Inspector Morse

Scottish, Wed 15 Nov, 9pm.

Like the Bond movies, Casualty, and Haley’s Comet, the Inspector Morse films have always been one of life’s reliable recurrences; an occasional purveyor of pleasure in an otherwise cruel world. Sadly, the world just got a little crueller as, after 25 years and 33 films, Morse creator Colin Dexter has introduced the solitary detective to his maker.

Fans may be surprised to learn that Thames Valley Police’s most celebrated grouch is, by Dexter's calculations, around 70-years-old - well past the age of retirement for a police officer - and not a well man. John Thaw's Morse has never exactly looked in the peak of physical health, that pale, waxy complex-ion presumably the result of too many pints of real ale with Sergeant Lewis down the Dog. Kevin Whately's Lewis, on the other hand, despite frequent protestations about not being 'wet behind the ears', is as fresh-faced and awkward as ever, still anxiously seeking approval from his misanthropic mentor.

In a career that has taken this odd couple from the banks of the Isis to the Australian outback, strong links have been maintained between author Dexter and the producers of the Morse series with Dexter making occasional Hitchcock-style cameo appearances throughout the programme's thirteen-year run. But you can have too much of a good thing and, having made up his mind to give up writing, Dexter was then faced with the tough task of giving such an iconic character an appropriate send-off. ‘Various possibilities suggested themselves for Morse,’ he says. 'Retirement, marriage failure, nervous breakdown, death whilst on duty, death whilst not on duty. . . I decided that Morse must die.’

Without wishing to give too much away (apart from the ending and most of the plot) the opening scenes of The Remorseful Day (geddit?) look like Oxford's answer to Basic Instinct with Morse investigating the death of a


The odd couple go out with a bang

nurse during kinky rumpy pumpy. ’The Hanson murder? Bit of a dead duck isn’t it, sir?’ asks a bewildered Lewis. ’Well it's just quacked again,’ barks James Grout’s Chief Superintendent Strange on receipt of a revealing anonymous letter.

Densely plotted, and flavoured with the poetic melancholy that has characterised the series (each bludgeoned body is discovered to the strains of classical music), Morse’s swansong is given a personal twist when his relationship with the dead woman is revealed. The popular viewer game of ’Spot The Next Corpse’ is also given added poignancy by the fact that Morse is himself recovering from a serious heart scare.

With a documentary tribute (The Last Morse, Scottish, Sun 5 Nov, 10pm) also airing before the programme, fans can gorge themselves on Morse memorabilia. Meanwhile, in the unlikely event that Morse will do a Sherlock Holmes and rise from the grave for the odd Christmas special, devotees will have to content themselves with cable re-runs and their memories. (Allan Radcliffe)

last year With Kid /n The Corner.

This two-parter is set on a council estate beholden to a loan company whose local rep is John Parlour, played by the increasingly impressive John Simm. Unlike the sharks, Parlour's modus operandi is to become the reSIdents’ friend, eventually getting closer to one, Jo lSophie Okonedol But he can't escape his vocation, and a rapid downward spiral in his fortunes occurs.

‘I dislike dramas which characterise working-class communities as

DRAMA SERIES Never, Never Channel 4, Sun 5 & Mon 6 Nov, 9pm.

Once upon a time, you couldn’t move for British telly drama imbued by quality and a consCIence. The likes of Tony Garnett, Dennis Potter and Alan Bleasdale were bywords for all that was right about a night in With the box. These days, screentime is chockablock With various strains of

116 THE “ST 2—76 Nonl 2000

A tale of poverty which warms the brain

McCalls, Vorderrnans and Tarrants, all outsmarming each other as they humiliate or patronise or insult or degrade the Viewer

Which leaves the likes of Tony Marchant very exposed, indeed. Never, Never is the latest in a long line of brain-warming stories from both his pen and adapting hand, BBC highlights include his take on Great Expectations, and the award-Winning Holding On, while he made his Channel 4 debut

problematic,’ in5ists the 41-year-old Londoner. ’The mini here is how they take control over their own lives to not be reliant on people who want to entrench them in poverty.’

lvlarchant may now be entrenched in screenwriting but the initial spark of inspiration came from another source. ’I first wanted to write when I heard The Jam, I knew I cOuldn’t play three chords but that I still had something to say.’ And that, he does. (Brian Donaldson)

TV times

We put TV celebs on the couch. This issue: Graham Norton

Background Born in Ireland some 36 summers ago, Norton attributes his youthful good looks to a strict regime of potato and white Wine and his Clinique three-steps programme.

Big break The ultra-camp comedian made an inauspiCious TV debut as one of the saving graces of lTV's graveyard shift, co-presenting sex quiz Carnal Knowledge. ’I am deeply forgiVing of all crap TV,’ he says now. ’It really is harder than it looks. No, really.’ Happily, 1997 proved to be something of a watershed year for Norton. His stand-up show won a Perrier nomination after five years of hard graft at the Edinburgh Fringe, while he was also proclaimed Best British Newcomer at the Comedy Awards; the fact that he's actually Irish obviously escaped the judges' notice.

Finest hour Norton is now ranked alongside Theakston, Winton, Middlemiss, Roslin and Vorderman as one of a handful of TV personalities for whom the phrase ’no, I'm sorry, I can’t do it’, constitutes blasphemy. Unlike his fellow workaholic presenters, Norton appears able to balance ubiquity with originality. His uniQUe brand of smutty mischievousness has elevated rickety concepts like Unzipped and Bring Me The Head Of Light Entertainment, but is best highlighted by Norton’s brilliant alternative chat show 50 Graham Norton. Revolvmg around a simple yet hilariously effective concept (dust off camp, has-been celebs and treat them to the worst excesses of the internet), only the deceptively inoffensive NortOn could get away With introducing Ivana Trump to phone sex or haVing a dominatrix castigate lan McCaskill for a bad weather report.

Little known fact Graham’s dream guest for the chat show is none other than Dolly Parton, I love her boobs,’ he says of the generously endowed c0untry gal. ’They’re like big, mothery pillows

No relation to Edward Norton, Heather Graham, Greenock Morton (Allan Radcliffe)

I 50 Graham NortOn, Channel 4, starts Fri 3 Nov, 70.30pm.