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Thursday, 16 November, 2000, 15:48 GMT
Morse's end draws 12 million
John Thaw and Kevin Whately
Thaw and Whately re-united for The Remorseful Day
More than 12 million people watched the final moments of Inspector Morse on Wednesday night, as he bowed out after 13 years.

The final episode, The Remorseful Day, drew 50% of the TV audience, who heard the last words of Morse, played by John Thaw, before he died.

Inspector Morse and Sergeant Lewis
Morse left our screens on Wednesday
The detective said: "Thank Lewis for me" - a reference to his ever-loyal sidekick Sergeant Lewis.

In an emotional final scene, Lewis, played by Kevin Whately, visited Morse in a mortuary and planted a kiss on his forehead.

ITV was hoping for up to 18 million viewers for the final episode to match the popularity of the series at its peak.

But the programme was competing with international football, a new series of the X-Files on BBC Two and the start of Sir David Attenborough's new landmark series, State of the Planet, on BBC One.

The documentary series, which looks at the precarious future for some of the world's species of animal and wildlife, drew 4 million viewers, and took a 16% share of the audience.

John Thaw, who watched the final programme at home in west London with his wife, actress Sheila Hancock, and his three daughters, said he was delighted with the viewing figures.

He said: "It is marvellous to go out and have people still watching in those numbers after 13 years."

The actor left the room before the final scenes of the programme when his youngest daughter, Jo, began to cry.

A spokesman for Carlton televison said: "It was a great night for ITV and a great climax to 13 years of Morse."

In total, Morse made 33 television investigations, solving more than 80 murders.

A world-wide audience of one billion across 200 countries have seen the detective at work, according to ITV.

Colin Dexter, who wrote the original Morse books, decided to kill off his most famous character after 25 years.

The detective made his debut in a 1975 novel.

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See also:

14 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Morse's last grumble
14 Nov 00 | Entertainment
No remorse over Aussie Morse
27 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Morse creator gets OBE
16 Sep 99 | Entertainment
Closing the case on Morse
03 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Morse finale leads ITV line-up
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