First broadcast in 1987, the Inspector Morse series is a crime drama based on the Colin Dexter novels of the same name. The show is based around the exciting exploits of Chief Inspector Morse (John Thaw), a senior officer within the Criminal Investigation Department of the Oxford Police, as he investigates heavy crimes in and around Oxford with his sidekick, Detective Sergeant Lewis (Kevin Whately). Morse is a grumpy classical music aficionado who loves beer, and who frequently loses patience with the earnest, but somewhat slow, Lewis.Written by
John Thaw was forty-four when he began playing Inspector Morse, but because of his prematurely white hair, many viewers thought he was about a decade older. Thaw was an alcoholic until 1994, and he often smoked up to three packs a day. See more »
The opening notes of the theme music are based on the word "Morse" in Morse code, altered for musical purposes. The same notes are also included at the end and in places within the theme music. In the 1995 documentary "The Mystery of Morse: The Making of Morse", the composer stated that the theme sometimes spells the name of the murderer, a cryptic version of the name, or, as a red herring, an innocent character. However, there is nothing documented on the Internet for any specific name or episode. Morse code experts say that, aside from the code for "Morse", any other Morse code-like notes in the theme are complete gibberish, probably because the code was modified greatly for musical purposes. See more »
I think most people would agree, whether British or not, that Inspector Morse represents everything that is good about British television. In January 1987, the first television episode of Colin Dexter's intelligent series of novels was broadcast. Inspector Morse was perfect - the beautiful scenery of Oxford, the classic red Jaguar, the classical music and a superb, and at times moving, central performance by the man his co-star Kevin Whately would later describe, after his untimely death in 2002, as Britain's finest screen actor.
Until it finished in 2000, Inspector Morse captivated large audiences, intrigued by its complex plots, the towering performance of John Thaw and its amazing roll call of quality guest actors. The series oozed class from every pore, and will always be the greatest jewel in the magnificent career of the late John Thaw. I really cannot find enough words to explain just how good I think Thaw was in so many of his television and film roles, but Morse was the character in which he proved to television viewers that he was not only versatile but had a rare depth.
The early episodes are certainly my favourites, as they were adapting the existing stories. Later, as they ran out of Dexter's stories, they began writing stories to keep the popular series going. But throughout, we learn more and more about the mysterious, emotionally repressed and rather sad Inspector. Without doubt, this is the greatest modern murder mystery franchise, and the series so many have tried, and failed, to emulate since.
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