Luther series 5: who is Alice Morgan and what did she mean by “wotcher”?

Everything you need to know about Ruth Wilson’s psychopath and her history in the BBC1 drama

Ruth Wilson (Getty)

DCI John Luther is back for a fifth series – and so is psychopathic genius Alice Morgan.

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Ever since Alice ‘died’ off screen, fans have been wondering whether she would make a return alongside Idris Elba’s Luther.

When the teaser trailer was released for series five, her comeback was confirmed.

***Warning: spoilers ahead for Luther series 5 episode 1***

However, there was speculation that Alice, played by Ruth Wilson, would only appear in flashback form – until now. In the final seconds of the first episode of Luther series five, Alice – very much alive and kicking – bangs on Luther’s front door and greets him with one word: “Wotcher.”

But who is Alice Morgan? What’s her history with Luther, and what did she mean by “wotcher”?

Who is Alice and what’s her story so far? 

Luther S5 (BBC, trailer, EH)

Twisted research scientist Alice first encounters Luther when he is investigating the brutal murder of her parents in the first episode of series one, which he later deduces she was responsible for.

She had shot both her parents in the head and hidden the gun in the body of her dead dog (which she had also murdered).

Luther finds Alice disturbing yet strangely alluring and enters a game of cat-and-mouse with her after he is unable to prove her guilt. Mutually fascinated by each other’s brilliant minds, they start to develop an unconventional romance.

Alice begins to carry out killings that are essentially on Luther’s behalf, even though he never asks her to commit them. She murders paedophile and serial killer Henry Madsen, who had been pursued by Luther, but had fallen off a walkway after Luther decided to leave him dangling. If Alice hadn’t finished Madsen off, his account of events could have had Luther fired. But when he discovers that Alice has killed Madsen, Luther disapproves, leading her to shout down the phone: “I did this for you!”

Later in series one, it is revealed that Luther’s colleague and loyal friend DCI Ian Reed is corrupt: he knowingly allowed a robbery to go ahead so long as he received a cut. The robbery in question, however, led to a kidnapping that got messy. When Ian goes to Luther’s ex-wife Zoe’s flat to try to speak to him, he panics and accidentally shoots Zoe dead.

Ian then frames Luther for Zoe’s shooting, but during a gruesome showdown in the series one finale, Alice kills Ian to avenge Zoe’s murder.

Luther (BBC, EH)

When series two opens, we discover that Alice has been placed in a mental institution after confessing to Ian’s murder. Luther helps Alice escape and she visits him in his new apartment, trying to convince him to run away to Mexico with her, but he ultimately decides to stay in London. 

Alice then disappears until the series three finale, when Luther is wrongly accused of arranging for his sidekick DS Justin Ripley to be murdered by a vigilante. After freeing him from police custody, Alice helps Luther to prove his innocence and capture the killer. She then however murders the culprit, driving a hair-pin into his neck.

In that episode Alice also tells Luther that while she was away she lived in Berlin, got herself a husband and then killed him: “I always wanted to be a widow,” she says.

When series four opens, we learn that Alice has apparently been drowned in an Antwerp canal, but Luther doesn’t want to believe it’s true and conducts his own off-grid investigation into her supposed death.

It seems that a mysterious woman named Megan Cantor – who claims to be a clairvoyant who has been contacted by Alice from beyond the grave – is the culprit.

But as we now know, Alice was never dead in the first place. 

What does “wotcher” mean?

In Alice’s very brief appearance in series five episode one, she says just one word to the startled Luther: wotcher.

It’s a greeting that’s been used by various characters in Luther throughout the series, and is London slang for “hello” or “what’s up?”

Harry Potter fans might also remember it being used by the Londoner Tonks in the books.

Why is Alice back?

In a sneak peek of what happens in episode two, we see clips of Alice seemingly acting as Luther’s accomplice.

First we catch a glimpse of her holding up a gun in Luther’s house, then she is at his side peeking through the window blinds. Another scene shows Alice stabbing a man in a car, and there’s one more with her disguised in a blonde wig. What could she be up to?

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This article was originally published on 1 January 2019