Colin Dexter's Memorial Service
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.
Here, Giles recalls his invitation to attend Colin Dexter's Memorial Service which was held on Thursday 26th April 2018
at Christ Church Catherdral Oxford; the service was followed by a reception for around 300 guests at Oxford's Town Hall.
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Part 1 of 3
Colin Dexter's Memorial Service, 26 April 2018.
“Morse by Barrington Pheloung” said the scores sitting on the music stands
as we entered Christ Church Cathedral. It was the first sign that we were not
attending a regular Cathedral event: this was the memorial service for Colin
Dexter, the creator of Oxford’s very own Inspector Morse.
Several months in the planning, the service brought together
a wide variety of “contributors” to reflect on Colin Dexter’s
many interests and enthusiasms. Dr Eve Poole recalled her childhood
memories of Colin: “Distributing Jelly Babies, telling classical jokes,
and always laughing”. Jonathan Crowther reminded us that Colin was
a “master craftsman” compiler of crossword puzzles. Peter Waine,
Chairman of the Housman Society, recalled Colin’s love of the poet
A E Housman – and his perhaps equal love of real ale.
Part 2 of 3
But it was, of course, Morse that made Colin Dexter world
Kevin Whately, who played the long-suffering Sergeant Lewis
in the Morse TV series, reminded us that Colin created an entire TV
industry, with much employment for actors, writers, and technicians, through
Morse and its spin-off series Lewis and Endeavour - although “the crossword
clues went over our heads”. Kevin Whately also recalled that Colin made cameo
appearances in many of the TV episodes, beginning with a role as a college scout:
“It was not very successful, he was like a tin soldier. But he soon relaxed
and improved as an actor.” As the Dean of Christ Church, the Very Revd Professor
Martyn Percy, put it when he summed up Colin Dexter and Morse in his Address:
“We are celebrating the man who has turned Oxford into the murder capital of Europe”.
© itv.com John Thaw, Colin Dexter, Kevin Whatley.
Part 3 of 3
Music ranged from the Beatles on tape to Mozart’s Laudate Dominum,
movingly sung by soprano Janis Kelly and the Cathedral Choir. But
the most moving moment of all came right at the end when the composer
of the music for Morse, Lewis and Endeavour, Barrington Pheloung (who had
flown from Australia for the occasion) and his Players, quietly delivered the
Morse theme tune
. It was just the right conclusion – even though Inspector
Morse would no doubt have insisted on a blast of his beloved Wagner.
Barrington Pheloung (above right) composed the theme tune to Inspector
Morse, its music lovingly reproduced by his String Players in Christ Church
Cathedral. Colin Dexter looks on, over a pint of real ale.
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