Interview with Colin Dexter

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Author Colin Dexter: The Definite Article – Writer’s Cut

A diminutive man, Dexter has a Falstaffian appetite--at least by the standards of a culture that regards mineral water as a beverage and green salad as a meal. The new book is vintage Dexter, full of the puzzles and literary allusions his fans love, tightly plotted and strangely moving. Morse is a brusque man but not a hard one, and it is no surprise that women find him dishy, as one character puts it, despite his bad habits and irksome tendency to say exactly what he thinks.

Although Morse likes women and beds them from time to time, he has never wed--unlike Dexter, who is closing fast on 40 years of marriage. For many years, Dexter, 65, taught Greek and Latin in British schools, and he also helped devise tests for the national University Examination Board one wonders how many would-be collegians stumbled on the difference between contagious and infectious. Writing a mystery novel, Dexter recalls, seemed a brighter prospect than listening to his son and daughter fret about the weather.

Questions about his childhood cause Dexter to dwell for a moment on how much his late parents would have treasured his literary success. Dexter is full of opinions, strongly held.

Colin Dexter - Wikipedia

How tedious. Also tedious, and quite unnecessary, he opines, is hanging around the police simply because one writes police procedurals. About Us. Inspector Morse was to become a National Treasure, celebrated on postage stamps, on tourist trails and, fittingly, as the answer to a clue in the Times crossword. Worldwide sales of the entire series which runs for over 56 hours are estimated to have reached an audience of possibly one billion over countries. When the final episode, showing the death of Morse, The Remorseful Day was broadcast, it attracted an audience of 18 millions in the UK.

Truly, a nation mourned. However, I come not to index Caesar but to praise him.


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Perhaps three people in the world got the joke, but as long as one of them was Colin, I was happy. We really got to know each other during the Bouchercon, the first to be held in London, where I still had a day job in the brewing industry. As this was possibly the only convention of crime writers and fans ever to be organised at a university venue which did not have a bar, I took the initiative and produced on one sheet of A4 a list of the locations of the nearest pubs to the Aldwych, leaving copies at the convention reception for thirsty arrivals.

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She sought me out and asked for advice on which nearby pub served the best beer as she wanted to take Colin Dexter for a drink. I suggested a Bass pub on the corner of the Aldwych and wangled myself an invitation.

I vaguely remember it being a splendidly convivial evening and word soon spread so that the pub quickly filled with Dexter fans and weary American conventioneers exhausted by trying to find the non-existent bars at the Bouchercon. Even at designated literary events, we always seemed to find time for a beer.

One of the earliest non-beer related events we took part in was to talk to a conference of London librarians in and part of our brief was to introduce a new, fledgling crime writer, Minette Walters, whose first novel The Ice House had just appeared. Minette was to become a firm friend to both of us although that particular terrible triumvirate sadly never appeared together on stage again.

Colin was not only good company in private, over a pint of ale. In public he was a wonderfully warm, self-effacing speaker who charmed an audience with his natural wit and erudition, dealing politely with even the most inane questions he had been asked many, many times previously. I had the pleasure of doing a Desert Island Hell interview with him at the British Film Institute, where I stranded him on a mythical desert island with only the books, music, politicians, etc.

Not surprisingly, having only the Daily Mail as a newspaper was high on his hate list, but he also volunteered Dorothy L. Listening to him speak, an unwitting audience could be forgiven for not realising that this was the same man who generated 1, He was always an advocate of the poetry of A. Houseman but was less well-known for his championing of the work of Lilian Cooper from whom he borrowed the title of one of his novels:.

Espied the god with gloomy soul. Colin created the now infamous character Morse in after becoming bored on a family holiday.

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He later said: We were in a little guest house halfway between Caernarfon and Pwllheli. It was a Saturday and it was raining—it's not unknown for it to rain in North Wales. I was sitting at the kitchen table with nothing else to do, and I wrote the first few paragraphs of a potential detective novel.

Last Bus to Woodstock was published in and introduced Morse, the beloved detective whose penchants for cryptic crosswords, English literature, cask ale, and Wagner were similar to Dexter's own loves. His loyalty, modesty and self-deprecating humour gave joy to many.

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COLIN DEXTER - Goodbye to an Old Friend

His was the sharpest mind and the biggest heart, and his wonderful novels and stories will remain a testament to both. Colin represented the absolute epitome of British crime writing, and in the s John Thaw's Inspector Morse took over Wednesday night television. He was one of those television characters who the nation took to their hearts. This is a very sad day for us all. Thank you for your rich characters, your mischief and for being the best dinner companion anyone could wish for.

Colin Dexter, BBC South Today 27th January 2006