Review: Colin Dexter, Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds

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Over the years, crime fiction has thrown up many memorable characters but few have been held in such high esteem as Inspector Morse. Over the course of 13 novels, one short story collection and 33 feature length television episodes, Morse became a much loved figure (despite his curmudgeonly ways) and was a standard setter for quality fiction and production values.

In a rare trip to East Anglia, author Colin Dexter came to the beautiful surroundings of the Theatre Royal to discuss the transition from page to screen of his celebrated creation and it proved to be a hugely entertaining and very funny evening.

Whilst he claims that some of the character traits of Morse are autobiographical, the author is a man of great warmth and a finely tuned sense of humour. It is true that both share a love of Wagner, the poets, The Archers and single malt whiskey but there the similarities end.

In an evening liberally peppered with self-effacing and witty anecdotes, he spoke about his life as a teacher and how Morse was ‘born’ during a wet, family holiday in Wales during the early 1970s. Insights were given to the writing process, why the television films altered from the original books and why Morse had to be ‘killed off’.

Actor John Thaw was remembered with great affection and we were left with the impression that he, along with the character he portrayed, were men of great intelligence and integrity. The same is certainly true of the charming Mr Dexter himself.

Paul Monkhouse