April 27, 2007


Morse: The No.1 gentleman detective: He's described by his producer as 'a miserable sod who likes beer and can't relate to women'. Yet the viewers love him - all one billion of them. As ITV celebrates 20 years of Inspector Morse with a weekend of back-to-back screenings (Guy Adams, 27 April 2007, Independent)

Twenty years ago, a white-haired detective with a melancholy disposition drove a red Jaguar past some dreaming spires to the scene of an apparent suicide in the Oxford suburb of Jericho.

The detective was called Inspector Morse. His assistant was a younger man by the name of Lewis. After several pints of beer and a few crossword puzzles, they rubbed their heads together and realised the suicide was actually murder. Eventually, they caught the killer.

So began a famous partnership that endured for 13 years, 33 episodes, and more than 80 murders. It was a career of staggering, almost unbelievable commercial success, which turned a middle-aged Oxfordshire copper into a global icon.

Morse also became one of the biggest exports in the history of British television drama. The shows were sold to a total of 200 countries from Mongolia and Nepal to Malawi, El Salvador and Papua New Guinea. According to ITV, a billion people, just under a sixth of the world's population, have watched at least one episode.

At the same time, John Thaw, the late actor who played Morse, achieved fame on a par with a major Hollywood star, becoming a poster boy for an idyllic land of warm beers and happy country pubs that the rest of the world likes to associates with Middle England.

His success has spawned a thousand less-successful imitations and a spin-off television series called Lewis. It was behind a minor industry that has flogged ranges of merchandise and DVD box-sets to fans, and still sees a total of three companies competing to offer Morse-themed city tours to tourists visiting Oxford.

Today, seven years after he was finally killed off, Morse is the subject of a long-awaited celebration. This weekend sees the old dog's official 20th birthday, and ITV3 is devoting an entire 48 hours of television to the occasion. Morse fans, as they say in the Shires, are putting up the bunting.

While the books are very good, the Tham/Whatley chemistry is really the key to the greatness of the tv series.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 27, 2007 6:51 AM

13 years, 33 episodes

3 episodes per year?

Posted by: ic at April 27, 2007 12:51 PM

Netflix has them all, so we're set until Christmas at least.

Posted by: erp at April 27, 2007 1:48 PM


A full diet of Morse can get pretty dark. If you want lighten up, I suggest the old 80's Mystery programs Sgt. Cribb, Tommy and Tuppence and the Lord Peter Whimsey series. Light and enjoyable.

Just sayin'

Posted by: jdkelly at April 27, 2007 5:25 PM

Netflix also has Maigret, The Last Detective, Father Brown

Posted by: oj at April 27, 2007 7:15 PM