John Edward Thaw, (3 January 1942 - 21 February 2002) was an English actor who appeared in a range of television, stage, and cinema roles, his most popular being television series such as , Inspector Morse , Redcap , The Sweeney and Home to Roost .
Thaw was born in
Gorton, Manchester, to working class parents Dorothy (née Ablott) and John, a long-distance lorry driver. Thaw had a difficult childhood as his mother left when he was seven years old. His younger brother, Raymond Stuart "Ray" emigrated to Australia in the mid-1960s.  Thaw grew up in  Gorton and Burnage, attending the Ducie Technical High School for Boys. He entered the  Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) at the age of 16. 
Soon after leaving RADA, Thaw made his formal stage début in
A Shred of Evidence at the Liverpool Playhouse and was awarded a contract with the theatre. His first film role was a bit part in the adaptation of (1962) starring The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner Tom Courtenay and he also acted on-stage opposite Sir Laurence Olivier in (1962) by Semi-Detached David Turner. He appeared in several episodes of the BBC police series in 1963-64 as a detective constable. Between 1964 and 1966, he starred in two series of the Z-Cars ABC Weekend Television/ ITV production , playing the hard-nosed military policeman Sergeant John Mann. He was also a guest star in an early episode of Redcap . In 1967 he appeared in The Avengers . In 1967 he appeared in the Bat Out of Hell Granada TV/ITV series, , alongside Inheritance James Bolam and Michael Goodliffe, as well as appearing in TV plays such as The Talking Head and episodes of series such as , where he played against type (opposite Budgie Adam Faith) as an effeminate failed playwright with a full beard and a Welsh accent.
Thaw will perhaps be best remembered for two roles: the hard-bitten, tough talking
Flying Squad detective Jack Regan in the Thames Television/ ITV series (1975-1978), which established him as a major star in the United Kingdom. The series had two film spin-offs. Thaw was only 32 when he was cast in The Sweeney The Sweeney, although many viewers thought he was older.
The second role was the quietly spoken, introspective, well-educated and bitter detective
(1987-93, with later specials until 2000). Alongside his put-upon Detective Sergeant Lewis ( Inspector Morse Kevin Whately), Morse became a high-profile character--"a cognitive curmudgeon with his love of classical music, his drinking, his classic Jaguar and spates of melancholy". Thaw was the definitive Morse, grumpy, crossword-fixated, drunk, slightly anti-feminist, and pedantic about grammar.  Inspector Morse became one of the UK's most loved TV series; the final three episodes, shown in 2000, were seen by 18 million people, about one third of the British population.  He won "Most Popular Actor" at the 1999  National Television Awards and won two BAFTA awards for his role as Morse.
He subsequently played liberal working-class
Lancastrian barrister James Kavanagh in (1995-99, and a special in 2001). Thaw also appeared in two sitcoms-- Kavanagh QC ( Thick as Thieves London Weekend/ITV, 1974) with Bob Hoskins and ( Home to Roost Yorkshire/ITV, 1985-90). Thaw is mainly known in America for the Morse series, as well as the BBC series (1993) with A Year in Provence Lindsay Duncan.
He appeared in a number of films for director
Richard Attenborough, including , where he portrayed the conservative South African justice minister Cry Freedom Jimmy Kruger (for which he received a BAFTA nomination for Best Supporting Actor), and alongside Chaplin Robert Downey Jr..
Thaw also appeared in the TV adaptation of the
Michelle Magorian book ( Goodnight Mister Tom Carlton Television/ITV). It won "Most Popular Drama" at the National Television Awards, 1999. 
During the 1970s and '80s, Thaw appeared in productions with the
Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre. He was the subject of in 1981 when he was surprised by This Is Your Life Eamonn Andrews in the foyer of the National Theatre in London.
In the summer of 1964, Thaw married
Sally Alexander, a feminist activist and theatre stage manager, and now professor of history at  Goldsmiths, University of London. They divorced four years later. He met actress  Sheila Hancock in 1969 on the set of a London comedy So What About Love? She was married to fellow actor Alexander "Alec" Ross, and after Thaw professed his love to Hancock, she told him that she would not have an affair.  After the death of her husband (from  oesophageal cancer) in 1971, Thaw and Hancock married on 24 December 1973 in Cirencester,  and he remained with her until his death in 2002 (also from oesophageal cancer).  
He had three daughters (all of whom are actresses):
Abigail from his first marriage to Sally Alexander, Joanna from his second marriage to Sheila Hancock, and he also adopted Sheila Hancock's daughter Melanie Jane, from Hancock's first marriage to Alec Ross.  Melanie Jane legally changed her surname from Ross to Thaw.  
Thaw was a committed socialist
and lifelong supporter of the  Labour Party. He was appointed a  Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in March 1993 by Queen Elizabeth II. In September 2006, Thaw was voted by the general public as number 3, after  David Jason and Morecambe and Wise, in a poll of TV's 50 Greatest Stars for the past 50 years. 
Illness and death
A heavy drinker until going
teetotal in 1995, and a heavy smoker from the age of 12,  Thaw was diagnosed with  cancer of the oesophagus in June 2001.  He underwent  chemotherapy in hope of overcoming the illness, at first had appeared to respond well to the treatment but just before Christmas 2001 he was told that the cancer had spread. 
He died on 21 February 2002,
seven weeks after his 60th birthday, the day after he signed a new contract with ITV,   and the day before his wife's birthday. At the time of his death he was living at his country home, near the villages of  Luckington and Sherston in Wiltshire, and was cremated in  Westerleigh, near Yate in South Gloucestershire, in a private service. A memorial service was held on 4 September 2002 at  St Martin-in-the-Fields church in Trafalgar Square, attended by 800 people including Prince Charles, Richard Attenborough, Tom Courtenay and Cherie Blair. 
Television, film and stage performances
Television series 1961:
The Younger Generation - Customer / Max / Edward / Charlie / Peter / Denny / Martin 1964 to 1966:
(Two Series) - Sergeant John Mann Redcap 1963
Z Cars: Detective Constable Elliot 1966:
Bat Out of Hell - Mark Paxton 1974:
Thick As Thieves - Stan 1974:
The Capone Investment - Tom 1975 to 1978:
(Four Series & 2 movies) - Det. Insp. Jack Regan The Sweeney 1983:
Mitch - Mitch 1985 to 1990:
(Four Series) - Henry Willows Home to Roost 1987 to 2000:
(Thirty-three films) - Detective Chief Inspector Morse Inspector Morse 1991:
Stanley and the Women - Stanley Duke 1992:
- Peter Mayle A Year in Provence 1995 to 2001:
(Six Series) - James Kavanagh QC Kavanagh QC 1999:
Plastic Man - Joe McConnell 2000:
Monsignor Renard - Monsignor Augustine Renard 2001: The Glass - Jim Proctor
Television films 1961:
Serjeant Musgrave's Dance 1963:
The Lads 1964:
I Can Walk Where I Like, Can't I? 1964:
The Other Man 1966:
The Making of Jericho 1974:
Dinner at the Sporting Club 1980:
Drake's Venture - Francis Drake 1984:
Killer Waiting - Major Peter Hastings 1984:
The Life and Death of King John - Hubert de Burgh 1985:
We'll Support You Ever More - Geoff Hollins 1986:
Stainheads 1987: "
The Sign of Four" (full-length episode of ) - The Return of Sherlock Holmes Jonathan Small 1989:
- Bomber Harris Sir Arthur 'Bomber' Harris 1993:
The Mystery of Morse 1994:
The Absence of War 1996:
Into the Blue - Harry Barnett 1998:
- Tom Oakley Goodnight Mister Tom 1999:
The Waiting Time - Joshua Mantle 2000:
The Last Morse 2000:
Inspector Morse: Rest in Peace - Inspector Morse 2001: Hidden Treasure / Buried Treasure - Harry (final film role)
Guest appearances 1962 Probation Officer: Episode No. 4.4 (28 May 1962)
1963 ITV Television Playhouse: The Lads (15 August 1963)
1963 Z-Cars: A La Carte (18 September 1963)
1963 Z-Cars: Light the Blue Paper (25 September 1963)
1963 Z-Cars: A Quiet Night (2 October 1963)
1963 Z-Cars: Hide - And Go Seek (16 October 1963)
1964 The Avengers: Esprit De Corps (14 March 1964)
1965 A Poor Gentleman: Episode No. 1.1 (12 October 1965)
1965 A Poor Gentleman: Episode No. 1.2 (19 October 1965)
1965 The Edgar Wallace Mystery Theatre: Dead Man's Chest (31 October 1965)
1967 Inheritance: Murder (29 September 1967)
1967 Inheritance: A Man of His Time (1 December 1967)
1969 The Borderers: Dispossessed (25 March 1969)
1969 ITV Saturday Night Theatre: The Haunting (28 June 1969)
1969 ITV Saturday Night Theatre: The Talking Head (30 August 1969)
1969 ITV Saturday Night Theatre: In Another Country (11 October 1969)
1969 Strange Report: Report 2475: Revenge - When a Man Hates (9 November 1969)
1970 Play of the Month: Macbeth (BBC, 20 September 1970)
1970 Happy Ever After: Don't Walk Away (12 December 1970)
1971 Budgie: Sunset Mansions or Whatever Happened to Janey Baib? (25 June 1971)
1971 Armchair Theatre: Competition (5 October 1971)
1971 Suspicion: I'll Go Along with That (14 December 1971)
1971 The Onedin Line: Mutiny (24 December 1971)
1972 Pretenders: The Paymaster (9 April 1972)
1972 The Frighteners: Old Comrades (21 July 1972)
1972 Armchair Theatre: What Became of Me? (29 August 1972)
1972 ITV Playhouse: Refuge for a Hero (6 September 1972)
1972 The Adventures of Black Beauty: The Hostage (30 September 1972)
1973 The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes: The Sensible Action of Lieutenant Horst (4 March 1973)
1973 Menace: Tom (26 April 1973)
1973 BBC Play of the Month: Caucasian Chalk Circle (16 May 1973)
1973 ITV Saturday Night Theatre: Passengers (20 May 1973)
1973 The Protectors: Lena (28 December 1973)
1976 The Morecambe & Wise Show: 1976 Christmas Show (25 December 1976)
1977 This Is Your Life: Sheila Hancock (5 January 1977)
1978 The South Bank Show (26 November 1978)
1981 This Is Your Life: John Thaw (18 March 1981)
1982 Saturday Night Thriller: Where is Betty Buchus? (4 December 1982)
1987 Sherlock Holmes episode: The Sign of Four (portrayed Jonathan Small)
Stage 1958 Cymbeline
1958 As You Like It
1958 The Cherry Orchard
1958 Pillars of Society
1958 The Taming of the Shrew
1958 A Winter's Tale
1958 The Lady's Not For Burning
1958 Twelfth Night
1959 Hobson's Choice
1959 Paradise Lost
1959 The Knight of the Burning Pestle
1960 A Shred of Evidence
1960 The Wind and the Rain
1961 The Fire Raisers
1961 Chips With Everything
1961 Two into One
1962 Women Beware Women
1962 Semi-Detached (with Laurence Olivier)
1964 The Father
1967 Around The World in 80 Days
1967 Little Malcom And His Struggle Against The Eunuchs
1969 So What About Love?
1970 Random Happenings in the Hebrides by John McGrath
1971 The Lady from the Sea
1972 The New Quixote
1972 Black And Silver
1972 The Two of Us
1976 Absurd Person Singular
1977 The Two of Us (Revival)
1978 Night and Day
1982 Serjeant Musgrave's Dance
1983 Twelfth Night
1983 The Time of Your Life
1983 Henry VIII
1986 Two into One (Revival)
1988 All My Sons
1993 The Absence of War by David Hare
2001 Peter Pan as Captain Hook
Honours and awards
1988 British Academy Award - Best Actor in a Supporting Role for: "Cry Freedom"
1991 British Academy Award - Best Actor for: "Inspector Morse"
1992 British Academy Award - Best Actor for: "Inspector Morse"
2000 National Television Award - Most Popular Actor for: "Monsignor Renard"
2002 National Television Award - Most Popular Actor for: "Buried Treasure"
A memorial bench is dedicated to Thaw on the grounds of
St Paul's Covent Garden. 
"The extraordinary world of John Thaw". Manchester Evening News. 17 February 2007 . Retrieved 2016.
Whitty, Fiona (13 November 2000), "The last interview before Morse dies", The Sun "House of the Week Boulevard beauty is Creek choice", The Northern Times, 13 April 2001 Viner, Brian (11 October 2001), "Is there life after Inspector Morse?", The Independent Dibben, Kay (10 March 2002), "Mother's rejection that haunted my brother John Thaw - Brisbane man tells of family heartache", The Sunday Mail Moon, Timur (7 April 2002), "The secret hideaway of John Thaw", The Northern Echo "A class of his own", The Sun, 31 August 2002 Nixson, Matt (22 September 2002), "Sally, the wife who Thaw just couldn't forget", The Mail on Sunday Pritchard, Louisa (11 April 2004), "Now tragic John Thaw 's brother battles cancer", The Mail on Sunday Hancock, Sheila (2009), The Two of Us: My Life with John Thaw, Bloomsbury Publishing, ISBN 978-1-4088-0693-7
Purser, Philip (22 February 2002). "Obituary". The Guardian . Retrieved 2016.
"John Thaw: Forever Morse". BBC News. 21 February 2002 . Retrieved 2010.
BBC Obit . Retrieved 20 February 2010
"No one else should play Inspector Morse, says his creator Colin Dexter | Television & radio". The Guardian. 25 March 2014 . Retrieved 2014.
ITV Morse synopsis Archived 28 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 20 February 2010
Goodnight Mister Tom synopsis Archived 24 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine. ITV. Retrieved 20 February 2010.
^ a b
McGowan, Bob and Catherine Avery (22 September 2002). "Mystery of John Thaw fortune". . Express on Sunday
^ a b c d e
Driscoll, Margarette (19 December 2004). "The Morse Saga - Interview". . The Sunday Times
Lee, David (22 February 2002). "Friends' tribute to Morse star Thaw". . The Scotsman
Guinness, Daphne (11 November 2004). "Morse: More Sad, More Angry Than You Ever Knew". . The Sydney Morning Herald
^ a b c
"John Thaw - Obituary". . 23 February 2002. The Times
"John Thaw: Forever Morse". BBC News. 21 February 2002.
Sengupta, Kim (5 September 2002). "Prince and Cherie Booth at Thaw memorial". The Independent. London.
"No Mystery Here". . 19 March 1993. The Buffalo News
"Who dares WINS, Rodders! - David Greatest TV Star for 50 Years". . 10 September 2006. News of the World
"John Thaw Has Throat Cancer". . 19 June 2001. London Evening Standard
"John Thaw Pledges Comeback as He Reveals Cancer Battle". . 20 June 2001. The Guardian
"Thaw's Cancer Setback". . 6 January 2002. Herald Sun
"Thaw Signed New Contract". Wales on Sunday. 7 April 2002.
"Thaw signed new contract. - Free Online Library". www.thefreelibrary.com . Retrieved 2018.
"Sold Down the River". . 19 April 2006. Western Daily Press
Cowling, James (27 February 2002). "Actor Thaw Remembered for 'Generosity and Kindness '". Gloucestershire and Wiltshire Counties Publications.
"Charles joins Thaw memorial". BBC News. 4 September 2002.
"London's Famous Bench Dedications". Londonist.com. 21 October 2016. Archived from the original on 6 March 2018 . Retrieved 2018.
Bibliography Hancock, Sheila (2004).
The Two of Us: My Life with John Thaw. London: Bloomsbury. ISBN 978-0-7475-7020-2 John Thaw: The Biography. Stafford Hildred and Tim Ewbank. London: Andre Deutsch. ISBN 0-233-99475-0