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Why Morse had to die; WEEKEND TV.

Byline: MARION McMULLEN

THERE was blubbering all round when morose Morse finally went to meet his maker.

John Thaw was filming his emotional farewell scene inside a mortuary and the cast and crew started to get a teeny bit tearful.

Kevin Whately, Morse's faithful sidekick Lewis, remembers: "On the day itself, I woke up thinking 'Bloody hell, this is it'."

The death of TV's famous detective is a landmark of British telly. It marks the end of 33 films, a relationship dating back to 1987 and worldwide success.

It has also helped turn the deeply-private John Thaw into one of the country's best known actors, but he had no regrets about killing off his gruff TV character.

"I said previously that I didn't want the television Morse to end like Frank Sinatra doing an endless series of farewell concerts," he shrugs.

"When producer Chris Burt phoned to tell me that in writer Colin Dexter's next book Morse would die, I was pleased in a way because it took away the responsibility of deciding if I, as an actor, should do Morse again and again."

John takes his work seriously and turned up to film Morse's death scene as if it was the same as any other day.

But he admits to sharing the general feeling of sadness which surrounded filming of the last episode.

"I shouldn't have, because it is only a part," he says almost apologetically, "but it has been so much part of my life and I was a bit emotional."

Many Morse fans will certainly be feeling a bit weepy when the last ITV special, The Remorseful Day, is shown on Wednesday.

"When the final episode does go out it's going to be a sad day, not just for me, but for everyone involved," says John.

The silver-haired actor, whose TV credits include The Sweeney, Kavanagh QC and Goodnight Mr Tom, explains: "I've enjoyed Morse more than anything I've done. I've loved working with Kevin and the crew.

"It's like meeting old friends every time we do."

John admits to welling up when watching the finished piece for the first time at home by himself.

It also meant the end of a 14-year relationship with his co-star on the long-lasting drama.

"From the start Kevin and I used to share a caravan - we got on so well - and go through our lines. Kevin is very easy to like.

"Of course, I have my eyes closed for Morse's final scene with Lewis, so I couldn't see what he was doing, but when I watched the film, I thought he did it beautifully."

John is now busy working on a new six-part ITV serial The Glass with Sarah Lancashire and Kevin will be seen in period drama Plain Jane next year.

Meanwhile, Morse creator Colin Dexter is in no doubt that it is the right time to lay his real ale-loving super-sleuth to rest.

"With the body count now at almost 80, Oxford has become the murder capital of the UK and the time has come to put an end to this," he explains.

"Various possibilities suggested themselves for Morse - retirement, marriage, failure, nervous breakdown, death while on duty, while not on duty ... I decided that Morse must die."
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Nov 11, 2000
Words:540
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