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The murder capital of the world

February 19, 2007

If Colin Dextor is to be believed, Oxford is the murder capital of the UK, nay, the world. Yes, over the years there have been more deaths in the one-time capital and world famous seat of British learning than Morse had pints (and that’s saying something) and if this were real life, I’d expect the fuzz to be investigating the university and its shady characters rather vigorously.

But this is fiction and I’m glad that Oxford is the home to Morse and now Lewis (ITV, Sundays, 9pm). I grew up in Oxford and so I’m afraid to say that I’m one of those people who sits there and goes “Ooh, Turl Street! That’s not a bike shop, that’s a hair dressers,” and “The Randolph isn’t at the end of that street!” so be warned if ever you’re watching it with me. But it’s only because I love the city so much that I get oh so excited – it is (in my biased opinion) the best city in which to film as it looks stunning on screen.

Aaaanyway, so last night was the second Lewis episode (the first in a new series after the success of the pilot last summer) and I’m glad to say, Lewis has started to come out from under Morse’s shadow. I have to admit, there were times when Lewis was interviewing someone and I expected John Thaw to pop out from somewhere, and every now and then when someone called the DI’s name, I said under my breathe in my best Morse voice, “Leeewwwisssss!” But I’m sure after a few more episodes, he’ll come into his own entirely, and I’m glad Morse is still mentioned (loved the casual ‘endeavour’ reference!). It *is* difficult to disassociate Oxford with Morse and now link it with Lewis (especially as he’s a Geordie!) but I would have joined countless throngs of people to complain if they had set it anywhere else but my home town.

As an Oxfordian, though, I was (as usual) slightly frustrated with the amount of students in robes prancing about. Oxbridge students only ever wear these when sitting exams or when graduating, so it’s not as if they walk around in them all day every day. People seem to think that Oxford is full of these scholars in gowns and mortar boards, but it just ain’t true. Likewise, we’re not all clever and middle class (this blog is proof of the former at least!). Oxford has its chavs and so here’s hoping they might dare to film out in Blackbird Leys sometime (there are a fair few murderers out there, I’d wager). Still, it all adds to the majesty and image of Oxford and I for one would rather concentrate on that, than on its flaws. But please, Lewis-makers, do try and keep the robes to the summer months, yes?

Oxford took on a darker edge last night as it delved into the world of secret societies, drugs and dabbling in Dionysian belief. Must admit it did unsettle me somewhat and I had to insist on keeping the landing light on all night. Ahem… Loving the growing relationship between DI Lewis and DS Hathaway. Lewis was always the uneducated foil to Morse’s literary know-all (more often than not it was Lewis that would solve the crime). Now, Hathaway plays the Theologian to Lewis’ darker (since his wife died) atheist, the scholar to Lewis’ more practical mind.

So here’s to more murder, more Lewis and more of my glorious Oxford.

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