Inspector Morse writer Colin Dexter

Tea Time Tidbit for the week of June 26, 2017

This week, at a viewer’s request, we take a look at the life of Colin Dexter, who died this past March at the age of 86.

Dexter’s 13 books, written from 1975 to 1999, about Oxford detective Inspector Morse, also resulted in 30 years of television entertainment, when they were adapted for television starting in 1987. The Oxford locale in which the stories were set proved so compelling, that once the Inspector Morse series had concluded, it was followed up with a spin-off series, featuring Morse’s sidekick, Lewis. A prequel series, Endeavour, about Morse’s early years as a police constable, came next and this year it wrapped up its fourth season. Season 5 will air next year.

We might never have been introduced to Morse and his associates had it not been for a rainy Saturday afternoon in the early 1970s, when Dexter and his family were staying at a guest house in North Wales. To alleviate his boredom and to avoid his complaining children, Dexter put pen to paper and started writing what would become his very first detective novel: Last Bus to Woodstock. Up until that time, Dexter had only ever written general studies textbooks.

Academic life plays a big part in the Inspector Morse novels, which is not surprising considering that Dexter, the son of a taxi driver who had left school when he was 12, went to Cambridge University before embarking on a teaching career. It was while teaching classics at a school in Northamptonshire in his mid-30s that Dexter discovered he had serious hearing problems when he failed to hear the loud pop music being played by the students in his class.

Dexter left teaching and moved to Oxford and took a job that wouldn’t be affected by his hearing loss; that of an examiner for the Oxford University Board. Dexter remained in the job until his retirement in 1987, long after his detective had made Oxford the fictional crime capital of the UK, and long after he could well afford to move up in the world. Instead, Dexter and his wife Dorothy, who he’d married in 1956, continued to live in the same four-bedroomed house that they’d purchased when they first moved to Oxford in 1966. It was at his beloved home that Dexter passed away peacefully on the morning of March 21st.

Inspector Lewis Season 7 airs Friday, at 9pm on MPT2, and mark your calendars for Sunday, August 20th at 9pm when MASTERPIECE Mystery premiers Season 4 of Endeavour.

To contact Heather:
Address: Afternoon Tea
Maryland Public Television
11767 Owings Mills Blvd.
Owings Mills, MD 21117

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Afternoon Tea is Maryland Public Television's weekday presentation of British programs.
Our host and Tea Lady is Heather Sanderson.
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