The music of Inspector Morse

The music of Inspector Morse

I’ve just heard the sad news that Colin Dexter, the writer of the Inspector Morse novels, passed away yesterday. I thought I’d write a short blog on the amazing TV series that came out of the novels, and in particular the music.

Inspector Morse, played so brilliantly by actor John Thaw, was a curmudgeonly, real ale drinking Oxford detective who loved classical music. Throughout the 33 episodes, classical music, along with original music by composer Barrington Pheloung, was extensively used to created atmosphere and drama. Excerpts from a variety of Operas – Tosca, La Traviata, Cosi Fan Tutte – were often heard. One episode dealt with The Masons and had music from The Magic Flute running though it.

Other composers were often heard including Wagner, Beethoven, Puccini, Verdi, and of course Mozart, but it is probably the theme tune that many will remember. Barrington Pheloung wrote the theme after being approached in 1985, and was asked to explore the character of Morse. His answer was include cryptic puzzles and utilise morse code. In the background of the main theme, the violins beat out a rhythm which is morse code, and spells M-O-R-S-E. Or  – –   – – –   . – .   . . .   .

Pheloung also used to post red herrings and spell out ‘clues’ such as ‘he did it’ or ‘she did it’ in morse code.

R.I.P Colin Dexter. – Theme tune from the TV series Inspector Morse