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Inspector Morse

From Academic Kids

Detective Chief Inspector Endeavour Morse is a fictional character, who features in a series of thirteen detective novels by British author Colin Dexter, though he is better known for the TV series about him. He is a senior CID officer with the Thames Valley Police in Oxford, England. His first name was kept a secret until the end of Death is Now My Neighbour. The origin of his name is the vessel HM Bark Endeavour, as Morse's father was a Quaker (Quakers have a tradition of "virtue names") and a fan of Captain James Cook.

The titles of the books are:

  • Last Bus to Woodstock, 1975
  • Last Seen Wearing, 1976
  • Silent World of Nicholas Quinn, 1977
  • Service of All the Dead, 1979
  • The Dead of Jericho, 1981
  • The Riddle of the Third Mile, 1983
  • The Secret of Annexe 3, 1986
  • The Wench is Dead, 1989
  • The Jewel That Was Ours, 1991
  • The Way Through the Woods, 1992
  • The Daughters of Cain, 1994
  • Death is Now My Neighbour, 1996
  • The Remorseful Day: The Final Inspector Morse Novel, 2000

Inspector Morse also appears in several stories in Dexter's short story collection, Morse's Greatest Mystery and Other Stories (1993, expanded edition 1994).

Dexter killed Morse in his last book, and has thus far shown no sign of resurrecting him—unlike Arthur Conan Doyle, who killed his main character only to bring him back to life. Morse dies in a hospital bed from complications of his neglected type 2 diabetes—his diabetes is mentioned repeatedly in the later books, and is one of the more realistic treatments of this disease in fiction.

The Inspector Morse novels have been made into a very successful TV series (also called Inspector Morse) for the British TV channel ITV. The series was made by Zenith Productions for Central (a company later acquired by Carlton). The series comprises 33 two-hour episodes (100 minutes excluding commercials)—twenty more episodes than there are novels—produced between 1987 and 2000. The final episode was adapted from the final novel. The Inspector himself was played by John Thaw and the faithful Detective Sergeant Lewis by Kevin Whately. Dexter makes a cameo appearance in each of the episodes. The series remains popular and is frequently repeated on ITV1 and ITV3. The series has been issued as cut-price videos and DVDs containing one episode each, together with magazine-size booklets giving background information on each episode, and as a series of seventeen double DVD's containing two episodes each (the last disc contains one episode and a two hour retrospective).

The titles of the television episodes are:

  • 1st Series, 1987:
    • 1. The Dead of Jericho
    • 2. The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn
    • 3. Service of All the Dead
  • 2nd Series, 1988:
    • 4. The Wolvercote Tongue
    • 5. Last Seen Wearing
    • 6. The Settling of the Sun
    • 7. Last Bus to Woodstock
  • 3rd Series, 1989:
    • 8. Ghost in the Machine
    • 9. The Last Enemy
    • 10. Deceived by Flight
    • 11. The Secret of Bay 5B
  • 4th Series, 1990:
    • 12. The Infernal Serpent
    • 13. The Sins of the Fathers
    • 14. Driven to Distraction
    • 15. Masonic Mysteries
  • 5th Series, 1991:
    • 16. Second Time Around
    • 17. Fat Chance
    • 18. Who Killed Harry Field?
    • 19. Greeks Bearing Gifts
    • 20. Promised Land, also known as Inspector Morse in Australia
  • 6th Series, 1992:
    • 21. Dead on Time
    • 22. Happy Families
    • 23. The Death of the Self
    • 24. Absolute Conviction
    • 25. Cherubim and Seraphim
  • 7th Series, 1993:
    • 26. Deadly Slumber
    • 27. The Day of the Devil
    • 28. Twilight of the Gods
  • Specials, 19952000:
    • 29. The Way Through the Woods
    • 30. The Daughters of Cain
    • 31. Death Is Now My Neighbour
    • 32. The Wench Is Dead
    • 33. The Remorseful Day

The theme and incidental music for the series was written by Barrington Pheloung and utilises a motif based on the Morse Code for "M.O.R.S.E."

In July 2004 ITV announced provisional plans to make Inspector Lewis, a spinoff series starring Kevin Whately, though as of June 2005 the series has not yet gone into production.

It is primarily the personality of the main character that makes the Inspector Morse novels so successful. With his beautiful Jaguar car (originally a Lancia), thirst for beer, intellectual snobbery, and penchant for Wagner, he is a likeable person despite his sullen temperament.

John Thaw had a special appreciation of the fact that Morse was different from classic characters such as James Bond and Sherlock Holmes. Morse was brilliant but he wasn't always right. He often arrested the wrong person or came to the wrong conclusion. As a result, unlike many classic sleuths, Morse does not always simply "bust" his culprit but ironic circumstances has the case end and the crime brought to him. Also, Morse was a romantic but had little success in meeting women.

Dexter is a fan of cryptic crosswords, and Inspector Morse is named for champion solver Sir Jeremy Morse. In every novel the surname of the killer is taken from those of winners of the weekly Azed solving competition that appears in The Observer.


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