The members of a church who attended a particular service start to die one by one.



(novel), (screenplay)

On Disc

at Amazon



Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Angela Morant ...
Ruth Rawlinson
John Normington ...
Lionel Pawlen
Maurice O'Connell ...
Harry Josephs
Judy Campbell ...
Mrs. Rawlinson
Doctor Starkie
Peter Woodthorpe ...
Norman Jones ...
James Griffiths ...
Paul Morris
Chrissy Iddon ...
Brenda Josephs
Karl Francis ...
Michael Goldie ...
Jimmy (as Michale Goldie)
Michael Fenner ...
Detective Constable Mitchell


Morse and Lewis investigate the murder of Harry Josephs, a warden at St. Oswald's church who is found dead immediately after a church service. The initial focus is on a tramp who attended the service but the autopsy reveals that Josephs died of an overdose of morphine. When others who attended the same service are killed - including the vicar Lionel Pawlin, the church organist Paul Morris, his 12 year old son and Harry Josephs' wife Brenda - Morse suspect that everyone who attended that particular service is in danger. However, the solution to the case revolves around deceit and mistaken identity. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery





Release Date:

20 January 1987 (UK)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


When Morse examines the diary, he refers Lewis to the curious incident of the dog that did nothing in the nighttime. He is referring to the Sherlock Holmes story Silver Blaze by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. See more »


The word "defence" is spelt the American way with an 's' (defense) during the closing credits. See more »


Chief Inspector Morse: The vicar didn't seem to want to discuss it. It's a very funny thing, but as soon as someone doesn't want to discuss something, I do.
See more »

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User Reviews

I personally think Service of all the dead is the best episode of the 1st series!
1 July 2009 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I don't understand the complaint that Service of the Dead has a weak plot, are you trying to say that the book had a weak plot as well? Service of all the Dead, apart from of the names being changed, has a faithful plot to the one in the book, and I don't think it is the weakest episode, that's Last Bus to Woodstock. Most of the episode takes place in a church, and there are some genuinely creepy scenes, like when Morse and Lewis find the dead body of the organist's son with that haunting Wagnerian-like music accompanying it. Another highlight was the suicide scene, Lewis's reaction is one of the main reasons to see this episode. The plot is actually quite clever, perhaps lacking the ingenuity of later episodes, but the final solution I found very surprising. The climax, with Morse and the murderer fighting on the roof, is one of the series' overall main highlights. And the writers never miss out a lovely romance between Morse and a lovely woman, this time called Ruth, played by Angela Marrant. The script is good, and John Thaw and Kevin Whately both give superb performances. All in all, a very good episode, that isn't as bad as some have said. 10/10 Bethany Cox.

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