The Inspector Morse Series

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All About Inspector Morse, Lewis & Endeavour’s Oxford

The Inspector Morse Series

Inspector Morse, Lewis, and Endeavour are a series of British television detective dramas that revolve around crime-solving in the city of Oxford. The three series are renowned for their intricate plots, well-developed characters, and evocative backdrop. The city itself plays a significant role in the narratives, showcasing its historic landmarks, academic institutions, and atmospheric streets.  So, if you’re planning a visit to Oxford and you like Inspector Morse… you’re in for a treat!

What Are Inspector Morse, Lewis, and Endeavour?

As we’ve briefly covered, these three series all revolve around solving crimes – and they are all set in Oxford. So, let’s first look at each of them in a little more detail.

Inspector Morse

  • Original Run: 1987–2000
  • Main Character: Chief Inspector Endeavour Morse, played by John Thaw.
  • Synopsis: “Inspector Morse” follows the investigations led by Chief Inspector Morse, a highly intelligent and cultured detective with a penchant for classical music and solving complex crimes. The series is based on the novels by Colin Dexter. Each episode typically features a murder case, and Morse, assisted by Sergeant Lewis, unravels the mysteries with his keen intellect.
The Inspector Morse Series
The Inspector Morse Series


  • Original Run: 2006–2015
  • Main Characters: Detective Inspector Robert Lewis, played by Kevin Whately, and his partner, Detective Sergeant James Hathaway, played by Laurence Fox.
  • Synopsis: “Lewis” is a spin-off of “Inspector Morse” and follows Detective Inspector Lewis, who has been promoted since the original series. He is now teamed up with the intellectual and somewhat enigmatic Detective Sergeant James Hathaway. Together, they tackle complex and often perplexing crimes in Oxford.
Inspector Lewis
Inspector Lewis


  • Original Run: 2012–present
  • Main Character: Detective Constable Endeavour Morse, played by Shaun Evans.
  • Synopsis: “Endeavour” serves as a prequel to “Inspector Morse,” exploring the early career of the beloved detective. Set in the 1960s and 1970s, the series follows the young Endeavour Morse as a Detective Constable working his way up the ranks. It delves into his formative years, providing insights into the events and experiences that shaped the character seen in “Inspector Morse.”

Top Filming Locations of Inspector Morse, Lewis, and Endeavour in Oxford

The top five locations associated with the “Morse,” “Lewis,” and “Endeavour” TV series in Oxford are, in my opinion:

  1. The Randolph Hotel:

    • A frequent haunt for Chief Inspector Morse in the original series, and also featured in “Lewis,” The Randolph Hotel serves as a backdrop for moments of reflection and discussion.
  2. The Bodleian Library:

    • A symbol of Oxford’s intellectual prowess, the Bodleian Library features prominently in various episodes of all three series, providing an iconic setting for academic intrigue.
  3. The Bridge of Sighs, Hertford College:

    • This picturesque bridge, part of Hertford College, is a recognizable landmark in the series. It has been featured in both “Morse” and “Lewis,” adding a touch of Oxford’s architectural beauty to the scenes.
  4. Christ Church College:

    • A central location in all three series, Christ Church College contributes to the series’ atmosphere with its grandeur. The Great Hall, Tom Quad, and other areas within the college are frequently showcased.
  5. Oxford Botanic Garden:

    • Appearing in various episodes, the Botanic Garden provides a serene backdrop for moments of contemplation and investigation. It’s a recurring location that adds a touch of nature to the series.
Oxford University - Old library (Duke Humfrey’s). Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
The Bodleian Library - Duke Humphrey's Library. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
Dining Hall, Christ Church College, Oxford. Image courtesy of David Nicholls via Flickr Commons.
Dining Hall, Christ Church College, Oxford. Image courtesy of David Nicholls via Flickr Commons.
Oxford Botanic Gardens - Image courtesy of Tejvan Pettinger
Oxford Botanic Gardens - Image courtesy of Tejvan Pettinger.

Inspector Morse, Lewis, and Endeavour in Oxford

In all three series, Oxford is not merely a setting but a character integral to the narratives. The picturesque landscapes, the architectural wonders, and the air of academic excellence contribute to the unique charm of these detective dramas, making Oxford an inseparable part of the mysteries and investigations that unfold within its storied walls.

Oxford in Inspector Morse

Inspector Morse is the quintessential Oxford detective series, where the city’s spires and academic atmosphere provide the backdrop for Chief Inspector Endeavour Morse’s cerebral crime-solving. The series beautifully captures the essence of Oxford’s intellectual legacy, featuring iconic locations such as the Bodleian Library, Christ Church College, and Morse’s favorite watering hole, the Randolph Hotel.

The character of Morse, portrayed by John Thaw, epitomizes the Oxford detective – erudite, enigmatic, and with a deep appreciation for the city’s cultural and musical offerings. As he tackles complex cases, Morse’s investigations often lead him through the city’s historic colleges and cobblestone streets, showcasing Oxford as a city where academia meets mystery.

Oxford in Inspector Morse

In the spin-off series Lewis, the city of Oxford remains a central character, and the relationship between Detective Inspector Lewis and his partner, Detective Sergeant James Hathaway, unfolds against the iconic Oxford backdrop.

The series continues the tradition of exploring Oxford’s rich history and architectural gems, adding new layers to the city’s mystique. Lewis’s investigations take him through both the venerable halls of academia and the more contemporary aspects of Oxford life, providing a nuanced portrayal of the city’s dynamic character.

Oxford in Inspector Morse

Endeavour serves as a prequel to “Inspector Morse,” offering a glimpse into the formative years of the beloved detective. Set against the evolving landscape of 1960s and 1970s Oxford, the series showcases the city during a transformative period.

Detective Constable Endeavour Morse navigates Oxford’s streets, colleges, and cultural spaces, providing viewers with insights into the city’s history and the events that shaped Morse’s future investigative brilliance. The series offers a nostalgic journey through Oxford’s past, portraying the city as both a witness to and participant in Morse’s early career.

Visiting These Locations

If you like Morse, Lewis, or Endeavour, you might have considered visiting Oxford. Most of the locations featured in the series are actually very easy to see! 

What’s even better is that there’s an Oxford tour that is entirely dedicated to Inspector Morse, Lewis, and Endeavour! So, you can explore the Oxford Inspector Morse tour, encompassing locations in and around the city that have been featured in numerous episodes of the well-loved TV series, adapted from Colin Dexter’s acclaimed novels.

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