The Women of Inspector Morse

The Women in the life of Inspector Morse.

(This post may contain spoilers)

Like real ale and music, women play a big part in the life of Morse though not as much as he would like. I have included the women who I believe Morse had an interest in and those women who had an interest in Morse, though not always for the right reasons. On that note I realised to late that I had omitted Jane Booker who played Phillipa Foster in the episode, Deceived by Flight. However, Ms Foster was only showing interest in Morse to find out if he was involved in the drug trafficking.


Jane Booker as Phillipa Foster

I would be interested to know your thoughts on the questions below;

1) Who would have made the better wife for Morse?

2) If you had a choice of one of the women featured in the Morse series to be your wife, who would it be?

3) As a woman which of the women featured in Morse would you like as your best friend?

4) Was there any woman who you believe I should have included in my video?

Please let me know eithr by clicking on the ‘leave a comment’ link at the bottom of the post. Or via the Endeavour/Morse/Lewis Facbook page or email me at

My answer to question one is Frances Barber who played Nicole Burgess in the episode, ‘The Death of the Self’.


My answer to question two would be Judy Loe.


I hope you enjoy the video.

Author: Chris Sullivan

Up until a few years ago I was my mum's full time carer. She died in, 2020, of Covid. At the moment I am attempting to write a novel.

50 thoughts

  1. Laughing so hard I am CRYING! Having fun trying to guess your personal attraction and actresses’s liking for real ale, so much so I can’t answer your questions the first time through.

    BTW, not doing well guessing your attraction scale. Hell. But I’ll at least try to choose a “if I were to re-marry, which would I pick. ” Answer will be related to how domestic she is and if I think she’ll keep the house tidy and won’t mind I’m very heterosexual. Last part non-negotiable.

    Tally ho and I shall return! (Sorry for that but well that’s what you get for posing questions. )

  2. My guesses re: your attraction to these women remains abysmal.

    I’m mixed on which I’d marry and which I’d like as a friend. In any event, I must choose, so it’s Amanda Hillwood and Zoe Wanamaker for me. I’ll marry Amanda. She’s intelligent and cheeky. Not a good housewife , maybe, but nice to talk to. Zoe’s my friend and vote to marry Morse.

    Well done to you as producer, Chris! Very entertaining and I can’t imagine how much work this was!


  3. I would make an excellent wife for Inspector Morse! I share his love of classical music, a good pint, opera, etc. I’m quite a shy person face to face but with the right man, not restrained in the bedroom. I imagine myself being wined and dined by Morse and gazing into those piercing blue eyes…I hope he wouldn’t think I was too young at 34 though. I have always had a fondness for older men.

    Sorry I didn’t bother to answer the other questions!

    1. Hi Angela. Thanks for taking the time to comment and a very interesting comment. I don’t think Morse would have been bothered about your age. I believe Morse would be happy that you share the same interests and were his intellectual equivalent.

  4. Watched an awful lot of Morse lately…I reckon Zoe Wannamaker is the one for him!..make a nice friend too, I dont drink Ale, dont think many women do.!! Well Done as ever on your Blogs.!

    1. Watching a lot of Morse? Sounds like a wonderful way to pass the time. I don’t drink ale myself. Going to have to disagree and say that I think Judy Loe as Adele was his perfect match and he should have been allowed to spend the rest of his life with her in Australia and not killed off.

  5. 1) Adele Cecil (Judy Loe) – The Wench is Dead
    2) Emma Pickford (Zoe Wanamaker) – Fat Chance
    2b) Monica Height (Barbara Flynn) – The Death of Nicolas Quinn

  6. Congratulations, It’ s been a hard task to produce; I agree with you, ( even I’m a woman too) with your own choice regarding Frances Barber as a lovely woman to Morse, but I think Judy Loe was a remarkable woman & character, so as a wife, she got the winner prize¡¡ From Chile, Southamerica

      1. Why did Adele never return from Australia? I tried to read her letter, very briefly shown in the episode, but could not get the gist of it. She was perfect for Morse.

  7. It’s Grayling for me every time. I was about 14 when I saw those episodes and I did have a bit of a crush.. weird I know…it’s that classic profile and smile that lights up her face. I also remember Amanda Hillwood playing the stewardess in ‘Die Hard 2’! I would have loved it if she and Morse had got together, but better for her she didn’t. I love the scene when Morse is out for a drink with her in a beer garden and the ‘Hooray Henry’ with the sweater around his neck (probably meant to be a friend of hers from Med school) turns up. Morse looks mortified. I know exactly how he feels.. In answer to your questions:
    1. Grayling- she matches his intellect.
    2. Grayling
    3. The Zoe Wanamaker character. I’ve watched that epidode a few times, it was on again the other day and I still can’t get what she does wrong…(probably not one of your favourites, nor mine)
    4. Not sure

    Great video- you often mention your top 10 episodes but I am not sure you have a post with them listed…keep it up!

    1. Nothing weird about having a crush on Amanda Hillwood. She does have a great smile. Poor Morse saw his chances of keeping Grayling to himself for that evening suddenly crash spectacularly. You’re right I must put up a post with my favourite episodes. Jack, thank you so much for leaving a wonderful and interesting comment. I hope you continue to enjoy my blog.

  8. I’ would say Frances Barber though she’s probably the youngest of the actresses who’d feasibly go with Morse I feel Holly Aird is far too young for anything more than a quick naughty fling so discount her. Afterall she’s younger than Liz Hurley!. Dare I say personally speaking I find many of them somewhat on the dowdy side or a bit somewhat of their time perhaps.
    Most are well outside my age range of course and probably a fair bit older than my Parents Lisa Harrow who is very sexy in the swim wear scene could feasibly be my Grandmother

  9. I gave a lot of thought to Angela Morant as Ruth Rawlinson in Service of All the Dead as wife material for Morse. Endeavor shows his compassionate side and even commits perjury on her behalf. We never see the outcome to that final embrace. Though probably not sharing all his interests, he clearly had an interest in her, and she for him. How long would his interest last is moot, it appears to be a physical attraction and somewhat ‘needy’ on both sides. I also put a strong consideration for Amanda Hillwood as Dr. Grayling. But two professionals in the same field would never have enough time to commit so she’s out. She would be ideal, but how often does that work out? The final choice for me as a life partner for Morse is Zoe Wanamaker. Their careers wouldn’t crash head on, she has the academic background, and shares enough quirkiness to match Morse’s flights into epigram and appreciation of all things classical.

    For myself, I always admired Gemma Jones, really.

  10. Hi Tim. I think you are spot on regarding Ruth Rawlinson and Dr. Grayling. As for Emma Pickford played by Zoe Wanamaker i’m not so sure. Could Morse have coped with bringing up two young children? Could he cope with her being a woman of the cloth? I personally don’t think so. Anne Staveley could have been a good choice as she loved literature and music. Thanks for taking the time to comment Tim.

    1. Hi Chris,

      Much welcome! This is a fantastic site, I am just beginning to look around at the other Morsenian
      nooks and crannies. Quite remarkable.
      I will revisit the Zoe Wanamaker episode, Fat Chance I believe.

      OK so in some episode I remember Morse telling Lewis or another underling constable
      “Melancholy, Lewis, it’s a melancholy of swans.” To describe a group like a congress of crows, or
      a sedge of cranes.

      Anyone remember that or am I totally in the fog?

      Cheers, Tim

      1. Hi Tim. I think the episode you may be thinking of is ‘Driven to Distraction’. In that episode Morse, some other detectives and the forensic team are discussing what the collective noun would be for a group of pathologists. One of the detectives mentions that the collective noun for swans is a lamentation. The scene starts at 8 minutes and 20 seconds if you have the dvd. Eventually they agree on the collective noun for a group of pathologists being a ‘body’. Fat Chance will be the next Morse episode I will review once I have finished with the Endeavour connections. Again thank you your kind comments. It is always good to know another lover of the Morse universe.

  11. Chris, Aha! I will go directly to the Driving School !
    I am old enough to have most on VHS video and the specials on DVD. Hard to believe these go back to the late 1980’s. Since Oxford doesn’t appear to change much (never been there) the stories are pretty fresh today. I now have two episodes to watch for ‘homework’. Well three really as I must re view the Adele episode you are fond of.

    I am in the US of A – Chicago area. Friends in Canada also are Morse-aholics, so the infection is rampant in English speaking countries at least. I have all episodes in one form or another. That opening music sends chills of anticipation every time.
    Looking forward to your reviews.

    Kind regards, Tim

  12. I won’t comment on the suitability of various women for “Morse”, as it’s been awhile since I saw the episodes in question. However, readers may be interested to know (some likely already know) that Gemma Jones is the daughter of English actor Griffith Jones. He appeared in the 1937 film “A Yank at Oxford”, which was filmed, at least partly, in England. It’s been decades since I saw it, but I assume there were some scenes at the university.

    John Thompson

  13. This doesnt include Endeavour series. Joan Thursday was his true love. I love the younger Morse with DI Thursday’s daughter.

    1. No, Susan Fallon was his true love and Joan was a lovely distraction. Susan is the reason that Morse cannot to commit fully to any other woman in his life and that includes Joan.

      1. You must mean Susan Bryce Morgan to whom Morse was engaged but she broke the engagement to marry Henry Fallon. Although still true to say that the older Morse was still in love with her when they met again in ‘Dead on Time’ (one of my favourite, though tragic, episodes).

      2. I think you mean Susan Bryce Morgan as she would have been when engaged to Morse. She only became Susan Fallon when she left Morse for Henry Fallon.

  14. The only female character I think could be added is Claire Osbourne played by Vivienne Ritchie in the episode The Way Through the Woods. Here there was a very obvious attraction from the opening scene at the al fresco concert at Lonsdale College. This developed to a dinner. Ultimately this again fell apart as she was having a tryst with her brother in law much to Morse’s sadness. Definite wife material. Expert on the arts and liked a drink.

    But Adele Cecil was the perfect partner for him.

  15. I haven’t seen all the episodes yet so I can’t comment definitively on the right wife for Morse. I just want to say that if we are assuming that he was alive and married, it should not be to Adele Cecil. So many viewers think so but she grates on my nerves. The way she said “good” when he said the Dr. was leaving shows her jealousy and possessiveness. The way she kisses him dismissively as if they are married yet she just met him two episodes before. The way she has to go back to her mother even though Morse is in the hospital with bleeding ulcers and could use her help and comfort. And finally, she has that short haired, no nonsense, perfectly put together, sharp attitude that I cannot believe he is attracted to. If he ever felt love for her she would ruin it in time because he’s more like a pet to her than a man and she’d be calling him “old thing” and nagging him about everything. I would want him with one of the more loving, down to earth women that were his intellectual equal but also highly feminine and putting him first because gosh, he needed someone to put him first. Cecil certainly did not.

    1. Yet Susan (I’ve not yet seen the episode with her in but have read about her on posters’ comments) was swayed by her absolutely appallingly horrendous mother to dump Morse and marry someone more suitable. That’s not someone I would look up to, pine for or allow to dictate my future if it happened to me. Morse had a lucky escape from Susan, it’s on him that he didn’t take that chance to move on from her. Not all women are Susans.

      1. Hi Louisa. That version of Susan is down to the imagination of Russell Lewis. There is no mention of a over powering mother in either the Colin Dexter novel, Riddle of the Third Mile or the Morse episode, Dead on Time. In the Morse episode it is shown that Susan fell heavily in love with someone else.

      2. I think it showed more of that poisonous mother in the Endeavour episode at Susan’s father’s funeral and when Endeavour visits the mother. (Can’t recall the name of that episode.) in that episode I always felt that she did influence her against Endeavour. She never liked him.

      3. That episode is Lazaretto. That is Russell Lewis rewriting Morse lore. As I wrote previously in the Morse episode Dead on Time she makes it clear she fell heavily in love with someone else, Henry Fallon. No mention of any undue influence by her mother.

  16. The last part of this comment is posted earlier under the Endeavour episode Trove. Then I read other comments here about Endeavour so I thought I could post it here as well only with the paragraph concerning women and some additional text.
    To me Morse’s relationship with Dr. Grayling is like a father/daughter relation in regard to their age difference. But I can agree with Simon Brown in an earlier comment about Claire Osbourne from the episode The Way Through the Woods. I think Morse and Claire had more in common than he had with many other women.
    And the woman everyone talks about, Nicole Burgess. Would it be possible for her to continue her opera career or would she give it up and move to a small house in North Oxford? Or would Morse move around the world with her since an opera tour can take months? As a woman though, Nicole seemed to be very easygoing and I think during other circumstances she would’ve become a good wife to Morse.
    Would he have moved with Adele to Australia? Frankly I don’t think so. Did he really love her? What would he have done Down Under in his everyday life besides drinking beer in a pub solving crossword puzzles? I might be cynical, but you can take Morse out of Oxford, but you can’t take Oxford out of Morse. I might also be wrong, but I just think he would be homesick.
    Is he serious when he talks to Monica about them moving to US or is it just something said in the heat of the moment? They’ve never talked about it before, the discussion is over in three minutes and they’ve decided to move to another country.
    A woman who I thought would’ve become a good wife to Endeavor Morse was Alice Vexin from the episode Rocket. But his mind wasn’t really there so she decided to move on.
    And what about Joan? Well, he loved her very much and in the episode Harvest he even asks her to marry him. She thinks he asks out of pity and doesn’t take it serious. But did they really match?
    For me, Kitty Batten, the young college student in the Trove episode, would’ve been the perfect wife for Endeavour. They never had anything going in the episode but during their brief encounter at Beaufort the intellectual connection between them is obvious.
    They would’ve been the perfect couple on equal and intellectual grounds. In Endeavour Kitty would’ve a husband supporting her continued career and who would see her as much more than just the empty head and Colgate-smile she talks about. And for Endeavour, Kitty would be the woman to love and with whom to share his passion for literature and opera.
    The neighbour Monica is sweet and caring but I can’t see any lasting relationship between her and Endeavour no matter what did happen in the Neverland episode.
    As a strong, independent woman, Kitty is by far one of the most interesting women in the series. And as a couple I think they would’ve made the most of their time together.

  17. I agree with your conclusion Bo. Kitty Batten is a very interesting character and certainly more could have been made of her & Morse. She’s more interesting than the lady in ‘Confection’ who is so memorable I can’t even think of her name and I’ve seen that series more recently!

  18. Thank you for reading my posting, Julie. And yes, there are many characters one would have liked to see more developed, if that is the word. But we have one (?) more season to look forward to, so who knows… In the episode ‘Confection’ Endeavour meets Miss Isla Fairford and poor old Morse is barking up the wrong tree again. Did she have real feelings for him or was it only a way to mislead him? I’m afraid I would guess the latter.

  19. Gemma Jones in the very first episode, it was all down hill after that! I am binge watching this wonderful series at the moment, and oh those blue blue eyes of John Thaw….

      1. Don’t know about Endeavour, but i loved Flora Montgomery(?) in the pilot episode.

        Am I alone in this, or are there homoerotic bits in some of Endeavour’s male encounters?

  20. In the Endeavour series. I would have liked him after all his flings end up with Joan, Thursdays Daughter.maybe have a child or two. But find out later about a child he hadn’t known he had Fathered from one of the string of lovers !

  21. Morse SHOULD have ended up with Joan way back when he was part of the Cowley/Castle Gate Clan. However, since we’re playing in the Inspector Morse space (which is fine by me), my choices are:

    1. Adele
    2. Grayling
    3. Claire

    And I have to kindly disagree with you Chris, although you are our resident Morse expert. In my mind, Susan was like everyone’s “first love”. We can fantasize about how perfect it would have been, had things worked out and no other love relationship stands up to that first one. And Morse was young enough to have zero realistic or mature expectations about what love really is at that point. Friendship, compatibility, patience, etc., and THEN sexual attraction are all part of what constitutes a lasting romantic relationship. We all have a first love and very few of them would actually survive reality, if tested. I view Morse and Susan like that. Not to say that Morse’s love for Susan wasn’t real–the love we feel for our first love usually IS real–but could that love survive the tests of everyday, mundane life? Doubtful.

    No, in my mind Joan Thursday was Morse’s “true love”. The one that got away and all. They hinted at that very thing in the Endeavour series. Granted, it came after Morse, but there was a lot of nice continuity between the two series, even though there were characters created who didn’t appear (and are never mentioned) in the original series. The only real problem I can see with the Joan and Endeavour pairing is that I imagine it would be downright impossible for Fred NOT to interfere, lol. But then, he loved Morse too so he would have been a good son-in-law.

    1. Hi Karla,
      I think Joan and Endeavour would have made a good first love couple; however I am not sure Joan would have gone the distance with him since in several episodes she seemed to be at odds with his very strong sense of duty and his commitment to solving the crime, thinking that he was focusing his life too intently on those things. I think she would have felt second place to it all. I thought Grayling was a bit too young for elder Morse and I have always felt Adele was the perfect match for him. She came to him in the right time of his life and I think that would have been a lasting relationship. I still don’t understand why she left him since she seemed to really care for him. Was it because he was ill and had to retire and she didn’t want to be a care giver to him? She left for Australia but, although Morse would have wanted to carry on a long distance relationship with her (visiting occasionally), she specifically turned that downing her letter, saying she didn’t see the point in his visiting her.
      I don’t remember a Claire being in his life but then I haven’t seen it for awhile. Was she the cleric who lied to him? One thing I see in all Morse episodes is that once a woman lies to him, no matter for what reason, that’s the end of that!

      1. Thanks Karla and Kathleen – I can’t remember a Claire either.

        Grayling – I didn’t mind the character, however, i read somewhere (and not sure if this is true) that the producers deliberately wrote/devised her character as a romantic interest for Morse and that is why they wrote Debryn out !!! So that always affected my view of her (which is sillly).

        Then when she was in the series they realised that there was not enough chemistry (or such) and never followed through with it. So I felt that poor Debryn was written out for no reason.

        Adele – now she was one character I never warmed to. However, that was because I saw their relationship in the wrong order. I saw when he came out of hospital and still needed care (especially emotional) and I felt she was downright cold and a bit cruel. If you were in a relationship with someone surely you would sense they needed you and want to be there (yes her mother was also sick) and even if you felt torn you would make the effort. She knew he had no-one else.

        When I saw the earlier episodes (the first where she was introduced) I felt much warmer to her.

        As an aside – Joan and Endeavour – after S8 – don’t get me started. It seems she will marry her father – right down to his late adoption of her father’s middle-aged (and old fashioned) dress sense…..

      2. Hi Kathleen, yes, we had a Claire Osborne in the episode The Way Through the Woods. She and Morse met at an outdoor concert. Claire was there with her brother, or brother in law, played by Nicholas Le Prevost (who, by the way, is missing in the cast list of that episode). See also Simon Brown’s comment above. If I remember right Claire worked in a book store.
        The cleric you mention, might that be Hilary Dobson in the episode Fat Chance?

      3. Hi Bo, thanks for jogging my memory about Claire. I remember her as being deceitful and using Morse to gain information as she was already having a relationship with her friend’s husband. So now that I am thinking about that episode, one of my favorites, Perhaps the “chance” meeting at the concert was planned. Poor Morse, he’s always a victim of dishonest women, even a cleric! One thread that does run through both Endeavour and Morse is his quest for love and a lasting relationship that never happens.

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