BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in:  Entertainment: TV and Radio
Front Page 
UK Politics 
TV and Radio 
New Media 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Friday, 22 February, 2002, 05:00 GMT
Actor John Thaw dies
John Thaw
John Thaw had been battling cancer of the oesophagus
Actor John Thaw, star of Inspector Morse and The Sweeney, has died at the age of 60.

He had been battling cancer of the oesophagus and died on Thursday at his home in Wiltshire.

His wife, actress 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.

John Tahw and Sheila Hancock
Thaw's wife, actress Sheila Hancock, beat breast cancer
"Everyone, including the media, has been wonderful during this difficult period.

"I would like them all to know how much their support and understanding has meant to him and to all of us."

Thaw's public admission on 19 June that he was undergoing treatment for cancer of the oesophagus made front-page news.

It was delivered with characteristic bluntness.

In a statement Thaw said: "I am receiving treatment for cancer of the oesophagus. As soon as this has been completed, I intend to return to work."

The star had been planning to resume work in spring, filming two more episodes of the ITV drama Kavanagh QC.

Cult status

He had been married to Ms Hancock since 1973. Between them they had three daughters, Melanie Jane, from Hancock's first marriage, Abigail from Thaw's first marriage and Joanne.

Ms Hancock herself fought back from breast cancer 13 years ago.

Thaw's big break was as the tough-talking, no nonsense policeman in The Sweeney.

The series lasted only three years but it has attained a cult status.

He was anxious to get back to work and had a great sense of humour

Television producer Ted Childs

The role that was to define Thaw's career began in 1985 when he was cast as the cerebral Inspector Morse, based on the books by Colin Dexter.

When the character was finally killed off on screen in 2000 there was a sense of mourning, as 13 million people tuned in.

Television producer Ted Childs had tea with Thaw and Ms Hancock on Wednesday last week to discuss planned episodes of Kavanagh QC.

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

"He clearly was not very well.

"But he was anxious to get back to work and had a great sense of humour.

Childs, who worked on programmes with Thaw for nearly 30 years, added: "We also talked about the old times, working on The Sweeney, and it was very funny."

The BBC's Torin Douglas
"He had a hard upbringing in Manchester"
Executive Producer of Inspecter Morse, Ted Childs
"The character of Morse became John Thaw"
ITV's director of channels David Liddiment
"He was a perfectionist"


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
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more TV and Radio stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more TV and Radio stories