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John Thaw

Biography

Portrayed the role of Inspector John in the authorities procedural display, The Sweeney alongside Dennis Waterman. He may also be seen in House to Roost, Inspector Morse, and Kavanagh QC. He analyzed in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Artwork when he was 16 and soon after produced his theatre debut inside a Shred of Proof in the Liverpool Playhouse. He portrayed the best part of Sergeant John Mann in it series, Redcap. He wedded double; his second relationship was to celebrity, Sheila Hancock in 1973. He performed the part of Fred Karno in the biographical film, Chaplin with Dan Aykroyd.

Quick Facts


Full Name John Thaw
Date Of Birth January 3, 1942
Died February 21, 2002, Luckington, United Kingdom
Place Of Birth England
Height 1.75 m
Profession TV Actor
Education Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
Nationality British, English
Spouse Sheila Hancock, Sally Alexander, Sheila Hancock, Sally Alexander
Children Abigail Thaw, Melanie Thaw, Joanna Thaw
Parents Dorothy Ablott, John Thaw
Siblings Ray Thaw
Awards BAFTA Fellowship, British Academy Television Award for Best Actor, National Television Award for Most Popular Actor, National Television Award for Special Recognition
Nominations BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Movies Goodnight Mister Tom, Chaplin, Cry Freedom, Sweeney 2, Dr. Phibes Rises Again, Buried Treasure, The Bofors Gun, The Last Grenade, Killing Heat, Business as Usual, The Second World War in Colour, Service of All the Dead, Sweeney!, Into the Blue, Sherlock Holmes: The Sign of Four, The Secret of Bay 5B, The Settling of the Sun, Dead on Time, The Last Enemy, Inspector Morse: The Death of the Self, Inspector Morse: Who Killed Harry Field?, Inspector Morse: The Sins of the Fathers, Inspector Morse: Twilight of the Gods, The Waiting Time, Drake's Venture, Bomber Harris, King John, Killer Trilogy, Second Time Around, Inspector Morse: Absolute Conviction, Inspector Morse: Infernal Serpent, Inspector Morse: The Wolvercote Tongue, Inspector Morse: The Way Through the Woods, Inspector Morse: Cherubim & Seraphim, The Plastic Man, Fat Chance, Ghost in the Machine, Inspector Morse: The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn, Last Bus to Woodstock, Promised Land, Driven to Distraction, Last Seen Wearing, The Dead of Jericho, Regan, Dead Man's Chest, The Absence of War, Happy Families, Inspector Morse: Service of All the Dead, The Daughters of Cain, Five to One
TV Shows Kavanagh QC, Inspector Morse, Monsignor Renard, A Year in Provence, Stanley and the Women, Home to Roost, The Sweeney, Thick as Thieves, Inheritance, Redcap, Tony, Bat Out of Hell, The Other Man, Mitch
Star Sign Capricorn

  • Facts
  • Filmography
  • Awards
  • Salaries
  • Quotes
  • Trademarks
  • Pictures

#Fact
1Started smoking when he was twelve.
2Was accepted by RADA in 1958 when he was two years underage. Thaw was told to say he was 19 if anyone asked.
3His first stage role was at Green End Junior School in Manchester, England as Uncle Joseph, the leading part in "Where the Rainbow Ends" (1953).
4Was Laurence Olivier's understudy in the stage production of "Semi-Detached" and later stepped into the part for a week due to Olivier's problem with gout.
5Began at age 11 performing in school plays. In one of them he appeared as Mistress Quickly in "Henry V."
6His mother Dorothy (Dolly) walked out on the family when he was 7 years old. He did not see her again for 12 years when she showed up briefly back stage in a production of "The Fire Raisers." He never saw her again. She died of stomach cancer in 1974.
7Younger brother, Ray, was born November 15, 1944. He died in 2004.
8Thaw was a fan of classical music ever since he was a young man.
9Father of actress Abigail Thaw, born 1967, (with first wife Sally Alexander) and Joanna Thaw, born 1974, (with second wife Sheila Hancock), and adopted father of Melanie Thaw.
10His most famous roles on British TV were all as straight-talking, no-nonsense characters: Jack Regan, Inspector Morse and James Kavanagh.
11He lived quietly in an 18th century manor house in Wiltshire, England.
12He performed with the National Theatre.
13His favourite episodes of "Inspector Morse" (1987) were "The Dead of Jericho", "Masonic Mysteries" and "Promised Land".
14He performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
15When he married Hancock he decided to officially adopt her daughter Melanie, from her first marriage to Alec Ross, which is why she bears Thaw's surname.
16Married Sheila Hancock on 24 December 1973 in Cirencester, Gloucestershire.
17Broke his foot in his teens when he tripped while running for a school bus. This left him with a slight limp that is noticeable in some scenes of the Inspector Morse series.
18Treated for cancer of the oesophagus. His wife, Sheila Hancock, is a breast cancer survivor. [June 2001]
19He was awarded the CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 1993 Queen's New Year Honours List for his services to drama.
20Winner of 2 BAFTA awards for Best TV Actor in "Inspector Morse" (1989 and 1992) and nominee for the same series in 1990 & 1991.


Actor

Actor

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Buried Treasure2001TV MovieHarry
The Glass2001TV Mini-SeriesJim Proctor
Kavanagh QC1995-2001TV SeriesJames Kavanagh QC
Inspector Morse: Rest in Peace2000VideoInspector Morse
Inspector Morse1987-2000TV SeriesChief Inspector Morse
Monsignor Renard2000TV Mini-SeriesMonsignor Augustine Renard
The Waiting Time1999TV MovieJoshua Mantle
Plastic Man1999TV MovieJoe McConnell
Goodnight, Mister Tom1998TV MovieTom Oakley
Into the Blue1997/ITV MovieHarry Barnett
Masculine Mescaline1996ShortThe Man
Screen Two1995TV SeriesGeorge Jones
A Year in Provence1993TV Mini-SeriesPeter Mayle
Chaplin1992Fred Karno
Stanley and the Women1991TV Mini-SeriesStanley Duke
Home to Roost1985-1990TV SeriesHenry Willows
Bomber Harris1989TV MovieSir Arthur 'Bomber' Harris
Masterpiece Mystery1988TV SeriesJonathan Small
Business as Usual1988Kieran Flynn
The Sign of Four1987TV MovieJonathan Small
Cry Freedom1987Kruger
We'll Support You Evermore1985TV MovieGeoff Hollins
The Life and Death of King John1984TV MovieHubert de Burgh
Mitch1984TV SeriesMitch
Killer Waiting1984TV MovieMajor Peter Hastings
Saturday Night Thriller1982TV SeriesJack Buchus
Killing Heat1981Dick Turner
Drake's Venture1980TV MovieFrancis Drake
The Sweeney1975-1978TV SeriesDet. Insp. Jack Regan
Play for Today1978TV SeriesDinny Mathews
Sweeney 21978Det. Insp. Jack Regan
Sweeney!1977D.I. Jack Regan
The Capone Investment1974TV SeriesTom
Thick as Thieves1974TV SeriesStan
Armchair Cinema1974TV SeriesDet. Insp. Jack Regan
The Protectors1973TV SeriesMario Carpiano
ITV Saturday Night Theatre1969-1973TV SeriesPaul / Larry Gains / Rolf
BBC Play of the Month1966-1973TV SeriesBanquo / George J. Bundavin
Menace1973TV SeriesDon
The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes1973TV SeriesLt. Holst
The Adventures of Black Beauty1972TV SeriesJack Desmond
ITV Playhouse1972TV SeriesWilliams
Armchair Theatre1971-1972TV SeriesPeter / Tony
The Frighteners1972TV SeriesWood
Dr. Phibes Rises Again1972Shavers
Pretenders1972TV SeriesFast Jack
The Onedin Line1971TV SeriesCarby
Suspicion1971TV SeriesRichard Early
Budgie1971TV SeriesDenzil Davies
Rules, Rules, Rules1971TV SeriesPersonnel officer
ITV Sunday Night Drama1971TV SeriesHim
Happy Ever After1970TV SeriesFrank Wilshaw
Big Brother1970TV Mini-SeriesCordon
The Last Grenade1970Terry Mitchell
Praise Marx and Pass the Ammunition1970Dom
Strange Report1969TV SeriesInspector Jenner
The Borderers1969TV SeriesSir Richard
The Bofors Gun1968Featherstone
Inheritance1967TV SeriesWill Oldroyd / Chuff Morcer / Young Brigg Oldroyd
Bat Out of Hell1966TV SeriesMark Paxton
Out of Town Theatre1966TV Mini-SeriesWally
Redcap1964-1966TV SeriesSergeant John Mann Sgt John Mann
A Poor Gentleman1965TV SeriesYeletsky
The Edgar Wallace Mystery Theatre1963-1965TV SeriesDavid Jones / Alan Roper
ITV Play of the Week1961-1964TV SeriesHenry Potter / Frank / Pte Hurst
The Avengers1964TV SeriesCaptain Trench
Z Cars1963TV SeriesDet. Con. Elliot
ITV Television Playhouse1963TV SeriesBarritt
BBC Sunday-Night Play1963TV Mini-SeriesCharlie
Five to One1963Alan Roper
Nil Carborundum1962TV MovieACI Neville Harrison
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner1962Bosworth (uncredited)
Smashing Day1962TV MovieStan
Probation Officer1962TV SeriesStan Liddell
The Younger Generation1961TV SeriesCustomer / Max / Edward / ...

Producer

Producer

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Inspector Morse1993-2000TV Series executive producer - 8 episodes

Self

Self

TitleYearStatusCharacter
The BAFTA TV Awards 20012001TV Special documentaryHimself
Britain at War in Colour2000TV Mini-Series documentaryNarrator (voice)
The Last Morse: A Documentary2000TV Movie documentaryHimself
The Second World War in Colour1999TV Mini-SeriesNarrator
National Television Awards1998TV SpecialHimself
Tonight Live with Steve Vizard1990TV SeriesHimself
Aspel & Company1990TV SeriesHimself
This Is Your Life1977-1981TV Series documentaryHimself / Himself - Guest
The South Bank Show1978TV Series documentaryHimself
The Morecambe & Wise Show1976TV SeriesGuvnor

Archive Footage

Archive Footage

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Britain's Favourite Detectives2014TV Movie documentaryHimself (2000)
The Big Fat Quiz of the 80s2012TV SpecialMorse (uncredited)
Unforgettable: The Sweeney2012TV Movie documentaryHimself / Jack Regan
The Unforgettable John Thaw2012TV Movie documentaryHimself Det. Insp. Jack Regan Henry Willows ...
The A to Z of Crime2011TV Series documentaryInspector Morse
The People's Detective2010TV Series documentaryHimself / Chief Inspector Morse
Call the Cops2008TV Mini-Series documentaryJack Regan Chief Inspector Morse
The Real 'Life on Mars'!2008TV Movie documentaryDet. Insp. Jack Regan (uncredited)
How TV Changed Britain2008TV Series documentaryDet. Insp. Jack Regan
Kevin Whately: Morse & Me2007TV Series documentary shortChief Inspector Morse
The Music of Morse2007TV Movie documentaryChief Inspector Morse (uncredited)
There's Something About... Morse2007TV Movie documentaryChief Inspector Morse (uncredited)
Lewis... Behind the Scenes2007TV Movie documentaryChief Inspector Morse
Super Sleuths2006TV Series documentaryChief Inspector Morse
Must See TV2005TV Series documentaryHimself / D.I. Jack Regan
Total Cops2003TV Movie documentaryDI Jack Regan Chief Inspector Morse
RIP 20022002TV Movie documentary
The John Thaw Story2002TV Special documentaryHimself
John Thaw: An Appreciation2002TV Special shortHimself
The Greatest2001TV Series documentaryChief Inspector Morse
Goodbye 20002000TV MovieChief Insp. Endeavour Morse (uncredited)

Won awards

Won awards

YearAwardCeremonyNominationMovieAward shared with
2001Academy FellowshipBAFTA Awards
1999National Television AwardNational Television Awards, UKMost Popular ActorGoodnight, Mister Tom (1998)
1998National Television AwardNational Television Awards, UKMost Popular ActorInspector Morse (1987)
1998Special Recognition AwardNational Television Awards, UK
1995TV PrizeAftonbladet TV Prize, SwedenBest Foreign TV Personality - Male (Bästa utländska man)
1993BAFTA TV AwardBAFTA AwardsBest ActorInspector Morse (1987)
1990BAFTA TV AwardBAFTA AwardsBest ActorInspector Morse (1987)
1978Evening Standard British Film AwardEvening Standard British Film AwardsBest ActorSweeney! (1977)

Nominated awards

Nominated awards

YearAwardCeremonyNominationMovieAward shared with
2002National Television AwardNational Television Awards, UKMost Popular ActorBuried Treasure (2001)
2001National Television AwardNational Television Awards, UKMost Popular ActorInspector Morse (1987)
2000National Television AwardNational Television Awards, UKMost Popular ActorMonsignor Renard (2000)
1992BAFTA TV AwardBAFTA AwardsBest ActorInspector Morse (1987)
1991BAFTA TV AwardBAFTA AwardsBest ActorInspector Morse (1987)
1988BAFTA Film AwardBAFTA AwardsBest Actor in a Supporting RoleCry Freedom (1987)


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#Quote
1[on A Year in Provence (1993)]: I had a disaster with that, but we're all allowed one. I was saddened because we all worked hard and hoped it would be enjoyed. It was enjoyed - but only by five people. I've had that upset, but I've still been given other work.
2At various times in my life I've been a heavy drinker, there's no question about that. But I hasten to add, it has never affected my work. I never drank while I was working, although afterwards - particularly when I was doing The Sweeney with Dennis Waterman - I'd go into the pub and have a few drinks. But I'm getting too old for it now. I'd wake up in the morning feeling bad. When you're younger you can shrug it off. A lot of my friends have given it up. It's become the thing to do. I read about Anthony Hopkins giving it up and saying he'd never felt better in his life. All these guys - Peter O'Toole's another - have given it up. They were all preaching that it was good and that you felt better so, truthfully, I thought I'd give it a go myself. I'd see what it was like. I found it was so easy to do - like giving up sugar in tea. I remember once giving up sugar years ago, and although at first I thought I'd never do it, from that day to this I've never had any sugar in tea or coffee.
3Of course I'd get worried if the scripts stopped coming through the letter box. But I haven't been in that position for a long time now. I was once told I wouldn't come into my own until I my forties - and it has been quite true. But it was a daunting at the time. I was about seventeen or eighteen and I thought I'd have to survive for twenty years before I started making a living. But then, at twenty-two I was in my first TV series Redcap. My name was above the title. I thought whoever said about me waiting until I was forty was wrong. Then at twenty-six I was out of work for those nine months and it all came back.
4At my stage in the game, there are lots of parts you can't play because you're just too old, so you accept that. I'm getting to the point where I have done it now. I've earned my spurs. I'm not fighting anymore. I just enjoy what I have and what is around and whatever work I do and whoever I meet. I just enjoy the moment. (2001)
5[on the death of Inspector Morse]: All good things come to an end. I am proud to have done it. When I saw him (Morse) dead I had a mental flashback of the fifteen years that we had been doing it. All the stories, all the various locations and the different actors and it all ends with a dead human being in the morgue. But in a way I think it is a good thing he died rather than driving off into the Oxford sunset. Supposing he had just retired and gone to live in Lyme Regis. In a couple of years ITV would have said, 'Do one more and we'll set it in Lyme Regis', and trouble is I probably would have been tempted.
6Smoking and drinking is a mugs game. I used to do both, but I've not yet managed to kick the smoking. You would be surprised how many people don't drink now. It has become the 'in' thing to kick alcohol. I decided boozing wasn't good for me and particularly some mornings if you had too much the night before. The only answer is if you don't want to fell like that, don't do it. Now I feel good. I wake up fresh and stay fresh till the end of the day.
7Sheila and I have had our ups and downs. But the thing that keeps us together apart from the fact we love each other, is having the same sense of humour and out look on like, the same beliefs about what is important, what's right and wrong. If you fundamentally disagree, then when the initial romance goes, you've nothing to replace it with. You've got to have a solid foundation and mutual respect. I like Sheila, I respect her, and I know its vice-versa. That's what kept us together. We don't live in each others pockets. Sheila sometimes goes to the theatre with friends because I am working, and I go to things that would bore her. So in that sense we are not always together.
8I treasure my life with my wife and children, and my health. If you ain't got your health, you ain't got anything. There are times when you think your career is the most important thing in the world but you move on. My career has always been important to me and still is. But less important than is used to be. Your learn that at the end of the day, there are more important things in life, such as the people you love.
9I go to a lot of Police functions and I have some close friends who are policemen. Mind you, they do have their criticisms from time to time. A Flying Squad officer said to me once, 'Sometimes it takes us three days to get a man to admit his own name, whereas you solve a case in sixty minutes.' But generally they're pleased. They like The Sweeney because it shows dilemmas and problems that a policeman has to face - just as a man, not only as a policeman.
10It's bad enough for an actor, but actresses have a hell of a time. There are more of them for a start, and far fewer parts to go round. I've seen too much of what it can do to girls to want my daughter to be any part of it. People always say how difficult it is for two actors to live together, and in many ways it is. But at least we can share the problems and understand the pressures and the demands it makes on you. My first wife was nothing to do with the profession and I think it was difficult for her to understand when I came home shattered at the end of a day's filming or rehearsing. It's hard to explain to someone who doesn't actually know what it's like.
11I realise that I'm one of the lucky ones. Talent has very little to do with it really. There are lots of talented actors around without work, simply because at any one time, there are only jobs for about twenty per cent of them. That's one reason why I'm happy to be doing a series.
12I suppose I learned about being a father from my own dad. I learned that even when your children are grown up -- as mine are now -- you don't stop being a father. He was still my dad until the day he died last year. I still miss him every day.
13I was going to say that Sheila and Sally are not at all alike -- except they're both extremely intelligent women. When I met Sheila I wasn't consciously looking for anything in particular. I was just very attracted to her. Who knows why people fall in love? All I know is that I'm a very lucky man.
14When I first met her, I had no idea I was looking for a wife. I was just extremely attracted to her. Now, all these years later, I see how lucky I was to have found her because it's difficult to imagine life with anyone else. Maybe it's the years of rubbing together, we do have the same outlook on life - on politics, ideals, morals. We're very similar people in all sorts of ways and we're very close. We're certainly best friends. - on his wife, Sheila Hancock
15I was born looking fifty.
16I get to work with some of the finest actors around.
17I didn't want the television Morse to end like Frank Sinatra - doing an endless series of farewell concerts.


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