Inspector Morse creator and Old Stamfordian Colin Dexter OBE dies aged 86

Old Stamfordian, scholar and author of the Inspector Morse series Colin Dexter OBE has died today aged 86.

Tuesday, 21st March 2017, 2:23 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 11:12 am
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His publisher said in a statement on Tuesday: “With immense sadness, MacMillan announces the death of Colin Dexter who died peacefully at his home in Oxford this morning.”

His series of Morse novels, written between 1975 and 1999, were adapted for the long-running ITV series, starring John Thaw.

Dexter’s characters also featured in spin-off shows Lewis and Endeavour.

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Colin was born in Stamford in 1936, the son of taxi driver, garage owner and store owner, Alf Dexter, in Scotgate, Stamford.

It was in 1941 that the young Colin won a scholarship to Stamford. In 1949 he left to read classics at Christ’s College, Cambridge.

Morse came about during a rain-sodden holiday in Wales 28 years ago.

In 2006 Colin told this newspaper: “I was just interested in twists and turns, so I wrote who-dunnits. I’ve never said anything fascinating about life, society or crime. But I think people like reading my books because there are a lot of twists and turns and you end up knowing who does it.

Colin Dexter (right) receiving Honorary Life Membership of the Old Stamfordian Club from club chairman Ian Plant in 2012 ENGEMN00320121207144312

“Morse was a bit pessimistic about the state of the universe and he’s a bit melancholy, a bit sensitive, he gets upset easily. He’s not a very gracious man. He’s awfully mean with money. He’s not exactly a life and soul of the party man, is he?”

Like Morse, Colin Dexter went on to an academic career at Oxford, a town he made his home. He has lived there since 1966 with his wife, Dorothy.

But the author’s connections with Stamford have appeared throughout the Morse series.

There are references to Morse’s Stamford connection in two novels, The Riddle of the Third Mile and The Service of all the Dead. There are also references to his family background, and on one occasion Morse made a special journey to Stamford to see his old headmaster.

Colin’s brother, John Dexter, lives in Peterborough, where he has retired from his post as classics master at the city’s King’s School.

And the author was always happy to keep up his connections with East Anglia.

He said: “It’s very nice to go back. Stamford is a delightful little place.

“When I was a boy, I thought Peterborough was the best place in the world. I used to go to the old Embassy Theatre and see the pantomime.’

Colin Dexter (right) receiving Honorary Life Membership of the Old Stamfordian Club from club chairman Ian Plant in 2012 ENGEMN00320121207144312

Like Alfred Hitchcock, Colin’s trademark in the television adaptations of the Morse books has been to appear on screen for a few seconds.

He was filmed in all the episodes - although he admits some of them ended up on the cutting room floor.

His cameo roles have included singing in a Masonic choir, drinking in a pub, lurking in a college quadrangle, walking along a canal towpath and washing his smalls in a laundrette.

Colin’s success led to him being awarded an OBE and in 2012 he was made an Honorary Life Membership of the Old Stamfordian Club