Inspector Morse (1987–2000)
5 user 1 critic

The Wench Is Dead 

While Morse is in hospital for a bleeding ulcer, he takes an interest in an 1859 murder and becomes convinced its resolution was a miscarriage of justice.


Robert Knights


Colin Dexter (novel), Malcolm Bradbury (screenplay)


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
John Thaw ... Chief Inspector Morse
Lisa Eichhorn ... Dr. Millicent 'Millie' Van Buren
James Grout ... Chief Superintendent Strange
Louisa Lawrenson Louisa Lawrenson ... Nurse Hall
David Keyes David Keyes ... Walter Towns (as David Keys)
Paul Mari Paul Mari ... Rory Jack Oldfield
Judy Loe ... Adele Cecil
Alan Mason Alan Mason ... Mr. Greenaway
Aline Mowat Aline Mowat ... Sister Nessie MacLean
Sara Carver ... Nurse Fiona
Philip Quast ... Mr. Benfield
Karen Staples Karen Staples ... Mona
Matthew Finney Matthew Finney ... PC Adrian Kershaw
Jonathan Copestake Jonathan Copestake ... Philip Tomes
Andrew Grubb Andrew Grubb ... Ward (as Andy Grubb)


Morse is taken seriously ill at a museum reception and is hospitalized. While there, he takes an interest in a 140 year-old case known as the Oxford Canal Murders. The case involved the murder and rape of young woman traveling by canal boat from Coventry to London. The case resulted in two men being hanged and Morse believes there was a miscarriage of justice. With Lewis away at the Inspectors course Supt. Strange, who has counseled Morse to take early retirement, assigns fast-track university graduate PC Adrian Kershaw to do some leg work for him. Morse determines that a fraud took place and that the victim may have been someone else altogether. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery







Release Date:

11 November 1998 (UK) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs




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Did You Know?


Colin Dexter based this Morse novel on a real case, that of the murder of Christina Collins in 1839 whilst travelling by canal from Staffordshire to London. See more »


[Sister Nessie interrupts Morse and Adele as they are talking. She needs to give Morse an injection]
Sister Nessie MacLean: I need his buttocks.
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Clarinet Concerto in A Major
Composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1791)
Morse has it playing in his house
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User Reviews

Solid episode
27 October 2012 | by andy-782See all my reviews

This is a good, solid storyline. Morse is in hospital, reviewing a historical case while convalescing. In that respect it is very like the book Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey where her inspector (Inspector Grant) while in hospital, after falling through a roof, reviews the princes in the Tower deaths, allegedly killed on the orders of Richard III. Obviously this case is different, being one from 150 years earlier and from Morse's Oxford but the similarities are great. The story is told as Morse in hospital and flashbacks to the original trial. Wonderful story all the same and some excellent performances especially from the supporting cast who often get overlooked by critics praising the leading actors.

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