A rather tardy post this given the guy has been dead for about 20 years. But Dennis Waterman’s death got me thinking about an actor with whom he formed one of his best on-screen partnerships, John Thaw.

Thaw was an actor who was pretty ubiquitous during my childhood and early(ish)adulthood. He was bloody everywhere. He was one of the very first to play a character in Z Cars. Anybody remember Redcap? Hard bitten but fair military policeman? Compulsory viewing in my youth.

Later, The Sweeney, where his hard smoking, hard drinkimg* toughnut Jack Regan made him a well deserved household name. This was a handy bit of casting, since Thaw was a heavy drinker (though he gave up in later life) and smoked right up until his death.

Then a complete change of character, and one that convinced me utterly, as it did millions of others, Morse. Nothing much happened if you ignore the string of deaths, but Thaw excelled as the pernickety, meticulous, curmudgeonly, mildly misogynist deep thinker. If I have one criticism it is that the television character lacked the very dark side you find in Colin Dexter’s books. Oh, and the ‘real’ Morse drove a Lancia, not a Jaguar. Meh.

By the way, because I’m a smartarse I had guessed at Morse’s Christian name, only revealed in the final television episode, and no, I didn’t read it in the book.

Given he was such a grumpy sod, and Thaw genuinely was, he had an odd choice in music. Morse was heavily into opera. John Thaw’s favourite song? The sun has got his hat on. I know this to be true.

Shelia Hancock, his wife for the best part of thirty years, must have had her work cut out.