Letter: A cliche in a belted raincoat

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The Independent Online
IN 'The strange case of the vacant chair' (Review, 1 August) James Rampton sets out to illustrate how the rival detectives have borrowed from Morse. It is suggested that Michael Gambon's Maigret was a Morse clone, 'the moody middle-aged malcontent' (not forgetting, of course, the belted raincoat). In fact, Gambon's performance was highly reminiscent of the earlier TV occupant of the role, Rupert Davies, 20-odd years before John Thaw had ever heard of Morse. The article also suggests similarities between Thaw's character and a young, blonde, female detective: 'she drives a classic car, is a workaholic and has a confused personal life'. John Steed drove a classic Bentley in The Avengers 25 years ago] Z-Cars' John Watt had a confused personal life because of his workaholism. In fact, so did Sherlock Holmes. Irascibility - has Mr Rampton ever heard of Charlie Barlow, or Hercule Poirot? One reason for Morse's success was that he was an amalgam of so many of the detective cliches established by his predecessors.

Contrary to Mr Rampton's apparent conviction, I can assure him that there was life before Morse, and through the likes of Anna Lee, Jack Frost and Jane Tennison there will no doubt be life after him as well.

A W Gilbert

Edinburgh

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