Morse, Lewis, Endeavour

Giles Woodforde

T he long-running TV series comes to an end in March 2023.

"You know about these things," Morse author Colin Dexter said to me one afternoon, "Do ITV producers have generous expense accounts?"

It was the early 1980s, and I was then a producer/presenter at Radio Oxford. When a new Morse book came out, Colin would nip into the studio for an interview: his office at the Oxford University Delegacy of Local Examinations was located just behind us in Summertown.

The tales of the irascible Inspector Morse were not well known at the time, although they were beginning to win admiration from discerning readers of crime fiction. The books were published in hardback only - Colin told me ruefully that no paperback publisher was interested: "They say they don't want yet another boring Oxford detective series".

It was against this background that Colin received an approach from an ITV producer. He'd received an invitation to lunch: "You choose where we go," the producer had instructed.

However, there was a problem. Colin fancied trying Raymond Blanc's Les Quat' Saisons, yet to move out of its original premises in Summertown, but already winning awards for culinary excellence. But would the bill be too high for an ITV expense account? "I don't want to embarrass the poor fellow," Colin said.

"Don't worry," I assured him, "ITV has lashings of money, it's not at all like the BBC." I then added the oh-so-wrong sentence which has haunted me ever since: "You book the Quat' Saisons, then if nothing comes of the meeting, at least you've had a really good lunch."

The producer turned out to be the now legendary Ted Childs, who was soon to become Controller of Drama at Central Television, and producer of a string of hit TV shows.

Morse, then Lewis, then Endeavour duly appeared after that lunch; a truly phenomenal TV saga, which is only ending now, 40 years later.

SEE ALSO by Giles Woodforde
Morse, Lewis, Endeavour
Paw Prints
Going to the Pictures
A Personal Reflection
Yellow Bus

Giles Woodforde is a long-time resident of Kidlington village and was once a familiar voice to listeners of BBC Radio Oxford.
He is best known as a feature writer and reviewer for the Performing Arts for The Oxford Times newspaper.

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