Hello everyone and welcome to my latest post. I’m sorry that this post is a overdue but circumstances at home have kept me busy. Thank you all for your patience and I hope you enjoy this post.
WARNING! THERE WILL BE SPOILERS CONTAINED WITHIN THIS POST.
Chronologically this is episode 23. (Series 6 episode 3).
First broadcast in the UK on 25 March 1992.
This episode is not based on a Colin Dexter novel.
Colin does not appear in this episode. It has been written elsewhere that he appears in the crowd attending the opera at the end of the episode but it isn’t him.
Directed by Colin Gregg: Colin also directed “Who Killed Harry Field?” He also directed three episodes of John Thaw’s other hit series Kavanagh QC; – “A Sense of Loss” (1996) “Heartland” 1995) “Nothing But the Truth” (1995).
Written by Alma Cullen: She also wrote “The Secret of Bay 5B”, “The Infernal Serpent” and “Fat Chance”.
During the inquest of the death of May Lawrence her husband Kenneth Lawrence breaks down while giving evidence. He talks about some conniving, pressure and threats. The coroner decides to allow Kenneth Lawrence some time to compose himself and adjourns to a later date.
Kenneth Lawrence, who owns a bookshop, leaves the country and heads to Vicenza, Italy where his wife was killed.
Chief Superintendent Strange decides to send Morse and a reluctant Lewis to Italy to investigate the circumstances surrounding May Lawrence’s death but more importantly to find out if Russell Clark, a convicted fraudster is involved. Morse was responsible for for the capture of Russell Clark in 1985 and holds him in very low regard.
While in Italy Morse suspects that Russell Clark and Kenneth Lawrence may be involved in the selling of counterfeit rare manuscripts. But what is the connection to the death of May Lawrence.
Russell Clark, after being released from prison, went to Italy to start a business called The Selfhood Trust. The Trust is a psychotherapy clinic to help those to shrug off their past and help them move on with their lives. One of their clients is the opera singer Nicole Burgess who some years previously suffered stage fright and is on the verge of making a comeback.
Of course Morse has most of her recordings and finds himself falling in love with her. Can Morse “stay out of the byways” as Chief Superintendent Strange so elegantly put it to Morse and go straight for Clark.
(warning, this review may contain some spoilers)
There are two reasons for loving this episode (or four if I’m being crude), the delectable Frances Barber and THAT green top she inadvertently wore back to front. I like to think of myself as an intelligent, thoughtful man without a sexist bone in my body but goddamn I’m also a red bloodied male and would be a liar if I didn’t admit that Ms Barber looks delicious in that top. Do I need to say anymore about the episode? I suppose I should. 😉
This episode is like a mirror image of the Morse episode, The Promised Land. In that episode, set in Australia, Lewis loves the country while Morse is uncomfortable and outside his comfort zone. In this episode Lewis is the uncomfortable one who is outside his comfort zone. Morse on the other hand is in his element. Morse is front and centre in his comfort zone. I wonder if Morse, having been given the opportunity, would have been happy being a policeman in Italy.
There are not many places that could contend with the beauty and grandeur of Oxford but Vicenza comes a very close second. Though Morse has never been to Vicenza he strides through the strade like someone who has lived there all his life.
The director and camera crew made the most of the beautiful cities of Vicenza and Verona and the luscious scenery that surrounds the two cities. What also brings the episode to life is the bright, luminous natural light that makes everything from buildings to the streets and even clothes look like they have absorbed the sunlight.
The cast as so often in a Morse episode are excellent but special mention must go to Michael Kitchen as Russell Clark. Kitchen plays the self assured and charming but conniving Clark with apparent relish and aplomb. Unlike so many actors who play villains in much of today’s films and TV shows he never strays into the territory of making him look or act like a cartoon or pantomime villain. Michael’s acting creates the dichotomy of feeling charmed and revolted by the character. Personally I also love Michael’s voice and its that voice that helps to create the aforementioned dichotomy.
I hate my own voice. When I was younger and my friends dreamed of becoming actors or footballers or musicians I dreamt of waking up one morning and having a voice like Orson Welles or Richard Burton. If I had been aware of Michael Kitchen at that time I would also have added him to my list of wanted voices.
The episode is well written and moves effortlessly from a whodunit murder to art forgery. The episode has more red herrings than an Agatha Christie novel so keeping the viewers on their collective toes and makes them work that bit harder to solve the mystery.
The direction is deceptively simple with no overbearing jump cuts or ostentatious camerawork. Colin Gregg the director correctly allowed the country of Italy to do work for him. He uses only slow pans and dolly shots and limited edits to allow the episode to flow gently but workmanlike, not dissimilar to the Bacchiglione during the summer months.
Episode Jag Rating – out of 10.
The first piece of classical music we hear is nine minutes into the episode when Lewis and Morse (or Moose 🙂 ) arrive at Vicenza train station. The music is by the Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi (1678 – 1741). The musical piece is from Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Mandolini in G Minor.
The RV code in the title of the video above relates to the Ryom-Verzeichnis or Ryom Verzeichnis (both often abbreviated RV) a (now standard) catalog of the music of Antonio Vivaldi created by Peter Ryom. The catalog is often used to identify Vivaldi’s works by a simple number.
The Concerto for Two Mandolini replays several times through the episode: at 13 minutes and 25 seconds when Morse, Lewis and the Italian policeman are walking through the strade and piazza. The piece occurs again when Morse, Lewis and Claudio Battisti first arrive at Clark’s abode at the 16 minute and 10 seconds mark.
At 39 minutes and 38 seconds Nicole Burgess is driving Morse to her house and again we hear the Vivaldi piece.
At 24 minutes and 45 seconds we hear Nicole Burgess sing in the lobby of Morse’s hotel. She sings Caro Nome form Verdi’s Rigoletto.
At 56 minutes and 25 seconds we have Nicole Burgess singing in The Arena in Verona while Morse listens . The piece is the aria Signore, Ascolta! from the opera Turandot by the Italian composer Giacomo Puccini (1858 -1924).
This piece is heard again at the end of the episode when Nicole Burgess performs in front of an audience.
I only came across one reference in the episode and that was around the one hour and 24 minute mark. Lewis is in his room attending to Morse’s head wound. Morse says, “Stop being a nursemaid Lewis…Not so deep as a well, and nor so wide as a church door. But, twill serve..”
This is from Romeo and Juliet Act 3, Scene 1. Romeo breaks up a fight between Tybalt and Mercutio. Mercutio is stabbed.
MERCUTIO: I am hurt. A plague o’ both your houses! I am sped. Is he gone and hath nothing?
BENVOLIO: What, art thou hurt?
MERCUTIO: Ay, ay, a scratch, a scratch. Marry, ’tis enough.
Where is my page?—Go, villain, fetch a surgeon.
Exit MERCUTIO’S PAGE
ROMEO: Courage, man. The hurt cannot be much.
MERCUTIO: No, ’tis not so deep as a well nor so wide as a church-door, but ’tis enough, ’twill serve. Ask for me tomorrow, and you shall find me a grave man. I am peppered, I warrant, for this world. A plague o’ both your houses! Zounds, a dog, a rat, a mouse, a cat to scratch a man to death! A braggart, a rogue, a villain that fights by the book of arithmetic! Why the devil came you between us? I was hurt under your arm.
There are only a few paintings in this episode and only one I can fully identify. At 12 and a half minutes we are inside Nicole Burgess’s villa. On the wall are two paintings.
The painting on the left is possibly of the architect of the villa, Vincenzo Scamozzi. The portrait on the left I believe maybe Andrea Palladio. The Pisani families supported Palladio’s career. The Pisani family have owned the above mentioned villa for hundreds of years.
When Nicole is showing Morse around the vineyard they visit a small cottage. On the wall is a painting.
The above is a very poor copy of a painting by the Italian painter Elizabeth Sirani (8 January 1638 – 28 August 1665). The painting is titled Herodias with the head of John the Baptist.
Interesting choice of painting to have in the above scene and i’m sure it was a deliberate choice. Herodias and her daughter Salome were often used as subjects in paintings to show the power of women.
Herodias asked for the head of John the Baptist as a reward from her husband Herod Antipas. Herodias’s daughter Salome delivered the head to her mother.
Nancy has provided the following information.
A variation of Arena de Verona opera poster on the wall outside the diva’s dressing room appeared on two occasions during episode “The Death of the Self.”
In Lewis’ hotel bedroom on wall above the bed, there is picture
“A View of the Arena in Verona 1744.”
I suppose the first thing to do is establish where Vicenza and Verona are in Italy.
First up is Vicenza railway station at 9 minutes.
Here is a video someone uploaded recently to Youtube of Vicenza railway station.
The hotel that Lewis and Morse stay in while in Vicenza.
This hotel is not in Vicenza but in Verona where Morse and Lewis will visit later in the episode.
The hotel is adjacent to the Santa Anastasia Church as can be seen in this shot from the episode.
Here is a recent view of the church.
Why they filmed the scene in Verona rather than Vicenza I can only speculate. It’s possible the setting was more favourable and it was easier to film at that location. Maybe the actors were staying at this hotel so it made sense to film there as well. Only speculation.
At 20 minutes and 49 seconds Morse and Lewis are walking in Vicenza.
The stairs that Morse and Lewis are walking down are known as Portico della Basilica Palladiana.
At 31 minute mark Lewis and Alistair Haines are walking through Vicenza.
This area is called Piazza dei Signori.
At just over 32 minutes Morse is talking to Kenneth Lawrence at the house owned by May and Kenneth Lawrence.
The above house is the Trento Carli Villa in Costozza.
At 40 minutes Nicole Burgess drives Morse to her villa.
The above building is the Villa Pisani, also known as La Rocca Pisana in Lonigo, Veneto, Italy.
At 52 minutes Nicole arrives for her rehearsal at the ancient Roman amphitheatre the Arena in Verona.
Well let us start at the obvious place and that is the singing voice of Nicole Burgess. The ‘voice’ of Nicole 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.
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.
Next up is the array of film posters on the Italian police station walls. The main one behind Claudio Battisti is a Sylvester Stallone film, Cobra. Terrible film.
Other film posters on the wall are;
Second from the left is the execrable Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol’. Next to that is the excellent Terminator. I don’t recognise the others.
Strange that John Thaw looks at the camera at one hour 37 minutes and stranger that they kept the shot in and didn’t retake the scene or edit it out. Possibly the crew were under time constraints.
Christopher Hunter as Andreas Heller / Louis Picard
Julia Goodman as May Lawrence
Allan Mitchell as Coroner
Peter Blythe as Kenneth Lawrence
Frances Barber as Nicole Burgess
Georges Corraface as Claudio Battisti
Georgio Serafini as Tomaso Salafia
Jane Wenham as Judith Haines
Jane Snowden as Maureen Dyson
Jolyon Baker as Guido Ventura
Alan Rowe as Alistair Haines
Kate Harper as Patti Wilcox
Here we are at the end of another post and hard to believe that there are only ten more Morse episodes to review. I will need to get my thinking cap on as to what I will do after those ten episodes have been reviewed. Take care everyone.
Hi there – as a fan of your site (I am catching up with Morse and I have just overtaken your reviews, unfortunately!) I thought I would help you out with the other 3 film posters.
They are Via Montenapoleone, then the two you knew, then Il Burbero, and finally Colors.
Hope that helps!
The first film poster on the left is Via Montenapoleone, an Italian movie of 1987 directed by Carlo Vanzina
Great extended review again!
I love the music, i think they picked the right classical music in most of the Morse and Lewis episodes. I have most of the Morse cd’s so i can listen back most of it.
Keep up the good work and looking forward to your next review.
I’ve just seen ‘The death of the self’. In your article you suggest that:
“John Thaw looks at the camera at one hour 37 minutes and stranger that they kept the shot in and didn’t retake the scene or edit it out. Possibly the crew were under time constraints.”
But he isn’t looking at the camera, he is looking up at Russell Clark, saying: ‘Now you, Clark.’
Compare it with the frames of Clark, just before (1:35,45). He is looking down at Patti Wilcox.
What about the top of Nicole Burgess: I had the same thoughts as you.
Thank you for your very informative and easy to read articles. After every episode (on commercial television in Holland) I read your accompanying online text.
Have a good day, Bert Bakker, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Hi Bert, I think he means another scene. At about 1:37:49 Morse does look at the camera.
I believe you’re looking at the wrong scene. The point where Morse looks directly into the camera occurs moments later, when Morse and Lewis are seen in a wide shot seated among the crowd awaiting the start of the opera.
Thank you for your excellent review but cancan help me, please? I have watched “The Death of the Self” 3 times and still don’t know who is the murderer. Could you tell me, please? I am feeling very frustrated! Thanks
Hi Susan. May Lawrence was not murdered. Her death was an accident. Kenneth Lawrence thought she had been murdered by Russell Clark as a warning to keep his mouth shut about the illegal activities.
Thank you, thank you for resolving May Lawrence’s death.
Michael H., Virginia, USA
I have watched this episode twice in the last two days, I was still confused. I was trying to work out who the murderer was, and how the murder was connected to the main story of the forgery & smuggling of parchments & manuscripts. Quite often I like watching the same episode 2 or 3 times within a few days sot hat I can fully understand them.
But I didn’t notice the bit where Morse was supposedly looking at the camera, so that gives me an excuse to watch it for a 3rd time in order to check…
What about Judith Haines? Did she just die a natural death? What part, if any, did Russell Clark play in her demise?
At one point, when Lewis is talking with Alistair Haines over coffee, just after his wife’s death, he tells Lewis that his wife, Judith, had gone to talk to Mrs. Lawrence about how she had totally humiliated her & had basically ruined her husband’s career potential in Oxford. She didn’t mean to, but while on the walking path, she “accidentally gave her a shove,” which caused her to take a fall, ending up rolling into the spike in the tree, which killed her. I can’t recall exactly what she said to Morse & Lewis as she was dying (just after telling Lewis he has a kind face), but Morse & Lewis were left to understand that she had killed Mrs. Lawrence.
The point of that conversation was that Alistair thought Judith had killed May and Judith thought it was Alistair (“he did it for me” were her last words). So neither of them did. It really must have been an accident.
I was left wondering if Nicole’s claim of staying with the conductor was true. Who else could’ve hit Morse (Maureen?). I wondered if Morse was so sad not just because he was moved by the singing, but because he knew in his gut she’d lied. She needed to perform at all costs and that meant delaying the arrests…
Excellent review. I found it by chance. It’s exactly the way I like to watch “Inspector Morse” once and again, by enriching myself with all the fascinating references – artistic, geographic, historic, etc. – that embellish its stories and enhance the action of this classic.
My dear mother introduced me to these series. After the death of my father, she had discovered the show and she did not only enjoy the sharp characterizations and direction, the alluring settings and the absorbing narrative and witty twists but she was certainly captivated by John Thaw and the complex character he inhabited. To me, every time I (re)watch an Inspector Morse episode, my mother is a silent component of it and she’s as indelibly linked to Morse as is Lewis. She’s now probably the head of Thaw’s fan-club in the Great Beyond. An artist herself and with full Italian ancestry, she will have plenty of subjects to converse about with him.
Your site is a gem. ¡Congratulations and thanks!
Great work, thank you very much. I learned a couple of things again.
There are at least two episodes which feature an opera singer, Twilight of the Gods and Death of Self. I just watched them both and I can’t find the scene I remember from years ago, where he is playing the record of this singer, and sad because he found out she was a murderer. Is there another episode about an opera singer whose record he already had before he met her?
The scene you write of was from the Endeavour series. It was the pilot episode.
Great site i will be back..i must confess i find the plot difficuilt to follow at first hearing and have to constantly re play scenes to get it..Morse..Lewis..Endeavour…will live forever..
I liked this episode for a number of reasons. Georges Corraface reminded me very much of the late Raul Julia. I first saw Mr. Julia when I was in my middle school years in a commanding role as a detective investigating the non-involvement of many neighbors/bystanders following a brutal murder in a TV-movie called “Death Scream,” inspired by the real-life murder of Kitty Genovese. I later had the pleasure of seeing him on Broadway in “Dracula.”
Second, the episode contained a lot of music (incl. some of the opera selections and the complete Vivaldi concerto – performed on period instruments by Barrington P, no less) that are on a “Music From Inspector Morse, Vol. 2” CD that I’d owned for a while before ever seeing this episode.
Third, all of the reasons you cited for the portrayal of Russell Clark. He makes a formidable foe, and like Bryan Cox in a later episode, an almost likable bloke one might almost believe was trying to go straight.
Fourth, Frances Barber as Nicole Burgess does an outstanding job of “acting” the singing – which is very hard, especially in a genre with as much vibrato as opera tends toward. Most often. well-intentioned lip-synching performances are ruined by not quite carrying the nuance of strenuous vocal performances. But I also liked the pert Jane Snowden as Maureen Dyson.
I believe this to be an important episode in the pantheon of Morse-dom.
Sadly, according to IMDB and an obituary from the Guardian online, another star of the Morse universe has passed away. Jane Wenham who played Judith Haines in the classic Morse episode “The Death of the Self”, which you have so excellently reviewed above, unfortunately died a little over a year ago, in November 2018, just a few days short of her 91st Birthday. Interestingly, in the 1950s, she was briefly married to the late great Albert Finney, who passed away earlier this year, a few months after her, in February 2019.
Here are the two links I discovered, from IMDB and the Guardian online:
Thank you James. I will write a post on this later today.
I have a question. Who bonged Morse on the head?
It was Guido, Nicole Burgess’s husband.
Chris, re Emily’s question, “who bonged Morse on the head”…
Near the end of the episode, just after he asks Morse if there’s any chance he could get a seat for the opera, Lewis asks Morse who hit him. Morse replies “Maureen, who else”
Hi Jay. But he wasn’t sure. That’s why he gives a heavy shrug. I still think it could have been Guido.
I thought it was guido too
Excellent review as always….. I saw this when it came out here in the US and I still remember it clearly!!
Thank you for the site. We are making our way through Inspector Morse on Britbox and we end up on this site when something has piqued our interest. This time it was the “singer”, Frances Barber. The lip synicing in most of the episode was good enough that it fooled us, and I suspected that they had recruited an actress/opera singer. The lip syncing in the scene set in the opera theater was off in places. I thought that might be because that bit was lip synced and the rest of the scenes weren’t. Alas, there is no mention of opera singing in Frances Barbara’s on-line biographies. Then I went looking through the credits and I didn’t find a mention of Janis Kelly until I read about her here. When I took another look at the credits I found Kelly listed at the end of the actor list. It was interesting how many times she has appeared in Morse shows. We will listen for her now.
At 1:04 there is a hotel scene where Lewis is sitting on a bed, talking on the phone picking at his toes. Now there’s something you don’t ever see in movies or TV!
I always wondered if that was in the script or was improvised by Kevin.
Kevin Whately dancing! Who knew? Was it the Lambada? Those backward knee kicks—and the intricate choreography—something like Lewis knowing one more time how his partnership gets the job done—with purpose, grace, and ease. Delightful! Then he’s seen picking away at his toes.
Stat, I thought the exact same thing, eww but in a way so natural for lewis!
Whatever happened to Jane Snowden? I don’t think she did anything after Morse?
Why does this episode appear in red in the list of episodes?
I have no idea Bert.
Over the last 4 weeks or so I’ve been watching the Morse series from the very beginning. I’ve found the whole thing totally riveting, helped in no small part by your wonderful site. All I really want to say is that I’ve found this episode to be by far the best I’ve seen so far, I absolutely loved it! I’m wondering if I’ve now seen the best…. I will continue to the end but I doubt this episode can be bettered. Thank you so much for such an informative and helpful site.
Hello Gary and welcome to my website.
Wonderful review. I studied at Oxford & enjoy identifying the filming locations in Inspector Morse. However this episode filmed in Italy is fabulous because of the beautiful voice of Janis Kelly. Like Morse I am mesmerized by the voice of Maria Callas. I thoroughly enjoyed this episode & your very informative review. Thank you.
Thank you Marlene, I’m glad you enjoyed my review. Welcome to my website.
I purchased the entire Morse series on disc from the BBC store a few months ago and am watching the episodes from beginning. I greatly enjoy coming to your site after every episode to see how much I have missed, and often then go back and watch all or part of the episode a second time. I always find your commentary most helpful and enlightening. However I have to question your response above to Emily’s question about who hit Morse over the head.
June 5, 2020 at 5:53 pm
I have a question. Who bonged Morse on the head?
June 5, 2020 at 6:24 pm
It was Guido, Nicole Burgess’s husband.”
I think if you go back you will see, at the very end of the episode, just before the opera begins, Lewis asks Morse that same question, to which Morse replies: “Maureen.” Do you think he was joking and it was really Guido.?
Thanks so much for your work.
Hello Elliot and welcome to my website. I should have expanded my answer. Morse does say ‘Maureen, who else.’ But I believe he may have been mistaken. I think it was Guido. But it’s just my opinion and Morse shrugs when saying, ‘Maureen, who else.’ as if he isn’t sure.
I see you had already answered my query re who hit Morse over the head. I hadn’t read right down to the end of the comments! 🙄
Dear all, this is my first comment here, and I am still in the process of finishing Morse (as by 19 June 2021) after having watched all Lewis and Endeavour aired here in Germany.
it could not have been Guido, as, if I remember correctly, was seen with the other villains in thebackground at the party where Lewis tiptoed so wildly. I would agree it was most likely Nicole Burgess, and remember what she was singing in the final scene: “Signore, Ascolta” For convenience, taken from the english wiki Turandot synopsis:
“The Prince of Tartary is dazzled by Turandot’s beauty. He is about to rush towards the gong and to strike it three times – the symbolic gesture of whoever wishes to attempt to solve the riddles so that he can marry Turandot – when the ministers Ping, Pang, and Pong appear. They urge him cynically to not lose his head for Turandot and to instead go back to his own country (“Fermo, che fai?”). Timur urges his son to desist, and Liù, who is secretly in love with the Prince, pleads with him not to attempt to solve the riddles (“Signore, ascolta!” – “Lord, hear!”). Liù’s words touch the Prince’s heart. He begs Liù to make Timur’s exile more bearable by not abandoning Timur if the Prince fails to answer the riddles (“Non piangere, Liù” – “Do not cry, Liù”). The three ministers, Timur, and Liù then try one last time to stop the Prince (“Ah! Per l’ultima volta!” – “Ah! For the last time!”) from attempting to answer the riddles, but he refuses to heed their advice. He calls Turandot’s name three times, and each time Liù, Timur, and the ministers reply, “Death!” and the crowd declares, “We’re already digging your grave!” Rushing to the gong that hangs in front of the palace, the Prince strikes it three times, declaring himself to be a suitor. From the palace balcony, Turandot accepts his challenge, as Ping, Pang, and Pong laugh at the Prince’s foolishness.”
I always read your reviews after each episode of Inspector Morse, which I’ve been binge watching on BritBox during the pandemic, having first started watching Endeavor several years ago on PBS & becoming hooked on the character (I’ve had to catch up on the earlier episodes of Endeavor elsewhere online & have binge watched that entire series up to the current episode of s7e2 & plan to watch the Lewis series after watching the final Inspector Morse episode 😢). John Thaw is such an awesome actor & I’ll be sad to have watched the final episode, but will also plan to watch his other series (do you review that one, too?). Thank you so much for the detailed reviews of each episode. They just make the viewing experience so much more meaningful & I fully appreciate the time & hard work you put in researching each detail of each episode.
After watching this episode I have 2 questions:
1) The day after Morse is clobbered over the head at the villa of Nicole Burgess & Guido Ventura, he visits Chief Inspector Claudio Battisti. When he rings the doorbell to his home, he calls him “Doctore.” Why?
2) The character of the American, Patti Wilcox (acted superbly by Kate Harper), is one of the most obnoxious characters I have ever seen portrayed on television. This isn’t the first time an American woman has been portrayed thusly in this series (remember the obnoxious ‘vegan’ woman in the seniors tour of Oxford in a previous episode & all her complaining, so much so that the other tourists, except one, avoided her like the plague & even her husband eventually told her to can it?). Did Colin Dexter write American female characters (which I would characterize as neurotic & self-centered prigs) this way in his books? If so, and as an American female, I find it revoltingly sexist (the show often portrays female characters as ‘neurotic,’ which seems to be the norm with other British television shows I’ve watched) & an unjust stereotype of Americans in general (as in this character, brash & off putting). Does anyone else feel this way, too, or have noticed this?
Your input would be appreciated.
Hi Pamela, yes I’ve noticed Americans are not usually portrayed in a flattering light. We seem to have a bad reputation abroad. Sometimes deserved though! Dottore is a title for someone with a degree in italy, Would be like our PHD degree, “Dr.” Also used for a medical doctor.
I had exactly the same thought. In the Wolvercote Tongue you could pass it off as a one off, but this is such a similar character.
I can understand that in Oxford there is a large number of tourists and this can lead to a negative view of them.
It is something I have found a bit jarring in some otherwise nuanced US shows where British are portrayed as either rich idiots or villains.
Another problem throughout Morse is the portrayal of women in general. There are some, such as the DS in Driven to Distraction, who hold their own, but they mostly are quite one dimensional.
I’m frequently annoyed by how stereotyping and almost parodying other nationalities is considered not to be racism if they’re the same skin colour as the writers. Similarly it’s considered fine on Death In Paradise for born and bred British actors to talk with West Indian accents because they’ve Afro Caribbean heritage.
However, I was very disquieted by one of the very rare features of ethnic minorities in Morse earlier today. In Cherubim and Seraphim a West Indian father whose son has gone missing threatens to give him a thrashing upon his return and is clearly an aggressive, authoritarian and unreasonable man. However Marilyn’s parents are shown as far more tolerant, fair and accommodating of her now being her own person.
I think it’s unfair to throw claims of racism about Sarah. Sometimes racism is in the eye of the beholder. I don’t see the racism and I have never found any Morse fan who did.
Well, I’ve just discovered this blog, and I must say, I am blown away! What a gift this is to those of us thirsty for more knowledge of the music of our favorite shows! And, of course, the music of Endeavor is outstanding! I love all the details shared here. There is so much good information shared. Thank you so much for this body of work! Well done!
Hello and welcome to my website Cindy. Thank you so much for your kind words. I hope you find lots more things of interest.
I’m new to the group, but as an opera lover for about 50 years now, I know a lot more about opera than I do the Morse/Lewis/Endeavor series, but in reading about Janis Kelly and the arias she has sung in the series, there are a few innocent, but real whopper mistakes. I don’t want to be a jerk and embarrass you, but please drop me an email (Slenko5960@aol.com) so we can speak with you directly and discretely. I look forward to getting a brief note from you, aware from the group spotlight. Stan Lenkowsky
There is a ‘contact me’ option at the top right of my website.
above: sorry — “…so I can speak with you …”; and “…away…”, not “…aware.” SL
I don’t know the actor who played the Italian police chief, but as an Italian I can guarantee he is not Italian. Odd considering they were in Italy. I’m sure there’s an Italian actor that had some free time.
The actor is Georges Carraface, who is French of Greek parentage. He is multi-lingual and is a big TV/film star in Greece, France and elsewhere.
According to IMDB, this episode has an uncredited appearance by Sheila Hancock. I wasn’t able to see her at all, so it might have been in a very wide shot. Any clues would be appreciated!
Hi Robin. I too read that but I have never been able to find her. I am assuming if she is in the episode it is during the crowd scene when Morse attends the opera at the end of the episode.
I’m so sorry to hear about your mother Chris. It sounds like you’ve had a tough few years. Good luck with your degree, I’m sure that you’ll find it rewarding. Love your review, it’s the first of yours that I’ve read, but it won’t be the last. Keep safe and happy studying. :-).
Hello Penny. Firstly, thank you for your concern that is so kind. Secondly, welcome to my website, I hope you find more things to enjoy.
First time I have read your review and kicking myself for not finding it earlier!!! I was looking to find the singer for Nicole … and was successful. Will search for more reviews… Thank you. Yvonne from Tasmania.
Hello Yvonne and welcome to my website. I hope you enjoy my many other reviews on this website.
I’d like to clarify one thing: it could NOT have been Guido banging Morse in the head. Guido is shown at the party at the hotel. Lawrence and Russell are also there. So, it can be only one of the two women: Maureen or Nicole. Given Morse exceptionally bad taste in women my money is on Nicole : her house, her husband’s place of “creation”. Maureen did not live there , there was no reason for her to know when Morse will be at Nicole’s house. Nicole just played Morse, like all the others. He didn’t even make the effort to check her alibi. For that, only 8 JAGs (still a very good episode).
That’s a good point about Guido. I forgot he was shown at the party during Morse’s search of the outhouse. I don’t think it would be Nicole but… Probably Maureen. She may have followed Morse when he left the party.
If I were to “read” the choice of music for Nicole (Turandot), I would still vote Nicole, she plays a heartless character. Morse has been lied to so many times by his love choices….
…besides, Nicole knows perfectly well what Guido is up to and she continues to cover for him….
The scene where Morse and Nicole are walking through the vineyards with the castle on the hill behind them is taken just north of the walled town of Soave, in the Soave Classico area. I was living there at the time the film was made….knew nothing about it !
Watching this tonight (Britbox) once again made me sad at the Endeavour Italian episode(s).
Having only recently discovered Inspector Morse, I have enjoyed watching the episodes from Season 1 through to Season 6 so far. Imagine my delight to find this episode features my birthplace! Such fun! Thank you for your engaging reviews.
Regarding Morse addressing Claudio Battisti as Dottore this form of address is shared by Catarella and others addressing Inspector Montalbano in the series of the same name. I think it may be a simple address of respect similar to ‘Sir’.
Considering the gender stereotyping of American women as neurotic please bear in mind the Morse series is now 30 years old. I agree it is rather lazy. If you compare it to the treatment of the American couple seeking a child of their son who died in WW2 in the Endeavour episode Nocturne I think you will find that American characters are more faithfully portrayed nowadays
Personally I am fascinated by the portrayal of the British in American productions where they are either butlers, members of the aristocracy or villains and speaking personally I have never met anyone British who falls into any of those categories
Quite often, higher police ranks in Italy have in fact a degree in law, or history of law, such as Donna Leon’s hero, Comissario Guido Brunetti, who is, in fact, Dottore Brunetti.
Portraying Americans is difficult for English actors. Just given them credit for an honest effort, or not.
Hello Chris Sullivan, Stumbled across your website. What an astounding amount of work you have done here. Very sorry to read about your parents. I had a few similar experiences with my Mother. How are you doing in Edinburgh (the English city)? Seriously, your work here entitles you to a Master of Arts Degree in Media Studies!
Welcome William. Sorry to read that you have had to go through a similar experience regarding your mother. Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and is definitely not in England. I hope you find lots of things to enjoy on my website.
Hi everyone. In answer to the question of who bonged Morse on the head, I had read that the name of the
culprit of each episode was in the music theme during the final credits in the form of Morse code,
played by the violins. Anyone out there who can figure this out?
I saw this again recently, the closing scene where Nicole ‘sings’ – in reality Janis Kelly I think – is quite magnificent and very moving. I am lucky enough to have been to Verona a few times and I always think of this scene when I’m sitting in the Arena (regardless of which opera I’m watching!).
Hi Chris. I just thought I’d share with you and your followers an interesting, albeit very small article. Frances Barber, who of course played the beautiful opera diva Nicole Burgess, reveals her memories of this classic Morse episode.
“John Thaw was a delight to work with in this episode of Morse, in which I played an opera singer with whom Morse falls in love. We filmed in Verona, which really pleased John because he was a very private, shy man who didn’t like being recognised. When filming in Oxford there would be hordes of people around watching, but in Italy he could walk around on his own, browsing the shops. But there was a funny moment in a square in Verona when a coach arrived with Oxford Tours written on the side – John promptly dived into a hotel!!”
I discovered the brief passage above in the Daily Mail’s Weekend, TV listings Magazine. A celebrity each week divulges their favourite photographs, and their recollections of those special moments. Among the selection chosen by Frances, was a photo of herself and John Thaw, taken during the filming of this episode in Italy.
What a wonderful story! Thanks so much for posting it. I love reading any stories about John Thaw as I only “discovered” him when I stumbled upon the Morse series on Netflix a few years back. From things I’ve since read about him he seemed to be such a nice man, as well as a great actor, not only in Morse but I’ve seen him in a few things I can catch on Amazon or Britbox. I particularly liked his performance in Goodnight Mr Tom.
Thank you James, a great story. Could you send me a copy of the photograph you mentioned through my email address.
Hello Chris and Kathleen. Thanks very much for your replies. I’m pleased to hear you both enjoyed reading that amusing little story. Regarding, sending you a photograph Chris, well, with a bit of luck, I should be able to sort that out in the next few days. Funnily enough, I’ve just bought a new smart phone, that arrived today. As my old mobile finally packed up on me. It was a phone I’ve had for years, before all this new technology came on board, such as the internet, a touch screen, and a camera allowing for photographs. Yes, I was slow to catch up with modern times, and I hope that I have now just about entered the 21st century!!! Hence, I’m in the process of setting it all up. However, there’s a lot more to it these days, than there used to be. Anyway, once I get everything up and running, I shall do my best to take that photograph and send it to you.
I’m sorry I missed Sunday’s twitch stream of Ghost in the Machine, one of my favorites but I saw that Wednesday’s twitch was not working so I thought the same for Sunday because I did not get an email announcing the twitch stream. I guess all is working now?
It is Kathleen.
Why l love your website. It answers so many questions with regards to the music. The name of the piece, who sang/played, has taught me to appreciate classical music far more than previously. I used to enjoy your recording of the actors birth dates and where appropriate their demise.
I do believe Morse was correct when he said it was Maureen who hit him. I will watch this episode again just to check. I think it was simply the best episode l ever watched the scenery helps a great deal, furthermore it is always fun to see Morse stung by Cupid’s bow…even if it is only a flesh wound.
Watching Lewis relax and give himself a chance to experience an art form he was not familiar with gave the episode a touch of magic. Thank you for all your efforts.
Thank you for you’re lovely comment. Im so glad you are enjoying my website.
Hi Chris, I’m new to this forum and this is my first post. Can I firstly congratulate you on a wonderful job which adds to my enjoyment of watching the show and I’m sure lots of others besides. It’s great fun. My comment relates to who banged Morse on the head. In the scene which takes place at Nicole’s studio she offers him a glass of wine. When she opens the fridge she sees numerous bottles of wine but tells Morse there is none. She also sees what appears to be a briefcase with cash inside, evidence of Guido’s involvement in the scam, but she keeps it from Morse and from her reaction it appears she may be finding out for the first time herself. Despite her failing marriage she keeps his secret and I think is a further indication (added to the fact that Guido was at the party) that it is her that hits him over the head? Morse telling Lewis it’s Maureen is, in my view, the programme makers poking a bit of fun at Morse, on the one hand a good and decent man and brilliant detective but also a bit gullible when it comes to beautiful women. Of course it’s never definitively revealed but it’s loads of fun to speculate!
Hello PJ and welcoms to my website. It is always fun to speculate about episodes in the Morse Universe. I still believe it was Maureen but it is open to debate.
I loved this episode….It was one of the first episodes of Morse that I saw. I loved that story about the lovely leads top not sure it is true that she put it on backwards and that is why it was so extra low cut. So long since I watched it that you and the other commentators have inspired me to re-see it.
BTW did you see that the 9th series of Endeavour starts filming on 16th May – a 3 parter…..for me it is ‘meh’ I must admit I was sure it would be a 2 hour special – I figured they could not leave it where they did – but after S7 and S8 there is the real possibility that they could actually do worse…
Hi Maria. The story about the top is true. Frances Barber in an interview verified it was true. I did see the news about a ninth series. It’s strange we have heard nothing from Russell Lewis, Masterpiece or ITV.
Take a look at website UK greenlit news.Seems series 9 starting filming 16 may2022 (if true)
Hello Wens. I say the news on the website Backstage. I don’t think it can be true as we have heard nothing from Russell Lewis, Masterpiece or ITV.
It seems from recent interviews with Abigail Thaw and Roger Allam that there will definitely be a s9. However, especially Allam didn’t seem very overly excited by the prospect. Both very definite that s9 would be the last.
Which to me begs the question – Why ? – they announced at the end of S6 that they would do 2 more series (the first time they had done that) so plenty of time to wrap it up in 2 series which seemed the intent so why didn’t they ?
It can’t be that S8 was so good and the ratings so fabulous because it was the worst rated of any series (and the quality bad but that is just my opinion)
Again the Allam article discussed the unhealable rift that explains Thursday never being mentioned – how many series does that make (at least since S5 I think) even Allam seemed bored by the prospect.
Just intrigues me to what changed and why…
Interestingly there was a small item in one of the UK newspapers that said that ITV have confirmed there are NO plans for another series…..however, my (limited) experience is that the casting magazines don’t advertise for actors unless it is true – perhaps Mammoth is going to start filming but shop around for a broadcaster ? Roger Allam’s new show was only streamed on Brit Box…not sure if that is common in the UK or not.
Sorry to tell you Chris, I can’t join you and the usual suspects for tonight’s Morse in Italy. I’ll be watching the World Snooker Final this evening, between Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump. My apologies. I hope Twitch behaves itself today and you all enjoy this great Morse episode.
Hopefully, I will see you on Wednesday for the discussion on The Death of the Self.
Thanks for the reply, Chris. I shall certainly do my best to be there for the discussion. That’s all for now and take care. Not forgetting, “Una birra per favore.”
I watched The Death of the Self episode last night and quite enjoyed it. I was impressed at the terrific chemistry between Kevin Whately, and the actress Kate Harper, who played Patti Wilcox. I checked IMDB to see if they had acted together before, and apparently they hadn’t, but I wonder if perhaps they were already acquainted ? Their dance scene was impressive.
The dance is a lovely scene. When I streamed the episode many of us thought that Kevin was someone who was comfortable dancing and was something he did often.
My Italian is very poor indeed, did anyone catch what Morse ordered in the hotel…l know it was a beer for Lewis but for himself …..grappa Prosecco…?
This is by far and away my most favourite episode although Twilight of the Gods comes second.
I wish there had been more episodes, Morse and Lewis were a great team.
Unless no one was available to put together another script, hard to believe, I feel very strongly they should not have killed Morse off, perhaps he could he could have gone on a Sabbatical, grinding his teeth all the way.
Yes he did order grappa Prosecco which is a wine made from the skins of a certain grape.
Hi Chris,i just today watched The Death of the Self (on VHS!) thanks to my wonderful mother-in-law who had nearly the entire series on VHS boxed sets and has passed them on to me.Fortunately, i own a brand new in the box (2004) VCR so i’m good to go.
Anyway,what a terrific episode! This one had everything i love about Morse in one package and being one half Italian myself made it doubly so.
That and Frances Barber too.Wow…By the way your reviews are fantastically detailed.Thanks so much. 9/25/22
Hello Vicenzo and welcome to my website. Thank you for your nice comment about my reviews. And Francis Barber? Wow! Indeed.
Thanks Chris.I’m glad to have discovered your website.
I enjoy the episode, particularly for the Italian locations. I’ve been to two opera in Verona and stayed a couple of nights in Vicenza – it is a lovely town.
I assumed Judith Haines killed herself by slitting her wrists, since that looked quite bloody when she was dying on the floor. For May Lawrence, what confused me was at the beginning as the main cast of characters were around the fire pit, and intercut with the credits, we saw the trees and someone running or at least moving quickly. However, it was never mentioned again.
Michael Kitchen was brilliant.
John Thaw’s wife Sheila Hancock had an uncredited part in the episode, according to IMDB. Can you tell me what role that was? And, at what point in the film does she appear? I’ve been through the episode and I cannot locate her. Thanks
Hello Gina. Supposedly, Sheila appears in the audience in the end scene of the film. I have never yet found her. I think it is something of an ‘urban myth’ that she is there.