Inspector Morse is a British television crime drama, starring John Thaw and Kevin Whately, for which eight series were broadcast between 1987 and 2000, totalling thirty-three episodes. Although the last five episodes were each broadcast a year apart (two years before the final episode), when released on DVD, they were billed as Series Eight.

Series overview

SeriesEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
136 January 1987 (1987-01-06)20 January 1987 (1987-01-20)
2425 December 1987 (1987-12-25)22 March 1988 (1988-03-22)
344 January 1989 (1989-01-04)25 January 1989 (1989-01-25)
443 January 1990 (1990-01-03)24 January 1990 (1990-01-24)
5520 February 1991 (1991-02-20)27 March 1991 (1991-03-27)
6526 February 1992 (1992-02-26)15 April 1992 (1992-04-15)
736 January 1993 (1993-01-06)20 January 1993 (1993-01-20)
8529 November 1995 (1995-11-29)15 November 2000 (2000-11-15)


Series 1 (1987)

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
11"The Dead of Jericho"Alastair ReidAnthony Minghella6 January 1987 (1987-01-06)
Anne Stavely, a friend of Morse's, ostensibly commits suicide at her home in Jericho, though Morse is unconvinced. Morse works with Sergeant Lewis for the first time.
22"The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn"Brian ParkerJulian Mitchell13 January 1987 (1987-01-13)
Morse and Lewis investigate the death of Nicholas Quinn, a hard-of-hearing Oxford examiner who had recently complained to his superior that others in the examination syndicate were selling secrets. Quinn died of cyanide poisoning but Morse is convinced that this is a case of murder, not suicide. When a second prominent member of the syndicate is killed, Morse looks to the other members for the murderer. What he finds is a maze of deceit and office adultery.
33"Service of All the Dead"Peter HammondJulian Mitchell20 January 1987 (1987-01-20)
A church warden is found with a crucifix in his chest; and more bodies start to pile up as Morse and Lewis try to catch a dangerous psychopath. Bodies of persons closely linked to St Oswald's where the first murder took place. Morse falls for the church caretaker, but she has other things going on in her life.

Series 2 (1987–88)

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
41"The Wolvercote Tongue"Alastair ReidJulian Mitchell25 December 1987 (1987-12-25)
An American tourist is found dead in a hotel room at the Randolph Hotel, apparently from a heart-attack. Morse suspects foul play, as a unique Anglo-Saxon artefact belonging to the victim has gone missing. Based on an original story by Colin Dexter which he subsequently novelized as The Jewel That Was Ours.
52"Last Seen Wearing"Edward BennettThomas Ellice8 March 1988 (1988-03-08)
A schoolgirl, daughter of a very influential local-businessman, has been missing for six months and Morse is convinced she is dead since he's just been assigned the case. But, before Morse can solve the mystery, another murder occurs.
63"The Settling of the Sun"Peter HammondCharles Wood15 March 1988 (1988-03-15)
Morse is called on to solve the murder of a Japanese student, one of a group of foreign-students with whom he had attended dinner.
74"Last Bus to Woodstock"Peter DuffellMichael Wilcox22 March 1988 (1988-03-22)
Morse investigates the death of Sylvia Kane, an 18-year-old woman found dead in a pub car park, where she was late in meeting her date. In her possession is found an envelope with a secret-coded-message addressed to the dead woman's co-worker Jennifer Coleby, who has secrets of her own. Several relationships and connections are established by Morse & Lewis to find the truth about how Sylvia died.

Series 3 (1989)

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
81"Ghost in the Machine"Herbert WiseJulian Mitchell4 January 1989 (1989-01-04)
Valuable paintings are stolen from a stately home, Hanbury House, and Sir Julius Hanbury, the owner, is missing. After Morse finds Sir Julius's body in his private chapel, he and Lewis are involved in a near car accident that results in a fatality. Lewis notices the brake line is cut and the driver of the car has a note on him in response to a blackmail threat. Morse meets Dr Russell, the replacement pathologist. This was the first episode not to be based on either a novel or an original story by author Colin Dexter.
92"The Last Enemy"James ScottPeter Buckman11 January 1989 (1989-01-11)
The torso of a man is found floating in a canal at Thrupp. An old university friend of Morse's, and now the Master of the Oxford college Beaumont, Sir Alexander Reece, asks Morse to investigate the disappearance of the Deputy Master. Based on Colin Dexter's novel The Riddle of the Third Mile.
103"Deceived by Flight"Anthony SimmonsAnthony Minghella18 January 1989 (1989-01-18)

An old college roommate of Morse's, Anthony Donn, comes to Oxford for an annual cricket match, calls Morse after 20 years and wants to get together and talk. They eat chips on a bench, but Donn never gets round to saying what is on his mind, though he tells a zen story. Morse soon gets distracted by a case where three people are killed in a hate crime in the fire bombing of a radical bookshop. Donn then turns up dead in his college lodging. At first sight it looks as if he has electrocuted himself, but puzzlingly he had a gun in his luggage. His wife says he hated guns. Lewis postpones his leave to go undercover as a college porter and replaces Donn on the cricket team, the Clarets. One of the team members, Vince Cranston, resents this as he is not a gentleman. At the cricket match between the Clarets and the Hearties, organized by another former college friend of Morse's, Roly Marshall, Lewis acquits himself well, while Morse dozes. Meanwhile Lewis had seen Peter Foster searching Donn's room. Both Anthony Donn's widow, Kate, and Peter Foster's apparent wife, Philippa, appear attracted to Morse.

During the cricket match, Peter Foster is found murdered in the changing rooms, stabbed in the chest with a pair of scissors. Morse confronts Philippa Foster, who admits that she is a customs investigator and Peter is not her husband but her boss. Over the last two years, they have traced regular exports of cocaine and heroin that correspond with the Clarets' tours to the Low Countries. They had not told Morse as he might have been involved. She persuades Morse to permit this year's tour to continue. When the tour bus arrives at Dover, it is searched but nothing is found. Meanwhile Morse has tailed Kate Donn and seen her passionately kissing Vince Cranston. Morse realises that, contrary to E. M. Forster's advice to "only connect", he has to delink the two killings. He discovers cocaine hidden in the seat of the wheelchair used by Roly Marshall and deduces that Jamie Jasper, Marshall's nephew, killed Foster. Jasper worked in international finance and so had the opportunity to obtain drugs in the Far East. Morse then goes to the radio studio where Kate Donn is hosting her chat show and arrests her for murdering her husband. The motive is that she wanted to leave him for Vince, but he threatened to kill either Vince or himself (hence the gun). Morse suspected this because Vince had given Kate a book on zen with a florid dedication.

The action takes place during the Test match, with commentary by Brian Johnston, which annoys Morse because it deprives him of his habitual music on BBC Radio 3.
114"The Secret of Bay 5B"Jim GoddardAlma Cullen25 January 1989 (1989-01-25)
A murder at a multi-storey car park uncovers a crime of passion involving a jealous husband, his wife, and her lover. Based loosely on Colin Dexter's novel The Secret of Annexe 3.

Series 4 (1990)

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
121"The Infernal Serpent"John MaddenAlma Cullen3 January 1990 (1990-01-03)
The death of a senior fellow outside his Oxford college of Beaufort during an apparent mugging leads Morse to suspect the prominent environmentalist was killed because of his beliefs. At the same time, Morse senses there's more than a prank behind the mysterious packages being sent to Master Matthew Copley-Barnes.
132"The Sins of the Fathers"Peter HammondJeremy Burnham10 January 1990 (1990-01-10)
Morse and Lewis investigate whether two murders at a family brewery are linked to a proposed takeover bid. Morse uncovers a 100 year old connection between a long dead magistrate and the original brewery owner
143"Driven to Distraction"Sandy JohnsonAnthony Minghella17 January 1990 (1990-01-17)
The same killer appears to have brutally murdered two women separately in Oxford. Commonalities in the murders lead Morse to the owner of a car dealership as the suspect.
154"Masonic Mysteries"Danny BoyleJulian Mitchell24 January 1990 (1990-01-24)
Morse becomes the prime suspect when a friend is murdered at a dress rehearsal of Mozart's The Magic Flute, and he is found holding her with a knife in his hand. It soon becomes apparent that one of his old adversaries, Hugo De Vries, is trying to implicate him.

Series 5 (1991)

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
161"Second Time Around"Adrian ShergoldDaniel Boyle20 February 1991 (1991-02-20)
A highly thought-of and distinguished senior officer, Charlie Hillian, has just retired and is writing a book about his biggest cases. During the night after he received an OBE, Hillian is killed in a struggle in his rural Oxfordshire home. The notes for one chapter of his forthcoming book are missing – the only case in the book which Hillian and his then DS, Patrick Dawson, never solved. That case involved the murder of an eight-year-old girl, Mary Lapsley, and it appears that someone wants that chapter to remain unpublished. The Lapsley case is very personal for Morse who has never solved it.
172"Fat Chance"Roy BattersbyAlma Cullen27 February 1991 (1991-02-27)
The death of a promising feminist cleric highlights a furious Ecclesiastical battle of the sexes that Morse discovers is somehow connected with a weight-loss medication.
183"Who Killed Harry Field?"Colin GreggGeoffrey Case13 March 1991 (1991-03-13)
Local artist, restorer and bon viveur Harry Field is murdered but who would want to kill a mediocrity? Lewis considers applying for a promotion to Inspector, to the obvious dismay of Morse.
194"Greeks Bearing Gifts"Adrian ShergoldPeter Nichols20 March 1991 (1991-03-20)
A Greek restaurateur is murdered; his sister, accompanied by her baby, comes to Oxford for the funeral. The sister vanishes, and her baby is then kidnapped. Somehow, both are connected with a reconstructed Hellenic trireme.[nb 1]
205"Promised Land"John MaddenJulian Mitchell27 March 1991 (1991-03-27)
Morse and Lewis travel to Australia to re-interview a man who has become a protected witness after he testified against a mobster. Questions about the validity of the case arose in England, and now the informant may be in danger. The bank robbery which the protected witness was involved in and testified regarding is the subject of the episode.

Series 6 (1992)

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
211"Dead on Time"John MaddenDaniel Boyle26 February 1992 (1992-02-26)
When Henry Fallon, an Oxford don, commits suicide, Morse discovers he has a painful link with the man's widow, Susan.
222"Happy Families"Adrian ShergoldDaniel Boyle11 March 1992 (1992-03-11)
Morse becomes the victim of a hate campaign by the press as he investigates the death of a cruel, boorish industrialist.
233"The Death of the Self"Colin GreggAlma Cullen25 March 1992 (1992-03-25)
Morse and Lewis investigate the apparently accidental death of a wealthy tourist in Italy and uncover an antiquities smuggling racket.
244"Absolute Conviction"Antonia BirdJohn Brown8 April 1992 (1992-04-08)
Lawrence Cryer, convicted of real estate fraud, is found dead in a cell at the minimum security prison, Farnleigh. Morse, Lewis and D.S. Cheetham question various inmates, including Cryer's former partners, Bailey and Thornton, who are also incarcerated at Farnleigh and various victims of the fraud. The Farnleigh governor, Hillary Stevens, is also questioned. An inmate, Charlie Bennett, incarcerated for murdering his wife, is suspected of being the perpetrator.
255"Cherubim and Seraphim"Danny BoyleJulian Mitchell15 April 1992 (1992-04-15)
Teen suicides, one of which is Morse's niece, are being linked to the local rave scene. As part of his preparation for the inspector exam, Lewis is temporarily assigned to another inspector who works strictly by the book.

Series 7 (1993)

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
261"Deadly Slumber"Stuart OrmeDaniel Boyle6 January 1993 (1993-01-06)
Matthew Brewster, owner of a private clinic, is found dead in his garage with the car engine running. The pathologist discovers he was murdered. Morse and Lewis question the dead man's wife and son. They uncover that Michael Steppings threatened the victim; Steppings' daughter was declared brain dead while undergoing simple surgery at the clinic. Steppings is interrogated for the murder and is released when Morse substantiates his alibi. Meanwhile, Lewis discovers that Wendy Hazlitt, a nurse at the clinic, had an affair with Matthew Brewster. He also uncovers a set of anonymous threatening letters, using words clipped from newspapers and magazines, which have been sent to the victim. Forensic examinations reveal that one of the letters has been tampered with, and that an extra death threat has been added, using different glue. Morse's investigation leads to the victim's son and his belief that the son was blackmailing the victim. Morse accompanies Steppings to visit his comatose daughter in hospital, where she is on life support. Morse begins to like Steppings on learning from observation and staff that Steppings devotedly visits her daily, while Steppings is moved when Morse brings her flowers. But Lewis discovers that Steppings' accusations of medical incompetence against the Brewsters were correct - Mrs Brewster's developing illness made her take time off to rest or visit hospital and both the Doctors Brewster let the not fully qualified Hazlitt act as anaesthetist. Hazlitt was acting in place of Mrs Brewster who was in hospital on the day of Steppings' daughter's operation. Hazlitt administered the incorrect anaesthetic dose, leading to the daughter's brain damage. But Dr Brewster spurned Hazlitt's advances so Hazlitt decided on revenge - she contrived contact with Steppings and confessed how his daughter's operation was mishandled, hence the earlier unexplained break-in at the clinic which was Steppings checking the files to verify the dates of Dr Brewster's absences against ops. Hazlitt and Steppings drew up a plan to murder Dr (Mr) Brewster which involved blackmailing the son, requiring Steppings to forge threatening letters and the son to reveal them to Morse. Meanwhile Dr (Mrs) Brewster dies after suffering trauma from being told her son has confessed to the murder and been arrested. After Morse realises and proves the son is lying to cover up for the murderer, the son then murders Steppings before Steppings can flee the country. Steppings writes to Morse, confessing, and saying his ex-wife will look after their daughter, which she does by having the life support switched off.
272"The Day of the Devil"Stephen WhittakerDaniel Boyle13 January 1993 (1993-01-13)
John Peter Barrie, a convicted rapist and devil worshipper, escapes from a prison infirmary by eluding the authorities with several disguises. Morse and Lewis begin a manhunt in an attempt to track him down. They question his prison therapist, Doctor Esther Martin, and Humphrey Appleton, a priest and an expert in the occult, who provides them with information on Barrie's state of mind. Meanwhile, Barrie abducts Holly Trevors, wife of Steven Trevors, an odd-job man working for Oxford college, but releases her. Barrie then demands to meet with Dr Martin on Lammas day, a pagan day of ritual fire. Lewis visits an Occult bookshop, where he finds that one of their regular customers is a colleague of Steven Trevors. Morse begins to suspect that someone is helping Barrie, after witness statements reveal that his disguises involve professional theatrical make-up. Meanwhile, Steven Trevors's fingerprints are discovered, previously unidentified, on the police data base from an earlier unsolved crime, which is linked to Barrie. On Lammas Day, a group of devil-worshippers are celebrating a Black Mass, when they are suddenly surrounded by a ring of fire, and Steven Trevors is burned alive. The mystery deepens when Barrie's much earlier connection to his prison therapist is revealed.
283"Twilight of the Gods"Herbert WiseJulian Mitchell20 January 1993 (1993-01-20)
Neville Grimshaw, an investigative journalist, is found shot dead. Opera diva Gwladys Probert, is shot by a sniper during an academic procession which is witnessed by Morse and Lewis. Morse and Lewis discover that Grimshaw was investigating Andrew Baydon, a prospective major benefactor of the college. An investigation finds that the two shootings are related. Baydon, a survivor of a Nazi concentration camp, is revealed as a collaborator and guard, and Morse suspects that he ordered the killing of Grimshaw, which leads him to realise that Victor Ignotas, a survivor of the same camp, may have unintentionally shot Probert whilst attempting to kill Baydon.

Series 8 (1995–2000)

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
291"The Way Through the Woods"John MaddenRussell Lewis29 November 1995 (1995-11-29)
Stephen Parnell, who confessed to murdering five people, is killed in prison, but in his dying declaration, he claims that he did not kill the last victim, Karen Anderson. Morse learns that the murders were first investigated by DCI Martin Johnson and Lewis the previous summer, but that Karen Anderson's body has never been found. Morse becomes convinced that Johnson overlooked key evidence, and that Karen Anderson's body has been buried in Wytham Woods, and not in Blenheim Lake, as Parnell had stated in his confession. Morse questions George Daley, a witness who found Anderson's overnight bag a week after she disappeared, and turned it over to the police. The next day, Daley is found shot to death in one of the gardens at Blenheim Palace, and Morse is put in charge because Strange feels that Johnson may have cut corners in the investigation. Morse and Lewis then interview Dr Alan Hardinge, the bursar of Lonsdale College; Dave Michaels, the groundskeeper of Wytham Woods; and Margaret and Philip Daley, the wife and son of George Daley. When they question Mrs Daley and her son, they touch upon some photos found on Karen Anderson's camera. Lewis identifies the location in one of the photos as Park Town, which leads them to Alisdair McBryde, a local resident. McBryde identifies Dr James Myton, a South African doctor, who seems to have fled the country mid-way through his rental of a local flat and appears in two of the photos. Morse and Lewis discover that McBryde and Myton had encouraged Karen Anderson to pose for nude photographs for them on the day before she went missing. A search of Myton's flat leads Morse to convince Strange to let him search Wytham Woods. When the search turns up some skeletal remains, Morse is convinced that Karen Anderson has been found.
302"The Daughters of Cain"Herbert WiseJulian Mitchell27 November 1996 (1996-11-27)
Dr Felix McClure, a retired university don, is found stabbed to death in his apartment. The phone number of "Kay" is found in McClure's notes. Morse and Lewis begin investigating McClure's college associates and students. These include Ted Brooks, his former scout, who was sacked by McClure for apparent drug dealing; Matthew Rodway, a student who died in questionable circumstances; and Ashley Davies, another student and friend of Rodway, who trains racehorses at Seven Barrows near Lambourn, and was rusticated by McClure. They discover that Ted Brooks has physically and emotionally abused his wife, Brenda, for years. Brenda's daughter, Kay, who is a high-class escort and is engaged to Ashley, has also been abused by her stepfather, Ted, when she lived at home. Morse interviews Kay about her relationship with Felix and Ted. Morse also questions Julia Stevens, a school teacher and very close friend of Brenda, who is dying of a brain tumor. Morse suspects Ted Brooks killed McClure because McClure had discovered Ted was selling drugs to the students again. Ted disappears from his house and his body is found in a nearby river. Brenda Brooks confesses to destroying evidence that incriminates her husband in the death of McClure. Morse and Lewis disagree on whether to search for a possible accomplice, who they suspect must have helped Brenda dispose of the evidence. Morse is convinced Kay, Julia and Brenda were involved in Ted's disappearance and murder; there's just one hitch – no evidence to prove his theory.
313"Death Is Now My Neighbour"Charles BeesonJulian Mitchell19 November 1997 (1997-11-19)
Rachel James, a physiotherapist, is shot through a window of her own home while drawing the blinds one Friday morning. Meanwhile, Dr Julian Storrs and Denis Cornford are two candidates locked in an intense rivalry for Master of Lonsdale College, to replace Sir Clixby Bream. Morse and Lewis begin the investigation by interviewing her neighbours and the clinic where she worked. Morse soon establishes that Julian Storrs gave Rachel a Valentine's card found in her possession, and was having an affair with her at the time of her death. Morse also learns from Storrs that Denis Cornford and Adele Cecil, a neighbour of Rachel's, were once lovers. The following morning, Geoffrey Owens, Rachel's neighbour, is found shot dead in his house in similar circumstances. Because there is no Number 13, Morse concludes that Rachel James is mistakenly killed and Geoffrey Owens had been the intended victim. Morse also uncovers that Owens supplemented his reporter's income by blackmailing unknown victims. Among Owens' papers, Morse finds a slip of paper in a file with an article he had written about the retirement of Bream. Morse's trawl through the archives leads him onto a case where housewife Alice Martin and her daughter Debra shot Alice's husband Kenneth, a wealthy businessman, and then burned him on his yacht, because he was going to run off with a younger woman. Morse finds out that Alice and Debra changed their names to Angela and Diane Cullingham, to avoid the stain of their past following them – and that Angela Cullingham has since become Angela Storrs.
324"The Wench Is Dead"Robert KnightsMalcolm Bradbury11 November 1998 (1998-11-11) 12.39m[2]
Morse and Strange attend an exhibit entitled "Criminal Oxford", but during a lecture by Dr Millicent Van Buren, a visiting professor from Boston University, Morse starts to feel ill, and is later found by Strange collapsed on the lavatory floor. While hospitalised, Morse is diagnosed with a bleeding ulcer, which his doctor ascribes to his excessive consumption of alcohol. To pass the time in his recovery, he reads Van Buren's book on Victorian investigation techniques, which details the 1859 murder of Joanna Franks, whose body was found floating in the Oxford Canal. Rory Oldfield and Alfred Musson, two boatmen on a fly-boat Joanna was travelling on, were convicted of the murder and hanged; another, Walter Towns, received a last-minute commutation to transportation for life. However, Morse comes to believe that the men did not kill Joanna, and were victims of a miscarriage of justice. With the assistance of Adele Cecil and Constable Adrian Kershaw, Morse uncovers several inconsistencies in the trial. For instance, Joanna had accused the boatmen of being rude and drunk, but was later seen drinking and smiling with them. A fourth boatman on the fly-boat, a teenager who was not charged, testified for the prosecution. The size of Joanna's shoes fit improperly with the length of her dress, which had been altered, and her drawers, which had been described as torn or ripped, were actually cut with a knife deliberately. Kershaw investigates the insurance payment to Charles Franks, and discovers that Joanna had insured herself, and that payment of £300 was made in full to Charles Franks. Although Morse is unable to exhume Joanna's body, he travels to Bertraghboy Bay, on the west coast of Ireland, to open the grave of Frank Donavan. When the coffin is opened, there are no human remains. Morse figures out that Donald "Don" Favant, a passerby when the body was found, and Charles Franks, are aliases derived from Frank Donavan. Don Favant is an anagram of F. T. Donavan.
335"The Remorseful Day"Jack GoldStephen Churchett15 November 2000 (2000-11-15) 13.66m[2]
Yvonne Harrison is murdered in her bed and found by her husband Frank, her body having been left in a sexually compromising position. Morse, after no progress, is taken off the case after two months, and it remains unsolved. A year later an anonymous letter sent to the police suggests Harry Repp, who is to be released from prison, may be the perpetrator. Morse's failing health has Lewis assuming a more active role. Paddy Flynn, the cab driver who drove Frank Harrison to his home on the night of the murder, is found dead in a local rubbish dump. Harry Repp is also found dead, in the boot of a stolen car. A local lothario, John Barron, is killed in a fall from a ladder. It is speculated that the three men had been blackmailing whoever killed Yvonne, and that Barron killed the other two so that he could keep the blackmail money for himself. Yvonne's son, Simon, is questioned in Barron's death, but then a teenage boy admits to having caused Barron to fall off the ladder by crashing into it with his bicycle. The police deduce the Harrison family conspired together after Yvonne's murder to stop the blackmailing. The teenage boy is actually Frank's illegitimate son, Roy, who lied to the police in order to get Simon off the hook for killing Barron. And Yvonne's daughter, Sandra Harrison, a doctor who had seen Morse a few days earlier, had killed her mother in a jealous rage over John Barron, who'd seen her arrive last at Yvonne's home. Just after uncovering the truth, Morse collapses from a heart attack and later dies in hospital in the end.[3] Lewis gets a phone call at the airport, where he has gone to intercept Sandra, who is attempting to flee to Canada. Then, as Lewis takes Sandra into custody, she tries to explain her motivations, but he rebuffs her; she tells him Morse will understand, and he shouts, "Inspector Morse is dead!". Wagner's Parsifal accompanies the final scene.

See also


  1. ^ This episode caused a question to be raised in Parliament by Lord Jenkins of Putney regarding the legality of employing a baby, and how it was induced to cry at the right moment.[1]


  1. ^ ""Inspector Morse" TV Programme". Hansard Lords Sitting, UK Parliament. 25 April 1991.
  2. ^ a b "Weekly Top 30 programmes". BARB. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  3. ^ Leonard, Bill (2004). The Oxford of Inspector Morse. BFS Entertainment & Multimedia Limited. p. 77. ISBN 0-7792-0754-8.