Inspector Morse (1987–2000)
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The Infernal Serpent 

An environmentalist professor is mugged and later dies of a heart attack after an attack on campus just prior to a controversial debate.




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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Dr. Julian Dear
Pearce Quigley ...
Mick McGovern
Michael Attwell ...
Sylvie Maxton
John Joyce ...
Mr. Gray
Ian Brimble ...
Phil Hopkirk
Jake Normington
Imogen Garrett
Ron Garrett
Denys Hawthorne ...
Chief Superintendent Rennie
Sydnee Blake ...
Mrs. McGovern


Morse and Lewis investigate the death of Dr. Julian Dear, a senior fellow at an Oxford college. Dear was to participate in a debate on the evening of his death, where he was headed when attacked, suffered a fatal heart attack during what appeared to be a mugging. The College's Master, Matthew Copley-Barnes comes upon a young man leaning over the body of Dear, and the young man pushes the Master aside in his escape. Morse soon learns that Copley-Barnes has been receiving strange packages, and also that the College has large investments in Corby International, a major bio-agricultural/chemical firm. These facts and the interest of a well-known journalist, Sylvie Maxton, writing an article about the Master leads Morse to a complex cover up of scientific information as well as the discovery of a long-hidden tragedy. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery





Release Date:

3 January 1990 (UK)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


(dvd release)


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Did You Know?


Blanche Copley-Barnes: [after identifying her husband's umbrella] Well, do we make the proverbial noises now?
Chief Inspector Morse: I'm sorry?
Blanche Copley-Barnes: Well aren't we supposed to say "would you like a drink?" so you can say "not while I'm on duty" then I provide tea instead?
Detective Sergeant Lewis: Tea would go down nicely...
Chief Inspector Morse: [interrupting Lewis abruptly] We don't have time, I'm afraid.
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Referenced in Endeavour: Trove (2014) See more »

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User Reviews

An Outstanding Episode
16 June 2006 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

This is one of the best episodes featuring the gruff but cultured Inspector Morse and his sidekick Lewis, in arguably the cleverest Detective series on the box. The cast is splendid, Thaw and Whately are excellent as usual, Thaw plays Morse with his usual comfortable ease, they are ably supported by Geoffrey Palmer is at home with his portrayal of the unpleasant Master, Barbara Leigh-Hunt as his dithering wife, Cheryl Campbell as the attractive Silvie, and Tom Wilkinson as the Music Master. All fine characterizations that would please Colin Dexter himself.

The intriguing plot set as usual in Oxford, has the academic overtones expected, with sudden death, incest, and various false leads typical ingredients. But what makes this episode outstanding is its text book example of good Television technique, the use of extreme close shots to observe the characters expressions, the fluid camera work, tight editing and direction, all work exceedingly well for the small screen. If you are a Morse fan, don't miss this one.

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