Saying Goodbye to Lewis

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Laurence Fox and Kevin Whately

Lewis, the television spin-off of Morse has come to an end after nine successful seasons. The original series is based on series of novels written by Colin Dexter.

Colin Dexter ( born 1930) wrote thirteen novels with Inspector Morse as the protagonist. His novels were adapted into the immensely popular television series Morse, with veteran actor John Thaw at the helm playing the highly educated and cantankerous Inspector Morse. Morse ran from 1987 to the year 2000 and came to a definitive end with the on-screen death of Morse. Unfortunately John Thaw died only two years after that.

I think it is both a testament and honour on the part of the author Colin Dexter that he has left strict instructions in his will in regards to his books and the character of Morse. No other actor will be allowed to play Morse, because to Dexter, John Thaw portrayed his  fictional character to a tee. Thaw was the perfect embodiment of his words and writing.
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John Thaw

Colin Dexter wants no other actor or adaptation to spoil the legacy of John Thaw’s Morse. In the last few years Dexter made one exception to the rule. The television series Endeavour portrays a young Morse, a Morse at the beginning of his career and the story of how he became the eccentric, reclusive and mardy old detective.

Played by actor Shaun Evans, the viewer gets a different insight and perhaps a little more understanding about how Morse ended up being so Morse-like. It shows the beginning of the relationship, which makes these characters and the show so successful. The relationship between the superior and junior officer.

How two men from different walks of life and social circles can learn from one another and become friends, despite all their differences. In Endeavour we meet DI Fred Thursday, the man who is the Lewis to Morse, as Morse is to Lewis. (Still keeping up?)

Aside from this excursion I believe Dexter will hold onto those creative reins really tightly, and after his death his estate will retain the rights for another 70 years.

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Shaun Evans as the younger Morse and John Thaw as the older Morse

If you have watched Morse or read the Colin Dexter books you will be aware that Morse has a younger sidekick. Sergeant Robert ‘Robbie’ Lewis (played by Kevin Whately) is the complete opposite of Morse, which is what made the two of them such an interesting duo.

Morse is the Oxford educated elitist, who listens to classical music, reads high-brow literature and feels at ease with the upper echelon of society. He also smokes like a chimney and drinks like a man in a desert. Lewis is a typical working class bloke. His idea of reading is the newspaper and good music is whatever is on the radio or flavour of the moment. Not opposed to a pint, he does worry about the fact Morse always tends to divide the day into ‘crimes to solve before the next pub break,’ Over the years the two of them develop a type of symbiotic relationship.

thaw3There is one big difference between Morse and Lewis, and Lewis and Hathaway though. Morse always used his superior attitude, his extensive academic knowledge and intellect, to insult and often belittle Lewis. Whereas Hathaway (played by Laurence Fox) never uses any of those things to appear smarter than or superior to Lewis. Far from it, in fact he completely acknowledges how much he can learn from the veteran police officer.

One of the of the little insider tidbits I enjoy is when Lewis channels his inner Morse or puts into play something he learnt whilst working with Morse. Sometimes it is a quote from a rare book, recognising an aria, being an expert at the odd rules of Oxford society of academia or just the occasional thing that reminds him of his old partner in crime.

I find it endearing, especially after watching Lewis grow from the bumbling young man to the confident and successful man, who has risen up the ranks on his own merit. Like Morse, Lewis prefers to stay at the hands on level of policing, as opposed to entering the upper ranks of political policing.

So, now after nine series of Lewis it is time to say goodbye to Morse’s old sidekick, who has managed to carve out his own loyal fanbase and TV following over the last few years. I for one will be sad to see him go. I do so enjoy the cosy crime mixed with elitist snobbery and hobnobbery with the wealthy and privileged.

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Oxford, the setting for Morse and Lewis

In the last few seasons a potential new sidekick for DI James Hathaway has been introduced. I think the powers that be have been trying to shoot new life into it and potentially set up the infrastructure for a new series just based on Hathaway. Well I hope they are!

However if that is the case I am not keen on their new twosome. The new face on the scene is DS Lissie Maddoz played by Angela Griffin. To be perfectly frank it just doesn’t work, and whoever made the decision just doesn’t get what was so special between Morse and Lewis, and Lewis and Hathaway.

It is about a father and son relationship, mentor and student, a brotherhood which evolves into friendship, despite the strict boundaries of class and social structures it has to cross to develop into a relationship.

What I would love to see is Hathaway becoming the mentor and the Morse to a younger male police officer. Knowing how much Hathaway struggles with his own inner demons it might just be a case of history repeating itself.

Sadly I think it is unlikely to happen, aside from certain restrictions made by Dexter, it seems as if Laurence Fox has grown beyond Lewis and is eager to move on to better and bigger things.

I don’t really understand why people like it. I mean, I’m really grateful that they do, but I’ve never quite worked it out.

I suppose you would have to like classic detective stories to understand. The typical British slow-paced crime drama with odd characters and eccentric detectives. Both Morse and Lewis combine a certain flair and air of Britishness you just can’t buy, it just is.

Sorry to say, the above mentioned books are not in the public domain, but there are plenty of other books and great writers whose work is.

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