Sharing Stories From The City

You know that feeling when you discover a fictional world and it just feels like you’ve always known it? All the characters, plots and setting fit together perfectly, and immersing yourself in the world is like wearing your favourite jacket, one that you never tire of putting on.

That’s what this episode – the second in Season 2 of our Arts + Culture Podcast – is about, as Laura Brown talks to Neil Atkinson about their shared love of the world of Inspector Morse: both the novels of Colin Dexter, and the TV world led, impeccably, by John Thaw as the grouchy, gothic, dogged Morse.

Morse is one of the most recognisable and well-loved detectives on British TV, with his penchant for Wagner, classic cars (a Jaguar on TV, a Lancia in the early novels) and having an afternoon pint in The Randolph winning the series an army of fans. The final episode, The Remorseful Day, was watched by over 13 million viewers when it aired on 15th November 2000 – and the TV legacy has lived on through spin-off series Lewis (featuring Morse’s long-suffering detective Lewis, played by Kevin Whately) and Endeavour (where Scouser Shaun Evans plays a young Morse).

Neil Atkinson takes a break from his day job dissecting the fortunes of Liverpool FC, on the award-winning Anfield Wrap podcast, to talk all things Morse. He explains to Laura – a fellow Morse aficionado – how the great, sweeping cinematography of the TV series and Colin Dexter’s baleful, poetic prose in the novels first got him hooked on the world of Morse. The gravity of an actor like John Thaw is also discussed, and how his crumpled face came to embody Sunday night crime drama on British TV. The fact that Morse hasn’t really been bettered – and that not even Colin Dexter could improve on Morse’s Oxford and its intricate plots – says all you need to know about the enduring impact of the show.

It’s a very moreish thing to follow police and crime procedurals – and a very British thing to find comfort in a troubled, gruff hero like Morse. Whether you watch along on BritBox or ITV3, or you read through Dexter’s original novels, you’ll likely get the sense that is at the heart of this conversation: that a good fictional world, well rendered with relatable characters and well-plotted suspense, is like a great, warm comfort blanket. And don’t we all need that, from time to time.

Listen along and tell us what you think – listen above, or via Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Acast and Stitcher. Get in touch with us to share your own stories on podcast@bidolito.co.uk, or tweet us @BidoLito.

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