Inspector Morse (1987–2000)
10 user 1 critic

The Way Through the Woods 

When a serial killer is murdered in prison, his deathbed confession disavows one of the murders he had previously confessed to. Morse wants to reopen the case.


John Madden


Colin Dexter (novel), Russell Lewis




Episode cast overview, first billed only:
John Thaw ... Chief Inspector Morse
Kevin Whately ... Detective Sergeant Lewis
Gary Powell Gary Powell ... Steven Parnell
Vivienne Ritchie Vivienne Ritchie ... Claire Osborne
Nicholas Le Prevost ... Dr. Alan Hardinge
Steven Crossley Steven Crossley ... Prison Chaplain
Maggie Shevlin Maggie Shevlin ... Margaret Daley
James D. White James D. White ... Philip Daley
Christopher Fairbank ... George Daley (as Chris Fairbank)
Mark Feakins Mark Feakins ... TV Reporter
Malcolm Storry ... DCI Martin Johnson
James Grout ... Chief Superintendent Strange
Michelle Fairley ... Cathy Michaels
John Malcolm John Malcolm ... Williams
George Beach George Beach ... DC Renton


Steven Parnell, who was accused of murdering a number young girls the previous summer, is killed while in prison awaiting trial. Morse had not been involved in the case as he was on leave during most of that investigation. What piques Morse's interest is that one of the victims, Karen Anderson, was never found and it is assumed that her body was dumped in a nearby lake but Parnell confessed to his priest on his deathbed that he wasn't responsible for that particular murder. When one of the witnesses in the case, George Daly, is murdered, Morse and Lewis try to find some connection to Anderson's disappearance. They also wonder why Anderson's camera - she was an avid photographer - wasn't found. What they come across is a group of middle-aged men whose hobby is taking so-called glamour photos. The case takes an interesting twist when the body they do find in the woods isn't Anderson's, but a middle-aged male. Morse realizes that he got the whole thing wrong and the cause of the murder ... Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery







Release Date:

29 November 1995 (UK) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


When Strange tells Morse that he doesn't want him "outside the tent" on this case, he is making an unexplained (and foreshortened) allusion to a famous remark made by Lyndon Baines Johnson when he was new in the office of President of the United States. Johnson was urged by many of his advisers to replace J. Edgar Hoover (who was nearing his seventies) as Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. However, Johnson re-appointed him, explaining (privately) that he'd prefer to have Hoover "inside the tent pissing out than on the outside pissing in". See more »


Towards the end, Morse desperately tries to contact Lewis, even phoning his home number. Earlier it is shown that Lewis has a mobile phone, but Morse does not appear to think of this possibility. See more »


Detective Sergeant Lewis: Death would have been instant, would it not?
Chief Inspector Morse: [Annoyed] "Occurred instantaneously", Lewis, or "was instantaneous" if you must. Coffee may be instant, death may not.
Dr. Laura Hobson, pathologist: Yes, Sergeant, it would have been instant.
See more »


Edited into Inspector Morse: Rest in Peace (2000) See more »


String Quartet in G minor, Op. 10
excerpts from 1st and 3rd movements
composed by Claude Debussy
See more »

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User Reviews

Wonderful, Meandering Plot
9 March 2018 | by HitchcocSee all my reviews

I always wonder how there can be so much animosity toward a person like Morse when he is the most successful, insightful detective imaginable. I suppose it's jealousy. There is apparently this guy running the department, who, no matter how many crimes are solved, constantly puts Morse under the microscope. I wonder what his department would look like if Morse hadn't saved his skin so many times. You do feel for Lewis. He is routinely abused and put down. He is incredibly hard working and good at what he does. Morse can be such an ungrateful ass. But in this episode, we get to see a whole cast come to the fore. We may not like most of them, but the sophistication of the plot speaks volumes. A trail of possible suspects is constantly winding here and there. A serial killer has recanted his confession to a priest and this sets it all in motion. Well done, to say the least.

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