March 23, 2017

LEWIS AND ENDEAVOUR ARE BOTH ON AMAZON PRIME:

Colin Dexter: the writer who brought novel ideas to television (Mark Lawson, 23 March 2017, The Guardian)

Dexter's 13 books about the operatic, alcoholic, argumentative Oxford detective Endeavour Morse, have resulted in 93 peak-time dramas on ITV: 33 episodes of Inspector Morse, 42 of the sidekick spin-off Lewis, and 17 so far of a prequel, Endeavour. Dexter lived to 86, and it would be a fitting tribute if the TV afterlife of his characters reaches at least 100.

But beyond those numbers, the Morse franchise, which began on television 30 years ago, was largely responsible for making detective fiction the centrepiece of mainstream British schedules. When producer Kenny McBain and dramatist Anthony Minghella premiered their first adaptation of a Morse novel, The Dead of Jericho in January 1987, it was considered revolutionary (and by some in broadcasting, reckless) to hand over two hours of airtime to a police procedural - a length previously reserved for bought-in movies, or perhaps a Christmas or Easter special.

It soon became clear, though, that the extra time allowed a luxurious visual slowness - and an intensely deliberative performance from John Thaw in the title role - that took the genre into new areas of writing, direction, acting, and, with its shots of historic Oxford, location filming. The lessons it taught about place and pace have never been forgotten. In the leisurely, immersive experience it offered, Inspector Morse was box-set television long before the concept existed.

Posted by at March 23, 2017 12:36 PM

  

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