As an added help for readers I have added links to many names of actors and TV series mentioned in the post. Just click on the underlined text and a new window will open for the link.
This is an interesting episode in relation to the Endeavour series. It’s mentioned in this episode that Morse and Chief Inspector Dawson, who was a Detective Sergeant at the same time as Morse, were debating delegates at a conference in Blackpool in 1969. The next series of Endeavour, series four, is to be set in 1968. This should mean that we get to meet Dawson, who was a Detective Sergeant in Oxford in 1969, and Charlie Hillian who Morse mentions was Chief Inspector in Oxford at that time, very soon in the series.
If Russell Lewis, the writer and creator of the Endeavour series, adheres to the timeline laid out in the Inspector Morse series he may not make them fully fledged characters but may simply mention them in the passing. Or, one or both characters may have a walk on role during the fourth or fifth series.
First transmitted in the UK on the 20th February 1991.
This episode is not based on any of Colin Dexter’s books.
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This is episode 5 in series 1. Chronologically this is episode 16.
Colin Dexter appears behind Morse when he is talking to Barbara Redpath while having a drink at the Trout Inn.
Directed by Adrian Shergold: Also directed Morse episodes, ‘Greeks Bearing Gifts’ and ‘Happy Families’.
Written by Daniel Boyle: (born 20 October 1956) Not to be confused with Danny Boyle. he also wrote the Morse episodes ‘The Day of the Devil’, ‘Deadly Slumber’, ‘Happy Families’ and ‘Dead on Time’. He also wrote The Lewis episode ‘Whom the Gods would Destroy’ (Series 1, episode 2).
EPISODE JAG RATING, (8 out of Ten)
After returning home from his leaving do, Charlie Hillian, a high ranking police officer, struggles with an intruder and subsequently falls to the floor hitting his head and dies.
Morse and Lewis investigate the case and soon find themselves involved in an eighteen year old case, the death of an eight year old girl, Mary Lapsley.
It transpires that no one was ever convicted of the murder. But one man, Frederick Redpath, was the main suspect and was subsequently persecuted for five years after the murder by an unknown person.
Frederick Redpath’s car was seen near Charlie Hillian’s house the day after the murder and a paper clipping about a book Hillian is writing is found in Redpath’s wallet.
Morse and Lewis find themselves not only caught up in the death of Hillian and an eighteen year old case but possibly find themselves being manipulated by a senior police officer.
REVIEW. (warning, this review may contain some spoilers)
When I was collating my top ten favourite Morse episodes for a previous post, this episode nearly made the cut ahead of ‘The Day of the Devil’. On watching it again for this post I wonder if I haven’t made a mistake. However, ask me my top ten again in a year from now and though there may be little or no change in the top seven or eight, I’m sure those episodes placed at positions eight, nine and ten would find themselves in a tenuous position and swapped with one or more episodes.
As is so often the case the production team have gathered together a superb cast to aid and abet the main characters. Kenneth Colley has to be the outstanding actor of this episode creating a wonderfully rounded character, (no small thanks to the writer Daniel Boyle), who gives John Thaw a good run for his money in the acting stakes. Watch his brilliant reaction on seeing Frederick Redpath in the interview room. It’s electrifying. Of course he is ably helped by Thaw and Whately.
Though this is a dark tale it does allow light to break through every so often and that light is in the shape of Sam Kelly as the writer and permanently drunk Walter Majors. Kelly’s turn as the down on his luck writer is finely played and is a lovely comic turn in what is a harrowing case. Well done once again to Daniel Boyle for not allowing the episode to be all dark and foreboding. Sam Kelly is all too familiar to a British audience having appeared in various sitcoms, in particular one of my favourites, ‘Porridge‘ as ‘Bunny’ Warren.
The two high high ranking friends and colleagues, Charlie Hillian and Patrick Dawson, are said to have been at the Oxford Police station at the time of the murder and were also colleagues of Morse. I wonder if these two characters will find themselves into the Endeavour series. The episode was written and produced around 1990-1991 and the the murder was eighteen years in the past. So, if we take the time scale literally then the Mary Lapsley murder happened around 1973-74. One has to assume that Hillian and Dawson were in Oxford for at least a few years before moving to London. It is stated in the episode that Morse and Dawson debated at a conference in 1969. The Endeavour series is set in the mid to late 1960s so one has to assume that these characters will make an appearance at some point.
Good to see Oliver Ford Davies in this episode as he is one of my favourite characters from the excellent Kavanagh QC series. As I have written below in the cast section of this post, Oliver had been a colleague of John Thaw many times in the past not only on TV but in the theatre.
What this episode does very well is to keep the audience not only guessing but on their detecting toes. The episode starts off like so many other episodes with what appears to be a straight-forward murder but eventually takes an unexpected dark and sinister tone. Unlike so many poor detective TV series episodes the twists in the story grow organically from the characters and the situations and are not crow barred in to suit a last minute re-write.
There is an excellent scene which I have shown further down in the post where Lewis accuses Morse of being jealous that Dawson was right all along about the case. Morse tells Lewis he should take a few days leave which Lewis refuses to do. Morse tells Lewis the reason for his suggestion is that he doesn’t like being second-guessed but I think Morse is trying to protect Lewis from not only realising he is wrong about Morse but what he will eventually find out if he stays until the case is solved. The scene is so well played that one begins to possibly agree with Lewis’s accusation of Morse being jealous of Dawson.
Regarding Rose Lapsley, Mary Lapsley’s grandmother, was she aware of who was Mary’s father?. She knew the significance of the photograph but was that because she knew it gave a clue to who the father was or that she did know who he was? I think she did know.
The only failings the episode had for me were the following. Firstly, the scene were the police constable finds Frederick Redpath hanging in the cell. Surely, rather than running off to get help he would have entered the cell and got Redpath down or at least held him up to stop Redpath’s noose getting any tighter. The few minutes it would have taken the constable to get help could have been vital in saving Redpath’s life. Secondly, was what seemed the unnecessary need to ridicule those officers in uniform. First you have the two agitated constables telling Morse they should get all sorts of vehicles out to hunt for the car one of them saw racing off from Charlie Hillian’s house entrance. Then you have the constable who wants to smash down the door of the Mitchell house when they won’t answer. It all seemed rather unnecessary and pointless.
Anyway, these points don’t detract from this being an excellent episode which I’m sure will be in most Morse fans top ten episodes.
While Lewis is waiting for Dawson at the railway station a quartet are playing Roman Hoffstetter‘s (1742 – 1815) String Quartet in F major.
In Morse’s house, while he reads through the diary extract supposedly from the killer, we hear a an aria, Senza Mamma, from Giacomo Puccini’s (1858 – 1924) opera Suor Angelica.
We hear the above piece again while watching a montage of scenes; Lewis visiting the Mitchell house, Morse interviewing Barbara Redpath (at The Trout Inn) and then we are back at Morse’s house when he and Lewis are washing up.
We again hear from Puccini’s opera Suor Angelica while Morse is working late at the police station.
Again an extract from the afore mentioned opera while Morse sits thinking at home and then decides to visit Walter Majors. The music then continues through to further scenes.
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.
Morse and Lewis are leaving the hospital after seeing the pathologist. Lewis quotes the proverb, ‘many hands make light work‘. This proverb like so many others were collected by John Heywood and contextualized in his work The Proverbs and Epigrams of John Heywood (1562).
In the same scene Morse quotes the antonym to the above proverb, ‘too many cooks spoil the broth‘. This proverb most likely dates back to at least the late medieval period. In 1575, it was cited by the English poet George Gascoigne, (1535 – 1577) who noted that ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ was a common proverb.
Again in the same scene Morse says ‘procrastination is the thief of time’. This is from a poem by Edward Young titled ‘Night Thoughts‘.
Be wise to-day; ’tis madness to defer;
Next day the fatal precedent will plead;
Thus on, till wisdom is push’d out of life.
Procrastination is the thief of time;
Year after year it steals, till all are fled,
And to the mercies of a moment leaves
The vast concerns of an eternal scene.
Morse catches Majors going through Hillian’s papers. Majors turns to Morse and says “an inspector calls‘. This is a reference to An Inspector Calls a play written by English dramatist J. B. Priestley.
In the previous Morse episode, Masonic Mysteries, Chief Superintendent Strange’s office had a painting of Queen Elizabeth II on the wall behind his desk.
In this episode we are back to the paintings of sailing ships as has been shown in some previous episodes.
All other paintings in the episode are generic amateur paintings.
Lewis – (talking about Hillian) “The way he’s knocking it back it’s a wonder he lived to collect an OBE.” (Order of the British Empire).
Morse – “People in glasshouses.” (nodding toward the drink Lewis holds).
Lewis – “This is only a little light wine, sir.”
Morse – “I know what it is.”
Lewis – “This is only my second glass”.
Morse – “Sanctimony Lewis”.
Pathologist – “Charles Hillian was a very lucky man. Do you know that”.
Morse – “Then we all must hope to be blessed by misfortune”.
Pathologist – “What? Oh that. No, not that. Well, yes. What I mean is. That could have happened any time in his life. He had a weak spot in the skull. Paper thin. Relatively speaking of course. A slight knock in the right place…dead as a dodo. That’s what happened last night. There could have been a struggle. He fell. When his head hit the floor, whammo!. Lights out.”
Morse – “Time of death?”
Pathologist – One, one-thirty.”
Morse – “Thank you. Lights out? Whammo? Are those medical terms doctor?”
Pathologist – “I prefer to keep things simple Chief Inspector. Especially when dealing with policemen.”
Catherine Dawson – “Agreeing to allow my husband to stay in Oxford, it was very good of you. Charlie meant a great deal to him.”
Morse – “I’m bound to say it was against my better judgement. We’re not exactly bosom friends. I don’t like the idea of not being trusted to do my job.”
Catherine Dawson – No, no you’d be wrong to believe that Inspector. Patrick thinks you’re a very good detective. Poor policeman but a very good detective.”
Morse – Really? Well, I suppose half a compliment is better than none.”
Morse – “You’ll think this a cliché but don’t leave town, will you.”
Walter Majors (writer) – “Cliche inspector? I wouldn’t be surprised if I write that down.”
Interesting and favourite scenes.
Domestic bliss with Lewis and Morse.
A very good and well acted scene that shows the sometime negative dynamic in Morse and Lewis’s relationship.
Charlie Hillian’s house. With no clues to its whereabouts I was unable to locate it.
Hillian’s retirement dinner. Is this the Randolph? I’m not sure. A blog reader, Janet, has identified the location as Luton Hoo Hotel, Golf & Spa The Mansion House Luton, Bedfordshire LU1 3TQ.
The Eagle and Child stood in for Shears wine bar.
Location of The Eagle and the Child.
Morse and Barbara Redpath meet at The Trout Inn
Trout Inn today
Location of the Trout Inn.
Morse and Dawson walk and chat in the grounds of Luton Hoo in Bedfordshire.
Luton Hoo Stately Home, Bedfordshire.
Catherine Dawson and Morse have lunch at the Randolph Hotel.
Barbara Redpath leaving what was the Radcliffe Infirmary which has now closed.
Morse and Barbara Redpath take a walk Dead Man’s Walk.
Morse and Lewis discuss the diary page.
Lewis waits at Oxford Railway Station for Dawson to arrive.
The nursing home where Rose Lapsley lived. I believe the Shenley Lodge in Shenley was used as the nursing home and is now possibly Manor Lodge Independent Primary School.
Kenneth Colley as Chief Inspector Dawson. (Born: December 7, 1937). Famous, of course, for appearing in the Star Wars franchise as Admiral Piett.
Appeared with John Thaw in an episode of The Sweeney, Season 2, Episode 6 Trap (6 Oct. 1975). This episode can be found on Youtube.
Kenneth Colley also appeared with John Thaw in the first episode of Redcap, Season 1, Episode 1. ‘It’s What Comes After’. (17 Oct. 1964).
Pat Heywood as Mrs Mitchell. (Born: August 1, 1931).
Oliver Ford Davies as Frederick Redpath. (Born: August 12, 1939).
He has also acted in the Star Wars universe as Sio Bibble.
For John Thaw fans he is better known as Peter Foxcott QC in the TV series Kavanagh QC.
Oliver Ford Davies also appeared alongside John Thaw in three of David Hare’s plays in 1993; “The Absence of War,” “Racing Demons,” “Murmuring Judges,” and “The Absence of War,” again in 1994 all at the Royal National Theatre production at the Laurence Olivier Theatre in London. They also appeared together in Kenneth Grahame and Alan Bennett’s play, “The Wind in the Willows”.
Maurice Bush as Charlie Hillian. (Died: 1999)
Christopher Eccleston as Terence Mitchell. (Born: February 16, 1964)
Known to Dr. Who fans all over the world and one of the reasons the series was such a success. Was also in the brilliant TV series ‘Cracker‘ as DCI David Bilborough.
Peter Waddington as the Pathologist.
Liz Kettle as WPC. Read my Q & A with Liz by clicking here.
David Bauckham as Desk Sergeant.
Also appeared in an episode of Lewis, Old School Ties in 2007 as a journalist.
He appeared in three Morse episodes; ‘Second Time Around’,.Happy Families’, and ‘Cherubim & Seraphim’ all as the desk sergeant.
Adie Allen as Barbara Redpath. (born in 1966)
Sam Kelly as Walter Majors. (Born: December 19, 1943 – Died: June 14, 2014).
Fun fact. Sam Kelly starred in the sitcom Barbara and my brother in law, Ian Angus Wilkie, appeared as a vicar in three of the episodes.
Sam appeared in the John Thaw sitcom Home to Roost: Season 4, Episode 5, Return to Clagthorpe (5 Jan. 1990)
Sorry it’s such a poor picture.
Russell Kilmister as John Mitchell.
James Grout as Chief Superintendent Strange. (Born: October 22, 1927 – Died: June 24, 2012)
Graeme Du Fresne as the photographer.
Helen McCarthy as Rose Lapsley. (Born: October 18, 1908 – Died: May 11, 1998)
Neale McGrath as Cowan.
Peter Gordon as Parks.