John Thaw

John Thaw

60 (passed away Feb. 21st, 2002)
Jan. 3rd, 1942
Born in
West Gorton, Manchester, England, UK
5' 9

John Thaw's Main TV Roles

Show Character(s)
Inspector Morse (UK) TV Show
Inspector Morse (UK)
The Adventures of Black Beauty (UK) TV Show
The Adventures of Black Beauty (UK)
The Sweeney (UK) TV Show
The Sweeney (UK)
Kavanagh Q.C. (UK) TV Show
Kavanagh Q.C. (UK)
Home to Roost (UK) TV Show
Home to Roost (UK)
Redcap (UK) TV Show
Redcap (UK)
Bat Out of Hell (UK) TV Show
Bat Out of Hell (UK)
Mitch (UK) TV Show
Mitch (UK)
Thick As Thieves (UK) TV Show
Thick As Thieves (UK)

Main Movie Roles

Guest TV Roles

[none found]


He was the working class boy from Manchester whose intensity and natural honesty made him British television's most bankable actor. He studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. His first starring role on TV was as Sgt John Mann in "Redcap" (1964). His first great success, though, was as Detective Inspector Regan in "The Sweeney" (1975). Violent and uncompromising, the series changed the portrayal of police work on British television and was one of the defining dramas of the 1970s.

For "Inspector Morse" (1987), Thaw was yet again cast as a policeman, but this time a more cultured character than Regan. The leisurely-paced series, set in beautiful Oxfordshire, was Thaw's most popular and long-running project. It established him as British television's most bankable actor, and during the 1990s he had many other starring vehicles. He was also a favourite of film director Richard Attenborough, who cast him in Cry Freedom (1987) and Chaplin (1992).

John Thaw was a quiet, private man. His marriage to actress Sheila Hancock was generally regarded as one of the strongest in showbusiness. When he died at the age of 60, the BBC website was inundated with tributes from the viewing public. His "Inspector Morse" co-star Kevin Whately (I) simply described him as the country's finest screen actor.

  • His most famous roles on British TV were all as straight-talking, no-nonsense characters: Jack Regan, Inspector Morse and James Kavanagh.
  • He performed with the National Theatre.
  • Married 'Sheila Hancock' (qv) on 24 December 1973 in Cirencester, Gloucestershire.
  • His 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.
  • Father of actress 'Abigail Thaw' (qv), born 1967, (with first wife 'Sally Alexander (I)' (qv)) and 'Joanna Thaw' (qv), born 1974, (with second wife 'Sheila Hancock' (qv)), and stepfather of 'Melanie Thaw' (qv).
  • Younger brother, Ray, was born November 15, 1944.
  • He performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
  • He was awarded a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in 1994 for his services to drama.

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