The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn. An Overview: Music, Art, Literary References, Locations etc.

silent world quinn

Originally aired in the Uk on 13th January 1987

Book published on May 5th 1977

Colin Dexter appearance appears at 1m38s as a party guest


Directed by Brian Parker

Written by Julian Mitchell

Jag Rating (out of ten)

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Nicholas Quinn, a hard of hearing academic, ‘overhears’, via his ability to lip-read, an apparent attempt to sell the answers to the examinations set by the Foreign Examinations Syndicate for whom Nicholas Quinn worked. Subsequently, Nicholas Quinn is found dead having apparently committed suicide. But Morse is convinced it is a case of murder and with cryptic clues, crosswords and puzzles being part of the plot, Morse is in his element.


Another great episode and one that moved the series along nicely. The Morse and Lewis relationship is beginning to form into an recognizable partnership of the acolyte and the master. I love the scene where Morse forces Lewis to pour sherry for both of them to prove his theory of why Nicholas Quinn’s apparent suicide was murder. It is such a good scene because it begins with Lewis sneering like an errant schoolboy when told he has to drink sherry to him then looking incredulous when Morse tells him he is dead. Then Lewis becomes impressed by Morse’s reasoning as to how Quinn was murdered.


Lewis doesn’t want to drink sherry.

Like episode one this episode is full of great British character actors and it also includes the lovely Barbara Flynn whom I had a huge crush on…………………………….sorry drifted off into a pleasant reverie there. Moving swiftly on. Amusingly, the episode includes a rather prudish impression about the the film Last Tango in Paris and in particular categorizing it as a pornographic film. It isn’t a great film but is certainly not pornographic.

lasttangoLast Tango in Oxford?

Again as in the first episode we had an Agatha Christie type setting when Morse calls for a meeting of all the Syndics and during that meeting he questions Monica Height and arrests Dr. Bartlett. Personally, I found the scene superfluous and I can only assume that the episode writer, Julian Mitchell, was alluding to the previous book/TV detectives either ironically or as a nod in admiration to their work.

I liked the character of Ogleby, played by Michael Gough, and it is easy to imagine that he and Morse would have become friends. One can see those two confirmed bachelors sitting around on an evening, drinking the best whisky, solving crosswords and putting the world to rights.

I wasn’t convinced by the ending when Morse is attacked by the murderer, (I won’t say who for those who may not have seen the episode) it just didn’t ring true though of course the murderer may have simply lost all sense of right and wrong by this time. However, I do like Lewis standing over Morse as he is being strangled and asking, “Need a hand sir”? Morse’s reply is wonderful, “Get the bastard off me.”

As a bit of fun here is a picture of Morse’s living room. let us watch over the coming months how that will change.


Memorable Line –  Morse says “The trouble with my method Lewis is that its inspirational and as a result I sometimes, sometimes, get things arse about face.”

Literary Quotes – ‘Who shall escape whipping” (1h37m38s) Hamlet to Polonius in Hamlet Act 2 Scene 2. The exact and full quote is ‘Use every man after his desert and who shall ‘scape whipping’. In context this has Polonius saying that he will use the players as they are deserved (desert) to be used. Hamlet responds that Polonius should go out of his way to treat them far better (for if people were to be treated as they deserved, few would escape whipping).


Barbara Flynn as Monica Height (Born Aug 5th 1948 –        )


Micahel Gough as Philip Ogleby (Born November 23rd 1916 – Died march 17th 2011)


Clive Swift as Dr. Bartlett (Born February 9th 1936 –        )


Frederich Treves as Don of Lonsdale College (Born March 29th 1925 – Died January 30th 2012)


Peter Woodthorpe as Max ((B. Sep. 25th 1931 – D. Aug. 12th 2004)


Anthony Smee as Roope (Born 1950 –      )


Roger Lloyd Pack as Donald Martin (Born February 8th 1944 – Died January 15th 2014)


Phil Nice as Nicholas Quinn (Born Unknown but here is his Facebook page )


Elspet Gray as Mrs Bartlett (Born April 12th 1929 – Died February 18th 2013)


Arthus Cox as Noakes (Born 7th April 1934 –      )


Philip Voss as the Coroner (Born 1936 –      ) ( I included Philip as he had a recurring role in Morse)


Gabrielle Blunt as Mrs Evans (Born january 8th 1919 –  Died: August 6, 2014    )


Denyse Alexander as Cinema Manageress (Born June 28th 1931 –        )


Stefan Schwartz as Richard Bartlett (Born 1st may 1963 –      )


Saul Reichlin as the Sheik of Al-Jamara (Born Unknown)


Diana Blackburn as the lip reading teacher (Born Unknown)



(The times are set as hh/mm/ss, i.e. hours, minutes and seconds).


The first piece of music is played while Morse is claiming to be doing paper work but is actually attempting to complete a crossword. The music is ‘Der Freischutz (the Marksman)‘ by Carl Maria von Weberand (1786-1826 (music) & Friedrich Kind (1768-1843) (libretto).


We are back in Morse’s house where we finding him washing his hair. The music is Symphony in D minor by the Belgian composer Cesar Franck (1822-1890). He was born at Liège, in what is now Belgium (though at the time of his birth it was part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands).


Morse visits Roope in his rooms at the college and tinkles something on the piano but unfortunately I have no idea what it is.


The next piece is when Morse visits Dr. Bartlett at his house and finds Dr Bartlett’s son, Richard, air conducting to the German composer Richard Wagner’s (1813-1883) ‘Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg’. (The Master-Singers of Nuremberg).


We are back in Morse’s house where we find him completing  a crossword until he is interrupted by a phone call from Lewis. The extract is the opening of the Largo from Handel’s Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major HWV 313.  The German born George Frideric Handel was born on the 23 February 1685  and died on the 14 April 1759.

An interesting note about a piece of music composed by Barrington Pheloung. A blog reader, A.B., wrote to me sometime ago that he had noticed that a piece of music played over the section where Lewis is ‘tailing’ Roope’ to the Botanic Gardens to meet Dr. Bartlett (01h19m50s) had also been used in the previous episode ‘Dead of Jericho‘. In that episode it was played over the scene when Jackson goes to collect the money left there by Richards. (00h49m03s).


Let us start with the paintings on the wall of the room where there is a party to welcome the Sheik of Al-Jamara.


I believe the scene was shot in Oriel College but as for the paintings on the wall I’m afraid I cannot identify any of them. However, I have written to Oriel College to ask if they can verify it is a room in Oriel College and whether they can help with the identification of the paintings. Fingers crossed I get an answer.

I have received an answer from Oriel College and they kindly told me that it wasn’t their college but was in fact Brasenose College. So I Googled the college and viola found a picture of the room in which the party was held, Brasenose Hall;


After a bit of detective work I have more information about the paintings. To the far left is a painting of James Ley, 1st Earl of Marlborough, Lord High Treasurer. The artist is unknown.

unknown artist; James Ley, 1st Earl of Marlborough, Lord High Treasurer (1624-1628); Brasenose College, University of Oxford;

Next up is the painting second from the right. This is Alexander Nowell, DD, Benefactor, Principal (1595), Dean of St Paul’s by an unknown artist.

unknown artist; Alexander Nowell, DD, Benefactor, Principal (1595), Dean of St Paul's; Brasenose College, University of Oxford;

The painting in the middle is William Smyth, Bishop of Lincoln, Founder, Chancellor of the University (1500–1503) by an unknown artist,

unknown artist; William Smyth, Bishop of Lincoln, Founder, Chancellor of the University (1500-1503); Brasenose College, University of Oxford;

The painting second from the left is Richard Sutton (d.1524), Knight, Founder by an unknown artist.

unknown artist; Richard Sutton (d.1524), Knight, Founder; Brasenose College, University of Oxford;

The final one is the painting to the far right. This is Sir Thomas Egerton (1539/1540–1617), Viscount Brackley, Baron Ellesmere, Commoner, Lord Chancellor of England (1603–1617), Chancellor of the University (1610–1617) by an unknown artist.

unknown artist; Sir Thomas Egerton (1539/1540-1617), Viscount Brackley, Baron Ellesmere, Commoner, Lord Chancellor of England (1603-1617), Chancellor of the University (1610-1617); Brasenose College, University of Oxford;

In Nicholas Quinn’s house at 14 minutes and 25 seconds there is a small painting behind Morse. My first thought was a work by Charles Warren Eaton as it has the tonalist quality of one of his landscapes but if it is I can’t find it when searching the artist on Google. So for the moment it is unidentified.


Next up we have two painting s on the wall of Ogleby’s house at 42 minutes and 40 seconds.


The first above is a very bad print/reproduction of Joseph Mallord William Turner’s (1775-1851), 1840 painting of ‘Venice seen from the Giudecca Canal’.

Here is the original.


The second one is to the left of the first painting on Ogleby’s wall.


This is another Turner painting; ‘Ancient Rome; Agrippina Landing with the Ashes of Germanicus‘

Ancient Rome; Agrippina Landing with the Ashes of Germanicus exhibited 1839 Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851 Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

The next painting is a much simpler regarding its identification. It is on the wall of Roope’s College rooms wall.


This painting is ‘Canal and Factories’ by the English artist Laurence Stephen Lowry (1887–1976). Lowry is famous for painting scenes of life in the industrial districts of North West England. Below is the original.


We now move onto a poster on Monica’s wall in her office which can be seen clearly at 01h23m57.


It is a poster advertising an exhibition of the Spanish artist Ramon Dilley (1932-  ) at the Galerie du Carlton in Cannes. The original image is below;


At 01h29m Morse is in Dr Barlett’s office after arresting him. On the wall is a small painting which I cannot identify as yet with any certainty. It does look like it could be a very bad print or reproduction of ‘Venice: The Grand Canal, Looking North East From Palazzo Balbi To The Rialto Bridge‘ 1724 by Canaletto. (Real name, Giovanni Antonio Canal 1697-1768). See painting below.




Philip Ogleby not only works at the Foreign Examinations Board but also sets crosswords under the pseudonym Daedalus.


Michael Gough as Philip Ogleby.

Daedalus was written about by both Greek authors Homer and Ovid. He is probably best known as the father of Icarus and Iapyx. He is also very well known, as is mentioned in the episode, as the creator of the Labyrinth on Crete, in which the Minotaur (part man, part bull) was kept.


While Morse is interviewing Philip Ogleby  he asks Ogleby if it was Monica who had told him he was a bachelor. Philip replies that he had looked up Morse and so there was no need to “Cherchez la femme“.

Cherchez la femme is an expression first used in the 1854 novel ‘The Mohicans’ of Paris’ by Alexandre Dumas, ( Dumas is of course better known for writing  ‘The Three Musketeers’). The phrase Cherchez la femme literally means, ‘Look for the woman’. The phrase has come to mean over the years as, no matter what the problem, a woman is often the root cause.


Morse and Lewis are standing outside the cinema after the death of Ogleby. Morse says, “No human action happens by pure chance unconnected with other happenings” Lewis finishes the quote, “None is incapable of explanation.” The quote is attributed to Dr. Hans Gross, one-time Professor of Criminology at the University of Prague. Hans Gross is believed to be the creator of the field of criminalistics and is to this day seen as the father of Criminal Investigation.


Dr Bartlett is discussing with Morse if he should tell his wife about visiting the cinema to see the ‘pornographic’ film ‘Last Tango in Paris’. Morse tells him that adultery of the heart is not really the same as adultery and ends by saying “Who shall ‘scape whipping

This is from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Hamlet says it  to Polonius in Hamlet Act 2 Scene 2. The exact and full quote is ‘Use every man after his desert and who shall ‘scape whipping’. In context this has Polonius saying that he will use the players as they are deserved (desert) to be used. Hamlet responds that Polonius should go out of his way to treat them far better (for if people were to be treated as they deserved, few would escape whipping).


The Botanic Gardens where Lewis watches Roope meeting Dr. Bartlett.


Where Lewis first watches Roope then follows him



The Jericho Tavern next to the Studio 2 cinema.

jericho tevern

The Jericho Tavern today. The cinema is the blue building on the right.


Author: Chris Sullivan

After having looked after my mum for some 11 years she is now unfortunately in a nursing home. I'm afraid her dementia worsened as did her physical capabilities. So, for the first time in 21 years I find myself no longer caring for anyone. Apart from my mum I was also a single parent to two children and also looked after my dad who had Alzheimers, (he died in 2005). So, I have decided to return to University to try and get another degree this time in English Literature. (My other degree I got some 30 years ago is one in Ecological Science). After a year at college I have passed all grades and now will start Edinburgh University in September 2019. A busy time ahead made even busier by my writing a book on the TV series, Lewis.

33 thoughts

  1. Are you sure about the music at the 1h22m mark? I’ve scanned through all four movements and I cannot find what, in the show, sounds like a cello solo. If you can link a YouTube video of the piece used, I would appreciate it.

    1. Hi Joe. Thanks for reminding me to update this as I meant to do it sometime ago. You’re right it isn’t Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 6 Pathetique. I believe it might be a Mozart concerto. beyond that, i’m not sure. .

      1. The extract is the opening of the Largo from Handel’s Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major HWV 313.

      2. AB (who seems to have an amazing knowledge of classical music) is correct. Handel’s Concerto Grosso no 2 (Largo) Not played on the cello however but the viola da gamba.

  2. Do you know what the music is being played during the scene when Roope goes to meet Bartlett at the botanic gardens? Thanks

    1. This soundtrack first occurs in “The Dead of Jericho” during the scene where George Jackson waits to collect the money from the telephone booth. I can’t think of other episodes that share a similar soundtrack, but perhaps there are? At any rate, this particular soundtrack isn’t featured on any of the _Morse_ soundtrack discs where a selected number of tracks from various episodes are given titles other those of the episodes themselves.

  3. I wonder if the Tavern still sells traditional ales. Maybe now they are sold more in England so a tavern doesn’t need to advertise that it sells them. I remember reading about the real ale movement a while ago. Do you know whose picture that is above Morse’ shoulder in Monica’s office?

  4. Rewatching Morse after finishing Endeavor series 4 for the second time. Some of the actors look familiar. I was wondering if you would be able to cross reference the Morse episodes with the Endeavor/Lewis episodes so we can see all reacurring actors from the Morse side as well. Thanks for all you do! I am always excited to read your reviews after watching each episode.

  5. Chris, you must have eagle eyes. I would never have been able to find the 1724 Canaletto from what can be seen in the episode, but you’ve somehow done it!

  6. I wouldn’t call Morse a confirmed bachelor, but perhaps the phrase has a different meaning in Australia.

    1. He doesn’t seem very confirmed, since he tries to find women and build relationships, but they never work out for him.

  7. IMDB now has Phil NIce DOB as January 29th 1959. Still working as an acotr he’s most recently been in Citizen Khan.
    He also appeared in Goodnight Sweetheart (alongside Nicholas Lyndhurst) as George Formby! Amongst much other work

  8. Morse;s butter remark on contemplating “Last Tango” is smutty innuendo but only if you know enough about the movie.

    1. Indeed; the writer is also having a little chuckle by making butter a clue as to why Quinn’s death was definitely murder, ie the shopping bag contained salted, not unsalted butter.

  9. Film posters inside the cinema manager’s office: Bambi (Disney, 1942), Paris, Texas (Nastassja Kinski, Harry Dean Stanton, directed by Wim Wenders, 1984)

  10. I noted that Morse has a black eye early in the episode, which has cleared up by the final scenes, anyone know what that was all about?

  11. The interior of Quinn’s house looks like it is one of the houses in Beauchamp Lane – I used to go to No. 12 (also called wye cottage)

      1. My bad, *Beauchamp* lane – post code OX4 3LF, round the corner from the Templar shopping centre

  12. I always liked this one, especially with Michael Gough as the inquisitive, sharp-witted Ogelby.

    Sadly, Clive Swift (also known as Richard, Hyacinth Bucket’s husband in Keeping up Appearances) died in February of 2019.

    I’m glad they nixed the “gather all the suspects in one room” sequences after this episode, although this one does have a twist in that Morse reveals the wrong solution to the gathered cast–not something that would ever happen to Poirot! Then again, in the next episode, Service of All the Dead, a scene like this was impossible since there were almost no suspects left to gather by the end of the episode.

  13. Clive Swift who played Dr Barlett died on 1st February 2019. He became very well known for his role as Richard Bucket, husband of the domineering Hyacinth in the sitcom ‘Keeping Up Appearances’.

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