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Monday, 25 February, 2002, 17:37 GMT
Private funeral for John Thaw
Thaw (left) with Morse creator Colin Dexter
Thaw (left) with Morse creator Colin Dexter
The funeral of Inspector Morse star John Thaw, who died last week from cancer aged 60, has taken place.

Only his wife, the actress Sheila Hancock and their daughters, Melanie, Abigail and Joanna were present at the private funeral near his Wiltshire house.

The family have been overwhelmed by and are deeply grateful for all the love that has been poured on them

Matthew Byam, Sheila Hancock's son-in-law
The family issued a statement saying they had decided on a private ceremony because Hancock and her daughters had been exhausted after caring for Thaw during his illness.

A memorial service celebrating the star's life and work will be arranged once the family have regained their strength, the statement said.

Hancock's son-in-law, Matthew Byam, said: "The family have been overwhelmed by and are deeply grateful for all the love that has been poured on them.

"They will respond in time to the many letters and messages they have received."

john Thaw and Sheila Hancock
Thaw's wife Sheila Hancock was "deeply grateful" for messages of support

Thousands of tributes have flooded in for the actor after he lost his battle against cancer last Thursday.

His Inspector Morse co-star Kevin Whately, 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".


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

Thaw had been married to Hancock since 1973, and the actress also successfully battled breast cancer 13 years ago.

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

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

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.

Kevin Whately was devastated by Thaw's death
Kevin Whately was devastated by Thaw's death
The role of the Inspector also brought the actor two British Academy awards, as well as a Bafta Fellowship in May 2000.

His bankability withstood such hiccups as A Year in Provence, and the roles of Kavanagh QC and The Plastic Man further cemented his position as the leading player in British television drama.

Thaw had been diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus last June but was so determined to beat the illness that he continued to discuss new work projects up until a fortnight ago.

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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