The Last Enemy. An Overview: Music, Art, Literary References, Locations etc.


First transmitted in the UK on 11th January 1989. 

This is episode two of series three. Chronologically it is the 9th episode.

This episode is based on Colin Dexter’s novel, The Riddle of the Third Mile.

Colin Dexter can be seen at the very beginning of the episode only some 19 seconds into the episode. At least I think it’s him as I have watched the episode so many times trying to find him and this is the best I can do as a possible identification. I believe he is the man on the far left talking to the chap in the white vest.


Directed by James Scott. He only directed one episode.

Written by Peter Buckman. He only wrote one episode.

Jag Rating (out of ten)


A young couple on a canal boat discover a body in the water. The body has no head, no arms or legs. (he must have been drunk. Well he was legless wasn’t he? Do I hear groans?) I don’t know if Britain is the only place that uses the colloquialism ‘legless’ for one being drunk. Let me know via the ‘leave a comment’ section at the bottom of the post or on the Facebook page, see link above.

Anyway, back to the synopsis. While Morse are Lewis begin to investigate the murder Morse receives a call from the Master of Beaumont college, Sir Alexander Reece, (Barry Foster), that one of his colleagues, Dr David Kerridge (Tenniel Evans) has gone missing. Are these two events linked? While Morse battles toothache he and Lewis are engulfed in Beaumont College’s petty jealousies and rivalries.

Regarding the episode’s title, we learn from the episode that it relates to a passage in the New Testament, Corinthens 15:25/26/27

“For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him.…”

It would seem that the line, “The last enemy that will be abolished is death.” has been changed in various editions of the bible. The King James version translates it as, “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” The word abolished appears in the New American Standard bible. The use of the word ‘abolished’ certainly, to me, changes the effect and meaning of the King James version. Interesting, but a theological discussion for another time.


This is a good solid episode but in my opinion not one of the best. But very often not the best in terms of a Morse episode is far better than most of the drivel on TV. The episode is certainly helped by the wonderfully slimy and oily performance of Barry Foster as Sir Alexander Reece.

The episode is also helped by showing the growing respect between Lewis and Morse for each other. I love Morse’s, “Go home to your wife and kiddies, they need you more than I do.” Though Morse moans about Lewis’s need to go home early to babysit every so often he understands that Lewis is more than just his ‘bagman’.

Interestingly we first learn the reason why Morse never finished his degree at Oxford; it was because of a woman. This woman, Susan Fallon, will appear in the excellent episode, Dead on Time; Series 6, episode 1. It would also seem that Morse and Sir Alexander Reece’s palpable mutual dislike for each other stems from an affair of the heart. Her name was Wendy. One gets the impression that Reece ‘stole’ her from Morse.

I read the Morse novels sometime ago and I’m afraid I can’t remember much about the the book the episode is based on, The Riddle of the Third Mile. However, after some research I found the book to be very different from the episode. The writer, Peter Buckman, realized that the TV episode was so far removed from the book that he couldn’t justify using the book’s title.

There is nothing wrong with the episode per se. All the actors are very good especially the stalwart British character actors, Michael Aldridge, Barry Foster and Tenniel Evans. The episode is well written and directed but it just doesn’t come to life for some reason. Maybe it’s because for me it feels a little pedestrian at times, a little too routine. Lewis’s character I also felt took a backward step after his character progression in the last episode, Ghost in the Machine. However, Lewis comes back to the fore in the next episode, Deceived by Flight.

There are, of course, some nice touches in the episode over and above the afore-mentioned ones. When Morse meets Miss Tree, the dance teacher she says, “I might be able to do something with you.” She looks him up and down and says, “Perhaps not.” I’m thinking, there are many women out there who would disagree with you.

A small point and I wonder if anyone agrees with me. While Morse is in Kerridge’s flat he finds some pieces of skin. Morse pulls from his inside jacket pocket a small plastic evidence bag and places the skin inside. Is it just me or does this seem out of character: Morse keeping evidence bags in his pocket? Probably just me.

There is one small scene in the episode that goes some way to proving what a great actor John Thaw is. It is when Dr. Russell’s friend shows up at the pub where she and Morse are having a drink. Morse asks Sam what he would like to drink and he replies, “Half a lager.” The contempt Morse has Sam for asking for such a drink shows on his face brilliantly. But, John Thaw does it in a very subtle way but it is there for all to see apart from Sam that is.

Not only does Morse’s ‘date’ with Dr Russell get interrupted but also his drink with Carol is also interrupted but this time by Lewis. Poor Morse. When he walks away to get Sam’s drink part of you wonders if he will return to the table where Sam and Grayling are sitting. I think he would make his excuses and leave very soon after returning to the table. Was there any chance that Morse and Carol would become a couple? No, especially after her taking Morse to the Jamaican restaurant. Anyway, I think Carol was in love with Sir Alexander Reece.

I’m not sure what the intention behind Morse having toothache in the episode was supposed to achieve; apart from allowing him to drink more whisky than normal. Morse doesn’t need a toothache to be irascible. I don’t believe it added anything to the episode but maybe I am missing a point the writer was trying to make about Morse’s character; apart from the fact that he doesn’t visit a dentist often enough.

I am grateful to the writer of the episode for bringing the poem, The Hound of Heaven to my attention. It is a quite a remarkable piece of work.


An episode with a lot of incidental music by Pheloung Barrington but the only classical piece is the wonderful

44m03s Scubert: String Quintet in C Major (Love this piece)



Morse is entering the Master’s lodgings and the secretary, Carol Sharp, asks if he is Chief Inspector Morse. Morse answers, “I am he”. This is a quote from the Bible. ((Matthew 26:47-56; Mark 14:43-52; Luke 22:47-53). The quote ‘I am he’ is about the betrayal of Jesus.

“When Jesus had spoken these words, He went out with His disciples across the Kidron Valley, where they entered a garden. Now Judas, His betrayer, also knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with His disciples. So Judas brought a band of soldiers and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees. They arrived at the garden carrying lanterns, torches, and weapons.

Jesus, knowing all that was coming upon Him, stepped forward and asked them, “Who are you looking for?”

“Jesus of Nazareth,” they answered.

Jesus said, “I am He.”

And Judas His betrayer was standing there with them. When Jesus said, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.”

At 12m30s Morse says, “As Virgil pointed out, ‘There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

This refers I believe to Virgil’s opus The Aeneid.

“Virgil acknowledges this at the outset of the poem, The Aeneid,  in a rare programmatic utterance:Tantae molis erat Romanam condere gentem! What a tremendous struggle it was to found the Roman nation! It is Virgil’s way of saying “there is no such thing as a free lunch.” For every step Aeneas takes forward, there is something he has to leave behind. And Virgil highlights not only the glory of Rome, but the enormous personal cost it conceals.”

Man’s Fate in the Aeneid by David M Halperin


At the police station Morse says to Lewis, “Fortes fortuna iuvat.” Lewis answers, “Fortune favours the brave. My old school motto.”

At 41m Morse says, “By their works shall we know them.” This alludes to the New Testament, Matthew 7:15, “by their fruits you shall know them.”


Morse and Lewis are walking along the canal at Thrupp discussing where to find the missing head. Morse relates to Lewis the story of Orpheus’s death. Feeling spurned by Orpheus for taking only male lovers, the Ciconian women, followers of Dionysus, first threw sticks and stones at him as he played, but his music was so beautiful even the rocks and branches refused to hit him. Enraged, the women tore him to pieces during the frenzy of their Bacchic orgies. His head and lyre, still singing mournful songs, floated down the swift Hebrus to the Mediterranean shore.

At 1hr26m Morse states, “The man of virtue puts right the wrongs that have been done to him.” I don’t think this is an exact quote from any classical work. Aristotle did believe that via his ‘Virtue Ethics’ that one should do the right thing to the right person for the right reason

Morse and Lewis are walking to the car to try and find Arthur Drysdale. Morse says to Lewis, “The last enemy that will be destroyed is death”.

Regarding the episode’s title, we learn from the episode that it relates to a passage in the New Testament, Corinthens 15:25/26/27

“For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him.…”

1hr31m Drysdale and Morse quote from The Hound of Heaven by Francis Thompson;

“I FLED Him, down the nights and down the days;

I fled Him, down the arches of the years;

I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways

Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears

I hid from Him, and under running laughter.

But with unhurrying chase,

 And unperturbèd pace,

Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,

They beat—and a Voice beat

More instant than the Feet—

‘All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.”

To read the full poem click here.

1hr36m Drysdale again quotes from the above poem,

“Yet ever and anon a trumpet sounds

From the hid battlements of Eternity”

1hr37m Drysdale again quotes from the above poem;

“My days have crackled and gone up in smoke,

Have puffed and burst as sun-starts on a stream.

Yea, faileth now even dream

The dreamer, and the lute the lutanist”



Barry Foster who played Sir Alexander Reece was himself a TV detective. He played Commissaris “Piet” Van der Valk. The stories were based in Amsterdam but it was a British TV series on ITV. The series ran for 13 episodes over two series in 1972 and 1973. It did return for a few more episodes in 1991 and 1992. The theme tune became famous and Matt Munro hit the charts with a vocal version. Barry Foster starred in the film version of The Sweeney titled, ‘Sweeney!’ (Yes, not The Sweeney but just Sweeney!).

The young Alex Reece is encountered in the pilot episode of Endeavour.

Image result for Christopher Brandon endeavour

Chief Superintendent Strange played wonderfully by James Grout, appeared in the British TV series Redcap, a military police series in which he played the senior officer in John Thaw’s division. The two became great friends and remained so throughout the filming of Morse. He played the flamboyant actor Harry Chitterlow from the show Half a Sixpence in New York and was nominated for a Tony Award.

Inspector Morse for the first hour or so of this episode suffers from toothache for his apparent liking for three sugars in his tea and coffee. When the dentist has dealt with the toothache Morse returns to the Police Station and tells Lewis to add sugar to his coffee. However, in the episode Last Bus to Woodstock when he visits Jennifer Coleby’s house and discusses literature with Angie Hartmann he refuses sugar (and milk) in his coffee.

Laura Sadler who played the younger sister Sabine of Deboarah Burns went on to act in the popular British medical drama, Holby City, as Sandy Harper. She tragically died at the age of 23 when she fell 40ft from a balcony. (Thanks to Graham Barratt for this information).

Susannah Hitching enjoyed a highly successful second career as a writer under the name of Suzy Barratt. She wrote two volumes of family games books, I’m Bored and I’m Bored… Again!, which became best-sellers. She had been suffering from cancer and died in Spain on June 8 2007 aged 43.

Michael Percival who appears as the barman in this episode also appeared in the successful John Thaw series Kavanagh QC as Brian Edzard in an episode titled, ‘The Sweetest Thing.’

Tenniel Evans starred alongside John Thaw in one episode of British TV show Redcap. The episode was titled ‘It’s What Comes After’ and aired in 1964.

Michael Aldridge starred alongside John Thaw in the 1991 British TV show Stanley and his Women. Based on the novel by Kingsley Amis, Stanley and the Women is a 1991 four-part British drama (with 50-minute episodes).

Beatie Edney who played Deboarah Burns is now involved in the very popular BBC remake of Poldark. In that she plays Poldark’s servant, Prudie.

Image result for Beatie Edney poldark]



James Grout as Chief Superintendent Strange – (Born 22 October 1927 – Died 24 June 2012)


Sean Rigby as Police Constable Strange in the TV series Endeavour.


Amanda Hillwood as Grayling Russell – (Born – 11th August 1962 – )


Micheal Aldridge as Arthur Drysdale – (Born September 9, 1920 – Died January 10, 1994)


Barry Foster as Sir Alexander Reece – (Born August 21, 1927 – Died February 11, 2002)


Tenniel Evans as Dr David Kerridge – (Born May 17, 1926 – Died June 10, 2009)


Beatie Edney as Deboarah Burns – (Born October 23, 1962 –  )


Sian Thomas as Carol Sharp – (Born September 20, 1953 –  )


Lana Morris as Miss Tree – (Born March 11, 1930 – Died May 28, 1998)


Bert Parnaby as Ben – (No Info)


Mark Tandy as Collins – (Born February 8, 1957 –   )


Pauline Munro as the dentist – (Born 1936 –     )


Albert Welling as Chris Stoneley – (Born February 29, 1952 –   )


Kevin McMonagle as Geoff – (No info but here is his homepage:


Michael Percival as Pub Landlord – (No info)


Philip Bloomfield as Sam – (Born 19th November 1952 –  )


Jill Johnson as Mrs Burns – (No Info)


Gertan Klauber as German Man – (Born 5 March 1932 – Died 1 August 2008)

Jackie Buchanan as German Woman – (No Info)


Susannah Hitching as Girl on Boat – (Born April 1, 1964 – Died June 8 2007)


Laura Sadler as Sabena – (Born (25 December 1980 – Died 19 June 2003)


The pub where Morse bumps into Deborah Burns in London.

Cleveland Arms  28 Chilworth St, London W2 6DT.


The pub today.

Next is the location of Ms Tree and Dr David Kerridge flat in Bayswater in London.

The address is Cleveland Square, London.

Oxford Canal, Thrupp basin (Banbury Rd. North of Kidlington). This is where the body is found in the canal at the beginning of the episode.


The Boat Pub, Thrupp.(Canal Road, Thrupp) This is where Morse and Lewis interview the pub landlord.


Beaumont College – is actually Corpus Christi.


The shop where Lewis visits to ascertain who the dead man’s clothes belong to is called Walters Outfitters and is still going strong today,



Morse is taken to a Jamaican Restaurant by Carol Sharp. Though I can’t be sure which restaurant it was there is a rather famous one in Oxford called the Hi-Lo Jamaican Eating House. It’s doors have been opened since 1981. I don’t think it is a studio mock up so i’m going to stick my neck out and say that it is the afore-mentioned restaurant.


Pubs yet to be identified at around 36 minutes and 1 hour and 39 minutes.

Preview for the next episode, Deceived by Flight. I decided it made more sense to make a Powerpoint trailer or preview of the forthcoming episode rather than the episode I was currently writing about. I hope everyone agrees.


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.

22 thoughts

  1. Thank you for this wonderful blog!!! I look forward to checking it out often! Morse is one of my favorite shows and I had only recently viewed him and Sergeant Lewis on Hulu. Wonderful analysis on a pretty good episode.

  2. Bert Parnaby (1924-92) was at Balliol College Oxford, so his ‘scout’ is from first-hand knowledge. He became a professional actor late in life, having taught English (at Manchester GS) and become chief School Inspector for Drama.

  3. Hi Chris! Totally with you on the toothache thing… Another touch I liked in this episode was Ben wanting Mr Drysdale to have his plant. Aww. (Or, maybe not, what a baddie.) In the USA we don’t say “legless” for drunk, but we will say one has “an empty/hollow leg” if one can drink a lot. Cheers!

  4. Thanks for this. I’d just read ‘The Third Mile’ and realised at once that this episode diverges from the book a lot. Your point about the evidence bag that Morse pulled out in Kerridge’s flat in Bayswater – the exact same thought occurred to me! It isn’t at all like Morse to have on him little plastic bags and a pair of tweezers!

    1. Hi Peter. Glad you liked my post. The book and this episode are so different that if it wasn’t for Lewis and Morse being in the episode you would almost never know it was based on Colin Dexter’s novel.

      1. I think, at least you know it was based on Colin Dexter’s novel, when you hear the quotes from The Hound of Heaven by Francis Thompson. In which other detective novel would you find such mystical verse? Perhaps in the novels of Dorothy Sayers, my other favorite!

  5. Thanks for the mention of the Piet Van der Valk series. Netflix (US) has it on DVD and I’ve put it in my queue. I wonder if you, or anyone else, can tell me if Michael Aldridge was in a television series from maybe the 1970s in which he said “A bayba” (meaning a baby. Love for Lydia?? I think he was a father of an adult child? I thought Lewis was self-confident, and funny in this one. And I love the developing relationship between him and Morse. That scene in Morse’s living room says it all. I think I mentioned somewhere else that Barry Foster will always be the necktie killer in the Hitchcock movie Frenzy. I saw it when I was a young woman and found it very scary. I would love to go to the Jamaican restaurant!! I didn’t think Miss Burns was a very good auntie. I just watched this (third time) last evening, and I really liked it. Awful for Morse that the woman he had so loved was barely remembered by the man who took her from him.

    1. Hi Nan. You’re right about Michael Aldridge being in Love for Lydia in which he played Captain Rollo Aspen. You can find scenes form the series on YouTube. Not one of Hitchcock’s best movies, Frenzy but is certainly much maligned.

  6. Hello, Chris.
    I just recently discovered this world of Lewis and the others and am becoming rapidly addicted to it. Besides the fine detection work and the interplay of characters, I love seeing all the University locations, including many where visitors seldom get to go, and learning a bit about the customs of the place.
    Thanks for maintaining this interesting forum where one can get more information about the episodes.

    1. I was going to mention this connection when I read your comment! I didn’t know she was SS’s daughter. That’s amazing. And Kevin Whately was in Peak Practice with her.

  7. Lewis and Dr. Russel’s conversation – Lewis: (to Dr Russell) What’s a nice girl like you doing in a job like this? Dr Russell: How do you know I’m a ‘nice girl’ ? reminds me of the conversation between Endeavour and Trewlove in Prey. I also remember The Indelible Stain in which Lewis has the toothache. I enjoy seeing echoes through out the Morris/Lewis/Endeavour universe 🙂

  8. Best of luck with your studies, Chris. I am a keen Morse, Lewis and Endeavour fan. I frequently hark back to your lovely website.

  9. Somewhere in this episode someone (I can’t recall who, though I dimly feel it was Alexander Reece) refers to a “bedder” in the college. Cambridge has bedders, Oxford has scouts.

  10. Interesting and quite amusing that in the previous episode, Ghost in the Machine, Dr Russell says her first name was ‘an old family name’, but in this episode she says her father was ‘desperate for a name’ and just called her after the first thing he fished from the river!

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