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Last sunday night saw me sitting down to watch an old Inspector Morse, recorded from ITV3. It’s the first Sunday evening in a while where I haven’t been writing an OU assignment. I’ve still got two more to do, but having just handed one in I decided to take a night off. The episode was The Settling of the Sun, which is one of the early ones but not directly based on the plot from one of the Colin Dexter books. There were 33 episodes but only 13 novels. I’ve never actually read any of the original books, but have seen every episode. In fact I own every episode. Back in the 1990s after I started getting my first pay packet I signed up to Britannia Video Club. Every month they sent me a Morse video, starting with episode one, all the way through to the very last. At £12 each I must have spent the best part of £400 on the full collection*. I’ve seen most of the episodes at least three times, although I have a handy ability of forgetting whodunit. The irony now is that our VHS player is in a cupboard because our DVD player and freeview/HDD recorders are both under the telly where the video used to be. So I’m unlikely to watch them for some time…

Part of the appeal of the programme, apart from the great stories, was always the music. Barrington Pheloung’s main theme is one of the greats of TV. I remember wanting a copy of the music when the programmes were first shown on the telly, so at the end of one of the episodes I sat there with my cassette recorder trying to tape the theme as closing credits rolled. Inevitably the continuity announcer spoiled the end of the recording (not that the quality was up to much). So it was only years later when a friend bought be the CD from series, that I got to listen to a ‘proper’ version of it. Nowadays there’s loads of ways to hear the piece, but here is a piano cover version (not played by me), which I quite like:

It was funny to see that the series had actually dated quite a bit, still enjoyable and definitely worth watching, but it looked every bit like it was filmed in the 1980s. We actually used to live in North Oxfordshire, so we got to go to quite a few places where they had filmed. I love Oxford as a city, for many reasons; the covered market, the Ashmoloean, the canal, the old buildings, the Botanical gardens, to name just a few; but it was funny that in filming Morse, they managed to avoid all the dodgy 1960s buildings that ruin many a vista.

This is definitely a piece I’d like to tackle.



* I note that you can now buy the full set of all the programmes on a box-set of DVD for less than £30