A Review of Morse Episode, ‘Fat Chance’. Plus the Art, Music, Locations and Literary References: SPOLIERS


On looking back at previous posts I noticed that my last Morse episode review was October 2015. My mouth literally dropped open when I noticed that. Time certainly does fly past very quickly. Unless you are watching a Party Political Broadcast when time appears to stand still.

So, here I am reviewing the episode ‘Fat Chance’ which is episode 2 of series 5 and chronologically is episode 17.

This episode was first broadcast in the UK on 27 Feb 1991.

This episode is not based on any of Colin Dexter’s books.


If you blink you will miss Mr Dexter.


Colin is in the scene when Hilary Dobson is attending her interview for the chaplaincy. It is at 1 hour 22 minutes and 33 seconds. The blurred photo above is the best I could get under the circumstances.

Directed by Roy Battersby: Roy only directed this one Morse episode. He went on to direct episodes of the wonderful series ‘Cracker‘ and ‘A Touch of Frost‘. He married Judy Loe in 1997. To Morse fans Judy Loe is best known as the character Adele Cecil from the Morse episodes, ‘Death is now my Neighbour’ and ‘The Wench is Dead’. I have written this many times but I am going to write it again; Morse SHOULD have been allowed to end his days with Adele in Australia and NOT killed off. Ok Chris, breathe and move on.

Screenplay by Alma Cullen: Alma Cullen also wrote the screenplays for the Morse episodes, ‘The Secret of Bay 5B’, ‘The Infernal Serpent’ and ‘The Death of the Self’. Alma Cullen was also responsible for writing the theatre play ‘House of Ghosts’ in 2010 starring Colin Baker as Inspector Morse and Andrew Bone as Lewis.


The play was badly received by the critics and the theatre going public at large. For the most part Morse fans were unhappy at the choice of Colin Baker (best known as Dr. Who from the 1980s) as Morse. However no one involved came away unscathed.

colin baker as morse

Colin Baker as Morse and Andrew Bone as Lewis. (photo copyright of The Journal)

Episode Jag Rating – out of 10.

seven jags


While sitting her exam paper on the post-exilic era (c. 538 – 332 BCE) Dr. Victoria Hazlett, her arm in a sling, collapses to the ground and dies. During this time her room is being ransacked by unknown man posing as a scout for a university.

The sling around Dr. Hazlett’s arm was due to her falling from her bike three days previously. An onlooker stated that the brakes on the bike appeared to have been cut.

Dr. Hazlett was part of a women’s group, PAX. The PAX group are an organization run by female clerics to help women. This group is attempting to have one of their own, Hilary Dobson, replace the chaplain Lance Mandeville when he retires. However, Lance Mandeville has no truck with the idea of female clergy and is backing his own candidate.

Meanwhile the Reverend Geoffrey Boyd, a friend of Mandeville, is having a mental breakdown and has encrusted his room with pictures of women, many of them the PAX Group, with the words HARLOT writ large on the walls.

One of the women who stays at the hostel run by the PAX Goup, Dinah Newberry, runs away and attempts to bring the Think Thin organization into disrepute. The organization runs a health spa and ‘helps’ people diet with the aid of a stimulant sold in tablet form.

With the death of Dr Hazlett looking possibly like poison, Morse and Lewis have to weave themselves through the politics of religion, feminism and the world of dieting.


(warning, this review may contain some spoilers)

This episode is interesting in that there is no actual murder so there is no murderer to be arrested at the end. For most of the episode we the audience are aware that there has been no murder and that the end will produce no climatic arrest of a murderer. As David Bishop writes in his book ‘The Complete Inspector Morse’, “The absence of a killer removes any sense of jeopardy”.

While I agree with David, regarding a lack of jeopardy due to a non murder there is some jeopardy as to whether Dinah Newberry will kill Freddy Galt. Because there appears to be no murder committed we the audience are on tenterhooks awaiting a murder and for a time it appeared that the victim would be Freddy Galt the head of the Think Thin organization. Also for a moment when Dinah attacked Freddy I wondered if Emma Pickford would be accidentally stabbed.

I suppose what is more interesting about the episode is the political machinations of the clergy, the topical (and it can still be addressed as topical) rise of female roles within religions and of course Morse’s relationship with Emma Pickford.

One can only ponder how Morse’s relationship with a theist like Emma would have progressed. Could it have progressed? I’m never been sure if Morse is an atheist or an agnostic. However, I don’t think religion would have caused the end of relationship it would have been Emma’s two children. I cannot see Morse having the patience to attend to two young children. Of course with all Emma’s commitments could she really have found the time to have a full time relationship with Morse?

Though the episode can, as David Bishop wrote “seem rather inconsequential”, I think it has enough charm and interesting performances and set pieces to make it an above average episode in the Morse canon. Zoë Wanamaker as Emma Pickford and Maggie O’Neill as the cigar smoking Hilary Dobson are excellent in their roles. Kevin Whately is as always excellent and I love his uncomfortable reactions to Hilary Dobson as he tries to equate her being a woman, a deacon AND a cigar smoker. One of my favourite scenes, a clip of which can be found below, is between Hilary Dobson and Lewis.

If one were to look at the episode with a harshly critical eye, ‘Fat Chance’ could be seen as “inconsequential”. The whole Think Thin side story could be construed as unnecessary as it both achieved very little and the discovery of the metabolic drug in Victoria Hazlett’s system could have been dealt with by having a conversation between Morse and an expert endocrinologist. Why would the Think Thin organization draw such attention to itself by hiring someone to burgle Victoria Hazlett’s rooms? Ultimately they weren’t at fault for Victoria’s death as the metabolic substance was only deadly because it inadvertently became mixed with painkillers and wine. Dr Briardale the endocrinologist who worked for Think Thin and was the Police’s expert witness could have identified the drug but verified that on its own it wasn’t harmful when administered to people who had been rigorously vetted by himself. The drug must have passed the UKs Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). This organisation looks after the safety of prescribed medicines and other health devices and equipment.

Still looking at the episode from a harshly critical point of view the episode might have benefited by concentrating on the religious element and the role of women in the clergy and also keeping Geoffrey Boyd as the possible murderer of Victoria until nearer the end of the episode. On the point of Geoffrey Boyd. he was having a complete mental breakdown but he had the wherewithal to put a copy of Victoria Hazlett’s exam paper under her mattress?

But let’s not point that spotlight of criticism too harshly at this episode as it’s many good and great points far outweigh its faults; the acting, the music, the romance and the debate of whether Morse and Emma made whoopee after their dinner date.


First up at the beginning of the episode we have the character Dinah Newberry singing ‘Laudate Dominum’ a Mozart aria from Vesperae Solemnes de Confessore.

The above piece of music is heard numerous times through the episode. I have heard from Caroline Ryder who played Dinah Newberry. Caroline has told me that she was the singer in the opening credits. What a wonderful voice she has.

The above piece of music is heard numerous times through the episode. The ‘voice of Dinah Newberry is the wonderful Janis Kelly. Who is she? She is the wonderful opera singer who not only sings many of the soprano pieces used in many of the Morse, Lewis and Endeavour series but also provides the voice for those actors playing singers.


Janis Kelly

The Glasgow born actor and singer is the voice of Rosalind Stromming in the Endeavour Pilot episode. She is the voice in Endeavour singing from Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, ‘Un bel de’ (One Beautiful Day).

In the  Endeavour pilot episode she is also the soprano voice at 27m42s singing ‘Signora, Ascolta’ from Puccini’s Turandot. (This piece can be found on the CD Inspector Morse Volume 2 also sung by Janis Kelly and used in the Morse episode ‘The Death of the Self’ first aired 25th march 1992. Yes guys, THAT episode).

Also from the Endeavour episode the soprano is Janis Kelly singing ‘Terzettino ‘Soave Sia Il Vento’ by Mozart. (This piece can be found on the CD Inspector Morse Volume 2 also sung by Janis and used in the Morse Episode ‘Happy Families’ first aired 11th march 1992)

Janis Kelly’s voice is also heard in the following episodes of Morse:

  • The Day of the Devil’ first aired 13th January 1993. She was the soprano voice singing ‘Adieu Notre Petite Table’ from Manon by Jules Massenet. This piece can be found on the CD Inspector Morse Volume 3).
  • The Death of the Self’ first aired 25th March 1992. Janis is the voice of Francis Barber’s character Nicole Burgess.
  • Cherubim and Seraphim’ first aired 15th April 1992. Janis is the soprano singing ‘Che Faro Senza Eurydice’ by Von Gluck. This piece can be found on the CD Inspector Morse Volume 2.
  • Absolute Conviction’ first aired on the 8th April 1992. Janis sings ‘Mitradi Quell’ Alma Ingrata by Mozart. This piece can be found on the CD Inspector Morse Volume 2.
  • Masonic Mysteries’ first aired on the 24th January 1990. Janis sings ‘Bei Mannern’ – Welche Liebe Fuhlen’ by Mozart from The Magic Flute. This piece can be found on the CD Inspector Morse Volume 3.
  • Promised Land’ first aired on the 27th march 1991. Janis sings ‘Hab’mir’s Gelobt’ from Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier. This piece can be found on the CD Inspector Morse Volume 3.
  • Second Time Around’ first aired 20th February 1991. Janis Kelly sings ‘Senza Mamma’ from Suor Angelica by Puccini. This piece can be found on the CD Inspector Morse Vol. 1.


The next piece of music is heard when  Morse and Lewis are driving to the scene of Dr. Hazlett’s death. Playing in the car is Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 7 in F Major.


Laudate Dominum is heard again during the scene when Dinah Newberry is sitting in her room crying, eating ice cream and Irene is banging on her door.


We return to Dinah Newberry’s room as Morse visits to talk to her. As before Laudate Dominum is playing.


Laudate Dominum plays again as we see Morse at home and he phones Emma to ask about Dinah Newberry.


Morse is at home entertaining his new love, Emma Pickford. While they sit in the garden music is playing. That music is Venetian Gondola Song (Opus 19, No. 6 in G Minor) by Mendelssohn.

Lastly, we have Bach’s ‘Well Tempered Clavier’ Book Two Prelude and Fugue in F sharp. This music occurs when Morse finds Boyd and then drives back to find out if Hilary Dobson has won the chaplaincy.


Thank to John who identified the piece of music being played at around one hour and 33 minutes as Morse and Lewis arrive at the ceremony to acknowlegde slimmer of the year. It is Something about a Soldier.

Interesting Quotes and Dialogue.


When visiting the PAX Group hostel Morse and Lewis conversation ends with the quotes below before Emma Pickford opens the door.

MORSE: “I reckon we’re seeing a particularly Oxford view of things. Extreme images. God as a prissy old don nit-picking his way through the liturgy versus God as a muscular Girl Guide”

The attractive Emma Pickford opens the door. Morse tries to compose himself and he and Lewis are invited in. Lewis then gives his punchline;

LEWIS: – “Dib dib dib sir”. ( A reference to Morse’s mention of Girl Guides).

Of course it would be more appropriate to spell the words Dyb Dyb Dyb as the quote is referring to the Scout phrase Do Your Best.


When Morse has finished interrogating Lance Mandeville at the police station, Lance Mandeville says to Morse that he hopes God will forgive him (forgive Morse that is). Morse replies;

MORSE – “I don’t think your God would have any truck with the likes of me. At least, I hope he wouldn’t.”


At 39 minutes and 30 seconds we see Hilary Dobson sitting with Emma Pickford.

I believe Hilary’s T-Shirt has the words, ‘God is an equal opportunity employer.’

Literary References


As Victoria Hazlett’s body is taken out of the college building the Rev Boyd shouts out “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft“.

No surprise that this quote is from the Bible: Samuel 15:22 and 15:23 (King James Version).

At 22 minutes and 25 seconds Morse says, “For some we loved, the loveliest and the best“. This is from The Rubaiyat By Omar Khayyam. The quote is from verse 22 (there are over 100 versus). The full verse is;

‘For some we loved, the loveliest and the best
That from his Vintage rolling Time hath prest,
Have drunk their Cup a Round or two before,
And one by one crept silently to rest’.


Hilary and Emma are discussing the revelations of what was found at Rev Boyd’s home. Emma also asks about Dinah. Hilary replies that she will turn up one day in her all “too too solid flesh.”

This quote is from Hamlet and spoken by him.

Hamlet Act 1 Scene 2:
O, that this too too solid flesh would melt
Thaw and resolve itself into a dew!
Or that the Everlasting had not fix’d
His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter! O God! God!


When Morse tracks down the Rev Boyd he says to him that it is ironic that he is now surrounded by women. Boyd replies;

BOYD: “Devour thy living with harlots”.

No surprise that this quote comes from the Bible, Luke 15:30 The King James version;

“But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.”



Morse is walking through the chapel Lance Mandeville when he then walks over to a painting on the wall.

This painting is called St James of Compestella and was painted by El Greco.

In the same scene we see a very striking statue.

The statue is called Lazarus by Sir Jacob Epstein.


Morse and Lewis are discussing the case in their office in the police station. Behind Morse is a poster advertising Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro.

Below is a reproduction of the painting used on the poster.

It was painted by Jean-Honore Fragonard in 1767 and the painting is called The Swing.


Up next we are in Morse’s house. This is the same scene mentioned above in the music section where he phones Emma. In Morse’s hall is a print.

It is obviously a print of a painting by Claude Monet. It is one of the many paintings created by Monet of water lilies in his garden at Giverny. Which one the above print is I cannot say for sure. Monet painted a series of 250 paintings of water lilies between 1840–1926.


The poster on the right in Morse’s office shows the Welsh National Opera poster by Robert Holder 1989.

Curiously the same poster also appears in the episode Masonic Mysteries in Morse’s home.


In Morse’s kitchen we can see a poster of the Royal Opera House Magic Flute.

This same poster appears in Morse’s office at the police station in the episode Masonic Mysteries. Thanks again to Nancy for the information.


John Thaw and Zoë Wanamaker worked together in the 1984 revival of Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’ and Ms Wanamaker won an Olivier Award for ‘Actress of the Year in a Revival’. John Thaw played the role of Sir Toby Belch.

thaw and zoe

John Thaw as Sir Toby Belch and Zoë Wanamaker as Viola. (Photo copyright of John Caird)

In the same production there were a few actors who have appeared in episodes of Morse. Firstly there was Gemma Jones who played Anne Staveley in the first Morse episode, ‘The Dead of Jericho’.


Gemma Jones as Anne Staveley in the first Morse episode, ‘The Dead of Jericho’.

gemma jones

Gemma Jones and John Thaw in Twelfth Night. (Photo copyright of John Caird)

Also appearing the 1984 production of ‘Twelfth Night’ alongside John Thaw was Daniel Massey.


Daniel Massey as Anthony Donn in ‘Deceived by Flight’. (Season 3 | Episode 3)

daniel massey

Daniel Massey and John Thaw in Twelfth Night. (Photo copyright of John Caird)


In this episode Mrs Val Lewis makes her second appearance played by Maureen Bennet. Maurenn Bennet would play Val Lewis four times in total.

– Greeks Bearing Gifts (1991)
– Who Killed Harry Field? (1991)
– Fat Chance (1991)
– Service of All the Dead (1987)

maureen bennett

Maureen Bennett

For the first time there are no actors who would appear later in either the Lewis or Endeavour series.



I liked the poster on the wall behind Morse’s desk. It is a poster of Mozart’s ‘Marriage of Figaro’. I tried to find one but the closest I could find was the one below.


(Postscript 19/07/2016) A follower of my blog, nyannayon, commented that the painting that is used in the poster to advertise the opera is by Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s and is called ‘The Swing’. The painting is available as a poster in many shops on the internet.

I think for the first time in the series we get to view Morse’s garden to the side of his house.


Speaking of Morse’s house, I noticed that he had quite a collection of Penguin paperbacks.


Penguin books had a colour coding system for the books; The colour schemes included: orange and white for general fiction, green and white for crime fiction, cerise and white for travel and adventure, dark blue and white for biographies, yellow and white for miscellaneous, red and white for drama; and the rarer purple and white for essays and belles letters and grey and white for world affairs.

As you can see behind Morse in the picture above he had quite a collection of different penguin genres. Interestingly there is a P.D. James novel to the left of the Penguins. P.D. James is of course famous for the detective novels with the character, Adam Dalgliesh.


Beginning of episode –

New College Chapel. All the college scenes are set in New College unless otherwise mentioned.

2 minutes – 

Women are walking through New College front quad. You can see the chapel in the background.

11 minutes –

Hilary Dobson is in a room with Lewis.

In the background we can see an archway. This is an exit/entrance to New College front quad.

15 minutes –

Morse and Lance Mandeviulle at the entrance to the New College chapel.

The statue is called Lazarus by Sir Jacob Epstein.

New College, Oxford is a stand in for St Saviours.

fat chance st saviours

St Saviours, a Scene from Fat Chance when Morse learns that Emma has been lying him.


New College, Oxford OX1 3BN.

new college


Next is the Think Thin health Spa where Dinah attacks Freddy Galt;


Think Thin Health Spa

In reality the building is actually a school. Heath Mount School to be exact. It is to be found on the Woodhall Park Estate,

heath mount school

Heath Mount School, Wood Hall Park, Watton-at-Stone, Hertford, Hertfordshire SG14 3NG.

heath mount school2


Next is the location of the scene where Dinah Newberry accosts Dr. Briardale’s assistant, Judy.


This building is actually the Heinz Wolff Building, Brunel University in Uxbridge.


Heinz Wolff building, Brunel University, Uxbridge,



Queen’s Lane where Morse has parked his car.


Where Morse and Lewis walk to after leaving the car. Supposed to be the entrance to St. Saviours.

quenns lane3

quenns lane


Nuffield College, New Inn Hall Street, Oxford also stands in for St. Saviours.


Emma Pickford (Zoe Wannamaker) and Hilary Dobson (Maggie O’Neill) 



Next up is the location where Morse and Lewis discuss the case in particular Mrs Gardam. Took me a while to find this but i’m sure it is correct.




So, the above scenes are located on the B5378 near Shenleybury House.




This episode includes one of the nine pubs I can’t locate in the Morse series.


UPDATE 30/09/2016: 

The above has now been identified thanks to blog reader, Victor Hall. Victor very kindly wrote to let me know that the above pub was The Blue Anchor situated at the bottom of Fishpool St. St. Albans, Hertfordshire. The scene was filmed in the rear beer garden. Sadly this pub is no more and due to be converted to a residential dwelling.





Sad that it can no longer to visited as a Morse pub location but at least it is another pub located from the Morse series. A huge thank you to Victor.


The next location is as annoying as the above location as I have tried looking for it for so many hours but to no avail. It is where the PAX Group Hostel for women is located.



We see the above street sign outside the hostel but there is no Napier Street in Oxford. There is a Napier Road but it’s not the location. You can see more of the location in the clip above that shows Lewis and Morse visiting the hostel. I have heard from Caroline Ryder who played Dinah Newberry and she wrote that the above location is in West London.




Maurice Denham as Lance Mandeviulle. (Born: December 23, 1909. Died: July 24, 2002)


Zoë Wanamaker as Emma Pickford (Born: May 13, 1949). 


Maggie O Neill as Hilary Dobson. (Born: November 15, 1962)


Kenneth Haigh as Freddy Galt (Born: March 25, 1931)


Peggy Mount as a Nun. (Born: May 2, 1915, Died: November 13, 2001)


David Gant as Geoffrey Boyd. (Born: 1943)


Julian Gartside as Desmond Kelly. (born in April 1958)


Caroline Ryder as Dinah Newberry. (Unknown birth date)


Sarah Carpenter as Victoria Hazlett. (Unknown birthdate)


Una Brandon Jones as Nadine Stacy. (Born: April 24, 1916, Died: 2010)


Arbel Jones as Jane Barnes (Birthdate unknown)


Nicholas Selby as Dr. Corder (Born: September 13, 1925, Died: September 14, 2010)


Eileen Dunwoodie as Mrs Gardam (Birthdate unknown)


Tilly Vosburgh as Irene Saunders. (Born: December 17, 1960)


Alan Starkey as Rowlands. (Birthdate unknown. Died in 2003)


Ben Onwukwe as Doctor. (Born: August 21, 1957)


William Roberts as Hank Briardale. (Born: October 18, 1943)


Dorothea Alexander as Mrs Hulme. (Birthdate Unknown)


Badi Uzzaman as Chip Van Owner. (Born: March 8, 1939, Died: June 14, 2011)


Josephine Welcome as Judy. (Birthdate Unknown)


James Grout as Chief Superintendent Strange. (1927–2012)


Maureen Bennett as Val Lewis. (Birthdate Unknown)

So folks that is all for this review. I hope you enjoyed it and it will help your enjoyment of the episode when you next watch it.

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.

56 thoughts

  1. Great in depth review! Fantastic research and detail. I adore the “Jag” rating system Very clever. Thank you.

    1. Chris, you’re my hero, for going after your dreams after you did your duties with family. Thank you for you’re Morse acumen! Know you will conquer at University! Thank you and best wishes-


  2. Hello, Chris.
    Doesn’t Mrs Lewis (played by Maureen Bennett?) also appear in “Masonic Mysteries”? Perhaps you mean this episode rather than “Service of all the Dead”, where Bennett plays the minor role of “Wife” but not Lewis’s?

      1. Hi Paul. Mrs Lewis (Val) does appear in the episode but very briefly and from a distance. It’s at the end of episode when she and Lewis leave the building, metaphorically scratching their heads, wondering why Morse enjoys operas. Morse sees them from his car parked across the road.

  3. Excellent review, thanks– lots of interesting detail.

    I actually thought that this was a very good episode. I liked the excellent acting and the variety of eccentric characters, such as Dinah, Hilary, Mrs Gardam and the crabby priests. As usual, I had to watch the episode twice before it all clicked together for me (and even then, I needed to go back and re-watch certain scenes– one must really pay close attention to every line and scene when watching Morse.) I think it’s perfectly fair that sometimes a suspicious death turns out to be accidental, especially when other suspicious events (the bike-tampering and the burglary) are present and need to be explained in course.

    When Morse first met Emma, I was rather confused by his big reaction; I thought maybe he knew her. I didn’t realize that he just found her attractive.

    The relation between the two key groups (the weight-loss people and the high church feminists) was unclear to me at first viewing but then it eventually made sense. Morse does not let a case go until it makes sense.

    All told, I thought it was a satisfying puzzle for the mind, with memorable characters, wonderful music for the ear and beautiful architecture for the eye. This is why I like the series.

    Alan Filipski

  4. I was surprised to find out that was Morse’s garden in the scene with Zoe. Why then, I wonder, does he bother to order a dozen roses for his date with her if his garden is obviously full of them?

  5. Just re-watched this story…I wondered about the roses. he bought, I assumed they were indoors in a vase.!..was it Emmas garden…or Morses.? Also, when you see them next morning, she is in her dressing gown…….More than just friends…?!…I wonder if he ever saw her again….they made a nice pair, despite her shall we say a white lie……

  6. I am so impressed with this whole project – all the photos, clips, notes on music and actors, behind the scenes revelations!

    For anyone who likes British comedy, if you haven’t seen Zoe Wanamaker in My Family (the comedy series, not the movie), you are missing a well-written, sharp, fast-moving and very funny show!

  7. On a minor point, it really annoyed me that an Anglican priest was dressed as a Catholic cardinal. Another side note, women weren’t ordained in the Church of England until 1994, although perhaps the show writers were trying to draw attention to the idea of female priests.

    1. Jordan S., thanks for validating that something is off with the vestments. A bit too much red. Sometimes I see something and think it’s off but then I second guess myself and figure “Hey, what do I know? I am probably wrong”. But now there’s at least two of us who saw something off.
      As for the women in vestments, I think they must be deacons, as there were no women priests in England until 1994, as you say, but there were women deacons. (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ordination_of_women_in_the_Anglican_Communion) . Could a woman deacon be college chaplain? Apparently, at least in the Morse universe.

  8. Excellent research! For some reason I always wanted to know the location of the chip van scene…not sure why, just always liked the starving Lewis ordering the double chips…nonetheless, feel free to inform a stateside fan who can only visit once a decade or so where that may have been. And thanks again for the excellent information!

  9. There are lots of interesting ideas in this episode. The writer pushes the envelope with the cause and manner of death, but it does come together, and I think much of the tension (or “jeopardy”) comes because we don’t know for sure until near the end that there was no foul play involved in the death. It’s always valuable for a long-running series to stretch or test the formula, and I’m certainly not here to knock this one.

    Zoe Wannamaker is always enjoyable, and you’re dead on about the interactions between Lewis and O’Neil’s character.

  10. About the actress Dorothea Alexander (who appeared only momentarily as Mrs Hulme), of whom it’s stated above that her birth date was unknown: when she spoke, I detected the faintest hint of a remaining German accent that seemed to have been largely lost over some decades, and wanting to verify my suspicion, looked her up. I found her in IDWB (https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0018385/bio). It states there that she was born February 11, 1912 (sure enough, in Berlin) and died June 23, 2010 in England.

    About the character “Irene”: when I first saw her, I at first thought she was being played by a young Nicola Walker, but then I saw in the credits that she was played by Tilly Vosburgh. The two do seem to bear some resemblance though there’s about 10 years difference in their ages.

    One of the things that I love most about British mysteries is that the casts seem to be made up of people hired for their acting ability and interesting personalities—not Hollywood beauties hired for their looks!

    Thank you for identifying that Mendelssohn Gondola Song from his Songs without Words. It was very familiar, but I just couldn’t place it!

    1. Exactly right, Donald. The characters in British mysteries and other programs come in all shapes and sizes and in general look like “real people” rather than sleek, well-cosmeticized actors. As a result they stay in the memory far longer and we are constantly saying, “There’s the guy from Midsomer Murders!” or,”Wasn’t she the woman who played the nurse in “George Gently” a few years ago?”. We often joke that there exists a small pool of 37 British actors who rotate through a series of mysteries and consistently play their parts well. Our game is to identify where we’ve seen them before, with a bonus for coming up with their name. I really admire these fat, thin, homely, sometimes beautiful actors. Some have big ears, some an extremely large nose, thinning hair, or tiny close-set eyes. They look like people you might see in a crowded tube station rather than those attending a glittering theatrical gala, and that is their strength and our gain.

      1. I so agree with you and Donald. I play that same game and have said the same thing about the revolving group of British actors except I thought there might have been only 10 🙂 Even so, it’s always a pleasure to see them. So refreshing to see real people and not Hollywood beauties that all look the same.

      2. I have often commented to my wife that it seems there must be a British acting “guild” as the shows we watch all seem to use the same group of actors. And you are right- they look like regular people one might see on the street.

  11. It’s interesting that an episode that highlights progressive ideas like females in the clergy also has what would be considered fat shaming 30 years later. The scene where Dinah is sitting in her room literally stuffing food into her face, uncontrollably, is a little over-the-top. She exists in the story, literally, to be fat.

    One of the most interesting things about watching these episodes is the differences in acceptable behavior exhibited particularly towards women over the decades.

    1. Agreed, the scene with Dina stuffing her face was over the top and unnecessary. There was no point to it that I could see. Dina has some eating disorder, we can see that, but it is not really addressed in the show.

  12. I hope Nicola Walker doesn’t find this website or lawyers may need to be instructed. Tilly Vosburgh appeared in an episode of Vera (a current very long running ITV detective drama based in Northumberland in the NE of England for our overseas readers) broadcast on 7June 2020 in quite a similar role living in sheltered accommodation for women.

    1. I don’t understand what that first sentence is supposed to mean. Why would my website affect Nicola Walker?

  13. Hi Chris, This is second time I watched this episode.Thanks for clarifying what DIB DIB (or DYB) meant. I always wondered about that. Also, someone might have mentioned before but when Kelly is talking to Mandeville he mentions “a moveable feast.” That is a reference I believe to Hemingway’s book about when he was living in Paris. I, too did not realize that was Morse’s garden in that scene with Emma and I always thought it was so beautiful.

    1. Moveable feasts are those holy days that are set by the date of Easter Sunday. The dates change, but the feasts continue.

      1. Hi Nora, I hadn’t heard of this in the US. But then again I’m not a religious person, although I was once a Catholic as a child. Is this a traditional occurrence in the UK? And would they involve?

      2. Kathleen, “movable feasts” apply throughout Christendom, far as I know. Certainly within Catholicism, the Orthodox churches, and the Anglican/Episcopalian churches.

  14. I was going to comment on the pub, which I see you’ve identified (I’ve had a drink in there once or twice!)

    My observation was that it’s clearly a McMullnen’s pub, very much a local Hertfordshire brewery – further strengthening the Morse-Herts connection.

    McMullen is still around but with fewer pubs these days. The red and white umbrella being the standard at their pubs at the time while the yellow and green ones were promoting their ‘Harpsman’ lager. A now defunct tipple that Morse would not have touched with a barge pole.

  15. This is by far the weakest episode in the series, not only that it is boring, it also contains TWO major logical flaws: there is no way for Galt to know that Dinah went to Victoria with the story of her slimming in order to order the break-in, nor is it plausible that Victoria mixed up her painkiller pills with Dinah’s slimming ones. Four Jags (and this is being generous).

    1. Adrian, I agree. This is nowhere near on the list of my favorites. I wasn’t even sure who broke into Victoria’s room at first since I thought it might have been that demented priest. And I agree with statcoder that the scene with Dinah gorging on all that gross food is way over the top. What was that white gloppy stuff she was eating – ice cream or cake icing?? I can’t imagine her not being sick afterward. Kudos to the actress though, she was very convincing and demonstrated the emotional toll women, and men, can go through with being overweight and dieting. A good friend of mine has been on some kind of diet (and quick fixes) all her life and it is sad to see her struggle with it.
      But I just didn’t think those two storylines went together. Each one could have been a stand alone episode and been better for it.

      1. Yes, it is a bad episode. I have just finished watching for the second time “Lewis – The Indelible Stain”, also very weak logically, with some annoying errors. I like Lewis more than Morse because Lewis is a nicer person than Morse and because of Hathaway. I am hoping for the “Hathaway” sequel. I am also hoping that they would get Mo Haider to write the episodes, she is fantastic.

    2. Adrian, right on. I couldn’t quite figure out what the point of the break in was. Was it to get Victoria’s notes on Dinah? How would Galt know what was in those notes or even that those notes existed? Why draw such attention by ordering a break in? And what if Victoria hadn’t mistakenly taken Dinah’s slimming pills? Even with her notes missing, she would still know Dinah’s story. Her death seems a bit contrived. A sip of communion wine sets off a deadly chemical reaction between painkillers and a mild metabolic stimulant? Really? I should be dead a thousand times over then. Why did Dinah come in at night to leave her pills anyways? Why not just give them to her at their next meeting? Who slept in the vault?

      I better stop. Still enjoyed the show, despite the plot line (or lack thereof) because I like the actors, sets, music, etc. looking forward to next episode (watching in sequence).

  16. There is a very striking Epstein statue of Lazarus to be seen in New College chapel near to the El Greco painting. I don’t think you mention it?

  17. I am the actress Caroline Ryder who played Dinah! I stopped acting in my early 30’s. Born Dec 1963. To answer a couple of questions – Napier Street for the PAX group house is somewhere in West London if I remember correctly. In the eating badly scene it is coffee ice cream and cake! Rather sickly after a few takes !

    1. Hello Caroline, it’s lovely to hear from you. Thank you for additional information. I will add that to my post. Especially the information that you sang during the opening credits. You have a wonderful voice. I always imagined that after a few takes eating the confectionary/ice cream mix must have got to the point of nausea. I hope you are well and thank you for commenting. I have to ask. What was it like working with Kevin Whately and John Thaw? Take care.

      1. As far as I remember John kept himself to himself as he seemed a shy man when we were working however he was a kind and giving actor.

        Kevin, again very professional to work with but I dont have any memory of how he was to be with when not filming .

        It is all so long ago now that memories fade .

  18. Also I am singing the opening credits in the vault and the professional opera singer came later in the episode – Caroline Ryder

  19. How marvellous that Caroline Ryder has contributed to this web-site! I thought that she sang beautifully in the opening credits.
    (I wonder how many critics of this episode have ever written for television.) Alma Cullen’s study of women in the cleverly titled ‘Fat Chance’ was most perceptive.
    My favourite scenes are the Maurice Denham/John Thaw scenes. The complexity of Maurice Denham’s character was finely drawn.
    Thank you again for this detailed information – especially on the Lazarus statue.

  20. Morse was even more arrogant & dismissive than usual in the fairly obvious way he ignored Eileen in her attempt to give vital witness information, and therefore went on a wild goose chase for most of the episode. The very fact that the title of the episode is “Fat Chance” should have been a big clue that the motive was nothing to do with the religious organisation.

  21. Many thanks for these posts, Chris, but the unmarked spoiler in the “Where’s Colin?” section revealing Morse’s eventual death was a bit disappointing for someone working their way through the series for the first time!

  22. Get this Chris Sullivan chap a CBE for review writing. Or a pint.

    Not a favourite episode of mine, and I always have to skip through the scene where Dinah is gorging on food. Ugh, I just find it repulsive. All credit to Caroline, who played her. Hope they offered her some Rennies after filming.

    More annoying feminists in this episode. I wonder if the WPC from Day of the Devil was friends with them?

    @Robert Stoker, are you on crack or something? Your comments reads like a load of bull jobbie to me.

  23. Firstly love this resource…but I have a strange location request….

    Is anyone able to help identify the location of the lay-by featuring the mobile fish and chip trailer with a mock up of the Oxford Shark on its roof??

    I initially assumed it was the real shark in the background until I rewound and rewatched the screen of Lewis ordering a late lunch.

    I assume this must have really existed as I can’t believe it was created just for this episode. Any information greatly appreciated of location or history of the food stall.

  24. I just watched this on free to air TV in Australia, sadly with ads included. I was praying for it to finish but couldn’t stop watching until I knew what happened, then went to bed and got back up to research what the hell it was all about!! Found this website and I have really enjoyed reading the synopsis and all the comments. Wow, such detail, now I want to watch it again (minus ads) and pick up on all the nuances, music and art that I was oblivious to. I’m a big fan of Foyle’s War (plots make sense) and found Morse lacking the detail that links the stories together, I hate it when they jump to B when they haven’t explained A yet. Still it had me watching until 11pm so it must have had some sort of hook, the theme was quite interesting and anything that involves the clergy is often good. Why would Morse wander off on his own and interview people in a very unprofessional manner and one that would have the prosecutors shaking in their boots I wonder.

  25. This is a pretty poor story, albeit topical for the time in 1990 when the pressure for Ordination of Priests in the Church of England was well known. It is implied that Dinah Newberry stole the drugs and they ended up in Victoria’s room during the night before the exam. Now unless there was someone tailing Dinah then how on earth was the ransacking of Victoria’s room that morning organised.

    Lewis also seem surprised when one of his colleagues described the priests having drunk up all the wine after the service, and this is normal procedure. He should have remembered this from Service for all the dead 🙂

    What saves the episode for me is Zoe Wanamaker and Maggie O’Neill and their interactions playing in the storyline with Morse and Lewis.

  26. Just rewatched this episode after seeing it about 10 years ago. The connection between the storylines seems straightforward: it’s a juxtaposition of traditional female stereotypes (ideally slim, the swimsuit competition and catwalk scene at the diet center) versus women evolving into more non-traditional roles (clergy). Emma embodies both old and new: She likes clothes, paints her nails, etc., but also is pushing for reform.
    Script was definitely awkward in spots. Chris, thanks for explaining DYB, DYB, DYB.

    1. As Chris said, a prescient comment, very insightful of you to pick up a theme in this episode on the evolving role of women in society and the evolving image of women in society.

      Another example along this theme may be the contrast between the modern Emma and Hillary, ordered religious women (presumed deacons), and the older stereotypical sergeant-like nuns at the care facility where Boyd ends up. Just a thought. BTW, those sergeant-like nuns brought back childhood memories I thought I had suppressed. 🙂

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