How tall was John Thaw

John Thaw's Height

5ft 8 ½ (174 cm)

British actor best remembered for roles in TV series Inspector Morse, The Sweeney and Kavanagh QC. In a 1993 Sunday Mirror it mentioned: "John Thaw is now 50, with white hair, seductive blue eyes and a firm figure. He is 5ft 9in". This height was also listed for him in a 1980's spotlight casting directory.

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Average Guess (32 Votes)
5ft 8.59in (174.2cm)
Rory said on 11/Apr/23
He was a hard guy to pin down because often he looked only 5ft8 range, but his posture was mostly poor. When he did stand tall he didn't look far off 5ft9, so I think 5ft8.5 is fair with a reasonable chance of 5ft8.75 but the full 5ft9 is unlikely.
Rampage(-_-_-)Clover said on 10/Apr/23
Rob, is 5ft9 peak arguable?

Later Morse looked more 5ft8-8½ zone, near 3in below Whately (very strong 5ft11er)
Editor Rob
From re-watching The Sweeney a few years ago, I struggled to see him 5ft 9, considering his footwear was often thick.
Sandy Cowell said on 7/Feb/23
Twilight of the Gods.

Inspector Morse is very upset because one of his favourite opera singers has been shot. She was played by Sheila Gish, who I recently saw in a Tales of the Unexpected.

I looked for Sheila’s height and found 5ft4. I thought she looked taller. That means that the girl who played her sister was quite tiny.

Perhaps she could have a page please, Rob, at some stage. She died at only 62.
Sandy Cowell said on 1/Feb/23
James Grout, who plays Morse’s superior, has just come out with, “He’s the biggest bloody scheisster in the books!”

This is an afternoon showing of the episode ‘The Death of the Self’, yet they’ve left in the rude expression! Why, then, don’t they ever show Anna Massey’s shorter son saying to his huge brother, played by Martin Clunes, saying, “Now listen you little 💩…..” ?

That is something I’ll never understand.

Scheisse means 💩 too!
Sandy Cowell said on 21/Jan/23
Someone from Morse’s past says to him that his white hair makes him look clever. What does he mean? MORSE IS CLEVER!
Sandy Cowell said on 3/Jan/23
I’m very excited to see that ITV3 are showing a rerun of Inspector Morse. Hooray! 👏
Sandy Cowell said on 2/Jan/23
Not long ago, I met a taxi driver while in his cab who used to work alongside some stars. He told me about the nicest ones, and one of them was John Thaw.

I told him what a fan I am of Inspecor Morse, and he agreed that it was excellent. He encouraged me to watch Goodnight Mister Tom, and although I’d seen parts of it, I want to get to know the film. It’s on now, but I missed the beginning.

The little boy who’s resided with Mister Tom has been shown more love than he’s ever, ever known before. This we can see now that he’s gone back to his irate, disgusting mother, who has a new baby. I felt the pressure building within this woman and she’s just hit the child. I’m livid.

The little William has never has his talents encouraged, or known what a proper childhood birthday is all about until his stay with Mister Tom. This film has affected me already and I’m going to get to know it properly by buying a copy. My Dad had a great deal of affection for this film, having been evacuated in the War himself. He learnt a lot with his younger brother, Ron, as they stayed with a religious couple. Dad could recite all the chapters of the Bible from Old to New Testaments, and it was amazing. The people who were kind enough to help kids out in this dreadful situation had extremely good hearts.

Tom has just rescued the little William, who’s been tied up and nearly starved to death.

God pray this ends happily. It MUST do or it wouldn’t have been such a hit.

Hey, William is on his way from the hospital and in Mister Tom’s care. The boy is traumatised, but now he is is some very capable hands - two of them, coupled with a heart of gold.

5ft9, but not in this.
Sandy Cowell said on 11/Nov/22
During the time we were unable to comment, I chatted to a nice, friendly taxi driver called Larry. He had worked as an extra and I asked him who he’d met. He mentioned Judi Dench and Hugh Grant but he said his most memorable encounter was with John Thaw, who he said was a great and down-to-Earth guy.

I can well imagine that!

I saw the movie of The Sweeney recently and found it amusing to see John playing a man whose manners were less than impeccable, as was the case with Inspector Morse.

Those days, I don’t doubt that John was 5ft9.
Sandy Cowell said on 3/Sep/22
I’ve just finished the end of the penultimate episode of Inspector Morse, entitled ‘The Wench Is Dead’, in which the brilliant detective solves a crime committed in the mid 19th century, which arouses his interest while he is reading a novel from his hospital bed. His instinct tells him that the young boatmen were sent to their hangings for a murder they didn’t commit.

It is the episode wherein the woman whose fake death is in question is described as 5ft3 (and a half or a quarter) and
women of that height from the era were considered tall. Her supposed shoes are far too small for a woman of her height, and the dress has been altered. The real victim, who owned those clothes, was quite tiny, and murdered by the conman, a magician, and his wife come assistant, in order to pick up some £300 insurance money, those days a small fortune.

Inspector Morse’s instincts prove correct, of course, but tragically, the lives of the boatmen could never be brought back. 🥲

5ft9. 🕯
Rory said on 15/Aug/22
Rob, do you have any idea how tall Garfield Morgan who played Haskins in The Sweeney was ? I'd have thought around 6ft.
Editor Rob
He could look around that mark, I believe from memory I seen a 6ft 1 listing in Spotlight
Sandy C said on 5/Aug/22
Why is that nasty Detective Superintendent Strange always so nasty and patronising to Inspector Morse? He’s so RUDE! 😡
The appropriately named Strange is played by James Grout, and the actor looks about 6ft or just over.

I think he’s jealous of Morse’s success rate. Okay, so Morse likes to drink on duty, but it doesn’t impair his terrific brainpower.
Miss Sandy Cowell said on 15/May/22
We have four episodes of Inspector Morse showing today, back to back, and I’m going to try to see as many as I can, unless something else pops up. Failing that, I can always watch them on DVD.

For John’s peak, during his Sweeney days, I can believe 5ft8.75.

One great actor, John Thaw….. 🕯
Miss Sandy Cowell said on 1/Dec/21
Morse Episode 'Absolute Conviction'.

The elegant runner of a man's prison, Hilary Stephens, played by Diana Quick, sees the Inspector singing beautifully in his choir and is moved to tears! It's a moment I savour, as the same thing happens to me, and it's completely inadvertent.

Diana Quick isn't that much shorter than John Thaw, and I believe the 5ft6 over the fleeting incident of 5ft4 that I've come across. Diana turned 75 just over a week ago, but unless she's very unlucky, she's hardly lost all of 2".

The great John Thaw gets 5ft9. 🎄
Miss Sandy Cowell said on 28/Jul/21
'That baby' is stolen. I can tell you one thing for absolute certainty: it wasn't Inspector Morse! 🙉
Miss Sandy Cowell said on 28/Jul/21
Inspector Morse episode 'Greeks Bearing Gifts':

John's Inspector Morse and Kevin's Sergeant Lewis are interviewing a Greek family and there is a screaming baby boy impairing Morse's concentration. Egged on by the Inspector, the duo leave. Morse says to Lewis, "I don't know how parents can bear that noise!" 😤

"They can't!" replies Lewis. "That's what it's there for - to force you to do something!"

Ha ha ha! In real live, John was familiar with 'that noise', being a father himself - to daughters. 😁

5ft8.75. 🕯️
Miss Sandy Cowell said on 22/Jul/21
I'm watching 'Masonic Mysteries', the 4th Inspector Morse episode from Series Number 4. It's one of the more tense episodes, in which evil genius Hugo de Vries torments poor Inspector Morse, etching masonic symbols into his Jaguar - and even planting murder on him. He sets fire to his home, ruining his beloved record collection and then the poor man really does feel he's going crazy, accusing the nasty Inspector Bottomley of being de Vries!

This episode was made around two and a half years after the first one, and John does look as though he's lost a tiny bit of height since the first one when you compare him to Sergeant Lewis.

5ft8.75. 🕯️
Miss Sandy Cowell said on 11/Apr/21
Re: Inspector Morse - Twilight of the Gods.

Inspector Morse is on a massive natural high and being nice to everybody - all because he saw a world famous opera singer the night before! He buys her 2 dozen red roses signing them, 'To the greatest Diva of our time. From an admirer.' 🌹

Lewis wonders what's wrong with him. It looks as though my chances for laughter aren't over for the day!

In reality, the Welsh Diva is a coarse, foul-mouthed, bitter old boot, insanely jealous of her younger, prettier sister. Then being as it's an Inspector Morse episode, the comedy is blighted by murder and mystery, but there are lots of big names to look out for in this episode including John Gielgud, Rachel Weisz and Hellraiser's Pinhead actor, 📍Doug Bradley.

5ft8.75. 😁
Miss Sandy Cowell said on 20/Mar/21
Ha ha ha! When faced with interviewing an extremely flirtatious prostitute, Morsie drops a major hint that he wants a drink! "Is that a bottle of Drambuie I see there?" he says, and within seconds he's drinking it.... 😂🤣😂

Rory said on 16/Jan/21
5ft7 is nonsense. Edged out Kenneth Colley and had at least 1.5 inches on Brian Cox in Morse. 5ft 9 was always on the top end of what Thaw could be but he definitely wasnt under 5ft8.5 either when stood well peak.
P.K.W. said on 7/Jan/21
After considering my previous comments I think a downgrade to 5ft 7in peak height and 5ft 6.5in latter. In The Sweeney 2 film (at the bar scene, towards the end) he is noticebly shorter than Waterman, until Waterman bends down slightly, even though John has his normal 2"-2.5" stacks on. Waterman had a slightly bigger heel than normal.
P.K.W. said on 1/Jan/21
I think the 5ft 8in-5ft 9in estimates are are more likely a "shoes on" height. He obviously had at least a 2" heel in The Sweeney (hidden by his flares), and always walked with a good klomp to emphasise this.
Sheila Hancock, his wife, who is also listed as 5ft 8", is always taller than him in photographs. If he were actually near to 5ft 9" they would be almost identical height, even accounting for her possible 2" footwear.
Next to the loafter-wearing Dennis Waterman, Thaw was always slightly shorter, even with his stack heels on.
I would estimate his actual height would have been 5ft 7.5" maximum in the late 70s. Latterly more close to 5ft 7" or under.
Miss Sandy Cowell said on 2/Nov/20
Hooray! 'Inspector Morse' is on our TVs again!

He's often asked whether he has children as the Inspector, and is married. The real John Thaw was, of course, married to Sheila Hancock and was a terrific father. In a programme they made about the late actor, Sheila told us about an incident when she baked a cake and was very upset when it didn't rise. John quickly turned her tears to laughter, so much so that it stayed with her and she related the story for his fans, which was so sweet, and she was giggling as she cast her mind back. 🥞

Little memories like this are priceless.

5ft8.75 for the greatest of the great.
M.P.R.Stephenson. said on 7/Jul/20
A very good, and incidentally very rich and successful actor. John was 5ft 8//2 ins tall , but always convincing!
Rory said on 19/Jun/20
I'm not sure if the downgrade is completely fair. With his typical loose posture he certainly could look 173-4, but when he did stand tall I felt he could look near to 5ft9. I think 5ft8.75 might be very close to what he could have measured in 70s and 80s. Had around 2 inches on Brian Cox in Morse and also clearly edged Kenneth Colley. The difference between him and Whateley looked closer to two than three inches when he did stand tall on rare occasions too

So yh I think 5ft8.75 would be best. The full 5ft9 always seemed slightly optimistic but 5ft8.5 feels conservative.
Editor Rob
From watching the Sweeney again, I just couldn't see him as a full 5ft 9, his footwear was reasonably thick during most episodes, though you are right, posture wise at times he didn't stand great.
Miss Sandy Cowell said on 24/May/20
Morse is complaining about having to work on a Greek murder case because he doesn't understand the language or their mannerisms. He consoles himself in front of his large boss by quoting Lord Byron's "Watch the mouth. It gives away what the eyes try to hide."

5ft8.5, though probably 5ft9 in his early days.
Miss Sandy Cowell said on 16/May/20
Another funny moment from the Morse episode 'The Infernal Serpent': 😄

Inspector Morse, played by the adorable John Thaw, is forever correcting his Sergeant's grammar, and I find it all very amusing, affording plenty of LOL moments.

This time, however, it's a bit too late to correct him. While interviewing a high-class music teacher, called Mrs Copley-Barnes, Morse is able to communicate with her on her level, being an educated man. The faces of Mrs Copley-Barnes and Morse when Sergeant Lewis blurts out, "I bought my nippers one of them electronic keyboards!"

That's actually one of my own grammatical pet hates, using the word 'them' in that context when it's a PRONOUN! Now they're even speaking like that in adverts! 😤

Inspector Morse wouldn't be terribly happy, and press the mute button when the adverts come on, just like yours truly!

I see John's been marked down by half-an-inch. He gets 5ft8.5 from me; it does seem more believable.
Duffer 5ft 11 said on 10/May/20
Watched a lot of Sweeney in my time and I could see the very outstanding John thaw at 5'8.5" but no more. Apparently he smoked 3 packs of ciggies a day and had been since age 12..!! (Dunno how you could possibly squeeze in that many smokes at school:) - I'll vote him in at a smidge over 5'8".
Willis Christian Macaraig said on 15/Mar/20
John Thaw looks 5'11" to me. He really seems to be the same height as Ray Winstone.
Miss Sandy Cowell said on 5/Mar/20
John's Inspector Morse was flirting and joking until the day he died, and when I first saw 'The Remorseful Day', I came running into my Mum's bedroom crying, "Inspector Morse is dead! Inspector Morse is dead!"

She said, "Not in real life?" I said, "Goodness no!" but that was to follow shortly.

The conversation that made me laugh today was when, sitting in a pub, he was asked by a lady, "What's your first name?" He replied, "Inspectaaaar!"

Then the lady asked him whether, as his reputation is well-known for his excellent mind, "But you are clever, aren't you?"

He replies, "For what it's worth..."

Whether John was 5ft8 or 5ft9, which woman wouldn't prefer a slightly shorter man to a tall one who can teach her nothing? My Mum and I used to argue over which one of us he'd prefer! Me at my 31 years, or her at her considerably more experienced age. It was all in good jest, of course!

5ft9 for the great John Thaw.
Miss Sandy Cowell said on 4/Mar/20
Ah! Inspector Morse is in hospital because his end is nearly here - just one more episode - but this one, entitled 'The Wench Is Dead', is a haven for those of us who are interested in women's heights from the 19th Century, when a 5ft3 woman was considered tall. Morsie, played by John Thaw, manages to solve a old case from his hospital bed, a case which resulted in the wrongful hangings of innocent men.

John gets 5ft9. 💓😁

It broke my heart when he died.
Rory said on 30/Mar/19
More likely under 5ft9 than over it but still near it I think. The very lowest I could argue for both he and Waterman is 5ft8.5, but I think 5ft8.75-9 suits both.
Cuban said on 22/Dec/18
Superb actor. Wonderful in The Sweeney. Always wore enormous heels in this show so quite incredible he was able to chase after villains and wrestle with them as he did. Appeared to be the same height as Waterman when wearing these enormous heels, so must’ve been around 2 inches shorter than him.
Sandy Cowell said on 13/Dec/18
On this afternoon's episode of 'Inspector Morse'*, the Inspector said to Lewis, "Well you can't arrest a man because his wife won't sleep with him!"

I really L'dOL, especially at the way he said it! 😂😂😂

John gets 5ft8.5.

* The episode is called 'Deceived By Flight'.
Chris Robinson said on 18/Nov/18
Just watched an episode of The Sweeney. Thaw was wearing huge heels to bring him up to Waterman's eye level. Unless Denis Waterman is taller than everyone says (and the joke in Britain is how tiny he is) then John can't have been above the 5-7 to 5-8 mark. He has that smaller body shape. Watch the chat show Aspel where he stands next to Oliver Reed - he barely comes up to his belt level and looks around the same a s Richard Atembrough standing next to him.
Sandy Cowell said on 25/Sep/18
Regardless of any height equation, Mr John Thaw was one of the most attractive men I have ever watched on TV. I just wanted to look after him! 🤗

Watch the 'Inspector Morse' episode 'The Daughters of Cain'! 😁📺
Rory said on 21/Sep/18
That's not true. Thaw wasn't an inch shorter than Waterman, they were always within a fraction of each other both looked like "about 5ft9" men. I also don't think he looked 20 years older than he was, granted he always looked older than he was but not by 20 years. I'd say in 1974 in the first year of the Sweeney he looked around 40, when he was only 32 but not 52 !
Sandy Cowell said on 11/Sep/18
⭐️ Interesting Info Time! ⭐️

The title of the final episode of 'Inspector Morse', called 'The Remorseful Day', is taken from the poem 'How Clear, How Lovely Bright', by Alfred Edward Housman, who was born in 1859 and died in 1936.

As I am watching this episode, I am feeling a bit melancholy because I know what happens. Today I will give John Thaw his optimum height of 5ft9. 🌄
Sandy Cowell said on 4/Sep/18
John's 'Inspector Morse' was overseen singing with his choir by Diana Quick's character in the episode 'Absolute Conviction'. The song was Bach's 'Er Kenne mich mein Huter', from Matthew's Passion and roughly translated means 'Recognise me my Shepherd'!

She was in tears! So was I!

John didn't seem any shorter than just under 5ft9 in this, and there were many stars to compare him to.
Sandy Cowell said on 11/Aug/18
This morning when I was channel hopping, I had a bird's eye view of John Thaw standing next to Kevin Whateley and you could definitely see that there was a good two inches height difference. The episode came from 1987 - I checked at the end - so John will have been 46/47 at the time, and I think there is a possibility of him having lost a small amount of height at that time. If I say he was either a weak 5ft9 then or a strong 5ft8.5, I think I wouldn't be far from spot-on, so 'Inspector Morse', the great John Thaw, in my very favourite of his many gripping roles, gets a vote of 5ft8.75!

I'd like to know how many girls have noticed his lovely long eye lashes? My Mum would have said they're wasted on a man, but I reckon that they were all part of what made him the charming and sometimes even vulnerable and sweet character that made women love him and want to look after him! I certainly did, and my Mum and I would have some truly comical 'arguments' as to whether he'd have preferred the younger woman (I was 31!) to the 'more worldly-wise' woman, ie - her! I know he was happily married to an equally delightful person, Sheila Hancock, and wasn't the type to have strayed, which made him all the more lovable in real life!
Rory said on 30/Jan/18
He looked under 5ft9 due to bad posture but I think standing tall he was 5ft8.75.
howhiami said on 8/Jan/18
Much as I love John Thaw i can't believe he was five feet nine. When he stands next to Kevin Whately in any Morse episode he looks a good two inches shorter at least. AS Patrick has beaten me too it ,i won't go further except to say i estimated him to be around five seven so i was pretty close.
Patrick said on 6/Jan/18
John was not very tall. He was 5ft 6 inches. He was a good 4 inches shorter than Kevin Whately who is 5ft 10. I was an extra on Morse.
Sandy Cowell said on 22/Mar/17
One of the most influential people in John's career, Colin Dexter, died this week. It was mentioned this morning before 'Inspector Morse' started and the episode was then dedicated to Colin.
I checked to see if he had a page, but he hasn't. I reckon he deserves one for the many absorbing hours he has afforded us!
He would always make a cameo appearance in each episode and I think it's fair to say that he was very small indeed. I wouldn't have thought he was taller than 5ft2.
He made John Thaw look tall and Kevin Whateley a positive giant!
Mr S said on 8/Mar/17
John Thaw was a brilliant actor, always entertaining and convincing in whatever role he played. As for his height, could look a weak 5'9" but also could often look 5'8.5" range.
Sandy Cowell said on 23/Feb/17
I saw an episode of 'Inspector Morse' the other day and John Thaw literally towered over one of the actresses! She must have had neck-strain looking up at him! He looked like a 6-footer next to her! He must have loved it!!!
Rory said on 22/Feb/17
Looked slightly taller than Kenneth Colley when stood tall in Morse, but I wouldn't have said a full inch taller. For me a peak John Thaw stood tall was 5'8.75 and possibly 5'8.5, I think the full 5'9 has always been on the optimistic end.
James said on 4/Nov/16
John Thaw looked 5'7".
Rory said on 26/Oct/16
I don't think he'd lost anything by the early Morse years, physically he looked very similar in stature to how he had done before in The Sweeney say. A guy who didn't rly stand with great posture and mostly looked 173-4, but every so often in scenes he'd stand tall and when he did could pull off 5'9.
James said on 20/Oct/16
Could he have already lost height by the time Morse started in 1986? He was only 44 then (although he looked about 55).
Editor Rob
I suppose at that age it is less likely, although some guys in their 40's can lose a bit.

If you have a tougher life, working hard at a physical type job, the odds would increase.

Some jobs which will cause long term joint problems and increase shrinkage risk by mid 40's would be Painter & Decorater, Plasterer, Carpet Fitter, Labourer, Postman
Sandy Cowell said on 14/Oct/16
John Thaw is one of the most scintillating actors I've had the privilege to enjoy watching. My favourite series of his was Inspector Morse, but everytbing he was in simply shone, be it a long running series or a one-off drama.

If I am to be utterly honest, 5ft9 is the most I would have said for John. Kevin Whately is, I believe, 5ft11, and there were 2 or 2.5 inches difference between the two of them at least. John Thaw remained a fine figure of a man until he died of cancer, way before his time.
He will always have a special little place in my heart.
Editor Rob
I was a fan of Thaw, always seemed a dependable actor, hard to believe 14 years since he passed. I could see how he looked under 5ft 9 at times...with kevin he did look probably 5ft 8.5 at most, but could have shrunk a bit by then.

With Peter Davison and David Suchet here, he could by anywhere in 5ft 8-9 range.
Rory said on 30/Aug/16
Thaw was a sloucher, I think his posture made him look around 5'8. But stood tall he'd measure not too far off 5'9. A weak 5'9 I'd say.
Larry said on 20/Sep/15
Watching Morse again he does look more like 5'7" than 5'8".
Larry said on 18/Sep/15
It must have been the smoking that aged him.

I wonder if Thaw and Waterman wore built up shoes in "The Sweeney"?
Rampage(-_-_-)Clover said on 12/Sep/15
He seemed much older than he really was.
A solid 175cm peak. Probably a bit less by the time of his passing.
Larry said on 8/Sep/15
Thaw was 44 when he began playing Morse. He was clearly never more than 5'8".
Rory said on 20/Jul/15
I think both Thaw and Waterman were 5'8.5 - 5'9 range, who edged who though and where exactly they were between that range is hard to tell..i think the full 5'9 is a stretch for thaws peak though. 174 might be closer.
Anon said on 15/Feb/15
Wasn't he 51 then?

Yes, he was born in Jan 1942. Rob, can you add The Sweeney and Kavanagh QC to his credits, thanks.
John said on 28/Sep/14
Wasn't he 51 then?
Robert said on 4/Jan/14
He looked more like 5'7" in "Morse".
Get Shorty said on 14/Oct/13
I met John when I served him a drink at a charity event. I'm five-ten and he seemed a good bit shorter. I'd say five-seven/eight max at the time.
Tigon Man said on 4/Sep/13
John Thaw at a stretch was 5'8, he looked exactly the same height as Dennis Waterman in The Sweeney.
Andy M said on 31/Aug/11
No, he was not 5'9" at any stage. He always appeared an even 5'8" definitely
beatlefan said on 30/Jan/09
A sadly missed actor from British television. I always thought he was a tad shorter than this having seen all the 'Inspector Morse' episodes, especially in the later ones but that all depends on how tall Kevin Whatley his co-star is. If Whatley is six feet or therabouts then this height is very accurate.
Chris said on 24/Jun/07
I always thought this guy was 6' plus. He had a kind of presence and authority like Paul Gleason. Goes to show that height isn't that important in determining image, I guess.
CarbonM5 said on 25/May/07
Spot on. He filmed Kavanagh QC outside my office about 7 years ago.

Heights are barefeet estimates, derived from quotations, official websites, agency resumes, in person encounters with actors at conventions and pictures/films.

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