Thursday, March 23, 2017


We lost a great Man of Letters the other day....

From the New York Times:
Colin Dexter, a British mystery writer whose irascible, poetry-loving detective, Chief Inspector Morse, pursued clues and cask-conditioned ale through 13 novels and a popular television series, died on Tuesday at his home in Oxford, England. He was 86.

Here was the ITV report on Mr. Dexter's death:

As far as the televersion of 'Inspector Morse', his younger self 'Endeavour', and his successor and former partner 'Inspector Lewis' are concerned, the quirks of the stories from the books (Morse's love of drink, Wagner, and crossword puzzles) were enhanced by a new addition - Hitchcock-like cameo appearances by Colin Dexter.

There is a great site about Morse online which covers all three TV series.  The curator of "Morse, Lewis, and Endeavour" put together a couple of videos featuring the collection of those cameos by Mr. Dexter.

Here are those videos as found at YouTube, but you should also visit that site if you're a fan of Morse.


Here's a second version.  I think the addition of a running soundtrack warranted the new version?


Here's a quick guide to the 'Morse' appearances you might want to keep handy while watching the reruns. The numbers given refer to the point in time at which Mr. Dexter makes his appearance in the episode.  

The Dead Of Jericho:
A college arcade (Magdalen), walking past Morse. 0:45:07

The Silent World Of Nicholas Quinn:
Al-Jamara reception. 0:01:34

Service Of All The Dead:
Outside a college archway, talking to female cyclist. 0:34:19

The Wolvercote Tongue:
The Chapters Bar (now the Morse Bar) of the Randolph Hotel. 0:32:22

Last Seen Wearing:
Exiting the Bodlein Library. 1:09:20

The Setting Of The Sun:
Doctor in the hospital. 1:41:59

The Last Bus To Woodstock:
Several times during the Rochester lecture. 0:56:40

Ghost In The Machine
No Appearance

The Last Enemy:
River bank, passer-by. 0:00:19

Deceived By Flight:
Walking behind Lewis and Rolly in college. 0:47:11

The Secret Of Bay 5:
No Appearance

The Infernal Serpent:
Several times during Dr. Dear’s lecture. 0:45:53

The Sins Of The Father:
No Appearance

Driven To Distraction:
Reading newspaper in launderette. 0:23:48

Masonic Mysteries:
Several times during rehearsals of the Magic Flute, in auditorium during police interviews. 0:04:19 and 0:10:22

Second Time Around:
The Trout public house, drinking. 1:00:14 and 1:01:19

Fat Chance:
As a don in a college quadrangle. 1:22:38

Who Killed Harry Field:
Among Eirl party, in a college quadrangle. 1:04:53

Greeks Bearing Gifts:
College porter. 0:25:43

Promised Land
No Appearance

Dead On Time:
Schubert reception, from behind. 0:23:28

Happy Families:
Tramp, fishing in a bin and outside the Mitre pub. 0:29:25 and 0:35:29

The Death Of The Self:
Opera scene, three to the left of Chief Inspector Morse. 1:38:09

Absolute Conviction:
Prisoner led from the chapel. Prisoner listening to sermon. 0:14:43 and 0:33:18

Cherubim And Seraphim:
Present at seraphic presentation. 0:32:57

Deadly Slumber:
A college porter. 1:06:54 and 1:07:20

The Day Of The Devil:
From behind, having tea on a hotel lawn. 1:19:30

Twilight Of The Gods:
The Sheldonian Theatre behind the Chancellor. 0:28:55 and 0:39:01

The Way Through The Woods:
A top wall of Brasenose College. 0:01:34

The Daughters Of Cain:
Clinic waiting room (with crutches). 0:56:46

Death Is Now My Neighbour:
As a bishop, saying grace. 1:12:54

The Wench Is Dead:
During the Victorian exhibition. 0:00:10

The Remorseful Day:
Under Magdalen Bridge, tourist in a wheelchair. 1:04:20

With this last appearance in 'Inspector Morse', Dexter could be playing himself.  However, he's part of a tour which suggests he came from a distance.  Living in the area, he had no problem puttering around the various colleges (both real and fictional) on his own as seen in earlier episodes.  It could be he was a separate character, but I'm going to cite Occam's Razor: he was Colin Dexter, still recovering from the leg injury which splains away the wheelchair.  And traveling with a tour group just made it easier on him that way.

Let's move on to his cameo appearances as seen in 'Inspector Lewis':

College Porter

Whom The Gods Would Destroy 
Oxford Don

Life Born of Fire
Man at Merton College Entrance

The Great And The Good
Man talking to Superintendent Innocent at Party

Allegory of Love
Man leaving the Randolph

The Point of Vanishing
Man in wheelchair in gallery

Colin Dexter must have had a relapse with that leg injury he suffered in the earlier series.

Generation of Vipers
Man talking with Marcus Harding in courtyard

Fearful Symmetry
Visitor at Ashmolian 

What Lies Tangled: Part 2
Customer at Sidewalk Cafe

For many of those quick glimpses in both series, we can assume that we are seeing Colin Dexter as his own televersion.  After all, the real world Dexter lived in the Oxford area since 1966.  And having retired in the mid-1980s, he had plenty of free time to indulge in the various plays and operas, visiting museum exhibits, and even spraining or even breaking his leg so that he had to go to the clinic for a check-up.  

But then what are we to make of the times when he showed up in these guises?


  • DOCTOR ("The Setting Of The Sun")
  • PORTER ("Deadly Summer" & "Greeks Bearing Gifts")
  • PRISONER ("Absolute Conviction")
  • BISHOP ("Death Is Now My Neighbour")
  • TRAMP ("Happy Families")
  • COLLEGE DON ("Fat Chance")
The same question could be asked of these appearances in the sequel.


  • OXFORD DON ("Whom The Gods Would Destroy")
  • COLLEGE PORTER ("Reputation")
To tidy it up, I would suggest that each appearance by Dexter as the college don would be the same man in both series, and the same could be said for all of his appearances as the porter.  But that still leaves the Bishop, the Doctor, the Prisoner, and the Tramp.

We can tighten it up a bit more.  Dexter was seen as the Tramp in "Happy Families" before he was seen as the Prisoner in "Absolute Conviction".  So let's assume the tramp was arrested for vagrancy and serving a prison term.  That brings down the number to three, the Bishop, the Doctor, and the Prisoner/Tramp.

For a pozz'ble solution to this riddle, I think we have to move on and look at his appearances in the prequel series 'Endeavour'.....


Pub Customer

Don dining at hall

Audience Member at Piano Recital

Don on Bench at College

Don at Booth Hill Debate

Don on Bench outside Beaufort College

Visitor at Museum

Gentleman on Bus

Gentleman on Bench at College

Gentleman in College Chapel

Old Man In Choir Practice

Here's my theory: out of all those cameo appearances in episodes of 'Endeavour', Mr. Dexter was really only playing two men.  The college Don was one man, and I think we can add the museum visitor and the piano recital attendee as being the Don as well.  As for the "old man" and the other "gentlemen", I'm going to claim that they were one and the same man... and the twin brother to the college Don.  Not only that, I believe we can also claim that he had ties to Oxford as one of the team of porters working at one of the colleges.  (Best to keep him situated at one of the fictional colleges. More fun that way.)

Each of these men had sons of their own who grew up to resemble their fathers and thus each other.  Whereas their fathers were maternal twins, their sons fell into that accepted Toobworld category of identical cousins.  Young men in their thirties during the time period of 'Endeavour', they grew up to follow in their fathers' footsteps - one as a porter and the other as a Don, the two men seen in episodes of 'Inspector Morse' and 'Inspector Lewis'.

All four characters were of the same age as Colin Dexter, but obviously only the sons were born around the same time as the writer.  The fathers, being the age of Dexter later in life, would have to have a corresponding birth date.  Thus, the twins were born around 1883, making them each about 47 when their sons were born.

This still leaves us with the doppelgangers of the Bishop, Doctor, and the Tramp/Prisoner.

Ah.... now we get supernatural, Occam's Razor be damned!

But to make the splainin as simple as possible - Both of those Colin Dexter characters from 'Endeavour' have long since passed away, probably before 1970 to keep them in line with the fate of their progenitor.

And so either one of them (I'll leave that choice up to your own whims) could have become a ghost, a spirit, fated to haunt the Oxford environs for the decades to come.  Not only that, but he also was something of a quantum leaper - able to leap into the body of someone living.  Being members of the Trueniverse audience, we see these people now in the image of the ghost, but it would not be noticeable to others within the Toobworld reality.  

Perhaps the ghost, whether it's the Don or the Porter, remembered Endeavour Morse back in the 1960s and was interested in keeping tabs on his later investigations.  After the passing of Morse, the ghost then crossed over to the Other Side, for he is not seen in 'Inspector Lewis'.  (Remember, most of those characters were of Colin Dexter with the other two being the Don and the Porter, next generation.

So there you have it, my Toobworld-styled tribute to the memory of Colin Dexter and the incredible characters he either gave us or inspired.  

Good night and may God bless, Sir......

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