Inspector Morse (1987–2000)
4 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)

On Disc

at Amazon




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

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The final freeze frame close up of Morse changing from colour to black and white echoes the closing frames of Sweeney! and Sweeney 2; both starring John Thaw as Jack Regan See more »


Lady Emily Balcombe: What a cruel, cruel man you are!
Sir John Balcombe: Better that than a foolish one.
See more »

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User Reviews

Truly an Unhappy Family
3 March 2018 | by HitchcocSee all my reviews

This was very enjoyable. It begins in a mansion where a family could have everything. But they are cruel, vengeful, greedy people. They strike out at each other. The matriarch obviously despises her husband and her sons who are about as petulant and nasty as can be. When Dad is murdered, things are set in motion. Because this is a high profile case, involving rich people, the press is ruthless. Two hacks decide to make Morse the center of attention, taking pictures and trying to show him to be a buffoon. It begins to affect him. We soon find out that Morse's superior wants things neat and tidy and he becomes antagonistic toward our great detective. But there are skeletons in the closet and threats to those in the inner circle. There's also an appearance by the future Doc Martin, playing one of the sons. Excellent offering.

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