Hello fellow Morsonians and welcome to this review of episode 28, TWILIGHT OF THE GODS. This was the last episode of the last proper series of Morse. The next five episodes were all one off specials that were broadcast between 1995 and 2000. I have already reviewed episodes 1 to 27. To read those reviews click this link Morse episode reviews.
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Series Seven, Episode three.
Chronologically this is episode 28.
First broadcast 20th January. 1993.
Colin is behind John Gielgud doing his best acting to date.
Directed by Herbert Wise. Herbert also directed the Morse episodes, The Daughters of Cain and Ghost in the Machine. Sadly Herbert died in 2015 at the age of 90.
Written by Julian Mitchell. Julian also wrote nine other Morse episodes: – Death Is Now My Neighbour (1997) – The Daughters of Cain (1996) – Cherubim & Seraphim (1992) – Promised Land (1991) – Masonic Mysteries (1990) – Ghost in the Machine (1989) – The Wolvercote Tongue (1987) – Service of All the Dead (1987) – The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn
One of Morse’s favourite opera singers, Gwladys Probert, is in Oxford to receive an honorary doctorate. A concert is planned which Morse has a ticket for. However, the opera diva is shot while taking part in a procession to honour not only her but another person receiving an honorary doctorate, Andrew Baydon. Baydon is a survivor of a concentration camp and a multi millionaire whose wife travels the world with the Welsh diva. A freelance journalist whose is in the process of writing an article on Baydon is found shot. Are the shootings linked? Morse and Lewis must determine if there is a link and what that link is. Why has Gwladys Probert’s sister Mari disappeared and left a note suggesting she is the one who shot Gwladys. Morse and Lewis must filter out the red herrings, lies, college politics and John Gielgud’s insistence on wanting his lunch.
(warning, this review will contain some spoilers)
Episode Jag Rating – out of 10.
During Gwladys Probert’s singing lessons she sings from Götterdämmerung, Act III, Scene 3 Finale (The Immolation Scene). Twilight of the Gods is the English translation of Götterdämmerung.
At around the 13 and a half minute mark in Morse’s car we hear Twilight of the Gods – Chapter 13 Third scene The Hall of the Gibichung.
At around the 14 minute mark the pianist plays a short burst of Military Polonaise Opus 40 No. 1 in A Major by Chopin.
At one hour and forty minute mark. A reprise of Götterdämmerung, Act III, Scene 3 Finale.
I have gathered together all the music played in the Morse series.
Click Morse Music to download the excel sheet.
Click Morse Music 20th sept 2019 to download the above as a PDF.
“Siegfried and The Twilight of the Gods” (1911) is Illustrated by Arthur Rackham. “Siegfried and The Twilight of the Gods”, as illustrated by Arthur Rackham, presents the third of consecutive published suites that were prepared to illustrate Germanic traditions and, in this case, it included extensive colour and monotone images to complete his interpretation of Wagner’s “Ring of Nibelung”.
Here are two examples of Rackham’s work.
At around the 18 minute mark Morse is doing a crossword. Lewis walks in and distracts him. Morse says, ‘You, Lewis, are the person from Porlock.’ The person from Porlock was an unwelcome visitor to Samuel Taylor Coleridge during his composition of the poem Kubla Khan in 1797. Coleridge claimed to have perceived the entire course of the poem in a dream (possibly an opium-induced haze), but was interrupted by this visitor from Porlock while in the process of writing it. Kubla Khan, only 54 lines long, was never completed. Thus “person from Porlock”, “man from Porlock”, or just “Porlock” are literary allusions to unwanted intruders who disrupt inspired creativity.
The wonderful poet Stevie Smith wrote a poem on Coleridge’s person from Porlock.
Thoughts about the Person from Porlock
BY STEVIE SMITH
Coleridge received the Person from Porlock
And ever after called him a curse,
Then why did he hurry to let him in?
He could have hid in the house.
It was not right of Coleridge in fact it was wrong
(But often we all do wrong)
As the truth is I think he was already stuck
With Kubla Khan.
He was weeping and wailing: I am finished, finished,
I shall never write another word of it,
When along comes the Person from Porlock
And takes the blame for it.
It was not right, it was wrong,
But often we all do wrong.
May we inquire the name of the Person from Porlock?
Why, Porson, didn’t you know?
He lived at the bottom of Porlock Hill
So had a long way to go,
He wasn’t much in the social sense
Though his grandmother was a Warlock,
One of the Rutlandshire ones I fancy
And nothing to do with Porlock,
And he lived at the bottom of the hill as I said
And had a cat named Flo,
And had a cat named Flo.
I long for the Person from Porlock
To bring my thoughts to an end,
I am becoming impatient to see him
I think of him as a friend,
Often I look out of the window
Often I run to the gate
I think, He will come this evening,
I think it is rather late.
I am hungry to be interrupted
For ever and ever amen
O Person from Porlock come quickly
And bring my thoughts to an end.
I felicitate the people who have a Person from Porlock
To break up everything and throw it away
Because then there will be nothing to keep them
And they need not stay.
Why do they grumble so much?
He comes like a benison
They should be glad he has not forgotten them
They might have had to go on.
These thoughts are depressing I know. They are depressing,
I wish I was more cheerful, it is more pleasant,
Also it is a duty, we should smile as well as submitting
To the purpose of One Above who is experimenting
With various mixtures of human character which goes best,
All is interesting for him it is exciting, but not for us.
There I go again. Smile, smile, and get some work to do
Then you will be practically unconscious without positively having to go.
Ar around the 45 minute mark Morse mentions Plato to Lewis in relation to his work, The Republic. Morse says that Plato would not have poets in his republic as they were too dangerous. In Plato’s perfect world, all the poets would be outside the city gates, rag-ridden and limited to declaiming their harmful verses only to the other degenerate exiles (You know, the painters and actors). However not all poets were banished from Plato’s republic. The poets who write about virtue, especially virtue such as courage and honour that get the troops fired up for battle, they can stay.
At around the minute and a half mark the location is Brasenose Dining Hall with it’s many works of art.
On the far left,
This is Alexander Nowell, DD, Benefactor, Principal (1595), Dean of St Paul’s by an unknown artist.
Second from the left.
This is Sir Thomas Egerton (1539/1540–1617), Viscount Brackley, Baron Ellesmere, Commoner, Lord Chancellor of England (1603–1617), Chancellor of the University (1610–1617) by an unknown artist.
In the middle is,
Richard Sutton (d.1524), Knight, Founder by an unknown artist.
On the far right is,
William Smyth, Bishop of Lincoln, Founder, Chancellor of the University (1500–1503) by an unknown artist.
At the luncheon the location is Trinity College.
The top painting is of Sir Thomas Pope (c.1507–1559), Founder of Trinity College, Oxford.
On the left is Portrait of an Unknown Man (formerly identified as Henry Ireton, c.1611–1651, Parliamentarian General and formerly attributed to Samuel Cooper, 1609–1672).
The painting in the middle is of Lady Elizabeth Pope, née Blount (formerly Basford, Later Paulet) (c.1515–1593).
And finally on the right is William Pitt (1708–1778), 1st Earl of Chatham.
At the beginning of the episode Gladys is giving singing lessons.
The location is Holywell Music Room on Holywell Street, Oxford.
Around the minute and a half mark we see the display for the proposed new college.
This was filmed in Brasenose College Dining Hall.
Around the four minute mark we see Mari and her boyfriend walking.
In the background you can see Christ Church College.
At around the six minute mark the first victim’s body is found.
In the background you can see Newark Priory, River Wey, Ripley, Surrey.
Around six and a half minutes the camera pans around Brasenose College as we listen to John Gielgud rehearsing his speech.
You can see Radcliffe Camera in the background.
At the 19 minute mark we see Williams.
This is Magdalen College, Oxford.
At around the 21 minute mark as Andrew Bayden’s helicopter flies overhead we see people gathering together.
This is Brasenose College.
Around the 22 and a half minute mark we see the parade.
This is Broad Street with the Emperor’s Heads in the foreground.
The parade moves from Broad Street through the Clarendon Building.
At around 28 minutes after the shooting the Dons, guests etc move into the Sheldonian Theatre.
At around the 45 minute mark the Chancellor and Vice Chancellor are walking together.
This is Christ Church College.
Morse and Lewis driving to at around 49 minutes.
The above location is Village Road, Denham, Buckinghamshire.
The Swan Inn is still there but now with a different sign.
The luncheon at 50 minutes.
This is Trinity College Dining Hall.
Around the one hour and 21 mark, Bayden is talking to journalists.
This is outside Brasenose College on Radcliffe Square.
Around the one and a half hour mark.
This is Oriel College Dining Hall.
The home of Andrew Baydon.
This is Englefield House, Theale, Reading, Berkshire.
No pubs visited.
Actors who appeared in Twilight of the Gods and/or Endeavour and Lewis.
First up is Alan David who played Sir Watkin Davies.
Alan also appeared in the Endeavour episode, Cartouche as Lambert Kegworth.
Next we have Robert Hardy who played Andrew Bayden.
The wonderful Robert Hardy also appeared in the Lewis episode, Dark Matter as Sir Arnold Raeburn.
At around the 34 minute mark Morse and the Vice Chancellor are discussing Gladys Probert. The Vice Chancellor and Morse agree that Gladys is a better Brynhildr than Kirsten Flagstad. Flagstad was born 1895 in Norway and died 1962. She was a highly regarded Wagnerian soprano.
Julian Mitchell the writer of this episode appears as the doctor in this episode.
On location photographs.
Photos copyright of Carlton.
Celia Montague who played Adele Baydon painted a portrait of Colin Dexter that was shown at his memorial service.
This is the only Morse episode where the voice behind the actor was not Janis Kelly. In this episode the voice of Gwladys Probert is Susan McCulloch. Here is a link to her biography http://www.classicalvoice.co.uk/Biography/biography.html
Robert Hardy studied at Magdalen College, Oxford. His studies were interrupted by national service in the RAF, but he returned to complete a degree in English.
The photo below of Robert Hardy
was one of many that were taken at his Oxfordshire home in 1988.
The photo on the piano marked with an arrow
is one of Robert Hardy during his time working on the TV series All Creatures Great and Small.
The poster to the right of Morse’s head, as we look at it, is advertising Puccini’s opera Turandot.
The poster is widely available to buy.
The poster on the left I can only assume was created by the props department.
The historian John Roberts suggested that the killing of Siegfried by Hagen, in the Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods), with a stab in the back gave inspiration for the myth that the German Army did not lose World War I, but was instead defeated by a treasonous “stab in the back” from civilians, in particular Jews and Socialists. This connects with this episode with its unmasking of Baydon as a German officer and being shot by the Jewish Victor Ignotas.
During the lunch Baydon asks what is the most memorable college in Oxford. He says, Keble. John Gielgud as Lord Hinksey says that Keble College is the ugliest.
Do you agree that it’s the ugliest. Architecturally it’s certainly one of the most striking.
Thank you to Steve who spotted this, “I wonder if the character Gwladys is a veiled (or slightly veiled) reference to the Welsh soprano Gwyneth Jones who was a great Wagnerian, from what Ive read at least. They do mention jones in the episode, on the radio discussion.”
Oxford Colleges Used as Locations.
Christ Church College.
Magdalen College College.
THE MURDERED, THEIR MURDERER/S AND THEIR METHODS.
Neville Grimshaw the journalist investigating Baydon. Shot by Clergyman Williams. Grimshaw had information that Baydon was not incarcerated in a concentration camp but was in fact one of the guards.
Robert Hardy as Andrew Baydon. Born: 29 October 1925, Died: 3 August 2017.
Sheila Gish as Gwladys Probert. Born: April 23, 1942 – Died: March 9, 2005.
John Gielgud as Lord Hinksey. Born: April 14, 1904 – Died: May 21, 2000.
Jean Anderson as Lady Hinksey. Born: December 12, 1907 – Died: April 1, 2001.
John Bluthal as Victor Ignotas. Born: 12 August 1929 – Died: 15 November 2018.
Don Fellows as Lyman Stansky. Born: 1922 – Died: October 21, 2007.
Julian Curry as Alan Cartwright. Born: December 8, 1937 – Died: June 27, 2020
Joan Blackham as Helen Buscott
Robert Hardy as Andrew Baydon
Sheila Gish as Gladys Probert
Caroline Berry as Mari Probert.
Jennifer Piercey as Mrs. Thompson
John Gielgud as Lord Hinksey
Jean Anderson as Lady Hinksey
Steven Beard as Florist.
Kevin Whately as Detective Sergeant Lewis.
Julie Legrand as Brigitte de Plessy
John Thaw as Chief Inspector Morse.
Doug Bradley as Clergyman Williams.
Brian Bovell as Pierre
Billy Hartman as Police Sergeant
James Grout as Chief Superintendent Strange
Alan David as Sir Watkin Davies
Rachel Weisz as Arabella Baydon
Lynne Verrall as Librarian
Don Fellows as Lyman Stansky
Allan Corduner as Gentile Bellocchio
Celia Montague as Adele Baydon
John Bluthal as Victor Ignotas
Julian Curry as Alan Cartwright.
Harry Ditson as Simon Vavasseur
Paintings are from https://artuk.org/
Maps from Google.
Interesting connections here: Robert Hardy’s name was Siegfried when he played in “All Creatures”; James Grout was also in the series (although I did not recognize him at first). He played a character named Grenville who always got Herriott soused.
Chris, I absolutely agree with you regarding the portrayal of gay people, especially that they are predators who will hit on any straight person. It is very cringe-worthy. This episode is not one of my favorites either but that doesn’t prevent me from watching it whenever I rewatch my Morse DVD’s. The only episode I do tend to skip, although I have sat through it twice is The Wench is Dead. I also agree with your take on the shooting. Implausible to say the least.
Chris, thank you for your thoughtful and astute review. Absolutely, the portrayal of the gay characters is offensive, and you’ve hit the nail on the head for why that is so. It made me curious about the screenwriter, Julian Mitchell. He is gay and has written some very subtle and moving films with gay subjects–notably Wilde, with Stephen Fry as Oscar Wilde. So is it internalized homophobia that made him create these characters?
And, yeah, the shooting plot doesn’t bear scrutiny.
I agree this episode would not make my top 10. So, when I rewatched it last week, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I didn’t find it sluggish. Because Mitchell’s writing is vivid and there’s such a continuous thread of humor, I savored it. Gay stereotypes aside–ugh–the minor characters are so vivid, and the interactions so humorous: the dogwalker who detests Snap, the florist, Dr. Lyman (so great with his throwaway lines is Don Fellows!), and above all, Gielgud as Lord Hinksey. And those aren’t even the main characters, unless we consider Lord Hinksey one.
I could go on and on about the Morse-Lewis interactions in this episode, but enough from me.
Thank you Chris, for compiling another wonderful review and analysis, of this classic Morse episode. I noticed in the background behind you, while you were speaking, during your video, the book written by Bill Leonard, “The Oxford of Inspector Morse”. I bought that book, earlier this year, although it would seem, I acquired, a more updated version than yours, as it was called “The Oxford of Inspector Morse and Lewis”, published in 2008, which I found very interesting. You may remember, from my e-mail to you, a few months ago, I discovered Leonard’s book, contained some new filming locations, from the first two series of Lewis, you had not been able to decipher, in your excellent book, Chris. Anyway, that is not important at the moment, as I am not expecting you to reply in depth, to my e-mail, for many months yet, given all what you have been through, and all your hard work, on this website.
The reason I mentioned Leonard’s book, was that he chose “Twilight of the Gods”, as one of his three favourite Morse episodes, alongside “The Way Through the Woods”, and “The Wench is Dead”. As you have said yourself Chris, there is no individual, whose informed opinion is the correct opinion, and we should all, be able to engage in a lively and civilised debate, and if need be, agree to disagree, with one another. After all, in relation to the Morse universe, we are, of course, talking about the world of Oxford and academics, and they don’t always agree, do they?
As a result, I thought it was worth, relaying what Leonard had to say about this episode. I found myself, strongly disagreeing, with his view, of the portrayal of the gay assistants, to the opera singer, as you will, as well, Chris. Here is Leonard’s verdict:
“This episode has everything, vivid scenes, drama, and great views of Oxford. Founder-writer Julian Mitchell has cunningly represented the worst characteristics of both Town and Gown. The “Town”, or non-university, represented by Baydon, craves recognition and adulation. The “Gown”, is prepared to sacrifice its principles for money. There is a reminder that at one time the university administered its own laws. The detectives move with bemusement between the two sides. The script inspired bravura performances from John Gielgud and Robert Hardy, and hilarious support from the diva’s fawning assistants, notably the stylist Allan Corduner and the gay voice coach Harry Ditson, whose scene with Lewis is a comedy classic. The luminous beauty of future Hollywood star Rachel Weisz is a bonus. Trailed as the last Morse, 18.76 million viewers in the UK, watched it.”
I agree that many parts of this episode, make it extremely watchable, indeed. I have very much enjoyed this episode in the past, which was a kind of grand finale, in the final, full series of Morse, and I think, I would score it, 8 out of 10. However, I fundamentally disagree with Leonard, calling the scene with Lewis, a comedy classic, and I am surprised, he said that, but I suppose attitudes have changed. However, listening to you Chris, in your video, it seems you were nobly ahead of the curve, in terms of public attitudes, and stereotyping minorities, in society.
I wish I could be a little less long-winded in my comments, but that is all, from me for now. Thank you for all your hard work Chris, and keep safe and well.
I appreciated your observations, James, and did not find the comment long-winded. Thanks for the quote from Leonard; interesting.
Thank you, for your kind words, Mary Anne. I agree a great deal with your comments, this Morse episode is very enjoyable, and full of fun moments. I’m pleased to hear, you find it interesting, to learn of Leonard’s observations, about this episode. Thanks also, for taking the time to read my comments.
P.S. Thanks for including the full text of that wonderful Stevie Smith poem.
I will just add a minor correction to my above comments. I should have said, you were nobly ahead of the curve and public attitudes, Chris, in terms of disliking the stereotyping of minorities in societies, as far back as 1993, when you first watched this Morse episode.
Finally, I will include, part of David Bishop’s excellent verdict of “Twilight of the Gods”, from his book, “The Complete Inspector Morse”, which I wholeheartedly agree with. Here it is:
“For the fourth year in succession, Julian Mitchell comes up trumps, with the last script of a series. The joy in this episode comes from the little moments, the dialogue and the performances. John Gielgud steals all his scenes as a university chancellor who can’t stop saying the wrong thing – a trait for which Gielgud himself was notorious. At times this episode feels like a compilation of Morse’s greatest moments revisited, but the humour between Morse and Lewis, carries everything along. The tale ends with Morse contemplating a sabbatical, much like the show itself. But both would return, in time…”
Before I go, when we were speaking about Rebecca Front’s role as Supt Innocent, in the Lewis discussion on Twitch, yesterday evening, were the words you were looking for Chris, “a sounding board”. In the sense, that she was partly used, as a “sounding board”, by Lewis and Hathaway, so the viewers had the case or investigation, reiterated to them, for better understanding.
That is all from me. Thank you, and goodbye for now.
The word I was looking for regarding Innocent is ‘exposition’.
Thanks for the reply Chris, and for kindly telling me the word, you were looking for. I was way off the mark then! “Exposition”, that is a good word, I will remember that. Perhaps I mixed up the term, “sounding board”, which Kevin Whately has used, to partly explain his classic role, as Sergeant Lewis, to John Thaw’s Chief Inspector Morse. I hope, you also enjoyed reading my other comments, Chris, or should I say, my selective quotations, from reviews of this Morse episode, by Bill Leonard and David Bishop. I always look forward to reading your very informative and knowledgeable, critical analysis, of episodes in the Morse universe. Thank you, for all this great work. That is all for now, and keep safe and well.
Perhaps I should have said this before, but I hope you haven’t minded me, including interesting comments and quotations, from other eminent Morse analysts, to go alongside your own brilliant, critical reviews, Chris. I find it interesting to see, what David Bishop, or other published critics, have said, about certain Morse episodes, and by comparing it to your own excellent analysis, Chris, I feel this further enriches the discussion and debate, over each Morse episode. Thank you for all the good work you do, and goodbye for now.
Hi Chris. I didn’t quite catch the beginning of your Twitch discussion, on Wednesday night, but I have now. You were saying, that Twilight of the Gods, is an episode that has divided people in the past, there are those who love it, but also, some that really dislike it. I didn’t know that, and it would seem, I very much belong in the category, that really likes this episode. Before your review, I had this episode in my top ten, possibly scoring it 9 out of 10. However, I have taken your excellently made points on board, about the opera singer’s assistants, and the unrealistic nature of the attempted murder, through the window of the Bodleian library, and as I said before, I now score it, 8 out of 10.
Furthermore, I still believe, there are many fine moments, through this episode. The scenes filmed in Oxford, including its colleges, and the graduation procession, are some of the most beautifully shot, throughout the whole of the Morse series. It thus, has plenty of stunning Oxford scenery, fitting for a kind of grand finale, to the final ever, full series of Morse. In addition, it has two famous actors in Robert Hardy and John Gielgud, and they deliver great performances.
Finally, the humour between Morse and Lewis, in this episode, is top quality, which I really enjoyed. Although, I have one question, it is nice to see Morse in such a good mood, in “Twilight of the Gods”, but was there a causal reason, why all of a sudden, he wasn’t quite as grumpy and irascible, as he was portrayed, previously? I cannot think of one, therefore, as it could have been the final ever Morse episode, I assume the producers wanted the show to go out, in a more uplifting fashion. Consequently, John Thaw depicted Morse, as slightly chirpy, and rather more upbeat, than usual. As it turned out, thankfully, the show was merely, going on a “sabbatical”, before the five annual, one-off specials.
I must have lacked a little confidence yesterday, when I asked, whether you minded me, posting the views, of other eminent Morse analysts. Undoubtedly, you would have told me a long time before now, if you didn’t like me doing that. Your other good subscribers and commentators, on these pages, Chris, have welcomed me, including the thoughts of David Bishop and others, so I don’t know why, I was suddenly worried, about this issue. I suppose, I was slightly concerned, that you would have wanted to hear more of my own opinion, regarding this episode, rather than just the views, of those published critics. I have now, of course, in the paragraphs above, included, some of my own views. By the way, I just wondered, what you thought Chris, of David Bishop and Bill Leonard’s verdicts, on this episode? Possibly, I am asking too much of you, given all your hard work, creating this review, and I apologise, if that is the case. That is all for now. Thank you, and all the best.
Hi James. The main, and probably only, reason Morse was less moody, down and irascible was due to his having watched Gladys Probert the previous night. Also he was very much looking forward to the Opera that Gladys Probert was appearing in the night of the murder. It was as simple as that. I read Bill and David’s reviews many years ago and I didn’t reread them before my own review as I didn’t want to be influenced by anything they wrote. I think if people want to compare my review to David and Bill’s reviews then they are more welcome to though one’s own opinion would be preferable. I’m sure the majority of people who visit my site have copies of both Bill Leonard and David Bishop’s books. They will certainly have David’s excellent, The Complete Inspector Morse.
Hi Chris. That is very kind of you to reply, and thanks for answering my questions. I was perhaps guilty, of thinking a little too deeply, about whether, there was a professional or personal reason, why Morse, was more cheerful and perky than usual, in this episode. However, of course, the show started with Morse, passionately enjoying, a rehearsal, by one of his favourite opera singers. He was thus eagerly anticipating her showpiece performance, that sadly never came to pass, after she was mistakenly shot, with a bullet meant for Bayden, during the graduation ceremony, which left her, in a critical condition.
In fact, as I write this, I have realised, you could argue there was a personal reason, why Morse was so much happier than usual. Due to his deep interest and revenance for opera, Morse was “metaphorically” in love, with his heroine, the Welsh soprano star. He had an idolized view of her, and he bought flowers, to commemorate her upcoming, grand performance. Therefore, Morse was brighter and more high-spirited than normal, because he was in “love”, but not in the usual sense of a relationship. Unfortunately, this veneer of happiness would be tested, because as I have said, tragedy almost struck, with Gladys Probert, very nearly being killed.
The representation of beauty and ugliness, you mentioned Chris, is also shown, through the fact, that Morse, with his romantic notions, and love of opera, could not believe, anybody would want to kill Gladys. However, he finds out, from beneath the veil of her stunning performaces, she is a highly strung woman, with a ferocious temper, in everyday life. There are sordid secrets, in her personal life, depicted, through her difficult relationship with her younger sister, in combination with, her lack of tolerance at times, for all her assistants. At the same time, Gladys is all sweetness and light, when she is with, her devoted supporters, such as Bayden’s wife. This troubled public and private life, certainly illustrates her dichotomy between beauty and ugliness, and suggests the attempted murder, could have been aimed at her. The twist in the tale, is that in the end, she was not the intended target of the shooting.
What am I doing? I said I was guilty of thinking too deeply, only to then write all of that, above. Having said that, I hope, what I have just written, makes some sort of sense. Finally, thanks Chris, for discussing David Bishop’s excellent book, and that is a good idea of yours, not to read it, before creating one of your superb reviews, in case it could influence, your analysis. Anyway, thanks for taking the time to reply to me, Chris, and you do not need to respond to this message. That is all from me, and goodbye for now.
Anyone can, of course, reply to me, I’m just aware Chris, that you have kindly answered my many comments lately, so I do not wish to ask, too much of you. I slightly wonder, what you will think, of my latest, little analysis, but as I say, there is no need to respond quickly. Thank you for providing this platform, for comments, on your interesting website. Keep safe and well, and goodbye for now.
Love the review Chris,
About the gay characters, think back to the 1990s. Gay characters were often portrayed like this. Think of “the birdcage” with Robin Williams and Nathan Lane, or any of Harvey Firestien’s movies. At the time I think many gays thought it was camp and it was played as an “in” joke. Today, mainstream gays want their characters to be played mainly without camp and to be seen as regular people. So I don’t beat the actors up for it, it was cutting edge at the time but as gay humor today it falls flat. Also the point of the scene was to make Lewis uncomfortable and show him as disparate from the artistic class and their hangers on. .
As to the assassination attempt, I agree it was not perhaps the best place and way to attempt it, but he did miss his target and almost got away. A person like Baydon isn’t easy to get close to, private estate, private security, private helicopter so I can see where the Victor Ignotus character may have taken what he thought was his best opportunity, and botched it hitting Gladys.
Hi Tom, You make two very good points about this episode. I think you are correct for pointing out that that is how gays portrayed themselves and were portrayed back in that time period. Although I’m sure it was funny then but it was an unsuccessful attempt at humor watching it now in 2020. You are also correct noting that the procession was the best place to shoot Baydon as that would be where he was most accessible. I hadn’t considered those two thoughts.
And James thanks for the insight into the episode from Bishop’s book.
Hi Kathleen. That is not a problem, and thanks for reading my comments. Alongside Chris’s excellent reviews, it is also interesting to hear the opinions, of informed Morse enthusiasts, like yourself, Kathleen. Thank you, and goodbye for now.
I haven’t seen this episode for a while but I recall being surprised at how long it took until it dawned on Morse and Lewis (or Strange for that matter, although Morse might have dismissed his ideas ) that Gladys wasn’t the intended target. You can excuse a certain amount away on Morse’s indulgence/infatuation with the Opera angle. But it’s not a great leap of genius, given the public setting to the shooting and the margin of error, to look at people around Gladys in the procession and see if any of them might have been a likely target. In this case, once you do that it’s pretty obvious that Blayden isn’t everyone’s cup of tea – so he might have a few enemies.
If I had to listen to anyone sing Wagner, I might feel like shooting someone, too. Morse had terrible taste in music.
We all can’t like the same thing(s), can we ? Variety, as they say, is the spice of life, Patricia. It’s also worth noting that Morse is a fictional character.
In Latin they say de gustibus non est disputandum (there’s no accounting for taste) and tastes may be different. There are Wagner Societies even in Britain. And what’s this about “fictional character”? So only fictional characters may like Wagner’s music? I am real and I like it, along with Italian opera and Mozart, like “Morse”.
You make a very good point there, JulieB, and I partially agree with you. You may be pleased to know that an eminent Morse analyst, who I have previously quoted in my comments above, Bill Leonard, also concurs with you. In his book, “The Oxford of Inspector Morse and Lewis”, for his summary of “Twilight of the Gods”, he says, “In the Encaenia (honourary degree) ceremony, Morse’s heroine, Welsh diva Gwladys Probert, is shot. It takes Morse a long time to work out the shot was not meant for her. A war-victim had tried to shoot Andrew Baydon, so that his trial would expose the crimes of Baydon, as well”. As for my own opinion, I admit, it did take a fair while for Morse to realise this, although I do not believe, this majorly diminishes the quality of the episode. In fact, we have another occasion, if I remember rightly, where Lewis is thinking out loud in the hospital, the possibility that the attack on Gwladys was mistaken, and this was all Morse needed for events to slowly start clicking into place, in his brain. It was thus, one of those delightful, “Lewis, you’ve done it again”, moments. Anyway, that is all from me. Goodbye for now.
Whoever did the singing for Probert had a terrible voice. All that wobble . The best part of this episode was Sir John Gielgud.
Just a few musings.
‘Gwladys’ (not ‘Gladys’) Probert, having been born in Wales, may have been given her first name as a recognition of how beautiful a baby girl she was. The name Gwladys is synonymous with Gwladys ferch Daffyd Gam, daughter of a long ago Welsh King, who was considered to be a veritable & unusually beautiful woman during her time.
Not to be crude in bringing this up, but Blaydon had the horrible habit of calling every man he didn’t like a “knob head.” As a Nazi soldier he would have used the term (in German, of course) as a derogatory insult of circumcised Jewish males. As a Jew, that was immediately apparent to me very early on that there was no way Blaydon could truly be a Jew. Many Nazis who staffed the concentration camps were tattooed in the last few days before liberation to save themselves for capture & reprisals as Nazi perpetrators. Those Nazis who were tattooed are a disgrace to the memory of those many millions of Jews, Gypsies, other minorities & Gays who died horrible deaths in the concentration camps & to those still alive bearing witness to the truth of what happened as represented by the tattooed numbers on their arms.
Consequently, I did not enjoy this particular episode of the series. Perhaps I’m just being too sensitive, as it’s a truth that so many Nazis escaped punishment because of their tattoos, but it was just too easy to me to figure out that he was the intended target all along, not Gwladys, & that he was somehow involved in the killing of the nosy freelance reporter, as apparently the priest was a particular friend of his, though I actually expected that he may have killed the reporter himself instead of having a minion do it for him. Needless to say, I was pleased that he was found out in the end & got his comeuppance.
I’d be interested in your thoughts on this opinion.
Pamela, I had no idea about that term and its connection with Jewish men. While in nursing school, when I was very, very young and ignorant of such things, I worked with a Jewish doctor. He had two patients with number tattoos on their arms so I questioned him as to their meaning. (As is obvious I am not Jewish.) That was the first time I heard what those numbers stood for, never having been taught that in history classes at school. Well, this was a long time ago! I’ve read a lot of history over the years but somehow, until I saw this episode, either I didn’t realize or didn’t remember Nazis used those tattoos to escape. And you have confirmed that here. Blaydon was an obnoxious character and I’m glad they portrayed him as such. I, too, thought it obvious that he was the intended target.
You have made some very interesting observations, Pamela. Thanks for sharing your historical knowledge on these pages, which helps to further understand the episode, and come to judgement earlier, who the likely murderer would be. As someone who has a keen passion for history, I find it fascinating that the Inspector Morse series was not afraid to create storylines, which dealt with some of the most notable and horrific examples of human history. Two episodes spring to mind, “The Settling of the Sun, and the episode we are talking about, excellently analysed above, by Chris. The former is somewhat poignant at the moment, because yesterday was the 75th anniversary of VJ day. As we know, “The Settling of the Sun”, had a plot revolving around relatives of a former prisoner of war, seeking revenge, for the atrocities and torture carried out by the Japanese, on their relative, during the Second World War. While, “Twilight of the Gods”, had a storyline, involving the eventual identification of a former concentration camp guard, who was implicitly guilty of carrying out, heinous and repulsive crimes, having played a part in one of the most odious, shocking and abhorrent genocides by mankind, namely the Holocaust, during World War II.
I just finished the episode and wondered what was burning at the end. Somehow I missed. I also did not appreciate the gay stereotypes especially when being used to “hit on” Lewis. I totally enjoyed the cheerful Morse and was especially touched when he asked Lewis to give his regards to the wife (at the end). As I have seen the entire season and this is my second time through, I am dreading the last season of specials as I know they will be ending and I will cry cry cry. . . when I hear the beautiful music at the end of each episode, I find myself getting emotional. It’s remarkable that a series can evoke so many feelings for the characters that I have come to know. It’s also so nice to see that other people enjoy the series as much as I do. As always, I appreciate all of Chris’ diligent work in putting together this amazing site. I love engaging in conversations about the episodes.
Hi Stephanie, I feel the same way about the Morse series. It is my favorite. I love the characters, the stories, the acting, the music, the literature, well, everything about it. I can understand fully why Colin Dexter mandated in his will that no other would play Morse after John Thaw. No one ever could do it better or even match it. It is my go-to when I’m feeling down or when I want to imagine that maybe there could be real people like Morse in the world. Since I have the British DVD’s of all the episodes, it can never end for me!
It was one of the scale models for Baydon’s college.
The burning model is a reference to the final scene of Götterdämmerung, where Valhalla burns down and Brünhilde throws the Ring back to the Rhine Daughters, thus ending the chain of tragic events.
The premise of this episode is ridiculous: one cannot strike anyone with a pistol from such a distance.
But Adrian, he missed his intended target. Surely, if one shoots toward a group of people, even from a distance of around 150 feet, one will hit someone.
This is the whole point, one doesn’t shoot to hit a group, this is insane
Minor point. While Anna Russell was a comedian who used classical music and Gwlady’s a serious performer, did anybody else pick up that in the class at the beginning she used some of the attitude Russell used in her great “lecture” on the Ring Cycle? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CM33rgC2Fek
I;d rather hear Anna Russell’s Ring Cycle than have to suffer through the real thing.
As for the gay characters, surely the campest in-joke is when the Chancellor played by Gielgud says he loves Cole Porter and one of the other dons mutters something about he must be gay. Gielgud of course was gay.
All true Reid.
I wonder if the character Gwladys is a veiled (or slightly veiled) reference to the Welsh soprano Gwyneth Jones who was a great Wagnerian, from what Ive read at least. They do mention jones in the episode, on the radio discussion.
Good observation Steve I missed that. I have added your observation to my post under the miscellaneous section.
Thank you for making this information available.
I wonder if I’m the only person to be bemused that, just before the opening titles, we see Morse, in appreciation of Gwladys Probert’s performance, clearly shouting ‘Bravo’? Surely he, unashamed pedant that he is, would be aware that the correct form to applaud a female artiste would be the feminine singular, ‘Brava’?
No Cherry you are not the only one. I think of this every time I watch this episode. Morse would definitely have known better. Either the writer’s mistake or Thaw’s.
You can’t be serious, trying to shoot someone from such a distance with a pistol? The writer has no clue.
In the final scene, Morse drives past posters proclaiming the Gotterdammerung “Canceled”. Might that be a comment on the catastrophic end of the Nazi program in 1945?
When this episode was broadcast in 1993, there were still numbers of people alive who had experienced the horrors of the war. Now, with just the tiniest number of those people left, I wonder if this episode, especially the Lithuanian professor, has the same impact.
I love seeing Morse in such a good mood in this episode ! In the final scenes, John Thaw seemed to be channeling Alastair Sim from A Christmas Carol (when Scrooge is redeemed) with his playful, almost giddy behaviour.
Like Sheldon l loved seeing Morse in such an elated mood. A happy smiling Morse makes such a lovely change from the serious, cross angry character he can be. Viewing this episode second time around you can not help feeling sad for him, for his illusion that people involved in high art are lofty talented, committed characters who operate above the ordinary and mundane, will be shattered by the end of the episode, leaving our Morse disappointed, disillusioned and set adrift from all he has valued and held high throughout his life. The characters here are nothing short of magic. The ageing mega cantankerous chancellor determined to speak his mind is pure genius, every time he opens his mouth you know verbal gems will escape.
The greedy, mean and unredeemable pure evil of Robert Harry’s character sadly casts a shadow over the episode for me. Hardy plays the part brilliantly but his wicked machinations do not let you sympathise with his character’s point of view.
Death of Self remains my favourite…despite the top class characters that appear in this episode.
Andrea – I didn’t say that “only fictional” characters enjoy the music of Wagner. That’s absurd. I was responding to the other poster who said that Morse had horrible taste because he loved Wagner’s music. I merely pointed out to her that the character “Morse” was fictional.
John Gielgud and Robert Hardy make this Morse a thespian treat indeed! And the camp-as-a-row of tents gay chaps caused me as much a hearty guffaw as Brian Cant’s gay undertaker in the Midsomer Murders pilot episode. All it needed was for John Inman to appear and that scene would’ve been fabulous, darling.
Wench is Dead – now there’s an episode that needs to be chucked into Bristol Harbour. In my humble opinion of course.
I wonder if the late Robert Maxwell was, in part, the inspiration for Baydon. Maxwell (very much alive in 1993) was an egotistical, megalomanic, terrible bully who terrorised his family and everybody who ever worked for him; he had murky East European origins, and was involved in educational publishing. He wasn’t a Nazi but he had pragmatic connections with communists and the security services, including, interestingly, perhaps with Mossad. (He’s interred in Israel.) I don’t think Maxwell ever killed anybody but he certainly persecuted journalists at great length. In Victor, there are echoes of the plea of these journalists for less restrictive defamation laws.
There is something to be said for the persecution of journalists. Too many of them are just activists with some kind of credentials.
This episode for me is in my top 10, however at the same time I have always found the shooting unrealistic. I guess it was out of desperation, but all very convenient the staff room that nobody went into.
What makes this episode is in my top 5 is the music, the cast and Oxford looked superb with the procession. It was certainly an episode to go out on a high, but wasn’t a “forced” ending.
Morse sure is the gift that keeps on giving, because this is in the bottom 3 episodes for me (just ahead of ‘Settling of the Sun’ and just behind ‘Death of the Self’). A tedious mess. It looked like the series had gone out on a whimper but thankfully ‘Way Through The Woods’ came along
The final moments of this Morse 28th episode between Morse and Lewis represent a vibrant farewell of the original series, very emotionally touching!
I have just watched this on a patriotic well-contained streaming service- I subscribed solely so I can watch all of the ELM universe series in order. I remember Robert Hardy’s character having something of a ‘potty mouth’ as Americans might say. Yet this dialogue seems to have been removed. I just found some clips on youtube where he indeed does refer to people with somewhat colourful language. I am feeling very let down. I wanted to watch the WHOLE of the Morse universe in its entirety- not just what some sanctimonious censor decides is appropriate. How dare they. Now I am wondering what else in the Morse series has been removed? There are a few things I remember from Morse ‘back in the day’ that I have put down to false memory syndrome- for example in ‘Deadly Slumber’ ( I am fairly sure) I remember Morse going into a pub, ordering a pint and then leaving and the barman asking him if there was something wrong with the beer- and he replies that there’s something wrong with him- that scene seems to have vanished.
In any case this episode is for me probably my second least favourite, taking the place of the Greek one. It’s slow, implausible in so many ways- not least because the Robert Hardy character would still have only been a boy or a very young man at the end of WW2 and so many other reasons. Glad to see Gielgud- what a wonderful actor and almost 90 when playing this part- never did need the Labour Exchange.
The best thing about the episode is the lovely portrayal of Oxford in mid summer. Otherwise one to forget. It’s clear by this time Inspector Morse was kept going for viewing figures and had the budget for all the big names- but it was probably right to begin winding it down.
Only 5 Jags for me.