First transmitted in the UK on 25th January 1989.
Inspired by the Colin Dexter novel The Secret of Annexe 3 which was originally published on October 1986 and was the seventh Inspector Morse novel.
This is episode 3 in series 3. Chronologically this is episode 11.
Colin Dexter does not seem to appear in this episode but if someone knows better please let me know. John and Cheryl made this observation; “In your review you say Colin does not seem to appear in this episode. Neither Cheryl nor myself can spot him but I wonder, if Colin was unavailable to appear personally, whether the scriptwriter/production team have obliquely included a nod in his direction via his characterisation of Morse in the novels instead. I say this because in Chapter 18 of The Dead Of Jericho Colin writes that Morse listened to The Archers and at the end of Chapter 34 of the same book he informs Lewis: ” – and I’ve got to catch up with the omnibus edition of The Archers. ” Morse listening to The Archers both as single broadcast episodes and the omnibus editions is also mentioned in some of the subsequent novels. As you point out in your review the theme song for that radio show, Barwick Green, is playing in the pub when Rosemary Henderson is seen there.”
Directed by Jim Goddard. He only directed this one episode of Morse.
Written by Alma Cullen. She also wrote the following episodes of Morse: The Infernal Serpent, Fat Chance, and Death of the Self. She also wrote an episode, ‘Fun Times for Swingers’ (1996) for the TV series A Touch of Frost. She now writes mainly for the theatre.
Episode Jag Rating:(out of ten)
An anonymous caller to the police tells them to investigate Bay 5B in the multi-storey car park. There the police find a murdered man, Michael Gifford, a successful architect and womanizer. Suspects abound in the form of Brian Pierce, an employee of Michael Giford and who was re-directing company funds for his own use, mostly buying works of art; Rosemary Henderson, with whom he was having an affair and her husband George who is dying of liver failure.
Not one of my favourite episodes due in my opinion to a rather flat story and some poor performances especially by George Irving as George Henderson. His performance is stilted and his portrayal of a drunk doesn’t ring true.
There are some problems with the story. In particular Brian Pierce’s suicide, which though not implausible doesn’t ring true. However, I may be being rather harsh here as Philip McGough who plays Brian Pierce does make the act of suicide appear within the character’s milieu.
Another problem I have is trying to figure out why the police were searching the insurance office and what they were looking for. Any relevant information is gleaned from Edward Manley and his secretary, Amy Morris.
But as with all Morse episodes there is a lot of good, interesting and fun things to get one’s teeth into. Poor Lewis is again hit over the head having been hit with a cricket bat in the previous episode, Deceived by Flight. As Morse comments to Lewis, “You must have a skull like an anvil”.
There is a lovely moment between Morse and Lewis (at 47minutes and 20seconds) as they walk through a park, discussing Michael Gifford’s diary and the importance and meaning of the red circled dates.
George Henderson works at Whytham Woods as a warden. These woods will play a bigger part in the future Morse episode. ‘A Way Through the Woods’, chronologically the 29th episode.
Morse and Dr. Russell are still flirting with each other and when the episode ends they share a drink together at Morse’s house and have future plans to visit the opera together. However, this would be Amanda Hillwood’s last performance as Dr. Grayling Russell. One can only assume that the producers of the programme decided that a long term relationship for Morse wouldn’t sit well within the series.
And finally Morse is pushed into answering why he has never married by Camilla the high class escort; “Too choosy, too hesitant, too last, too busy.”
Before Rosemary Henderson (played by Mel Martin) visits the gym she decides to go for a drink
While there the BBC 4 radio drama The Arches starts and its very familiar theme plays.
“Barwick Green” is the theme music to the long-running BBC Radio 4 soap opera The Archers. It is a “maypole dance” from the suite My Native Heath, written in 1924 by the Yorkshire composer Arthur Wood, and named after Barwick-in-Elmet, east of Leeds, West Yorkshire.
The music being played as we join what appears to be a policeman’s ball. There are two pieces played by the band but i’m afraid I don’t recognize them. They may of course have been written by Barrington Pheloung.
In Morse’s house we find him sitting at home listening to opera. Specifically he is listening to Richard Wagner‘s (1813 – 1883) Parsifal. Specifically the Prelude to Parsifal.
We are back in Morse’s house but this time he has the company of Dr Grayling Russell.
They are listening to a quick step which again I cannot identify.
If you enjoy all the music from the Morse series I have collected all the pieces I have identified thus far and have created playlists on YouTube. On how to access these playlists please read the relevant post by clicking here.
Or click here to my Youtube channel where you will find the music of Morse and Endeavour contained in playlists.
We are in the house of Brian and Fran Pierce. Specifically we are in Brian’s room cum gallery.
Morse is looking intently at one particular painting which he identifies as Romney Marsh. Brian Pierce identifies the artist as Inchbold.
However, the painting, on the left, is not by John William Inchbold (1830 – 1888) and he never painted anything titled Romney Marsh. In fact it is a very bad print of View near Sefton by the British artist John Edward Newton (1834–1891)
The painting to the right of Morse in the screen capture above, I am not so sure of. I believe it might be a pastiche of Edward Burne-Jones’ (1833 – 1898) painting Flamma Vestalis.
In the same scene the camera pans around of the walls showing a few other paintings. First up is this one;
The above is Val d’Aosta by John Brett (1830-1902)
Next up we have two paintings.
The one at the top is Greenwich Park by JOHN WILLIAM INCHBOLD, BRITISH 1830-1888. Now we have an Inchbold. 🙂
The painting seen at the bottom of the screen grab above is Golden Prospects, St Catherine’s Well, Land’s End, Cornwall by John Brett (1831 – 1902).
Thanks to a website subscriber Nancy, who identified the two paintings in Morse’s house.
On the right is a sketch, Phono by Prianesi and on the left is “Judith 1” painted by Gustav Klimt.
Thank you Nancy.
As far as I could tell there were none. If any of you lovely blog readers do encounter some in this episode let me know.
In the above picture Morse is holding the sadly now defunct weekly British magazine, The Listener. first published on 16 January 1929 and ceased publication in 1991. It previewed major literary and musical broadcasts, reviewed new books, and printed a selected list of the more intellectual broadcasts for the coming week. Happily, the entire digitised archive was made available online to libraries, educational and research institutions in 2011.
In the above scene the painting is said to be ‘Romney Marsh’ by John William Inchbold (29 August 1830 – 23 January 1888). In fact Inchbold never created a painting entitled, ‘Romney Marsh’.
Thanks to John and Cheryl who noticed the following connections; “His encounter with Camilla in this episode is echoed in the scenes between Endeavour and Eve Thorne in Muse: in each episode the courtesan makes the policeman distinctly uncomfortably when the conversation turns, at the woman’s instigation in both instances, to the detective’s love life.” At 1 hour 17 minutes Morse observes wet white paint on his sleeve at the newly decorated premises of Janice. Earlier in this episode he noticed wet white paint on the sleeve of the recently deceased Pierce. This is echoed when Endeavour finds wet white paint on his suit and realises Reg Tracepurcel was the guilty party in Rocket.”
Morse and Lewis discuss the diary.
This is the White Horse pub on Broad Street, Oxford.
Time – 53m1s
Pub – Unknown
Amanda Hillwood as Dr Grayling Russell (Born – 11th August 1962 – )
Mel Martin as Rosemary Henderson ( Born 1947 – )
Marion Bailey as Fran Pierce (Born: July 24, 1959 – )
Andrew Wilde as Edward Manley (No info)
Philip McGough as Brian Pierce (No info)
British soap fans will also know him from the daytime series Doctors in 2010 playing role of Dr. Charlie Bradfield.
George Irving as George Henderson (Born May 6, 1954 – )
Susan Kyd as Camilla (No Info)
Susan Kyd’s Official Youtube showreel.
Kate Lansbury as Mrs Cameron (No Info)
Cathryn Bradshaw as Janice (Born: January 13, 1964 – )
Tom Radcliffe as Ray Miles (No Info)
Pamela Miles as Amy Morris (No Info other than married to the actor Tim Piggot Smith.)
Brian Poyser as Insepctor Dewar (Died in 2009)
In the screen capture of Morse and Dr. Russell listening to a quick step, the photograph over Morse’s mantle is taken by pioneering scientist Sir Norman Lockyer. He took to the skies in a helium balloon and soared 500ft over London to shoot never-before-seen views. This particular photo is the Thames at Westminster 1909.
In the final scene, a golden bust can be seen atop a bookshelf behind Morse and across the room from Dr. Russell. The bust is cast from a mold taken from life 1265-1321, though the oldest versions were unsigned and it has been copied throughout the ages by many. It is a bust of Dante Alighieri.
I noticed this as well(after all these years). No idea what Morse(a classics ‘major’) would be doing with a bust of Dante in his place.
I believe Colin Dexter is seen briefly sitting at a table in front of the bassist during the scene where Morse and Dr. Hillwood are dancing.
Sorry, Evan but it’s not.
Whoops – was watching with a low video resolution; you’re quite right!! And additionally noted a further typo in my original comment – it is of course Dr. Russell, played by Amanda Hillwood rather than Dr. Hillwood.
Hello. I hope you can reinstate your youtube account. I would have liked to hear your playlist. Perhaps make it be private so that no one can see it without a link. The link could be sent by you on request. Just an idea. I love your website so much and I consult it after each episode.
Hi Suze. I have a new youtube account but as yet haven’t set up my music playlist. The youtube address can be found in any recent posts.
“There is a lovely moment between Morse and Lewis (at 47minutes and 20seconds) as they walk through a park, …” I’m sure that they are not walking in a park, but that they are walking along Poplar Walk from Christ Church College towards the River Isis and the boathouses. In the distance you can see the tower of Merton College chapel, and to the left of that is part of Corpus Christi College. The cattle are in Christ Church Meadow
Any Mizzou grads out there who noticed one of the squash players was wearing a Missouri Tigers t-shirt?
YES!!! I just saw it and came here to see if I could find out why. Its so obviously placed.
Watching the Morse episodes again while in quarantine. And reading all the information you have provided on all the Morse episodes since I came late in the game to your website. Thanks, Chris, for giving me a great thing to pass the time! Love to see Morse dance! And Grayling all dressed up!
The actress who plays Lisa Morris is not identified. Who is she? Is she really paraplegic? The way her legs sway implies that she actually is paralyzed.
Sorry Lew, I was never able to find any info on the girl who played Lisa Morris. I agree it does look like she is actually paralyzed.
I agree with you Chris – flat story. In fact I was looking forward to it ending but not for the big reveal like in all of the previous episodes. However, I did laugh heartily at Morse’s disdain when Lewis asked if he had any butter!
Morse was somehow able to identify that the “Inchbold” was a fake. But, in the Grand Scheme of Things, what did it matter? What insight did it give Morse? He figured out that Pierce was spending more on Art than he should have been able to afford because Pierce had several genuine and valuable paintings. What did the fake matter? A Red Herring?
Bert, I have always assumed the whole Pierce and his paintings was a red herring. Morse recognising the fake was I believe a way of portraying Pierce as no expert in the art world even though he tried to portray himself as such a person.
No, that is not the point, Pierce bought the fake fully knowing, he needed the money to spend on Janice.
Later in the show Morse figures that Pierce has claimed (to his wife) to bring home an Inchbold, when , in fact, he spent all the allotted money on Janice. His wife kept him on a tight leash , she was in charge of disbursing the funds for the paintings, so Pierce had to buy a fake cheaply in order to have money to spend on Janice..
Ati, now it makes sense to me. I never realized the reason for the subplot of the painting. Thanks.
I watched the episode again tonight; it was probably the third time I’d seen it. I saw it originally ca. 1990—but that was in the days before DVRs or subtitles, and I’m sure that I would have missed a lot. The plots of the Morse episodes are sometimes sufficiently convoluted that you have to watch at least a second time to pick up all that happened. The business with Mr. Pierce did indeed seem like a red herring to throw us off: the fact that Mr. Gifford had been strangled with a piece of white cord, and that much was made of the white cord that Mr. Pierce used both to hang his paintings and eventually to hang himself with, seemed intended to make us suspect that he might have been Gifford’s killer. (It seemed unlikely that Pierce would hang himself solely because he was afraid that the police were onto his thefts; but it might be more plausible if he were afraid of being found out as the murderer.)
I have a peculiar habit of staring intently at what are supposed to be dead bodies in various murder mysteries, looking, somewhat perversely, for signs that the body is actually that of a living actor. (Sometimes you see a vein throbbing slightly, indicating a pulse; other times you see signs of shallow breathing.) I wasn’t disappointed in this episode! One little goof occurred in the scene of Mr. Gifford dead in the car park when Morse briefly goes back into the car to retrieve the parking-lot ticket from the floor of the front-seat on the driver’s side: you momentarily see the eyelids of the supposed corpse twitch! (I know I shouldn’t look for such signs, but I can’t help myself.)
Alma Cullen is not my favourite Morse writer, I’m afraid. I find her scripts often pretty flat. And I agree, George Irving’s performance is awful
It’s a shame as he proved himself an excellent actor in Holby City. Perhaps nerves got to him at being on such a well regarded programme or he wasn’t in a very good personal place at the time. If it was just a case of him needing to do better at least he did; without naming names there are a lot of actors out there who keep jobs or keep getting new ones when they’re more wooden than the forest in this episode!
What’s the point of the Arab gentleman in die Daimler limo?
Hi Louis. can you give me a timestamp for the scene you mention.
Sorry I’m getting back to you only now! It’s at 34:42. I was wondering whether it wasn’t Colin Dexter in haevy disguise! (It’s very Hitchcockian.)
I think it’s a nod to the fact that in the 1980s a lot of oil businessmen in London were visiting clubs, brothels and casinos, and doing things that were forbidden in their homeland. An episode of The Sweeney (Feet of Clay) touches on this too.
A bit of trivia: Amanda Hillwood is married to Matt Frewer, aka MAX HEADROOM. They reside part of the year in Canada, apparently.
Often, I feel Dexter is living out a middle-aged man’s fantasy in the character of Morse. It reaches its apotheosis in this episode. I don’t really buy that Dr Russell (a relatively young girl) would throw herself at an older man in this way, nor that Morse would so impress a high-class escort girl that she would go so far as to offer him a freebie. Is Morse really such catnip to women? Or is it wishful thinking. It seems barely believable,
Oh david s., no need to bring your mithering. Did the “wishful thinking” upset you that much ? John Thaw was a handsome man. Can you deny that ? Many women are attracted to older gentlemen.
Morse is an attractive, intelligent, well spoken, literate, learned and charming man. What’s not to like.
The quickstep playing in Morse’s flat at the end is Take Your Partners by Sam Fonteyn, it’s actually a library track. This is actually one of my favourite episodes despite the rushed ending and the rather unlikely pursuit of Morse by Dr Russell. I love the picture that builds up of Gifford who, halfway through, Morse points out that no one liked. It’s the little details in the writing – Mrs Pearce is particularly well sketched – although I still struggle with the idea of Rosemary and Manley colluding to murder Gifford.
Could you explain the purpose behind the Dr. Russell/Morse relationship? Does it end in a clear manner? Lastly, do you think that the Dr. Hobson/Lewis relationship was inspired by Russell and Morse. Personally, I like the chemistry between the two and I wish Morse ended up in a relationship with her or someone else closer to his age. The relationship between Russell and Morse happens quickly, and from what I recall, she is not a reoccurring character on the show. I would love to hear your take on this relationship-ex. the intent, purpose, and anything else you know.
Thanks for the wonderful write up.
Philip McGough, is he still alive? He played a lecherous doctor in Bad Girls, circa 2001.
I always ship Morse and Dr Russell. Loved these two together!
Average episode for me. To pick up on a couple of the comments, I think the significance of the Arab gentleman in the car was to show that Morse was in an expensive part of London, possibly where a lot of diplomats or the embassies are located.
Pierce always confused me as to why he killed himself. It seemed out of character because the wife knew about the fraud, why he was helping Janice I don’t know.
I didn’t find George Irvings performance poor, I had put it down to the mixture of him acting as a drunk, but also someone with an advanced illness.
The weakest part of the episode for me was the bit about the keys. Why didn’t Manley just hang about in the woods until Morse and Lewis had gone before getting them.
A decent episode- I enjoy the way many characters are caricatures of people we come across, especially in places like Oxford where there are many with inflated egos. You get the impression that Morse really can’t stand those who flaunt their wealth or importance.
The most negative thing in this is its the last time we see Grayling. Watching through modern eyes (in 2023) it seems absurd an attractive woman in her late 20s would be so keen on a 50 something man- however interesting she found him. Yet in the late 1980s this wasn’t obviously seen as an issue as it may be today. Many relationships in Morse have a much older man- eg the Hanburys in Ghost in the Machine, the Phillipsons in Last Seen Wearing, the Pierces in Secret of 5b, Jeremy Boynton and Jackie Thorp in Driven to Distraction among others. Definitely would not be the case if it was made today- I haven’t read the books but I think the idea was to keep Morse unhappily single to add to his morose character, which is why Grayling sadly had to go.