My favourite television programmes are detective dramas. My children are horrified, failing to understand how I can enjoy something that is liberally scattered with corpses. I suppose they have a point but it’s not the blood and gore that attracts me. I like puzzles. I enjoy following the clues, watching the twisting and turning story line develop and because my memory is so appalling I can watch the same mysteries several times and still be surprised by the outcome.
I can’t just watch any old detective though. I am discerning in my choice of sleuth. There has to be something about them that appeals to me. Generally this is their intellect although if they are easy on the eye that helps too.
My all time favourite has to be John Thaw as Inspector Morse. I can’t get on with Colin Dexter’s books and I was never terribly fond of John Thaw in any other role but the coming together of the character and Thaw’s outstanding skill in portraying the curmudgeonly and yet vulnerable detective draws me in. I must have watched each of the 33 episodes dozens of times. I know every twist of the plots and most of the dialogue.
After the two main characters, the most important element of the programme is Oxford, the beautiful English city in which it is set. There are countless films and programmes set in Oxford, many of them ranking in my top ten and so I have always felt as if I knew every college, street and passageway intimately. Except I had never actually been. So as a birthday treat my husband took me yesterday.
I was like a child in a sweetshop. It’s a long time since I have been as excited as I was yesterday. We had a map which showed us a route taking in all the colleges and other buildings of interest. We followed it religiously and I pointed out the places integral to the various plots to my long suffering husband, who has never really shared my passion.
We even saw the film crew for the spin off “Lewis” which I adore as much as its predecessor. We had a glass of champagne in The Randolph Hotel and I took photos unashamedly. I cannot think of another place that I knew so well without ever having actually been. As I peeped out of my student room window and looked out over the quad of Keble college (for we stayed the night in the college) I felt like I’d come home.
So now I need to rewatch my Oxford related films so that I can actually place all the city’s constituent parts in the correct order and the whole place will become even more magical to me. Oh, and don’t get me started on that incredible bookshop………