.
Morse had diverse passions: music (especially opera; Mozart and Wagner among his favourites), poetry, art, the classics, British real ale, classic cars and cryptic crossword puzzles. When seen at home, Morse is usually listening to music on his Roksan Xerxes record player,solving a crossword, reading classic literature, or drinking ale. In his home, the living room had a chess set containing classical Staunton chess pieces while the art on the walls includes etchings of Roman ruins by G.B. Piranesi from his Vedute di Roma series. While working, Morse subsists on quickly downed pints of ale in pubs, usually bought by Lewis, who struggles to keep up. Many of his cases touch on Morse's interests and often his knowledge helps him solve them.
In "The Death of the Self", the episode ends with Morse seeing one of the characters, an opera singer recovering from a long absence due to stage fright, make her "comeback" performance at the amphitheatre in Verona, while in "Twilight of the Gods", he investigates the life of one of his opera idols, Gwladys Probert, a world-famous soprano. In "Who Killed Harry Field?", the murder victim is a painter and in "The Way Through the Woods", Morse researches the Pre-Raphaelite movement to aid his investigations.
In several episodes, Morse's crossword-solving ability helps him to spot people who have changed their identities by creating a new name using an anagram. In "Masonic Mysteries", he is maliciously implicated in the murder of a woman when his Times newspaper with the crossword puzzle completed in his handwriting is placed in the victim's house. In that same episode, the writer names Morse's old inspector from when he was a detective sergeant as 'Macnutt', an homage to D.S. Macnutt, the famous and influential Observer puzzle setter 'Ximenes'.
In "The Sins of the Fathers", he investigates a murder in a brewery-owning family and in the first episode of the series, "The Dead of Jericho", he compares the life of a dead woman with that of Jocasta, the mother of Oedipus. The same episode also introduced his Jaguar Mark 2 automobile, which is damaged at the beginning and the end of the story, being used to prevent the escape of the perpetrators. His interest in classic cars is also explored in "Driven to Distraction", in which he suspects a car salesman of murder. He seems to dislike Jeremy Boynton so strongly that when he refers to Morse's own Jaguar as "she", this convinces Morse of his guilt.
In "Cherubim and Seraphim", he investigates the suicide of his niece and discusses with her English teacher her interest in the poet Sylvia Plath, who also killed herself. The teacher defends the teaching of Plath's poetry to students, saying that her suicide would not influence students to do the same. Investigating the killing of a retired detective in "Second Time Around", Morse is haunted by an early case of his in which a young girl had been murdered and an obvious suspect could have very well been innocent.
The theme and incidental music for the series were written by Barrington Pheloung and used a motif based on the Morse code for "M.O.R.S.E.": (
--/---/.-./.../.). The composer works the five letters into four 3-beat bars as follows :
The motif is played solo at the beginning and recurs all the way through. In the documentary, The Mystery of Morse, Pheloung states that he occasionally spelled out the name of the killer in Morse code in the music, or alternatively spelled out the name of another character as a red herring. The series also included opera and other classical genres as part of its soundtrack, most notably pieces by Richard Wagner and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, whose Magic Flute is a significant plot device in one episode.
Beaumont College (in the TV episode "The Last Enemy") and Lonsdale College (in "The Riddle of the Third Mile", the book on which "The Last Enemy" was based) are both fictional Oxford colleges. The real Brasenose College and Exeter College were used to represent Lonsdale, while Corpus Christi was used for Beaumont. Both fictional names are from real streets in Oxford; a real Lonsdale College exists at Lancaster University (named for the adjacent Lancashire region of Lonsdale Hundred, as is the Oxford street) but has no relation to Dexter's fictional Lonsdale. St Saviour's College in the episode "Fat Chance" is also fictitious, though New College was used as the location for it. Merton and University College were used for the fictional Beaufort College in the episode "The Infernal Serpent". Christ Church appears in "The Daughters of Cain" as the fictional Wolsey College. In a number of episodes, the main quad at Wadham College is used, especially the classic view as seen from the main entrance—unlike the students, the actors are allowed to walk on the grass. Eton College was used extensively as an alternative set to depict various parts of Oxford through the series, notably the county court in the episode "The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn", while the nearby school of St John's Beaumont, Old Windsor, became the Foreign Examinations Syndicate in the same episode, with both external and internal filming taking place there. Many of the generic locations used throughout the series, including Morse's house, were situated in Ealing, London, amongst the residential streets to the north of Ealing Broadway. Some scenes were also filmed at Brunel University and Hillingdon Hospital, both in west London. The Port of Dover was used for the "Deceived by Flight" episode.
The Regency red 1960 Jaguar Mark 2 2.4L car (with number plate 248 RPA) used by Morse throughout the television series became synonymous with the main character, despite Morse's driving a Lancia in the early novels (after the start of the TV series, the novels changed to the Jaguar). The Jaguar was given away in a competition a year after filming ended and in 2002, it was auctioned for £53,200, many times the going rate for a "normal" 2.4.In November 2005, it was sold again for more than £100,000.
The spin-off Lewis , starring Kevin Whately as the now-promoted (and widowed, making the character's situation closer to Morse's) Inspector Lewis, premiered in 2006 on ITV. Nine series were made with the last concluding in November 2015. It aired in the USA on PBS under the title Inspector Lewis. On 2 November 2015, ITV announced that the show would end after its ninth series, following the decision made by Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox to retire from their roles in the series. Whately announced that the show had gone on long enough, with his character having done many stories between Morse and Lewis after he took on the role 30 years ago.
In 2012, ITV aired a two-hour special prequel film, Endeavour , portraying a young Morse, with author Colin Dexter's participation. Set in 1965, Shaun Evans plays the young Detective Constable Morse, who is preparing to hand in his resignation when he becomes embroiled in an investigation involving a missing schoolgirl. This was followed in 2013 by the first series comprising four episodes. In 2014, series 2 was shown, with another four episodes. In January 2016, series 3 began with yet another four episodes. Series 4 aired in 2017, again with four episodes. A fifth series with six episodes set in 1968 began on 4 February 2018 and finished on 11 March 2018.A sixth series with four episodes set in 1969 began on 10 February 2019 and finished on 3 March 2019. In March 2019, the show was recommissioned for a seventh season, consisting of three episodes, to be set in 1970.
In Australia, Region 4, the entire series of Inspector Morse has been released on DVD. The first releases were 2 episodes per discs later followed by four volumes of these same releases in boxed sets.
Norman Colin Dexter was an English crime writer known for his Inspector Morse series of novels, which were written between 1975 and 1999 and adapted as an ITV television series, Inspector Morse, from 1987 to 2000. His characters have spawned a sequel series, Lewis, and a prequel series, Endeavour.
Detective Chief Inspector Endeavour Morse, GM, is the eponymous fictional character in the series of detective novels by British author Colin Dexter. On television, he appears in the 33-episode drama series Inspector Morse (1987–2000), in which John Thaw played the character, as well as the (2012–) prequel series Endeavour, portrayed by Shaun Evans. The older Morse is a senior CID officer with the Thames Valley Police in Oxford in England and, in the prequel, Morse is a young detective constable rising through the ranks with the Oxford City Police and in later series the Thames Valley Police.
John Edward Thaw, was an English actor who appeared in a range of television, stage, and cinema roles. He starred in the television series Inspector Morse as title character Detective Chief Inspector Endeavour Morse, Redcap as Sergeant John Mann, The Sweeney as Detective Inspector Jack Regan, Home to Roost as Henry Willows, and Kavanagh QC as title character James Kavanagh.
Kevin Whately is an English actor. Whately is primarily known for his role as Robert "Robbie" Lewis in the crime dramas Inspector Morse from 1987–2000 and Lewis from 2006–2015, his role as Neville "Nev" Hope in the British comedy-drama Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, and his role as Jack Kerruish in the drama series Peak Practice, although he has appeared in numerous other roles.
Roger William Allam is an English actor, known primarily for his stage career, although he has performed in film, television and radio.
Lewis is a British television detective drama produced for ITV, first airing in 2006 (pilot) then 2007. It is a spin-off from Inspector Morse and, like that series, it is set in Oxford. Kevin Whately reprises his character Robert "Robbie" Lewis, who was Morse's sergeant in the original series. Lewis has now been promoted to detective inspector and is assisted by DS James Hathaway, portrayed by Laurence Fox, who was promoted to inspector before the seventh series. The series also stars Clare Holman as forensic pathologist Dr. Laura Hobson, likewise reprising her role from Inspector Morse and from the seventh season, Angela Griffin as DS Lizzie Maddox.
Detective Sergeant/Detective Inspector Robert "Robbie" Lewis is a fictional character in the Inspector Morse crime novels by Colin Dexter. The "sidekick" to Morse, Lewis is a detective sergeant in the Thames Valley Police, and appears in all 13 Morse novels. In the television adaptation, Inspector Morse, he is played by Kevin Whately. Following the conclusion of the series, Whately reprised the role as the lead character in Lewis, in which the character has been promoted to the rank of inspector.
Neil Dudgeon is an English actor who, since 2011, has played DCI John Barnaby in the ITV drama series Midsomer Murders. He replaced John Nettles in the lead role.
Detective Chief Superintendent Strange is a fictional character in the television series Inspector Morse, played by James Grout. The character also appears, as a Police Constable and Detective Sergeant, in the prequel series Endeavour, portrayed by Sean Rigby. Although Strange does not appear in every episode of Inspector Morse, he is present in the whole series from beginning to end. The intervening episodes from which he is absent are few in number. Strange's first name is never revealed in the Inspector Morse series.
Derrick Somerset Macnutt (1902–1971) was a British crossword compiler who provided crosswords for The Observer newspaper under the pseudonym Ximenes. His main oeuvre was blocked-grid and "specialty" puzzles. Even though he only provided conventional blocked puzzles once a week for the Observer Everyman series for about two years his strong views on clueing, expressed in his 1966 book, have been a source of debate in the cryptic crossword world ever since.
Ted Childs is a British television producer, screenwriter, and director.
James Hathaway is the CID Detective Inspector working with Inspector Lewis in the ITV television series Lewis. He is played by Laurence Fox. Hathaway holds the rank of Detective Sergeant until the penultimate series of Lewis in 2014, in which he is promoted to the rank of Inspector following a brief break from the police.
The Dead of Jericho is a work of English detective fiction by Colin Dexter, the fifth novel of the Inspector Morse series, which was subsequently the first of a highly successful series of television adaptations of the novels, also called Inspector Morse.
Shaun Francis Evans is an English actor and director. He is best known for playing a young Endeavour Morse in the ITV drama series Endeavour.
Russell Lewis is an English television writer and former actor.
The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn is a crime novel by Colin Dexter, the third novel in Inspector Morse series.
Death Is Now My Neighbour is a crime novel by Colin Dexter, the 12th novel in the Inspector Morse series.
The Daughters of Cain is a crime novel by Colin Dexter. It is the eleventh novel in the Inspector Morse series.
Endeavour is a British television detective drama series. It is a prequel to the long-running Inspector Morse and, like that series, is set primarily in Oxford. Shaun Evans portrays the young Endeavour Morse beginning his career as a detective constable, and later as a detective sergeant, with the Oxford City Police CID.
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