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Friday, 22 February, 2002, 20:39 GMT
More tributes for John Thaw
John Thaw
John Thaw died at home at the age of 60
Tributes have continued to pour in for actor John Thaw who lost his battle against throat cancer on Thursday.

The 60-year-old actor, best known for playing ITV's Inspector Morse, died at his home in Wiltshire surrounded by his wife, actress Sheila Hancock, 69, and three grown-up daughters.

In between takes he was like an Irish storyteller in a bar

Kevin Whately

In a special tribute programme recorded for broadcast on ITV1 on Friday night, Kevin Whately, Thaw's co-star in the Inspector Morse series, paid tribute to his "great pal and mentor".

"John's death will leave a hole in millions of lives," he said, adding that the country had lost "its finest screen actor" but that his thoughts were with his friend's family.

'Irish storyteller'

He said: "John had a wonderful sense of humour which is belied sometimes by journalists' impression of him as irascible.

"He loathed the whole celebrity circuit.

"In between takes he was like an Irish storyteller in a bar - he wouldn't tell jokes, just stories and you would find yourself rolling around and crying with laughter.

John Thaw and Kevin Whately
Thaw starred in Morse with Kevin Whately

"He was a wonderful mimic, particularly of people on the set rather than famous people."

ITV1 has changed its scheduled episode of Inspector Morse on Friday considered to be a fitting tribute.

A 30-minute tribute programme entitled John Thaw: An Appreciation will be broadcast at 2230GMT.

In a statement released through a friend, Thaw's wife Sheila Hancock, said: "John died with his family around him.

"We have all been so grateful for the thousands of letters and messages from people wishing him well."

"Everyone including the media have been wonderful during this difficult period and I would like them all to know how much their support and understanding has meant to him and to all of us."

Great friend

Thaw - who was made a CBE in 1993 - saw Ms Hancock herself fight back from breast cancer 13 years ago.

Dennis Waterman, who starred alongside Thaw in The Sweeney, said he would "miss a great friend."

john Thaw and Sheila Hancock
Thaw's wife Sheila Hancock fought back from breast cancer 13 years ago
"I know John's family who loved him dearly will be devastated and my thoughts are with them.

"All of us are going to miss a great friend and actor. I admired him hugely."

Author Colin Dexter, who created the Inspector Morse character, said Thaw's death was a great "sadness".

"He was very brave and very optimistic and very hopeful about the future, although I think everybody knew this was an awfully serious form of cancer," Dexter added when speaking on GMTV.

As well as playing Morse, his roles of Kavanagh QC and The Plastic Man maintained Thaw's position as a leading player in British television drama.

Sorely missed

ITV's director of channels David Liddiment said: "He was the consummate television actor and caught the imagination of millions of viewers," Mr Liddiment added.

"He will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with Sheila and his family."

Thaw first found fame in the 1970s playing detective Jack Reagan in The Sweeney.

But before that he had also appeared in a number of stage roles, followed by television parts - often as policemen.

Television producer Ted Childs, who worked on programmes with Thaw for nearly 30 years, also spoke of his "great sadness" at the actor's death.

Childs had tea with Thaw and Hancock on last Wednesday and discussed the possibility of working on another episode of Kavanagh QC.

"John was as he has been throughout his illness - very positive, funny and self-effacing," he said.

Executive Producer of Inspecter Morse, Ted Childs
"The character of Morse became John Thaw"


Picture gallery John Thaw's career
See also:

19 Jun 01 | TV and Radio
Thaw undergoes cancer treatment
10 May 01 | TV and Radio
Bafta honour for John Thaw
14 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Morse's last grumble
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