Freemasonry Portrayed in Television

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Wayne Greenley

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a big book worm, in fact I’m typing this article out in a Library. I found out about Freemasonry through reading books. Not everyone’s a bookworm such as myself and for some, television is the first exposure people will have with the world of Freemasonry. This is an article which identifies some television shows and an analysis as to how we are portrayed. I’m just using six television shows I’m familiar with. Whilst researching I found that the website of the Grand Lodge of British Colombia and Yukon has also created their own list of television references. I haven’t tried to plagiarise their list and I believe I have one or two shows which aren’t on their list. They are more than welcome to add from this list to their own.

The Simpsons 

Ok so we’re all familiar with the infamous episode of the Simpsons (season 6 episode 12) which features the secret society the Stonecutters, so I’m not going to say much about. I may critically analyse the episode in another article later down the track. I do want to mention that, however it may have positively or negatively been received by Freemasons back in 1995, in the present day it is generally accepted in the wide scope of the masonic society. It’s laughed at, parodied and comically embraced. 

The picture on the right is of two prominent Freemasons in Queensland. Dressed up for a charitable rally in Australia known as the "Shitbox Rally". A rally in which teams of two, buy a cheap second hand cars and drive them a long distance. These two brothers named their team the Stonecutters and were able to raise money for charity. The car even had a large Square and Compass on the front. This is just one example of how Freemasons have comically embraced the Stonecutters. You can donate to their charity by clicking HERE.

Besides how its effects Freemasonry, the general public appears to strongly associate the Stonecutters with Freemasons, indeed on a few occasions when I’ve told someone I’m a freemason they started singing “We do”. A somewhat partial representation of what our society is, especially when Homer decides to direct the Stonecutters to do good. It’s not a 100% correct though, we’re not always getting drunk and singing at the festive board …… Right? Well maybe the Ye Antient Order of Noble Corks do.

Inspector Morse
My second favourite murder detective, right after Hercule Poirot. Season 4 has a whole episode dedicated to Freemasonry and we not portrayed as the antagonists. Episode 4 “Masonic Mysteries” begins with Morse rehearsing in a production of ‘The Magic Flute’ when his love interest is murdered. Morse is considered a potential suspect and as such isn’t permitted to investigate her murder. He is replaced by Chief Inspector Bottomley (a Freemason) whom Morse dislikes, especially when his Detective Sergeant is given to him.

Morse: Better start rolling up your trouser leg Lewis, you’ll find Chief Inspector Bottomley a Grand Master, much grander than me.

Lewis: Oh, like a game of chess do you sir?
Through a series of events, Morse becomes paranoid and believes the Masons are trying to frame him for her murder. In the end however it turns out an old nemesis of Morse (played by Ian McDiamid) was attempting to frame and humiliate Morse for revenge and used Freemasonry as a cover.

This episode was shown in 1990 and in some ways shows the journey a person goes through when descending into a paranoid fear of the conspiracy revolving around Freemasonry. Although in Morse’s case he had genuine reason to believe the Masons were after him.

The well cultured theme of the show Inspector Morse always includes classical and operatic music and this episode is no exception. The Masonic Opera the Magic Flute is constantly referenced throughout the whole episode:

  • Morse believes he’s being initiated through a ritual of Fire and Water as described in the Opera. 
  • A password to a computer is Pamina, the heroin of the show. 
  • The famous Queen of the Night song “Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen” is played loudly in Morse’s house without his knowing. 
  • The arson attack on Morse’s house was brought on by a tampered tape of The Magic Flute, conducted by Arturo Toscanini (Adding insult to injury as Morse considered it to be the worst recording of the Magic Flute and wouldn’t even let a copy in his house) 
  • The music at the beginning of the episode is the Overture of Opera. 
  • When Lewis find evidence Morse is innocent of a crime, Tamino song “Wie stark ist nicht dein Zauberton” is played. 

There are probably other references in there as well that a more learned Brother who is familiar with this German Opera will pick up on.

Though this episode does at points put Freemasonry in a negative view with hints of stalking and murder, they are all debunked when its proven that Freemasons are not involved at all. Although Morse does prove one Mason a fool. Morse pretends to be a Brother with a handshake, when the police officer/brother believes him he laughingly responds “If you people seriously think your childish handshake is a secret, I wouldn’t put any of you on security”. In my opinion if a person who was ignorant to Freemasonry watched this episode, they would not be over all, put off with the fraternity and may potentially end with a positive view.

Birds of a Feather
One of the top British sitcoms from the 1990’s. Season 1 Episode 5 introduces the, let’s say rambunctious, neighbour Dorian Green’s husband Marcus. Dorian invites Tracey (one of the main characters) to a lady’s night at a masonic lodge. Though later on it appears to a festive board type dinner before an installation as Marcus says he can’t leave the dinner as he is the incoming master of the lodge and it’s the biggest night of his life.

It’s nice a television show portray the “normality” of what happens outside a lodge. Meaning not a society of secrets or a wacky conspiracy story, but more of a social group which really isn’t seen much in any medium. Brother Marcus Green, however is a poor representation of what a Freemason is. When his wife stated she was unwell, he didn’t care and is more concerned about his speech. He refused to take her home, in real life that type of behaviour would not be tolerated, placing the lodge before family. Also later on, Marcus tries to make the moves on Tracey. Hopefully when viewers watch this type of conduct being solely isolated to the character Marcus and not with the fraternity itself.

Miss Fishers Murder Mysteries 

See that certificate on the wall? This was seen on Season 1 Episode 10 “Death my Miss Adventure” on the wall of Detective Jack Robinson’s office. Whether the certificate is placed there intentionally to prove he’s a Freemason or if the props people didn’t know what they’d placed on a wall is unclear. It is nice however to see a little mini Masonic Easter egg that only we might spot.

Hale and Pace

Two of Britain’s finest comedians. I don’t know which episode of their show it comes from, however I implore you all to watch the video on youtube. This skit is a full parody of a masonic initiation. “Do you want to be a handy man?” Watch it and you’ll know it had to be a Freemason who wrote it, or at least had some input. I’d suggest you watch it in a place you can laugh, unlike me who was in the library.

Hopefully, the outside world understands this is a parody and not a true portrayal of Freemasonry. I hope not anyway ☺

Only Fools and Horses

Finally we come to Brother Boyce from Only Fools and Horses, who in my opinion is one of the worst characters to portray a Freemason. In Season 5 Episode 10 “Dates”, Boyce states "I am not a Buffalo, I am a pucker (meaning proper) Mason, secret handshakes, initiation ceremonies, the works … it is a great honour to be chosen it is not something you turn down likely. It’s changed my life, I’m involved in a lot of charity work these days helping the local needy and under privileged. It’s got its good side as well of course. Us masons vow to help each other in business whenever humanly possible". I hope you will all agree with me that that last sentence is the complete opposite of what being a Freemason is. In this episode, Freemasonry is basically portrayed as a white collar business society, that’s all about doing business favours for other brothers. The main character Del petitions later on to become a Freemason just for personal gain, to be given a favour from one member. Later on, Del was blackballed by practically every member of lodge.

Thought a comical character, Boyce is sometimes portrayed a fraudulent, money scheming and a cheating antagonist at times. You can be sure I would not sit in a lodge next to a guy like Boyce. This episode is nearly 28 years old, so it doesn’t really pose a threat to the integrity of Freemasonry. Back in 1988 however I guess it might. A man watching this would may have believed Freemasonry was all about personal gain, not about brotherly love, relief and truth.

This show, though one of the greatest English classics, does not correctly portray what being a Freemason is.


Bro. Wayne Greenley is member of Mount Pleasant Lodge No. 361 and research lodge Barron Barnett Lodge No 146 both holding under the United Grand Lodge of Queensland. Currently he is studying a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and a Bachelor of Business at QUT. In his spare time he likes to read, listen to music and research the Craft. He is looking forward to joining other orders when he’s permitted to in the next year and also to soon begin his journey through the progression of officers starting off with the Inner Guard.

1 comment:

  1. Actually the Simpsons episode referenced makes a clear distinction between The stonecutters and The Masons. If you watch the episode when Grandpa Abe is going through his membership cards he mentions that he is a Mason as well as a Stonecutter.