Inspector Morse (1987–2000)
6 user 1 critic

Happy Families 

The head of a wealthy but dysfunctional family is found bludgeoned to death in the family estate as Morse is forced to deal with the resultant media frenzy.


Adrian Shergold


Colin Dexter (characters), Daniel Boyle (as Daniel Boyle)




Episode cast overview, first billed only:
John Thaw ... Chief Inspector Morse
Kevin Whately ... Detective Sergeant Lewis
Sukie Smith Sukie Smith ... Lorraine
Gwen Taylor ... Margaret Cliff
Martin Clunes ... James Balcombe
George Raistrick George Raistrick ... Sir John Balcombe
Jonathan Coy ... Harry Balcombe
Andrew Ray Andrew Ray ... Alfred Rydale
Anna Massey ... Lady Emily Balcombe
Mark Draper Mark Draper ... Constable
Rupert Graves ... Billy
Jamie Foreman ... Chas
Liz Kettle Liz Kettle ... WPC (as Elizabeth Kettle)
Alun Armstrong ... Superintendent Holdsby
Tony Guilfoyle Tony Guilfoyle ... Journalist One


Morse and Lewis investigate the murder of wealthy industrialist Sir John Balcombe. There is little love lost in the Balcombe family and no great remorse when Sir John is found dead, obviously bludgeoned to death. The dead man's wife and two sons all seem worried about other things. To Morse's annoyance, there is a great deal of media coverage, some of it quite personal. He also comes under pressure from his superior, Chief Supt. Alun Armstrong, to produce results. When a second murder occurs on the Balcombe estate, Morse begins to focus on the family's history and learns that Mrs. Balcombe has a little known secret in her past. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery







Release Date:

11 March 1992 (UK) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


During the filming of Colin Dexter's cameo role as a tramp, filmed from the top of the Carfax tower, a real down-and-out approached him, grabbed his bottle of "meths" and ran off - only to find that it contained just water. See more »


Chief Inspector Morse: Is there a butler?
Detective Sergeant Lewis: I didn't see one. No.
Chief Inspector Morse: Pity... it would have saved us a lot of time.
See more »

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User Reviews

Unhappy Families.
26 February 2020 | by Sleepin_DragonSee all my reviews

Things go from bad to worse for poor Lady Emily Balcombe, first her husband is murdered, and soon after one of her sons. Morse is on the case, but he's hounded by a member of the press who takes an instant dislike to him.

It's a fabulous episode, Morse is thrown into a word of lies, deception and hatred. The Balcombe family may live in a gorgeous mansion, but as a family they are a mess, totally dysfunctional and generally loathsome.

You will be left until the very end to find out who's doing it.

Is this the best cast ever assembled in an episode of Morse? It features Alun Armstrong, Anna Massey, Martin Clunes, Gwen Taylor and more, Rupert Graves is terrific as the slick haired journalist.

I'm always saddened when I watch Charlotte Coleman, she was awesome, a life lost so young.

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