As I write this short piece both Colin Dexter and Morse are trending on Twitter. This is good because if anybody is unfamiliar with either name, there’s a decent chance they’ll learn more about this great writer and his famous detective, thanks to the medium of Twitter. I like this because it goes against everything that Inspector Morse embodied. Modern in no sense of the word, Inspector Morse would not be reading about anything on social media.
I was brought up watching Inspector Morse on television as a child. Along with Sherlock Holmes, Morse is my favourite fictional character. Later, at university, I took a crime fiction module. Colin Dexter and Morse were one of our topics. Lucky me.
Those who know me well will know I often say “you only need to get it right once”. In terms of writing what I mean is you just need to create one successful character to leave your mark. Atticus Finch? Harry Potter? Holden Caulfield? Sherlock Holmes? Inspector Morse.
The books were adapted for television and John Thaw made the character his own (literally, in that Dexter adapted the character to suit the actor). This led to Lewis, which didn’t really work for me for reasons not important now, and finally Endeavour, which traces the origins of Dexter’s creation.
The books will live on, no doubt seeing a resurgence following Dexter’s death. The programmes are rarely off the television and show no signs of stopping. So Morse will continue and, hopefully, lead viewers and readers back to Dexter’s original novels. They are worth a look because Dexter was a master story teller and in Morse he created a character every bit the equal of Holmes.