Chief Superintendent Jean Innocent is the boss of DI Robbie Lewis and DS James Hathaway. In the early episodes of Lewis, she is seen as an antagonist but later develops into a more supporting character. The character is played on screen by Rebecca Front and is not a character in Colin Dexter's original Inspector Morse novels. In the series it is revealed that she is married although her husband is never named or seen, but only referred to. In Expiation, the final episode of series one she threatens to demote Hathaway to uniform until Lewis says he'll go with him. In the third series she tries to set Lewis up with her old university friend Ginny Harris who turns out to be the murderer. In The Quality of Mercy she asks Lewis if he's alright when he finds out who killed his wife in a hit and run. Like Hathaway, she clearly despairs at Lewis and Dr Laura Hobson's inability to get together and at one point in series five she tells Hathaway that she sometimes wants to bang their heads together. In The Ramblin' Boy, Jean is shocked at the moment when Robbie and Dr Hobson get together and her reaction is clear to see. She even gets to interrogate a suspect at one point when Hathaway goes off on holiday. She is responsible for partnering Lewis with DC Gray, his temporary sidekick. Lewis is told to be nice to him, to which at one point he replies if Morse had been nice to him, he'd have still been a sergeant. Innocent tells him that the man has a lot to answer for. In Intelligent Design, she finds out that Lewis is considering retirement.
“ I don’t think; I follow procedure.” --Innocent to Lewis (“ Falling Darkness”)
Although her old friend Ginny Harris once referred to Jean as being “ all-head and no heart,” further analysis of Innocent’s character reveals that this is not at all the case. On numerous occasions, Innocent has shown concern for Lewis and/or Hathaway that seems to go far beyond her professional responsibility for them.
That being said, much of Innocent’s personality is defined by her strict “business head.” Her greatest fear is that the press will become aware of a faux pas that her officers have made, resulting in a public-relations catastrophe. Therefore, she insists upon a near-slavish adherence to proper procedure in every investigation under her supervision and grows angry when Lewis and Hathaway “bend” or break the rules, as they have done countless times. In Wild Justice, Robbie commented to James on the effort it took for him not to get angry at Jean's focus on PR after a meeting the duo had with her. This episode saw a particularly strong focus from Jean on the papers, which resulted in James being rude about the matter in later conversations with her.
The chief superintendent is practical in the extreme, often showing noteworthy incredulity toward Lewis and Hathaway’s seemingly implausible theories (which often turn out to be right). Innocent also has a sarcastic sense of humor that seems to complement her skeptical nature.
She also expresses clear reluctance for “unnecessary expenditures,” including continuing to look into cases that she believes have closed. This often causes notable friction between her and the “Dynamic Duo.”
Innocent also appears somewhat uncomfortable discussing her emotions and her private life. Whenever personal details and feelings (particularly those unrelated to the case at hand) come up in conversation, she says what she needs to say on the matter and quickly changes the subject.
“ Hello…she sure scrubbed up.”—Hathaway to Lewis upon seeing Innocent in an evening gown (“ The Great and the Good”)
Innocent has hazel eyes and medium brown hair (in all of the series except the first, in which her hair is a very dark auburn). In series 1-4, Innocent typically wears her shoulder-length hair pulled back off of her face, most often in a French twist. In Series 5, Innocent cuts her hair into a chin-length bob and starts wearing her hair down more often and continues to wear shorter hair in Series 6 and 7. In high heels, Jean Innocent is about a head shorter than Lewis and is, therefore, significantly shorter than Hathaway. She is roughly the same height and build as Laura Hobson, although Innocent is slightly taller and heavier.
When asked by Lewis in the pilot episode to describe Innocent, Dr. Hobson responds by saying that the new chief superintendent “ dresses well.” Indeed, Innocent seems to take great care in her physical appearance, a notable contrast to Lewis and—to a lesser extent—Hathaway. When attending formal occasions such as Jessamine Matthews’s art show in “ The Great and the Good,” Innocent is not afraid to throw on an evening gown and“ dress up to the nines.”
Personal and Professional Background Edit
Although Innocent’s age has never been formally confirmed, it is logical to assume that the character is roughly the same age as the actress portraying her. This would make Innocent about forty years old at the beginning of Series 1.
Of the four major recurring characters on Lewis, Innocent is the only one whose background has yet to be explored in depth. There is very little known about her professional history. All that is known for sure is that Innocent moved to Oxford to replace Strange as chief superintendent sometime during the two years that Inspector Lewis spent in the Virgin Islands.
Similarly, much of Innocent’s personal life remains a mystery as well. Innocent has a sister who was supposedly pregnant during “Life Born of Fire.” However, it remains unclear if this sister is Jean’s only sibling or whether she is older or younger than the chief superintendent.
Innocent is also the wife of “Mr. Innocent” and the mother of “ Chris,” who is reportedly fully-grown and currently a police officer. It is unclear whether or not Chris is an only child. Assuming that Chris is Mr. Innocent’s son and is not adopted or the product of one of Jean’s previous relationships, the Innocents would have to needed to have been a couple for at least eighteen years at the time of “The Mind Has Mountains. In the episode “Allegory of Love,” it is revealed that she attended university with Ginny Harris, the adopted mother of famed writer Dorian Crane, and that the two remained close friends in the years that followed.