john thaw biog.




British Actor
(1942-2002)




thaw




Date of Birth
3 January 1942, West Gorton, Manchester, England, UK

Date of Death
21 February 2002, Luckington, Wiltshire, England, UK (cancer of the oesophagus)


Biography:

  • King John | Trivia | Thick as Thieves
  • British Dvd War Films | Mitch - Complete Series
  • Plastic Man - Complete Series
  • Redcap - Complete Series 1 | Redcap - Complete Series 2
  • Regan | The Sweeney - Series 1
  • The Sweeney - Series 2 | The Sweeney - Series 3
  • The Sweeney - Series 4 | The Sweeney - Definitive Collection
  • Home to Roost - Complete Series | Series 1 | Series 2
  • Series 3 | Series 4 | Inspector Morse
  • Search Site


    The guvenor of British TV. John Thaw has has a distinguished career but I can't help but going back to his first great success which, for me, he couldn't possibly surpass. I'm talking about The Sweeney (1975-8). His world-weary Detective Inspector Regan not giving the villians of grimy 70s London the benefit of the doubt is now classic TV. To the Life on Mars fan it was the best of times: ah, monday evening, 9pm, the weird Thames Television banner which pulled London landmarks together, the Thames music, the Sweeney music: "The Sweeney, The Sweeney ...", the kipper ties, the birds, the drink, the birds, the hair, Dennis Waterman ... ah, golden years indeed. You could say 'Shut It' and people would thank-you for your brevity. You could drive a cortina and women would admire your sophistication. Ah, life was so uncomplicated back then.

    At the centre of this nostalgia is Thaw. He almost had the eyes of a devil, eyes made to hate. His face was intense, it was smouldering, it was perfect for an actor. He imbued every character he played with depth (apart from his Peter Mayle in the dreadful 1993 A Year in Provence). You would think he was a real hard b###ard in real life and yet he was a very quiet, private man living in a manor house in Wiltshire with his wife, the actress Sheila Hancock and their children.

    Of course it took more than The Sweeney to make him loved - The Sweeney is a personal favourite. Inspector Morse was and still is huge everywhere (seen in over 80 countries!!); Home to Roost was gently funny; Kavanagh QC was great if you like that sort of thing.

    When he died of cancer in 2002 at the age of 60 many people up and down the land mourned the passing of someone who had almost been part of the family for the last 30 years.

    For when an actor is as good as Thaw that box in the corner of your room almost becomes another member of the family.

    ~ Paul Page, Lenin

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    thaw

    John Edward Thaw was born in Manchester. He was 16 when he auditioned for a place at RADA, and graduated with honours. At 18 he made his professional stage debut at the Liverpool Playhouse in 1960. His first appearance on British television came a year later in The Younger Generation (ITV).

    Other small-screen appearances in the 1960s were: Z Cars The Avengers , Redcap (1964), Bat Out of Hell (1966), Inheritance (1967) and Macbeth (1970). In the early 1970s he popped up in guest TV appearances in Budgie and The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes. He then showed his comic touch in a Clement/La Frenais penned Thick as Thieves (1974).

    Then it was the pilot for The Sweeney and the rest is hisory. As well as appearing in 53 episodes as Regan he also did two feature Sweeney films, imaginatively titled Sweeney! (1977) for the first, and to avoid confusion Sweeney 2 (1978) for the second. For the first (that's Sweeney!) Thaw won the Evening Standard Best Film Actor award.

    When he had enough of Regan he chose TV roles far removed from the heavy-drinking copper: Dinner at the Sporting Club (1978); Drake's Venture (1980); Mitch (ITV, 1984) and Shakespeare's The Life and Death of King John for the BBC (1984). Then it was the gentle, harmless ideal-for-ITV comedy of Eric Chappell's Home to Roost (1985-88).

    Probaly the fame that he is best loved for came next: the melancholic real ale enthusiast and classical music lover Inspector Morse for ITV (1987-2000). Not only was it huge in the UK but all over the world with it being seen in 80 countries. When Morse was killed off in 2000, 13 million tuned in to say farewell in the UK alone. He won 2 BAFTA Best TV Actor awards for his performancem (1989 and 1992).

    In 1993 he was awarded a CBE in 1993. The BAFTA Fellowship followed in 2001.

    As well as Inspector Morse, there were several one-off dramas in this period: Bomber Harris (1989, good), David Hare's Absence of War (1995); Into the Blue (1997); Goodnight Mister Tom (1998). He continued in serial dramas: Stanley and the Women (1991); The Plastic Man (1999), The Waiting Time (1999) and Monsignor Renard (2000). Surprisingly, sandwiched in there is one of the worst things ever to appear on British TV: the dreadful Peter Mayle's appalling A Year in Provence (1993). How bad? People started watching it on the back of Thaw but even he couldn't sustain interest: halfway through it had lost a staggering 8 million viewers!! Abysmal: I get a sickly feeling just thinking about that show.

    In with all the TV work were occasional minor parts in film: The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962); The Bofors Gun (1968); The Last Grenade (1970); Dr Phibes Rides Again (1972); Cry Freedom (1987, good); and Chaplin (1992, bad).

    His authoritative voice was used to great effect when narrating the ITV documentaries The Second World War in Colour (1999) and Britain at War in Colour the following year. Post-Morse he starred on TV in The Glass (2001) and in Buried Treasure (2001).

    His last great TV role was in Kavanagh Q.C., again for ITV (1995-2001).

    Thaw was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus in June 2001, and was dead nine months later.

    ~ Paul Page, Lenin


  • Biog. | King John | Thick as Thieves
  • British Dvd War Films | Mitch - Complete Series
  • Plastic Man - Complete Series
  • Redcap - Complete Series 1 | Redcap - Complete Series 2
  • Regan | The Sweeney - Series 1
  • The Sweeney - Series 2 | The Sweeney - Series 3
  • The Sweeney - Series 4 | The Sweeney - Definitive Collection
  • Home to Roost - Complete Series | Series 1 | Series 2
  • Series 3 | Series 4

  • Inspector Morse - The Complete Series
  • Morse - Absolute Conviction
  • Morse - Cherubim & Seraphim
  • Morse - Cherubim & Seraphim & Deadly Slumber
  • Morse - Dead On Time
  • Morse - Dead On Time & Happy Families
  • Morse - Deadly Slumber
  • Morse - Death is Now My Neighbour & The Wench is Dead
  • Morse - Death of the Self & Absolute Conviction
  • Morse - Deceived By Flight
  • Morse - Driven to Distraction
  • Morse - Fat Chance & Who Killed Harry Field
  • Morse - Greeks Bearing Gifts
  • Morse - Greeks Bearing Gifts & Promised Land
  • Morse - Happy Families
  • Morse - Infernal Serpent
  • Morse - Last Bus to Woodstock & The Ghost in the Machine
  • Morse - Last Seen Wearing & The Settling of the Sun
  • Morse - Masonic Mysteries & Second Time Around
  • Morse - Promised Land
  • Morse - Service of All the Dead & The Wolvercote Tongue
  • Morse - The Daughters of Cain
  • Morse - The Day of the Devil
  • Morse - The Day of the Devil & Twilight of the Gods
  • Morse - The Dead of Jericho & The Silent World of Nicholas
  • Morse - The Death of the Self
  • Morse - The Ghost in the Machine
  • Morse - The Last Enemy
  • Morse - The Last Enemy & Deceived By Flight
  • Morse - The Remorseful Day and Rest In Peace Documentary
  • Morse - The Secret Bay of 5B
  • Morse - The Secret Bay of 5B & The Infernal Serpent
  • Morse - The Sins of the Father
  • Morse - The Sins of the Fathers and Driven to Distraction
  • Morse - The Way Through the Woods
  • Morse - The Way Through the Woods & The Daughters of Cain
  • Morse - Twilight of the Gods
  • Morse - Who Killed Harry Field

  • Search Site | Top of Page



    thaw


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    Trivia:

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    Height 5' 9"

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    Married twice.First Sally Alexander (1964 - 1968), 1 child; second the incomparable Sheila Hancock (his death). Adopted her daughter Melanie, from her first marriage to Alec Ross

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    Mother Dolly walked out on the family when he was 7 years old

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    Awarded CBE in 1994

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  • Biog. | Trivia
  • King John | Thick as Thieves
  • British Dvd War Films | Mitch - Complete Series
  • Plastic Man - Complete Series
  • Redcap - Complete Series 1 | Redcap - Complete Series 2
  • Regan | The Sweeney - Series 1
  • The Sweeney - Series 2 | The Sweeney - Series 3
  • The Sweeney - Series 4 | The Sweeney - Definitive Collection
  • Home to Roost - Complete Series | Series 1 | Series 2
  • Series 3 | Series 4
  • Search Site | Top of Page


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    Changes last made: 2009