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Inspector Morse (TV Series 1987–2000) Poster

(1987–2000)

Trivia

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 of cigarettes a day.
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In Colin Dexter's original novels, Inspector Morse drove a Lancia. However, John Thaw, who had played Jack Regan on The Sweeney (1974), which featured a lot of Jaguars as villains' getaway cars, insisted that Inspector Morse would have driven an iconic British car, and never an Italian sports car. Dexter was so impressed with this reasoning that he asked his publishers to change "Lancia" to "Jaguar" in all subsequent reprints of his novels.
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The main change between the original novels and the television series is that Inspector Morse's prurient and earthy interest in pornography and seedy striptease clubs is absent from the television version.
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The opening notes of the theme music are based on the Morse code for the word "Morse", 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.
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Author Colin Dexter made regular appearances in the series, often as a drinker in a pub.
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While writing the theme music to this program at Paradise Studios in Chiswick, Composer Barrington Pheloung had his mother send him his old copy of his Scout's book of Morse Code. Using the book, Barrington was able to correctly add the string parts spelling out M-O-R-S-E in the theme music.
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According to Kevin Whateley, John Thaw claimed that he had witnessed the vintage Jaguar that his title character used being written off several times in The Sweeney (1974). Apparently, it was, in real-life, a "polished up wreck", and the reason Thaw was frequently seen in close-up driving the vehicle was that it was being towed because it had broken down.
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Ailish Hurley was the bar manager of Chapter's Bar (now the Morse Bar), Randolph Hotel, Oxford, England. She was a good friend of author Colin Dexter and was a continual source of inspiration to him, persuading him to carry on writing the Inspector Morse novels on which the television series is based. As a mark of respect, he asked for her to be given a cameo role in season twelve, episode one, "The Remorseful Day", where she is briefly seen serving coffee to Morse and Sandra Harrison. Sadly, she died of cancer on September 25, 2005.
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In the Endeavour (2012) pilot episode, which is the spin-off of this series about Morse's early days when first joining the police force, Morse's Creator Colin Dexter's love for crossword puzzles plays a major factor in the solving of the murders.
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Perhaps surprisingly, the tv audience won't discover Lewis' first name is actually Robert ("Robbie"/"Robby") Lewis, until the season 5 episode 5 episode "Promised Land", and by then Morse name has still only been teased, to the tv audience, as "E. Morse". Morse's first name won't be revealed, to the tv audience, until season 8 episode 3.
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Author Colin Dexter named his two main characters after his favorite crossword compilers, Sir Jeremy Morse and Mrs. B. Lewis. Some of the other characters and places are named after local streets in Summertown, England (north Oxford) where Colin Dexter lives: Rawlinson Road (Ruth Rawlinson in season one, episode three, "Service of All the Dead"), Aldrich Road (Phil Aldrich in season two, episode one, "The Wolvercote Tongue"), Hobson Road (Laura Hobson, the pathologist in seasons eight through twelve) and Lonsdale Road (Lonsdale College, which featured in several episodes).
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Curiously, at least in the restored re-mastered versions of the earlier (non-widescreen) seasons, with the colour corrections, Morse's Jaguar now appears to be either bright red, or a light burgundy red. Previously it appeared to have been a dark burgundy, or even purple.
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Authentic period instruments were used in creating the source music.
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Perhaps surprisingly, in 2021, while the UK's itv 3 were still playing the original (unrestored) versions of the series run, often with the original copyright to Central Independent Television plc, Ireland's tv channel Virgin Media 3 were playing the very same episodes, but using the pristine restored remastered version, with copyrights retro-fitted to itv studios. This was very obvious when episodes from the same series are compared - the remastered version has a lot more rich detail and the opening titles are completely static with none of the previous telecine version "wobble".
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The early episodes, made in the late 1980s, had what could be described as a very dated 1980s score with what now sounds like a lot of electronic Synthetic scoring. As the series evolved to the year 2000, and grew internationally, the scoring seemed to have evolved into a more fuller conventional orchestral music score, possibly in part as they were already hiring session musicians to record the classical pieces in Morse's record collection, and the "live" performances.
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Two men with the very same name Daniel/Danny Boyle were involved in the main key production of the series. One is Danny Boyle, the film director, the other being Daniel Boyle, the (Scottish) writer of several episodes. It wasn't, as some may have understandably assumed, that director Danny used the alternate name of Daniel when writing episodes, or that writer Daniel used his alternate name Danny to direct a few episodes. The same episode of "Morse" was never jointly written by Daniel Boyle and directed by Danny Boyle, although they both may have been a writer or director on separate episodes within the same season.
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For his National Service, author Colin Dexter was a Morse-code operator in the Royal Corps of Signals. However this was not the origin of the character name Morse in his novels; instead he named the character after Sir Jeremy Morse, a friend who was a devotee of crosswords like himself.
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By season 8, under new owners Carlton, the series had now become an annual "tentpole/ water cooler" television event, with only one episode a year in november. Thats why the season 8 premiere dates are so spread out. Originally they were 5 stand alone episodes. Eventually, when Granada and Carlton merged to eventually become the new copyright owners, ITV Studios, in turn the final 5 episodes were retro-fitted as season 8. This also explains the "mid season" change in aspect ratios.
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David Jason is a big fan of this show and other detective series, which inspired him to play a detective in A Touch of Frost (1992).
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When (re-)watching the entire run of "(Inspector) Morse", after watching the current entire run of the "Endeavour" prequel series, the original series is rejuvenated now knowing a lot more of the characters back story. One of the fun elements is now realising how long Max and Morse have worked together, and how they have such an interesting friendship dynamic. The prequel series also retrofits many elements of "Morse", and explains certain character traits, and plot elements.
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Music from the series has been released on CD. The CDs contain different versions of the title theme, incidental score, and source music.
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Seemingly, even though UK tv productions were not allowed to have product placements deals at the time, a large number of cars in certain episodes seem to the Vauxhall brand. Owned by General Motors, with the rest of Europe branded as Opal, there may have been a product "loan" arrangement, rather than a formal paid product placement deal, or "promotional consideration", or "furnished by" arrangement as common in the USA.
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Despite being set in England in the 1980s and 1990s, the series featured an almost complete lack of ethnic minority characters.
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Music for the show was recorded at Paradise Studios in Chiswick for the musical composition writing and electronic score parts, and at CTS Studios, Wembley, Middlesex for the orchestration. Source and/or classical pieces were recorded at Rosslyn Hill Chapel, Hampstead. The Paradise Studios recordings were by Producer Martyn Phillips, the CTS Studios recordings were by Dave Hunt, and the Rosslyn Chapel recordings were by John Taylor.
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From season 4 onwards, the production moved from Lee International Studios Wembley, over to Goldcrest Elstree Studios. This was the period when the former EMI Elstree Studios had since been acquired by Brent Walker, and re-named Goldcrest. Within a few years, half of the Goldcrest Elstree Studios site was notoriously sold-off to Tesco for the Borehamwood supermarket, before the other half was eventually acquired by Hertsmere Council, and eventually resumed its position as a major tv and film production facility.
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Original production partner Central Independent Television, with Zenith, were later acquired by Carlton Television. Carlton's Home Entertainment division, "Carlton Video", in turn produced the home video documentary "Inspector Morse: Rest in Peace", basically an end of series "clip show". Carlton eventually merged with Granada Television to form itv plc, later renamed itv studios. The hd restoration version of the series retro-fitted the copyright holder to itv studios, but some broadcasters, streaming services, and physical home entertainment copies, maybe still be using one copies of the earlier unrestored (original) copyright holders names versions.
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In season 8, the final season, Central Independent Television had now been acquired by Carlton Television. Carlton produced episodes 1 and 2 in the original "Academy" 9:12 aspect ratio, with episodes 3, 4 and 5 in one of the earliest versions of the 9:16 widescreen ratio.
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Musicians for the score and source music were contracted by Alto Management.
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Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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