Born in Manchester
, January 3rd, 1942. Died in Wiltshire
, 21st February, 2002.
Perhaps most famous for his role as Chief Inspector Endeavour Morse in Inspector Morse, a popular British police drama (shown from 1985-2000), John Thaw also starred in The Sweeney as Inspector Jack Regan (1975-1978) and Kavanagh QC (1995-1999, with a one-off special in 2001).
After a difficult childhood, he left school with just one O-level to work as a market porter and baker until a teacher from his old school encouraged him to audition for RADA.
A few small stage parts and bit-parts in Z-Cars and the military drama, Redcap, later he landed an audition for The Sweeney, in 1975.
He quit the series in 1978 when he began to feel that the role was taking over his life. Although it only ran for three years, the series has a cult following, not only in the UK but all over the world.
In 1985 he was offered the role of Chief Inspector Endeavour Morse. Inspector Morse ran for 13 years, with 33 investigations carried out amongst the spires of Oxford. The character was killed off in November, 2000; 13 million British viewers tuned in to watch the final episode.
Perhaps his only major television flop was the ill-fated "A Year in Provence", adapted from Peter Mayle's bestseller.
Thaw married at the age of 22 to Sally Anne, but the marriage failed after four years. His second marriage to Shelia Hancock fared better and remained strong until the day that he died, interrupted briefly by Hancock's brush with cancer in 1988.
The Queen awarded Thaw a CBE for services to the entertainment industry in 1993.
He was diagnosed in June, 2001 with cancer of the oesophagus and began treatment immediately. A heavy smoker, Thaw recognised the threat to his health but having tried to quit smoking several times he decided he would much rather smoke and be pleasant and relaxed for everyone else's sake.
It was to cause the death of one of Britian's most loved actors.