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.
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 1972-73. 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 where 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.
At 3 minutes Dawson says to Lewis: ” In his time it was an eye for an eye. ” This is a Biblical literary reference. See Leviticus 24:19-22 and Matthew 5:38-39. Thank you to John for pointing this out.
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.
At around the two minute we see a large painting on the wall of the Luton Hoo Hotel, Golf & Spa The Mansion House Luton.
Thank you to Nancy who identified the woman as Lady Alice Wernher (later Lady Ludlow) with her Pekinese dog by artist Philip de Laszlo.
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.
Above Morse’s fireplace is yet another etching by Piranesi with a very long title “Veduta dell’Anfiteatro Flavio detto il Colosseo” from Views of Rome 1776. I think it is more easily called “Aerial View of the Colosseum in Rome 1776” by Piranesi. Thank you Nancy for that info.
At around the one and a half hour mark we see Morse’s living room. On the right is an Egon Schiele.
The painting is called “Female Nude Lying on her Stomach.”
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. A website 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).
Ann Bell as Catherine Dawson. ( Born: April 29, 1940). Famous for many British fans as Marion Jefferson in the TV series, Tenko.
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.
My favorite episode. By far, and no question in my mind about it. LOve the story, absolutely love the acting, love Morse/Lewis and Morse / Dawson interaction. Love Sam Kelly’s character. Great episode.
It is great episode and has some fine character actors.
I think this episode is the best one, the acting is sublime as is the music, it seems strange /sad that I have picked this one as it isn’t taken from a book by the creator Colin Dexter
It is very sad in terms of the grandmother – that she lost not only her daughter, but her granddaughter. It just kills me. She was a wonderful actress. And sad also for the mother of the killer.
This is quite brilliant. The case begins straightforwardly, but further investigation takes dark twists and leads to the solution of related crimes by unanticipated parties.
I am skeptical, though, that a tiny part of a small amateur snapshot could be sufficiently enlarged to reveal the key detail needed.
Hi Alan. That’s a good point re’ the photo. Would 1980s technology and a photo from the 1970s allow for an enlargement of sufficient quality? Don’t know to be honest.
Coming with an answer a few years late but the answer to that is yes. Cameras then took hi res photos and a photographer would have enlarging equipment. My father in law did it, I have negatives 2″ x 3″ from him that can be blown up to big enough to hang on your wall.
Chris, I thoroughly enjoy your blog and frequently refer to it to satisfy my curiosity about the many connections between the three shows. The station on which I watch Morse/Lewis/Endeavour frequently repeats episodes within a week and I have become over-interested (is there such a thing?) in the poster print on Morse’s office wall which is most apparent in the wonderful scene in which Morse encourages Lewis to take some time off. It is grey with gold/orange in the center. Do you have any idea about what it may be?
Firstly, thank you for your kind comment. Secondly, about the poster on the wall. Well funnily enough I talked about that poster in my review of the Morse episode, ‘Fat Chance’ which I published a few weeks ago. It is the same poster you mention above. Hope that helps.
Thanks so much! Watching this evening’s episode, Fat Chance, I was able to read the inscription! Excitedly, I came looking here to let you know and found first your remark in your review of Fat Chance as you mention above and then your reply here. Thanks so much! I’m so glad someone else is watching so hard. Keep up the passion!
Since my last comment I’ve found the name of the painting and artist: Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s painting The Swing. It’s available in many formats from all posters and art dot com.
Excellent detective work. I will add that information to my post. 🙂
I think it’s something to do with the missing chapter which Majors knew well, most certainly a reference to Mitchell’s illness and the books which were overdue at the time but which Mitchell couldn’t return to the library, a task he’d assigned to his doctor: it must be this incident which Morse wanted to verify through Majors’s knowledge of the chapter.
It wasn’t Mitchell who asked the doctor to return library books it was Redpath who’s daughter was ill in bed. The missing chapter had no new information contained within it. The chapter like the other chapters in the book were just re-tellings of major cases Hillian had wordked as a police officer.
I’m confused, because I thought that Redpath tells Morse and his daughter Barbara (in the hospital scene) that Mitchell was in bed on the day of Mary’s murder, ill with the same virus that Barbara had contracted: he was unable to return his overdue borrowings that day and, therefore, could not have committed the murder. But I may be wrong: watching the episode (one of my absolute favourites) so many times over the years must have confused me 😬
You could be right and I am misremembering. Now that you mention the hospital scene I think you are right.
Chris, You have created a valuable resource and a delightful trivia rabbit hole for fans of all things Morse, and my wife and I are very grateful to you for it. We watch here in New York City via Acorn TV, that great on-line British television repository. And we refer to your blog as we watch!
While I agree the constable panicking on discovering Redpath’s hanging is a bit dicey (especially for a trained professional), not everyone behaves rationally in such a situation. He did, after all, drop the tray of food (those sausages looked delicious!) which meant he wasn’t focused on a rescue … otherwise he’d have flung or set it aside so he wouldn’t have it in his way as he ran in. I thought it worked.
The one bit that has us scratching our heads is toward the end. Morse is in his rooms, brooding (as usual.) He gets up, goes to the telephone, picks it up to make a call, reconsiders and sets it down. Then he gets in the Jag and drives to see Walter Majors (that is some greenhouse, by the way.) But why? What piece of the puzzle does Majors supply? What can he possibly know that will lead to that final confrontation with Dawson? And why does Morse need to speak with Majors face to face? We’ve watched the ending several times and we still don’t know.
Hi Lars. Thanks for the nice comment regrading my blog. Regarding your comment about Majors I will need to have another look at the episode and see if I can answer your query.
While i did enjoy this episode for all the reasons above, I wonder why was there any need to break in to Hillian’s house at the kick-off – there was no new evidence pointing to Terrence Mitchell as Mary’s killer. Secondly, why were there no alarm bells when Terrence Mitchell cropped up as 1. The Fence builder at Hillian’s; 2. A close friend and neighbour of the Lapsley’s family and 3. One associated with the murder weapon? His character was portrayed as ‘on-the-spectrum’ and yet he got away with 2 murders for so long…
Hi!. The reason for the break-in was that Hillian’s book may rekindle an interest in the case and start another investigation. The main reason for Terence Mitchell never being looked at as a suspect was because DCI Dawson was convinced it was Terence’s father who Dawson killed.
When Morse met with Majors towards the end, I think it was to confirm with him whether anyone was there when Majors and Hillian were arguing over the chapter. Majors must have confirmed that Mitchell was in the vicinity (building the fence) and this confirmed to Morse that it was likely that Terence had broken in to get rid of the chapter notes.
Very enjoyable blog.
I think Mark Gilbert has nailed the main reason, as Morse says “Mr. Majors saw you outside …” in his subsequent interview with Terence Mitchell.
A secondary piece of information Morse might have been seeking was the dates and venues of past police conferences, to match them against the postcards. Normally he would have got someone at the station to look it up, but there was a danger of tipping his hand to Dawson. Walters might have had those details as part of his research for the book.
A beautiful, if sad, episode. Well acted.
Hi Chris, we have just enjoyed this beautifully crafted episode for the second time after an interval of many years. Despite knowing the plot the delight was in seeing Morse put the clues together ahead of everyone and come to the shattering realisation of Dawson’s responsibility for the persecution of an innocent man and subsequent mistaken murder of a devoted father whose only crime was to love his errant son like he loved his murdered love child. The way John Thaw played conveyed this in the scenes with Mary Lapsleys grandmother and the bitter argument with Lewis are masterful and all the more remarkable for the fact that it can only be truly appreciated when you know the plot, unless you are smart enough to work it out first time around!
Why though did Dawson help with the deciphering of the name of the tailor of the jacket in the photograph which ultimately lead to his identification as Mary’s father?
Hi Jem. Regarding the jacket, it is in all probability that Dawson knew the tailors was no longer in business and would result in a dead end.
On this point (having just rewatched the episode yesterday) I suppose it also ties in with Dawson being a man unwisely given to certainties. I did consider for a moment that perhaps some part of him wanted to confess, a la Nixon and Frost (David of that ilk, not the rival TV tec) but the fierceness of his resistance to Morse’s accusations in the climactic scene rule that out.
Hi Jem – I thought that Helen McCarthy (R.I.P.) playing Mary Lapsley’s grandmother was also superb, and along with John Thaw, almost stole the show!
Agreed! I also never tire of watching the scenes with Fabia Drake in _Last Bus to Woodstock_ 😂
Hello Chris Sullivan – well what a find finding you and this site was – only happened because I switched on the midnight-2.15am ITV3 (ch 10 freeview) showing of this episode 25 mins late and wanted a synopsis! I particularly appreciate your detailing of all the music, art and literary references – these really do highlight just how beautifully crafted ‘Morse’ as a series was – sad to say, I doubt we’ll ever see such high values again in a terrestrial TV detective series.
Just one niggle for me in a brilliant episode – which is one of the rare few I’d never seen before, but which now certainly rates in my top 10, with its genuinely jaw-dropping final twist – ie if Dawson believed one of the Mitchells was Mary’s murderer, why did he turn apoplectic upon seeing Redpath from outside the cell, and have to be restrained by the PC from assaulting him?
Btw, a John Thaw personal memory. Saw him live in the NT’s (Cottesloe) 1981 production of Serjeant Musgrave’s Dance, part of an OU Drama Summer School. I had permission to lie down on one of the benches above the auditorium, as I had severe spinal problems at the time. This info had clearly not been passed on to John Thaw, as he picked me out, took great exception, and glare-stared directly at me for at least half a minute whilst waving his gun! whilst literally shouting at me towards the end of one of Musgrave’s angry speeches – he obviously thought I was just a lazy philistine!! Always meant to write and explain, but I never did get round to it, sad to say.
HI Ruth, welcome to my blog. Regarding Dawson’s reaction to Redpath. I believe Dawson’s reaction was being faced with the man he not only originally believed to be Mary Lapsley’s killer but he persecuted him for five years after the murder. Dawson still felt guilty about his actions toward Redpath and being faced by him probably brought those feelings of guilt and of course memories of his dead daughter to the fore. As regards John Thaw, it has been said by many people that John could at times be irascible. However, what a wonderful memory to have of the great John Thaw.
Thanks for the reply Chris, and yes, that makes sense.
Have always cherished that personal glare by John Thaw actually! Made an electrifying live performance of a superb production even more memorable – probably the best ever in my theatre-going experience, and I’ve been to a few!
Delighted to have found your blog, it really is a treasure trove – many thanks indeed for the time and care you put in. Bookmarked 🙂
My favorite episode but closely tied with Daughters of Cain. Acting all around superb, especially the scene where Dawson is confessing to Morse about his love for his daughter and her mother. Something he never got over and was haunted by it. Those feelings so reflected in his face and acting. So emotional!
Really thought we were going to find out Parks from Cowan Cleaners was in fact the John Mitchell.
BTW, I’ve been watching these in kind of Binge, because of being off work due to having surgery, anyway..I’ve noticed in almost each episode a small Asian Fireguard popping up at many of the homes on the show, once in the home of Morse himself, other episodes in various homes of the characters. Would never have noticed if not for binge watching!
Thanks for all the good stuff, am sharing with another Morse fan.
Chris. Thank you so much for your fascinating blogs on Morse. With your ability to trace locations, I wonder if you know that of Hillian’s house ? A beautiful old ‘manor house’. Do you know more about it ? Cheers.
Hi Tony and welcome to my website. Unfortunately I was unable to locate Hillian’s house.
Thanks Chris. I noted some years earlier you couldn’t; but just hoped maybe, since then …….. 🙂 Cheers.
I have just watched this episode and read all the comments and I was surprised that nobody spotted the scene towards the end when CI Dawson looks out of the window of his bedroom and sees the preacher spouting bible verse. Of course, in Pennies From Heaven (1978 https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0077060/ ) with Bob Hoskins and Cheryl Campbell (Morse S04E03), Colley plays the itinerant street preacher/Accordion Man who plagues Bob Hoskins through the entire 6 episodes. It was a nice and relevant homage to Colley’s performance in Pennies from Heaven.
Hi Nicola. I think someone did mention the Pennies From Heaven some time ago but I probably forgot to add it too the post. Thank you for commenting.
Must add something; not all the other paintings are amateur ones. In Morse’s office during the scene where Lewis accuses him of jealousy, very prominently displayed between them is a print of Fraggonard’s The Swing. It’s tenuous, but perhaps there is a clue to the case in that a young man is admiring her while an older man is present too.
Hi Simon. That poster of Fraggonard’s ‘The Swing’ appears in a few episodes of Morse. I mentioned it in my review of the episode Fat Chance.
When the police constable sees Redpath’s attempted suicide, I, too, thought it wrong that he dropped the tray of food and ran off down the corridor. But did you notice that, as he dropped the tray and the action switched to slow-motion, the tray started to rotate and would obviously have landed on the floor upside down. However, the next shot is of the tray landing on the floor the right way up.
Hi Bert. Yes I noticed the continuity error. It’s strange the editor never noticed. However, it’s possible he did but there was no footage of it rotating when hitting the ground. That scene was probably shot by the second unit director.
I loved this episode. With one exception: Dawson admits to murdering John Mitchell despite there is not one piece of evidence. This is out of character, he had been (mis)leading Morse successfully all the way, throughout the whole investigation. The other problem is that killing John was totally out of character, Dawson strikes me as a competent DS (at the time) who would have gotten a confession out of John despite his attempts to protect his son. 7 JAGS.
Yes, Morse arresting Dawson seemed odd as well. In the case of a senior policeman up for murder Morse would have had to pass any suspicions (and that is all he had) well up the chain of command for others to decide how to take them forward. At this stage, all that could be justified was an interview to ascertain the facts.
I think this episode is as much about the burden of guilt that the characters had been carrying around all those years. Terrance’s killing of Mary and Dawson’s killing of John Mitchell, both left heavy burdens.
With regard to Dawson’s confession, there was ample evidence to prove that Dawson was Mary’s father (the postcards, the badge, the photograph etc), so when you add in that John Mitchell’s disappearance is down to him having been killed, Dawson would become the chief suspect. As Dawson said himself, he knew Morse was a very good detective (albeit a bad policeman) – who would have benefited from the case going to court and a subsequent lengthy trial? Dawson admitted he had lost the two people he loved the most, and had nothing really left to lose. As soon as the case was reopened, he must have known that a decent detective would eventually put together the pieces, and there was a very good chance he would end up getting caught.
I also think that this case was very personal for Morse since he was the one who found the little girl, personally knew Dawson, and, even though he was new on the job when this happened, I think it haunted him because it was not solved – and we know how both old and young Morse were relentless in pursuing a case. I think he wanted to handle this case alone and finally solve it himself. That’s why he told Lewis to take leave when he was getting too close to figuring it out. Always on my top 3 favorite episodes. The acting alone, even though the plot is as good, draws you in and forces you to sympathize with all involved.
There is an odd scene early in when there is lots of frenetic activity at the Police Station and Strange tells Morse every copper in the world is working on the case, looking up past criminals Hillian had nailed. What happened to all that effort? Morse, Lewis and Dawson were left to tackle the case by themselves, they showed no interest whatsoever on all this work supposedly taking place.
The name of the girl Mary Lapsley is interesting. Jack.B.Yeats did a painting of a young girl titled ‘Portrait of Mary Lapsley Guest’ in 1916. It is a study of an American girl whose family Yeats stayed with for a time. She is a teenager though rather than being a young child as this character is. I think the painting is in the National Museum in Dublin. It appears in their 2021 diary in any case.
I watched this episode about 3 times as it is one of my favorites. This time, though, I noticed something that I don’t get. When Lewis and Morse are in the car riding back from Mary’s grandmother’s with the photo she allowed Morse to take, Lewis turns the photo over and it is blank on the backside; however, when they have the photo blown up, Morse asks the photographer how he knows it was taken at the conference in 1969 where the badge came from. And he says it was written on the back of the photo. A continuity mistake or my mistake?
Well spotted Kathleen. It’s a continuity error.
It probably was, but the photographer said it was written on the back of the original. It could have been read when examining what might have been a copy.
On a more general note, I enjoyed Kenneth Colley’s performance and there were a few scenes where he was standing by John Thaw and you wonder”what if?” as he could have played Morse.
I gave the episode earlier only 7 JAGs because I found Dawson admission to be unrealistic, there was no material evidence, he had managed to mislead Morse and Lewis throughout, so it made no sense. Seeing the episode again, I decided to reconsider, the reason Dawson admits to Mitchell’s murder is that he is a honest man and Morse just proved to him that he has killed the wrong man. So, it is back to 8 JAGs, the original grade by Chris.
Yes, Dawson’s shock at the news he killed the wrong man was enough for him to admit his mistakes.
Just viewed ‘Second Time Around’! It has become routine now to check your web-site and its comments and your responses after watching the particular episode.
Many thanks for adding to our enjoyment of ‘Inspector Morse’.
You’re welcome Helen.
One of Morse’s most important clues was the delegate badge from the 1969 conference. He had no need to borrow it because he recognized it, having stashed his own badge. Watching for the first time on Amazon Prime. Your website is a highly valued resource.
My favourite Morse. The line ‘maybe she was’ has me in tears every time I hear it.
For me, Second Time Around is by far the greatest Morse episode – an especially impressive feat given its lack of Colin Dexter source material. I think it’s the most powerful narrative, and – unlike, say, Masonic Mysteries – a fairly plausible plot. When I think of Morse and the best it has to offer in terms of acting, story, atmosphere, music, and so on, this is the one episode that always springs to mind. If I haven’t seen an episode for a few years and fancy watching Morse, I tend to go for this one.
Whilst I appreciate that opinions are subjective, I am amazed that this episode does not merit a place on Chris’ top ten list. What’s more, it’s surprising to see it lose out a place to, of all episodes, The Day of the Devil, which although enjoyable enough (Richard Griffiths is always a pleasure to watch) is one of the sillier Morse entries, and not one I would ever rank among the top tier.
That said, I appreciate Chris’ tireless work and enthusiasm, and am looking forward to Endeavour tonight.
James, I agree with you. Second Time Around is a 10 in my opinion and is at the top of my list. I also agree that Day of the Devil is not particularly good and it’s not one of my top 10. I would only rate that one a 5. I would rate Masonic Mysteries as probably a 6 because to me DeVries is not a believable character and unrealistically adept at what he can accomplish. But although I don’t like the plot that much (much too convoluted just to get even with Morse ) there are a few really good scenes in that one I do like.
I’m currently working my way through all the Inspector Morse episodes (it’s been about 5 years since I last watched them) and although there have been some fabulous episodes, Second Time Around stands (fractionally) at the top of my list so far.
Everything about this episode is good. The acting is first class; Dawson’s role is unbelievably well acted; and some great, memorable scenes throughout: from Morse giving his opinion on Dawson to his wife (‘He seems an unhappy man’); to the final scene of Dawson’s arrest. The whole thing is brilliant.
I’d like to add that your website, which I’ve only recently discovered, is wonderful. Everything is here at the click of a finger. And it is interesting reading what you write about the episodes. For example, your two criticisms of the episode above I also agree with. And your rating of eight ‘jags’ falls just one jag below my own.
Hello and welcome Gazza to my website. Second Time Around is an iconic episode. I hope you find more to interest you on my website.
Nice self contained episode. Would have liked to have seen more of Christopher Eccleston but there were fine performances throughout. The diary drop halfway through was a bit of a give away, and it was pretty quickly obvious that it was Terrence Wilson (Ecclestons character) in the frame.
Outstanding music, neatly directed, and one of John Thaws better turns as Morse. Amazing range and depth in this one. The formulaic story leaves it a little short for me.
Six jags from ten.
Excellent episode all round, but would Dawson really take revenge on his own bat,without letting justice play its role?
“At 3 minutes Dawson says to Lewis: ” In his time it was an eye for an eye. ””
Also, the seminar that Dawson brought the badge for Mary from included a debate on hanging. It seems likely that Morse was against capital punishment, Dawson in favour.
Yes, it does seem that way, not least as both individuals’ characters would imply.
But, I wonder if there isn’t a twist in the tail.
At the very end, Lewis asks Morse, regarding the speech he made at the police federation conference in 1969, if he had won.
Morse replies that ‘no, we lost’. The ‘we’ seems to refer to the police (if nothing, Morse is not disloyal to his profession).
Hanging was finally abolished in the uk in 1969.
‘This chapter examines pressure group activity and its influence
on the debate, and also sets the capital punishment debate in the
context of the other `conscience’ issue campaigns of the time. The great
weight of such activity was, inevitably, on the abolitionist side, at least
until 1965, because it was they who were seeking to effect change. The
active retentionists, by contrast, were located chiefly within pre-existing
institutional bodies such as the Police Federation, the prison service,
the judiciary, the Conservative Party (or elements of it) and the House of
Nick – my interpretation is that Morse and Dawson both attended a Police Federation conference in Blackpool 1969. At that conference there was a debate on Capital Punishment with Dawson for it, and Morse against it. The “we” lost, represents the side of the debate that Morse was on. This debate was purely within the Police Federation so it wouldn’t be the case of being disloyal to the profession. In the wider world of course Dawson’s side lost the debate and as you say it was abolished.
After Hillman’s death there is a pointless scene at the Police Station where we see lots of policemen running about with files and are told everyone has come in to work on the case. We hear no more of this frenetic activity and it seems that all of these officers are completely ignored by Morse as he gets on with things. I think this scene should have been cut.
One of my absolute favourite episodes. The combination of the plot, the music and the acting are superb. In fact, this is a “poster child” of episodes that you have to watch twice, just to get all the subtle nuances that you miss the first time around, such as where the actors are looking, how they react, what they say exactly. A truly excellent episode.
Just watched Second Time Around all the way through for the first time, and agree it’s one of the best episodes. Please forgive me if I missed it in the Locations, but does anyone know where was the film location of the Anglers’ Lodge? And your site is wonderful, thank you!
Thank you Mickey. Is Angler’s Lodge, Charlie Hillian’s house?
I’m guessing MickeyD was referring to the fisherman’s lodge by the lakeside, which we see in flashback
This is my favourite Morse episode, and would be across the Morse Universe.
Not only great story, characters, actors, music, but after the prior episode that I thought was over the top, this brought Morse back to reality. It is a fantastic episode to watch regardless of whether it is the first or nth time.
Looking at the comments I saw note about the back of the photo. Lewis does take it out of the frame in the car and turn it over. You can see that it is written Blackpool 1969 (looks to be in pencil or very feint), but may be the angle Lewis held it at and also any sunlight plus it was quick glance means it wasn’t noticed.
Two niggles for me. Firstly, when Morse opens his draw for the delegate badge it is right at the front. I guess we should take artistic licence for that to save us from seeing him rummaging through draws or other nick-nacks he’s collected over the year. Secondly, I wondered if Strange should have accompanied them to the hotel to arrest Dawson. Again, probably the 4 of them is better for dramatic purposes.
The main piece of classical music is an aria called Senza Mamma (as mentioned in the blog), from the opera by Puccini Suor Angelica. This was Puccini’s favourite opera and the main story features a nun who lost a child, so is fitting for the Morse story.
A great episode. Some queries to ponder.
The mini in the photograph must have had a number plate. No on mentions this despite the fact it is visible.
When Lewis first looks at the back of the photo, there is no mention of the location or date, contrary to the statement of the photo expert.
Watching it for the umpteenth time, it is great to pick out how Morse gives Dawson enough rope to confirm that he murdered Mitchell. The golden period for Morse; vies with Day of the Devil as my favourite.
I assume the mini was Mary’s mother’s, but agree it wasn’t mentioned in the episode.
As mentioned above in my earlier comment, on the back of the photo when Lewis looks at it in the car, it is written on the back. However, it is very feint and I only saw it when I watched the episode for the first time on a larger TV.
This is one of my favourite episodes. Everything comes together, the acting, script, production, music. Most of what can be said has been said, though I would like to point out one thing that I find needs to be put out there, and that is just how good the acting is in the final scene, especially between Dawson and his wife. Her reaction to ALL of the confessions – without saying a word – shows what a good actress she is.
Also, the use of Senza Mama, is haunting to say the least. The song sometimes plays in my head.
Pretty much everyone has said it all, but thanks Markus for highlighting the haunting Senza Mama and the acting. Kenneth Colley, Oliver Ford Davies, Ann Bell, all peerless (OK, let’s gloss over Sam Kelly, although that was probably the director’s fault)
Helen McCarthy as Rose Lapsley is by far the best thing in -for me- the best episode so far. Looking forward to the next one!