Shaun Evans will star in the new BBC Radio 4 Drama "Marais and the Soul of the Termite". Shaun plays the naturalist and poet Eugene Marais in Mike Walker's play about bereavement and "the bigger picture". It's directed by David Morley and it will be broadcast on the 9th January 2021.
More information: Marais and The Soul of the Termite
Will there be a Season Eight of Endeavour?
Well, the world’s such a strange place at the moment. There is a plan for there to be a Season Eight—we should have been shooting that now, really. But already it’s been pushed back until next year, which, to be honest, I think is a blessing. First and foremost, we’re very lucky to have the opportunity to return and do any more, especially at this late in the game… so the fact that it has been pushed until next year only gives us more time to perfect [it], which can only be a good thing. But yes, in short, there will—fingers crossed, God willing, all being well—be a Season Eight.
What are you most looking forward to, once you’re able to start making Endeavour again?
For me, it’s such an immersive experience, the whole thing, from start to finish, because I produce it and also direct it, and obviously, I’m in virtually every scene. The whole thing is immersive, and even when we’re not shooting, I’m cutting together the episode that I’ve directed, or we’re talking about story for the next one. And that’s what I love, really. I’m looking forward to seeing the people, the family that we’ve created that’s both in front of and behind the camera, and being able to really pick apart—with people who are often times much brighter than I—what the best way is to tell these stories in the most satisfying way.
Because when the six or seven months that the job takes, is done and I emerge back into the world, I always feel that I’ve really learned something from experience. Sometimes you learn things from your own shortcomings, or having made [mistakes], and that’s as incredible. So every facet of it is so involved that I really look forward to it, to just jumping right in. And then obviously having fun while you’re acting on set. That’s joyous.
Find out Shaun Evans’ take on where Endeavour Season 7 leaves off, the operatic, unattainable love story, the fate of his character, and the joys of filming and directing in Venice.
Right before our very eyes, Morse is changing from a generous, principled young adult, into a more cynical, hardened man. Can you talk about his journey over time?
One of the terrific things about long form TV is that you do get to stay with the character and see them evolve, and allow them to evolve, as well. What’s unique about this situation is that because we know where this character ends up, we have an ending point that we have to work towards. One of the joys for me and the rest of the team is how we plot that, how we navigate that course from a coming of age story, [and] turn this fresh faced, green, young man into the character that people know and love from the previous series. So how you do that, whilst also making it satisfying, so that this whole series and set of stories can also stand alone, if that be so?
It’s about relationships, really: your relationship to the job and your level of acceptance that this is where you are, this is the person you’re going to be for the future. You’re not going to be leaving Oxford—you’re a policeman, you’re a detective, and so embrace that, but all of what that includes, as well: dealing with people who are dead, who are being killed. And then also, your relationship with your peers, especially with Thursday, who is something of a father figure to him—how that changes as the character himself grows and becomes a man. It’s also that thing where you see your parents as fallible. You see the mistakes that he’s made and instead of biting your tongue, you call him out on it. And perhaps there’s a little bit of arrogance and egotism on his part, as well. You have all of those things to play with, and we’ve tried to apply a little more, strip away a little more, each year, until we’ve come to an ending point. And that’s nice, to be able to feel like you’ve evolved, or that the character is evolving. It’s good.
What’s it like to return to the character of Morse for a new season? Does he feel familiar, or do you have to start all over again?
To be totally honest with you, every time I start a job, I always think, “Oh no, I don’t know what I’m doing!” And then I end up panicking, and reading a load of acting books and thinking, “I actually don’t know what I’m doing.” This is a common thing. Throughout the year, we have a chat with the writer and the other execs about where we’re going to find him this year, what was good about the year previous, what we could build upon, what perhaps, didn’t work quite so well from the previous year. We’re constantly having conversations about it, and I find that oftentimes, one little kernel of something, part of a conversation, or even part of a relationship within the stories that we’ve told, something about that will strike a match, and then I’ll start to build how we’re going to proceed around that.
For example, in this season we have a character called Violetta, and how that character came into being and what she represents came out of a conversation between the rest of us about what facet of Endeavour we’ve not shown yet, what box have we’ve not ticked yet. So what kind of woman should she be, and what role does she fulfill for him on his journey? Out of that conversation, sometimes you mirror things in your own life, and then we begin to build around it. I’m a big one for going through the story again and again and again because for me, it’s all about the story.
So my point is that when it comes back, it always feels fresh. If it doesn’t feel fresh for me, then we probably shouldn’t be coming back to make this, because what are we going to do? We’re only going to be rehashing stuff we’ve done before, right? Or I’ll be rehashing stuff I’ve done before. It’ll become turgid and boring…For me, the job is fully immersive because it’s the whole six months of your life. You’re invested in it. And each scene wants to be better than the one previous, and so each time it feels new and exciting and like it needs to engage a slightly different part of my brain, or a different part of your emotions, than it did the year previous, or in any of the stuff that we’ve done. That’s by design, but also, that’s what makes me keep coming back.
With regard to Violetta, what was that box that hadn’t been ticked yet?
Well, the beauty about Joan Thursday, I suppose, is that she is attainable. For one reason or another, she isn’t for Endeavour, but she’s the girl next door. Whereas what we’ve not had is [someone] who is not “the one that got away,” but is the one that you kind of can’t believe that you had, for those five minutes, anyway—that person in your life who’s a big star, or has got something sort of otherworldly, almost like a goddess, in a way. The unattainable, like really unattainable. And it’s something that’s operatic, as well.
Because we were doing three episodes for the first time, rather than four, we thought it would be nice to have someone who goes over the whole three episodes, and within that three-act structure of the film, something quite operatic happens. So where do you meet her? You meet her on New Year’s Eve, in Venice at the opera…And where does the relationship end? It ends in the same place a year later exactly.
Also, our composer and the writer wrote an opera to go with it, which was then translated into ancient Italian. Then in Oracle, the episode that I directed, we got some opera singers to learn it and to perform it. We staged the opera and shot it and shot our relationship to the opera, both where we meet and then again, a year later when our relationship comes to an end. So that’s kind of what I was saying earlier—it’s like, “Okay, you’re coming back, so how are you going to raise the stakes? How are you going to make it more interesting?” Not interesting for interesting’s sake, but what is interesting about Endeavour. When you think about him, you think about ale, you think about opera, you think about crosswords, that logical mind, that poetic mind, solving problems. So how do we pull out those things and make them more incredible than they could have been? That’s what we tried to achieve this year with this season.
It was an incredible experience, both as an actor and as a director, just being involved with the story, as well. To have the ideas, to write your own opera (which is only a small part of the story, but one that informs the whole fiber of it, all of the connective tissue is informed by it), and then to have the ability to do it—find a theater, find opera singers, stage it, shoot it, and then do a crime story alongside it? It’s kind of amazing when you think about it.
Would you ever do it again like this, with one single over-arching story?
No, I don’t think so, because so many great detective shows do that in such an elegant and interesting way, where the crime story goes over the whole series. We just wanted to try it, to see what it was like. And I think was good, but I feel like we’ve done it now. One of the beautiful things about this job is that each [episode] is like a self-contained film. They’re shot individually, so each director gets their own time with their story. They bring their own DP and cinematographer on board, and get their own cast, so that each one should feel like its own unique thing. The thinking behind it is that each one should feel fresh and individual, like a little individual gift. And should feel different, because each director brings their own particular sensibilities to the stories…I do think that there’s a beauty in each director not having to pay too much attention to what’s gone before, or what comes after, and where their story fits with that, of course, within the emotional stories of the returning characters.
But it’s nice to have something which is self-contained, which is set up in the first one, and paid off in the first one as well. Because I think it’s gratifying for the people who are making it, but also, hopefully, gratifying for the audience as well. “Oh, of course, it was him—that’s how he did it; that’s why he did it; and that’s how they caught him.” There’s something about being able to satisfyingly tie that up in 90 minutes.
What was it like filming in Venice?
Oh my God, it was insane. You know when you’re just like throwing ideas out there, where you’re just like, “What if we start New Year’s Eve, in the opera house in Venice?” Like, where would be a really cool place, blue sky thinking, to do this? And then to actually to have the opportunity to do it—I was completely blown away.
We shot all of the first episode, we wrapped on the Tuesday night, and I flew out to Venice first thing Wednesday morning. Because I was directing the episode, just four of us, a very, small crew, went out, as there was no sound recorded. We had two Italian fixers there, but essentially, I put my tuxedo on, picked up the camera and the box of lenses with the lads, and we would just go to the locations that we’d decided. It was full of tourists, so we’d just say, “Do you mind waiting there for two minutes while we just do this?” I’d shout, “Action,” walk through, and just try and get as much material as we had. And so we spent three days essentially doing that, knocking off the locations ourselves. Usually if you’re making a TV show, it’s quite a big unit that goes around with you. With this, it was really enjoyable to have a really small crew, and do your work in a very free and relaxed way.
Venice is an extraordinary place. It sort of defies belief—you slightly can’t believe it until you see it, and even then, it’s like, “Wow, is that just water there? This is crazy.” But what I love about it is, it’s so many little nooks and quite small alleyways, teeming with people, and then all of a sudden, all of the people have gone. And you’re there alone. And the light is reflecting off the water on to these walls. And it becomes like a weird sort of, slightly mystical place. There’s something about it which I think is incredibly special and not chosen at random really, for a murder story, especially when you’re thinking about water and the subconscious, and what exists beneath. There’s something about Venice which, I think, is unsettling in a really good way.
The heartbreaking letter that Morse writes to Joan as he’s going back to Venice brought to mind that scene in the Season 1 episode Fugue, where Thursday tells him, “Go home, put your best record on, loud as it’ll play. And with every note you remember that’s something that the darkness couldn’t take from you.” Is that what Endeavour, at its core, is about, these two men struggling to resist the encroaching darkness, each in his own way, as they try to find the truth?
In a way. I guess on one level, both of these guys have chosen this path, this career, but on another level, the fates have decided it for them. If you take a step back, the fates have decided that these are the guys to save the day. And what does that mean? How do you deal with that? I suppose Thursday’s trying to say, “This is awful, where we see the worst in humanity, and you have to have something which is beautiful, which saves you from that.” And he’s telling him his way of dealing with it. Now what could be interesting is if, over the course of the stories, the thing which saves you from it begins to get decayed as the story develops over the seven seasons, as is the case with Thursday, if you think it’s his family. You have to lose everything, in a way, to gain it. So in short, yes is the answer to your question, because there’s seven seasons, and it’s all, in a way, based on that.
When the curtain goes down at the end of Season Seven, where do you think that those two are with each other?
Well, as with everything, there’s always two answers to every question. If you look back in any of the books or in the previous TV series, the character of Thursday is never mentioned, obviously, because he’s an original creation of [writer] Russell Lewis’. Part of our duty is to give us a reason why Morse of the later incarnation never mentions this mentor of his. So Thursday has to do something, or there has to be a fissure in the relationship, where he’s never mentioned again. We’re coming to that point now, I think, and we’ve been slowly, slowly building towards it.
But then in terms of their actual relationship, what you see over the course of it is that Endeavour is being his own man now. He’s no longer going to be the bag man or the can lad for someone. If there’s a problem, then he’ll say it and call you out on it, however unpopular that is—sometimes without thinking it through, which to be honest, for me, is a really great trait, one that I really admire. And sometimes he makes a mistake and is rude and egotistical. But nonetheless, he’s being honest and calling out what he sees as poor policing, or poor judgment of character. So that’s where we find them, what you think is the end of their relationship throughout this story.
But when push comes to shove, at the complete end of it, there is only one person that he can rely upon, and that is Thursday. And he wants him to think well of him. Likewise with Thursday—for all him saying everything that he’s said about Endeavour, that he thinks he’s better than everyone, that he looks down on his nose at people—he would still jump on the train and go to Venice and save him, if he can, just to make sure that he’s okay. So even if they’re not speaking or their relationship is really fractious, within the context of our stories they only really have each other. Well, that’s the thing actually—Thursday doesn’t; Thursday has his family, but Endeavour doesn’t have anyone else. And in a way, that’s what’s poignant and quite painful about it, I think—that after all this time and all these dalliances with different girls, actually, there is no one.
Part of the tragedy of it is how much he’s pushing Thursday away, the only person who he’s got close to, really. What says about his character, this person who doesn’t want people close, and who doesn’t even want people to call him by his first name—I think that speaks volumes. I remember thinking that at the very beginning as well…that actually there’s something comfortable about not allowing people to get too close. What kind of person, what wounds does that person have? is what I thought at the very beginning. That’s what has informed a lot of this journey over the past few years.
Find out all about Endeavour Season 7 from Shaun Evans himself as he shares details about Endeavour’s new love interest, the operatically high stakes, and an amazing, new element to the season in our exclusive interview! What else do you need to know about the new season? Look no further!
A New Love Interest: Violetta
“The beauty about Joan Thursday, I suppose, is that she is attainable. For one reason or another, she isn’t for Endeavour, but she’s the girl next door. Whereas what we’ve not had is [someone] who is not ‘the one that got away,’ but is the one that you kind of can’t believe that you had, for those five minutes, anyway—that person in your life who’s a big star, or has got something sort of otherworldly, almost like a goddess, in a way. The unattainable, like really unattainable. And it’s something that’s operatic, as well.”
Higher, Even Operatic, Stakes
“It’s like, ‘Okay, you’re coming back [for a seventh season], so how are you going to raise the stakes? How are you going to make it more interesting?’ Not interesting for interesting’s sake, but what is interesting about Endeavour. When you think about him, you think about ale, you think about opera, you think about crosswords, that logical mind, that poetic mind, solving problems. So how do we pull out those things and make them more incredible than they could have been? That’s what we tried to achieve this year with this season. “Because we were doing three episodes for the first time, rather than four, we thought it would be nice to have someone who goes over the whole three episodes, and within that three-act structure of the film, something quite operatic happens. So where do you meet [Violetta]? You meet her on New Year’s Eve, in Venice at the opera…”
An Actual Opera
“[Endeavour‘s writer] Russell Lewis wrote an opera to go with it, which was then translated into ancient Italian. Then in [Season 7’s first episode] Oracle, the episode that I directed, we got some opera singers to learn it and to perform it. We staged the opera and shot it… “It was an incredible experience, both as an actor and as a director, just being involved with the story, as well. To have the ideas, to write your own opera (which is only a small part of the story, but one that informs the whole fiber of it, all of the connective tissue is informed by it), and then to have the ability to do it—find a theater, find opera singers, stage it, shoot it, and then do a crime story alongside it? It’s kind of amazing when you think about it.”
A Mystical Location: Venice
“Filming in Venice—it was insane. You know when you’re just throwing ideas out there, where you’re just like, ‘What if we start New Year’s Eve, in the opera house in Venice?’ Like, where would be a really cool place, blue sky thinking, to do this? And then to actually to have the opportunity to do it? I was completely blown away… “… It’s an extraordinary place. It sort of defies belief—you slightly can’t believe it until you see it, and even then, it’s like, ‘Wow, is that just water there? This is crazy.’ But what I love about it is, it’s so many little nooks and quite small alleyways, teeming with people, and then all of a sudden, all of the people have gone, and you’re there alone. And the light is reflecting off the water on to these walls, and it becomes like a weird sort of, slightly mystical place. There’s something about it which I think is incredibly special, and not chosen at random, really, for a murder story—especially when you’re thinking about water and the subconscious, and what exists beneath. There’s something about Venice which, I think, is unsettling in that way, in a really good way. And I feel like it’s not unlike Oxford inasmuch as you can point the camera anywhere and it looks beautiful. It just looks extraordinary wherever you turn your eye. So it was an amazing experience.”
Endeavour's series 7 finale delivers high drama, tragedy, bitter grief and stunning visuals. Spoilers ahead in our Zanana review...
Gem Wheeler - Den of Geek
There’s a frost in the Oxford air, glimmering on the college quads as another year draws to a close. For long-time Endeavour viewers, though, it’s another chill that’s of more concern. The previous episodes of this brief seventh series have seen a growing froideur between Morse and Thursday: two friends we once thought couldn’t be parted, come hell or high water. Well, the former – or a vision of it, at any rate – has made its appearance. Turns out that a spate of unsolved, barely connected murders might do what a corruption scandal never could.
St Matilda’s College is the last bastion of all-female education in the University, but that might soon change. Much to the fury of Magdalena Byrne (Marianne Oldham), her academic colleagues are holding a referendum on male membership of the college. It’s a controversial topic, but no amount of protests – or Dr Byrne’s insistence that St Matilda’s student body is at risk, threatened from without by the ravening beasts of the opposite sex – can hold back a push for parity. When she drops the stereotyping, bringing up the hard fact that only five Oxford colleges permit women at all, it’s hard not to see her point. Another towpath murder, followed by a mysterious accident within the bounds of her sanctuary, doesn’t do much to soften attitudes on either side.
Zenana is the culmination of an unusually serialised run of episodes for Endeavour. A number of plot threads have been developing throughout the series, all of which untangle themselves satisfyingly in this final story. Behind the eerie, spotlight-grabbing towpath slayings that have monopolised both the headlines and the police’s attention, another mystery has been brewing.
Dorothea Frazil (Abigail Thaw, always a welcome presence) has been busily investigating a spate of recent ‘accidents’ in the city and its environs. She’s absolutely convinced that something sinister is behind these fatal mishaps. They are, after all, bloody silly ways to die. Morse, a little sceptical at first, is fully on board with her theory by this stage, but Thursday won’t credit it. The stage is set for a vicious bout of recriminations that only Max DeBryn’s unfailing dignity can, all too briefly, shut down.
It’s an episode of high drama, tragedy, and bitter grief for a number of our friends at Castle Gate. A spark of hope for the Brights is snuffed out in the cruellest way imaginable when Frazil’s suspicions are proved to be correct. If you come away from every episode of Endeavour thinking how bizarre it is that the dry colonial martinet of its first series has somehow ended up becoming one of your favourite characters, then Zenana will both confirm Lesser’s brilliance, and remind you of how far Bright’s come since those early days. Those precious domestic scenes with Mrs Bright (Carol Royle) make the end so much more heartbreaking. We don’t even need to be told how much he’s lost. Endeavour might get the operatic tragedy, but he’s not the only one to lose a lover.
And on that note, after a series filled with lots of bawdy jokes worthy of one of the lighter opera LPs in Morse’s collection, the question’s been answered. This is a tragedy, not a comedy, after all. When the ‘supernatural’ mystery of the towpath killers – yes, there was more than one – has been solved, it falls to Morse to work out who’s been profiting from the other deaths, Mrs Bright’s very much included. Ludo and Violetta are up to their necks in guilt, and only one man can bring them in. It’s a painful bit of foreshadowing. Morse’s propensity to fall for doomed women won’t end here, as we know all too well. Back to Venice it is, for the final act in a bloodsoaked narrative.
Kate Saxon’s direction and James Moss’s cinematography make this a suitable ending to a visually stunning series which piles on the nerve-jangling tension in its action scenes to the very end. What lingers in the mind is the tension between characters, and some superb acting. The entire cast is given plenty to get their teeth into, from Evans and Allam in some wincingly brutal altercations as festering resentments start to erupt, to Sean Rigby and James Bradshaw as Strange and Max observe their friends’ deteriorating relationship with horror. Matthew Slater’s score, as usual, brings out an even deeper layer of emotion.
Where to in series eight, then? Well, that letter from Morse to the absent Joan hinted that his heart might not have been completely turned by Violetta’s charms. As for his friendship with Thursday senior, the last scene said it all. The McNutt era isn’t upon us just yet…
Race tensions are rising and a friendship falls under strain in part two of Endeavour's seventh series. Spoilers ahead...
Gem Wheeler - Den of Geek
The dramatic ending to Endeavour series seven’s eerie opener has left us in a strange position. Morse – along with most of his colleagues – believes that they’ve got the towpath murderer safely in custody. Thursday thinks differently, and we know he’s right. Not that Oxford’s finest don’t have quite enough to preoccupy them as another tangled web of crimes reveals itself. As an election draws near, tensions are rising in the city thanks to far-right agitators led by Martin Gorman (Jason Merrells) and racially motivated violence between rival gangs of youths is becoming an issue. Belonging is a consistent theme here, from the confused identity of half-Polish Gary Rogers (William Allam) to the feelings of alienation experienced by the younger members of the Sardar family, whose Bengali heritage means different things to them all. It’s a powder keg waiting to ignite, and Morse, as ever, is there to witness the grim aftermath.
The strange disappearance of deliveryman Mr Aziz (Raj Awasti) is the first in a series of puzzles that draw Thursday’s and Morse’s attention to the staff of The Jolly Rajah, a popular Indian restaurant. When the poor man’s body is discovered by Morse at one of the addresses on Aziz’s round, the investigation steps up a gear. The property’s owned by TV chef Oberon Prince (Neil Roberts), but he’s nowhere to be found. The police draw a blank with the dead man’s employers, too. Restaurant owner Uqbah Sardar (Madhav Sharma, in an affecting performance) is struggling to come to terms with the fact that he’s living with dementia and in denial about its impact on his memory. Unease is building in his family, with discord increasing between doctor Farook (Sia Alipour) and brother Salim (Shane Zaza), who’s starting to concern his wife Nuha (Hiftu Quasem) with his mysterious behaviour.
Trouble’s also brewing between Morse and Thursday. It’s becoming apparent now, as we inch towards a future we’ve already seen, that there’s a reason why Thursday disappears from Morse’s life. The possibility of corruption might not have been able to shatter an alliance of mentor and pupil that once seemed gold-plated, but disaffection just might corrode it beyond restoration. There’s still affection and loyalty between them, but Morse is avoiding their cosy evenings in the pub, and Thursday’s noticed. He’s lost in his own thoughts more often than not now, to Win’s concern, and even Frazil’s picked up on Fred’s lack of enthusiasm for a job that once took up most of his waking thoughts.
Morse is still pressing on with redecorating a house that it’s hard not to think of as old, filled as it already is in our minds with echoes of the life to come. For now, though, light fills a living room denuded of its paper: the ghosts of its previous, tragic occupants seemingly at their rest. Morse’s even starting to move on from his doomed love for Joan Thursday, as we see in a brief conversation with Win. But the light is followed by deep shadow, and never more so than when Morse reluctantly finds himself crossing paths with college acquaintance Ludo and the woman we now know to be Ludo’s wife, Violetta. Despite our man’s best efforts, Violetta’s determined not to leave their passionate Venetian tryst to memory. Tragedy is on its way in next week’s finale, it seems. In the moment, all is bliss.
Shaun Evans did a superb job of setting up this three-act drama, and director Zam Salim takes up that baton with finesse in ‘Raga’. That title, incidentally, refers to a pattern of notes in Indian classical music. How appropriate for a show renowned for its haunting theme tune, composed by the great Barrington Pheloung, who passed away last summer aged just 65: a bitter loss indeed.
Matthew Slater’s music captures this episode’s dramatic heft with typical grace, as James Aspinall’s cinematography lends some strikingly tense sequences a noirish depth, clashing pleasingly against the stark sunshine of Oxford’s days. Once again, the episode tackles timely concerns. The past may be another country, but they don’t, it turns out, do things all that differently from us. Rebecca Saire’s fine depiction of crushing grief is a particular highlight in a series always blessed in its supporting cast, as it is in its main players.
It’s not all bleak, though. The advent of wrestling and TV cookery shows leaves plenty of opportunity for Russell Lewis’s sharp script to make some cheeky nods, including the juxtaposition of two names that leave even the unflappable Morse blinking. The marvellous Anton Lesser sells one gag about food critics with a deliciously pregnant pause.
Comedy or tragedy, then? We’ll find out soon enough.
On 23rd November last year, Shaun Evans was a guest at the 32nd Foyle Film Festival. Shaun joined the guest panel of "Shorts to Features" leading a brilliant discussion on acting for the screen.
Shaun Evans kicks off Endeavour series 7 in style both in front of and behind the camera. Spoilers in our review of Oracle...
Gem Wheeler - Den of Geek
It’s the dawn of a new year. A new decade, in fact. Yet, the more things change, the more they remain the same. The cold light of early morning brings with it a gruesome discovery, as the corpse of barmaid Molly Andrews (Lucy Farrar) is found not far from the pub where she worked. Accusing fingers are soon pointed at her boyfriend, Carl Sturgis (Sam Ferriday), but something doesn’t quite add up. Max DeBryn is unable to say for certain how Molly’s neck was broken, which doesn’t improve Fred Thursday’s mood. Years of murder cases are starting to take their toll on him, as he gloomily tells Dorothea Frazil (Abigail Thaw). Even more troublingly, the cumulative effect of such human misery seems to be having an impact on his performance as a detective.
Something’s missing from this picture: or rather, someone. We find Endeavour Morse in Venice, enjoying the sights of La Serenissima, not to mention some more visceral pleasures. Only Morse could make two weeks’ leave into a romantic sojourn worthy of an opera. Three guesses as to which cultural pursuit Morse has been partaking in, by the way. Is it too much of a spoiler to say that you won’t be needing two of them?
A passionate encounter with the glamorous Violetta (Stephanie Leonidas) leaves our man lovelorn and wistful on his return to work, haunted by flashes of sensuous memory. The only thing Endeavour’s stripping off in
Oxford is faded wallpaper. When an old college friend returns to his life – Ludo (Ryan Gage), charming, urbane and Italian – the atmosphere shifts again. Comedy or tragedy? We’ll see how this particular opera plays out in the next two episodes, but that opening sequence doesn’t exactly promise laughs.
The lure of a TV career uncovers a nest of vipers within Oxford’s scientific community, as various contenders vie for a role as presenter. Young researcher Naomi Benford (Naomi Battrick) stands out against her colleagues, sneering misogynist Dai Ferman (Richard Harrington), downtrodden Jeremy Kreitsek (Reece Ritchie) and the condescending Professor Blish (Angus Wright). Her success, and her colleagues’ poisonous resentments, set off a chain reaction that leads to a horrible tragedy. What does all this have to do with a sex pest, the towpath murder, and the strange visions experienced by barmaid Jenny Tate (Holli Dempsey)? A certain tension builds between the jaded Fred and a frustrated Endeavour as hints of incompetence are dropped. Could it be that even Morse hasn’t quite grasped the full span of this supernaturally tinged mystery?
After his triumphant directorial debut on the show last year, long-time Endeavour viewers will have been quietly crossing their fingers for Shaun Evans to get behind the camera once again. Oracle sees him do double duty for a second time, and it was worth the wait. Spectacular shots of Venice, drenched in vivid atmosphere, swim back into view in flashback as Morse returns to an
Oxford of bleak beauty tinged with loss. The murder scene, framed against a chilly January morning, is all the starker for this contrast. A stolen love affair and a lingering regret, all summed up by Morse with a quiet, “Oh, you know…” when Thursday asks how his jaunt abroad went. Couple this with Bright’s protracted grief as he watches his sick wife (Carol Royle) try everything in her search for a cure, and the scene is set for a powerful run of episodes. With the help of a mordantly funny script by writer Russell Lewis, Evans has proved that he has Morse’s measure.
After a deep dive into the changing mores of the Swinging Sixties over the past six series, Endeavour has reached a new decade. 1970's Oxford is that bit harsher and more cynical than we’ve seen it before, but how could it be otherwise after the near-disaster that hit the city’s finest at the end of the previous run of episodes? Cinematic references to Don’t Look Now abound, and not just in the use of Venice as a location. The supernatural element is conveyed with a frisson of genuine horror worthy of M. R. James, while these disconcerting elements of the story are grounded by the more mundane – if no less distressing – sexism ingrained in Dr Benford’s sad fate. Questions of power, agency and spiteful revenge call forward to crimes that are, sadly, still very current. It’s an intriguing mix that kicks off this all-too-brief seventh series in style.
Shaun Evans is back as a young Inspector Morse in the seventh series of ITV hit Endeavour. The actor, who also directed the first episode, talks to Georgia Humphreys about the importance of challenging himself.
Since it first hit our screens in 2013, detective show Endeavour has become hugely popular.
Which is no surprise really, considering it's a prequel to Inspector Morse - the beloved ITV crime series starring the late John Thaw as the titular character.
Now in its seventh series, Endeavour sees Shaun Evans play a young Morse - who first appeared in novels by British author Colin Dexter - alongside Roger Allam as DCI Fred Thursday.
In the first episode, it's New Year's Eve 1969. Normal order has been resumed and the team are back together at Castle Gate CID.
However, the events of the past year have left their mark, and we can expect old friendships to be challenged, while new relationships blossom.
Here, Liverpudlian Evans, 39, tells us more.
How would you sum up series seven of Endeavour?
This is the shortest one we've done - there's only three films this time. There's way more connective tissue between them, so while you can watch them all individually, you can see them as a three, as a proper series.
The main thrust of the story, it's less 'story of the week' and more an ongoing narrative, which is the nucleus of the separation between myself and Thursday.
Endeavour is a very enigmatic character, isn't he?
I think that's a good thing, though. It's a fallacy that we know everything about someone. That's why it always makes me laugh when actors say, 'I know everything about this character' - I just don't see that.
I still surprise myself some of the things I do. I think, 'What were you thinking?' And your work as an actor should be the same. There should be a degree of holding something back.
You recently re-read the books the show is based on. What did you take from that?
The characterisation in the books is terrific. You have way more liberties with books than you do with a screenplay or with film or TV series, so how you plot the clues can be done in a way that you can't in the visual medium.
There's something about that cryptic mind, which is into solving crossword puzzles but, likewise, seeing the clues to a murder and it being the same part of the brain. It was that that I was thinking about going into it again this time.
Endeavour hasn't been very lucky in love. We were hoping this series he might get a break...
But where would be the fun in that? I think what's great about Violetta [played by Stephanie Leonidas] in this series... She's a character we haven't seen before in Endeavour, someone who's completely unobtainable and the 'other', in as much as she's quite wealthy and flies around the world seemingly, and is incredibly enigmatic on the one hand, but then is very available on the other hand.
By the end of this series, my hope is that she occupies a very distinct and unique place in the history of this character, which makes him the person that he becomes. She's a very definite stepping stone on the way to that.
How has your preparation changed from when you first took on the role?
Well, you don't want to be complacent as an actor. This is an amazing job in many ways, but there's also a danger that you become lazy with your work. So I've always tried to push myself, to be producing or to be directing and to be doing things alongside and in conjunction with this. Part of that is not making it too easy for yourself, so you're not just playing yourself.
That's why it was important, for me personally, to read the books again, and be like, 'I'd forgotten that' or 'I missed that' or 'That's interesting'.
You've got to stay engaged in it, otherwise I won't get anything out of it myself, and then the whole job would have been a waste, is the way I see it.
You directed the first film of this series. Is it difficult directing yourself?
Yeah, that can be a challenge. But I like a challenge, first and foremost. And it's interesting, because my opinion of acting and characterisation within a story has changed because of having an overview as a director.
It's challenging from a time-wise point of view. But, if you prepare and you've got a good team, then you can achieve anything.
Directors can come in and they have an overview of the story, but I've been in it for a long time and so that brings with it a fresh perspective. At this stage, I think that's a good thing.
It's a long-running show with a strong visual identity. How do you put your own spin on it?
Each director brings their own DP [Director of Photography]. They have their own unique story, so they bring their own cast as well, and they are encouraged to make it as much about them as is possible. So, the stories can have a similarity, but there is - hopefully - no house style with this show.
When I watch it back, I can always see the director's personality in it, just by the things that they laugh at, the things that they're interested in story-wise, the plot, things that are important to them or not, and how that relates to a visual language.
Endeavour returns to STV, tomorrow, 9pm
The star of Endeavour dislikes opening up. Ben Dowell tries to crack the case
The Times - Ben Dowell
Shaun Evans’s Endeavour Morse is a winningly decent man prone to drinking good bitter, watching tragic opera, solving crimes and — at least over the course of the 27 films broadcast so far — never finding love. In short, and rather pleasingly, he’s pretty much exactly like the older version played by John Thaw in Morse.
Both series are premier ITV shows, classy whodunnits steeped in elegiac wistfulness. Yes, the narrative is driven by the search for who bumped off whom, but over the eight years Endeavour has been on air, there has been an intriguing narrative thread examining police corruption and Masonic penetration in the (fictional) Oxfordshire police of the time. Whatever happens we can take comfort from the knowledge that if there’s one good man, it’s young Morse, even if he’s not always easy to understand.
So far we have followed him alongside his boss and father figure, Roger Allam’s no-nonsense DCI Fred Thursday, for most of the 1960s; the new seventh series starts on New Year’s Eve 1969 on the cusp of the grim 1970s. It has been slow progress towards an inevitable end. In 2000 John Thaw’s Morse had a fatal heart attack in the quad of an Oxford college, dying in hospital after cracking his last case in an episode called The Remorseful Day.
Young and old, Morse famously won’t let people into his heart and life. And when it comes to Evans, the bright Liverpudlian who stars as his youthful iteration, it’s all too tempting to draw parallels between the policeman and the actor who plays him.
He is certainly thoughtful and understated when we meet in a quiet room at the ITV headquarters. And boy, does he try not to let you in; I lost count of the times he stood up to pad around when he found a question tricky, often pausing to lean against the wall and look skywards.
“Oh my God, 45 minutes,” he says with a pained smile when I tell him how much time we have. “Intense.”
It’s hard to imagine a person less keen on giving interviews. Why is that?
“I think two things.” He pauses before continuing. “The likelihood of me divulging something to someone I don’t know is very slim, right? It’s not the kind of person I am. The second thing about it is the more people know about you the less willing they are to align with you as an actor when you play a part. And the work is enough for me; it’s its own reward. I don’t need...” He pauses again. “The bollocks that comes along with it can be distracting to your work and it’s that that I am quite guarded against.” Nice to meet you too.
Evans is reluctant to even confirm certain details about his early life, although he doesn’t contradict me when I say I understand that his dad worked as a taxi driver and his mum as a hospital care worker. “It was me who chose to go into this job, neither of them did,” he remarks, not unreasonably. “So it would be unfair.”
Evans, 39, seems to have had a settled early life, winning a place in the sought-after state school St Edward’s College on the outskirts of Liverpool. He acted in school and proceeded happily though the National Youth Theatre, eventually enrolling at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and getting his acting break as the French teacher John Paul Keating in the Channel 4 comedy-drama Teachers in 2002.
He seems proud of his home town, rather sweetly calling Liverpool “the pool of life”. So did he, I ask, have a happy childhood? “F*** off! Of course it was happy,” he says, flashing the kind of huge smile the Big Bad Wolf gave Little Red Riding Hood.
I don’t mention his four-year romance with the pop star Andrea Corr, which is the only relationship of his that we know about (it ended about 2006). I have been warned off personal questions in advance and his manner suggests that I would be wise to follow that stricture.
He’s a handsome man, I tell him, which draws a friendly smile. I lightheartedly add that there’s a sizeable contingent of mums at my daughter’s primary school who find him desirable. Another silence. I am starting to explain that if you google “Shaun Evans” the first sentence that comes up is “is he married?” but he interrupts before I can finish the sentence. “Don’t even tell me,” he says, with an agonised laugh.
He doesn’t read interviews or critics and says he probably won’t read this piece.
He wants, he keeps reminding me, to talk about the work; something he takes so seriously that he has started directing episodes as well (he directs the opening episode of the new series and did one for the previous series).
“Ultimately, I am the judge of my own work; I know that sounds very grand. To be honest I try not to intellectualise because the work is more interesting if I don’t. You try to be as instinctual as possible... I ask the opinions of the people I respect.”
In the previous series, pre-publicity pictures of his character’s new moustache went viral. It sounds like the kind of thing that would have irritated him, but he claims that wasn’t the case and says that the facial furniture (which is gone for the forthcoming series) wasn’t a piece of frivolity denoting the move towards the 1970s. No, it was modelled on the one sported by August Strindberg, that dourest of playwrights.
In any case, the new three-episode series is determined not to play to stereotypes and preconceptions about the grubby, grimy, strike-ridden, sexually careless, slightly corrupt, mustachioed 1970s. He describes the episodes as having an “operatic” acts structure, in keeping with the musical passions of its hero.
Evans is more revealing when he talks about politics, an inevitable area of discussion given we meet the day before polling stations open for the December general election. Before he decided to become an actor, he had considered studying history and politics at university, and he still takes a keen interest in the subject.
He’s not a Tory, he says, “not a fan” of Boris Johnson and is unhappy with the way the world is run. “It’s not just the US; it’s something that’s also worldwide. [But] things are happening. Younger people are getting involved and having more of a say.”
One suspects he was a Corbyn fan and voter (although he won’t say where he is planning to land his cross) and in hindsight there is something rather poignant about his optimism before the Labour wipeout that came to pass. “I think something wonderful IS about to happen,” he says. (Unless he really is a Tory.)
There is at least one journalist he does admire. “Emma Barnett is f***ing brilliant, isn’t she?” he says. “She’s so impressive, funny but also direct. I think she does a great job.”
As for his plans for Endeavour, he can’t promise another series next year, insisting it is commissioned on a year-by-year basis, and suggests that there could be an end in sight. As with the departure of Corbyn, though, it’s not happening straight away. The writer Russell Lewis (another man not keen on giving much away in interviews) said last year that he has a planned end in mind — “there is a terminus, our own Remorseful Day” — and confirmed he won’t take Morse into the 1980s (the decade when we first met Thaw’s Morse, in 1987).
And what does Evans think? “We’ve come this far down the road and I want to finish it in a way that’s decisive and does it justice,” he says.
But fans of Morse’s immediate boss, the beautifully dour and decent Thursday, may need to shut their ears. Fans have always noticed that Thursday is not referenced in Colin Dexter’s Morse stories, but DS Strange — played by James Grout in Inspector Morse and Sean Rigby in Endeavour — is. The creators of Endeavour clearly have something up their sleeve for Thursday, a man whose decency was compromised by his flirtation with the Freemasons in earlier episodes. Before the series draws to a close, is the great man going to do something so terrible and disillusioning that older Morse never speaks his name again?
“Oh, it’s gotta be!” says Evans. “Haven’t you been paying attention? Dramatically it’s got to be something bad.”
Well, I have been paying attention, I want to answer. It’s why I asked the question. But I don’t.
Evans hopes to continue directing and slightly balks when I ask if he could do that full-time. “Why can’t you do both?” he says, which is also a fair point. His eyes light up when I ask him about his photography work. You get a real glimpse of the passionate and likeable man that people who work with him constantly describe.
“I’m a photographer on the sly. Black and white, mainly. I’ve been taking pictures since I was 15. The first job I ever had was in a camera shop when I was 16 and the first proper camera I bought was when I was 20. I just do it for myself. If people like it, that’s cool.”
He seems reluctant to even say what his subjects are. “They’re people... not portraits,” after another long pause. “It’s another manifestation of telling stories. My hope with it is that they are enigmatic images that draw you in and, when placed in a sequence, can tell a narrative that perhaps wasn’t there at the beginning.”
So even his hobby is enigmatic. Now why is that not a surprise?
The new series of Endeavour starts February 9, ITV, 8pm
Endeavour's Shaun Evans doesn't discuss his private life; and doesn't do small talk. 'Life's too short - let's do something interesting,' he tells Paul Kirkley.
Shaun Evans has never seen Inspector Morse. 'There's never been time,' says the actor, who plays the younger version of John Thaw's grumpy detective in Morse prequel Endeavour. Added to that, he didn't want to 'slavishly do an impersonation of someone else. But it's nice to feel part of something that's good and loved,' he adds of the show's distinguished pedigree. 'Nice to feel that I've added to it.'
Indeed he has: a sizeable hit since its launch in 2012, Endeavour has traced Sergeant Morse's bumpy journey through 1960's Oxford, solving a string of satisfyingly baroque murders under the watchful eye of veteran DI Fred Thursday (Roger Allam). Now the latest series finds Morse ringing in a new decade by investigating the death of a young woman found on a towpath in the early hours of New Year's Day, 1970.
Shaun has also directed the opening episode - his second time behind the camera on the series. 'I've been directing for about five years now,' explains the 39-year-old in his soft Liverpudlian accent. ' I learned my trade on Casualty for a couple of years. I'm never one to sit on my laurels. You want to be pushing yourself, and for it never to feel too easy. You want to keep yourself interested, and therefore interesting.'
Although Shaun hints that Endeavour is approaching its endgame, an eighth series has already been confirmed, by the end of which he will have played Morse in more films than John Thaw. Another actor who's been on board since the start is Abigail Thaw - John's daughter - as Oxford Mail editor Dorothea Frazil. Did it feel important to have her blessing?
'It was never as heavy-handed as that,' he says. 'It was an unusual situation for both of us at the beginning, because we're just actors who've been employed to do a job. It's everyone else who brings that baggage to it. When we made the first one, they flew myself and Abbie out to LA to do publicity, and gave us money behind the bar. So we spent three days getting drunk, and having a laugh. Now Abbie's one of my greatest friends. Likewise with Roger.'
Unusually for a leading man, Shaun - a former member of the National Youth Theatre whose first regular TV role was in Channel 4's Teachers - tends no to take on other acting jobs between each series of Endeavour. That's partly because he's been easy earning his director's stripes, but also because he prefers to spend his six months off travelling, reading, taking photographs and generally expanding his horizons.
'I've always been interested in lots of things,' he explains. 'I love travelling. I'm interested in not being a slave to being an actor, but in trying to find my own personal route to a full life.
'I'm not just an actor sitting by the phone or having a smash-and-grab time doing all the work he can. I actually pay attention. I'm interested in the literature of Japan, or whatever. It's gratifying, at the end of the year, to say: yeah, I did that, I played that part, I directed that, I took all those pictures, I visited a new place I'd never been before... That, to me, is a full year, and a life fully lived. That's what gives my life meaning - not just pretending to be someone else.'
At one point during our conversation, Shaun refers to Morse as 'a truth seeker' - something you feel could equally apply to him. Born in Merseyside to a working-class Northern Irish Catholic family, he gained a scholarship to Liverpool's prestigious St Edward's College - early evidence, perhaps, of a restless, enquiring mind? 'Yeah, maybe,' he considers. I'm just hungry for things, you know? Always have been.'
His dad was a taxi driver and his mum worked in a hospital. Weekend points out that Morse's dad was also a taxi driver. 'Yeah,' he says. 'I'm reluctant to talk about that, though. Only because I made the choice to do this job. My family didn't. So I don't think it's cool to... I mean, it's not a big deal but...'
What he's politely - if a little awkwardly - trying not to say is 'mind your own business.' Because while Shaun is warm, convivial company, he also guards his privacy fiercely. His relationship status has never been up for discussion (although we know he dated singer Andrea Corr for four years in his twenties) and the word that tends to crop up in all profiles of him is 'enigmatic.'
'Why am I going to divulge the most intimate details of my life to a stranger?' he asks. 'And wouldn't I also be shooting myself in the foot? Because the more you know about me, my life and where I come from, the less you're going to believe in the story I'm telling. ' (For a while, he was even reluctant to let viewers hear his native accent, lest it break the spell.)
Presumably he’s baffled by the age of social media over-sharing? ‘I just think people might live to regret it,’ he shrugs. ‘We evolve, why would you make all your mistakes public?’
Would it be fair to say he’s quite intense?
‘I am intense,’ he nods. ‘But only because I can’t bear small talk. We have such a short time in the world. Let’s do something interesting.’
It’s an approach that makes him an unusually fascinating interviewee: almost entirely devoid of the usual airy platitudes these occasions demand, he appears to want to make every word meaningful.
‘I try to,’ he says. ‘I’m just trying to be honest, to let you get something out of this conversation. Equally, I want to get something out of it as well. I want you to leave with something,’ he adds, with a smile. ‘But I don’t want you to leave with something I don’t want to give you.’
Shaun partly based Endeavour’s voice on a young Michael Palin, who, like Morse, moved south to Oxford during the 1960s.
Kevin Whately called time on his own Morse spin-off, Lewis, because he was reluctant to exceed Thaw’s tally of 33 episodes, but Shaun doesn’t feel they should be ‘restricted by numbers’, arguing: ‘ it should be story led, not number led. When we feel we’ve put an end to this in a way that does justice to the work we’ve done, then it’s time to cal it a day.’
Shaun’s desire for privacy doesn’t extend to being rude to people in the street. ‘You should always be gracious,’ he says. ‘Hell, I do it all the time. I didi t the other day to Cathy Newman, from Channel 4 News. She didn’t have a clue who I was, but I totally fanboyed her. I love Channel 4 News!’
By Michael Pickard - Drama Quaterly
As Inspector Morse prequel Endeavour returns for a seventh season, star Shaun Evans talks to DQ about keeping the detective series fresh, avoiding impersonations and stepping into the director’s chair.
In the beginning, it was a single drama commissioned to mark the 25th anniversary of Inspector Morse. But eight years later, prequel series Endeavour is now back for its seventh season, continuing the story of the young Endeavour Morse’s early days as a detective in Oxford.
Shaun Evans returns in the title role, once again joined by Roger Allam as DCI Fred Thursday for three new films again written by Russell Lewis, taking the characters into a new decade, the 1970s. Episode one, Oracle, sees Endeavour taking in the new year at an opera house in Venice, while Thursday is convinced he has found the man responsible for a murder on an Oxford towpath.
New acquaintances and old friendships make themselves known, while a contentious college project develops into a fatal battle of the sexes.
The ITV drama – coproduced with Masterpiece in the US – may have been on air for eight years, but the limited number of episodes each year means Evans feels the series is as fresh as ever.
“We’re lucky because we only generally have four in the season, and this time it’s even less,” he says. “In a way that gives you more scope and because you’ve got a bigger gap between seasons it doesn’t feel like you’re constantly at the coalface. You can go away and do something else and then come back. That makes it easier, but also knowing there’s a shelf life [for the series] and that there is an end point focuses the mind. The great thing, though, is if the viewing figures are good enough, they’ll invite you to come back. It’s not taken for granted.”
With an eighth season already commissioned, the drama is now rapidly catching up to the original Morse series and it seems likely ITV will take Endeavour to its conclusion, however close that might be to the original series, which ran between 1987 and 2000.
“Having read the books [by Colin Dexter that inspired the original Morse series], that was my starting point of where the character was at the very beginning. But now, I feel like it’s got its own life,” Evans says of the prequel. “My only duty really is to finish the story we’ve embarked upon. To be honest, I think we’ll leave a big enough gap. There will be something like a 10-year gap before Morse starts, so I don’t feel too constrained by that.”
From the outset, the actor says he wanted to avoid any constraints put on Endeavour by the original series, particularly when it came to how he would portray the actor, who was originally played by the late John Thaw.
“When we first started I said I didn’t want to do an impression, otherwise what’s the point? I’m not doing any creative work then,” he says. “Fortunately it’s snowballed and so my intention is, if we are going to continue, to continue in that vein, to just keep doing my work and doing the work I’m proud of and bringing immediacy to the role if I’m acting it or a dynamism to if I’m directing it, so I can sleep at night. Beyond that, it’s not my decision.”
The current trend in television drama is for stories to play out over eight or 10 hours, with just as much investment in character development as there might be in the plot driving through the series. With a restricted number of episodes and a crime to solve in each one, does Evans feel he’s able to dig deep into Endeavour’s own personality?
“What I have discovered to be interesting is the plot-versus-character aspect of it and negotiating that,” he says. “For example, what I enjoy now is the flexibility of whether something is implausible or unlikely. There’s the flexibility of going, ‘Okay, that could happen’ and how do I get this character from scene A to scene B in a way that’s as believable and as immediate as possible, even though it may be slightly implausible. That is the nature of this job, rather than me creating a character. So the whole experience has really made me rethink what I think about acting for the screen and what that is moving forward.”
As a producer on the series as well as the leading actor, Evans is constantly in touch with the ‘family’ behind the scenes, whether that’s series creator and writer Russell Lewis or the production team at Mammoth Screen. “We’re all speaking throughout the year so it there’s something that needs our attention, we’re already talking about it anyway. And by the end of each season, we’re all more or less on the same page about going, ‘That didn’t work so well, but that was really good.’ For better or worse, it’s a constant conversation, which is a really unique and joyous way to be working.”
Evans is now adding directing to his list of duties and with three episodes of BBC medical drama Casualty under his belt, he made his directorial debut on Endeavour with an episode on season six. Now in season seven, he repeated his dual role on the first episode, Oracle.
“I’m not going to lie and say I was a kid running around with a 16mm camera,” Evans says of his directing pedigree. “I wasn’t, but from the get-go I was always more interested in doing as much as I can and being as broad as I can. I was glad when I was given the opportunity.”
He got his first break on Casualty, where series producer Erika Hossington invited him on to the show. “She did some due diligence and called around, heard that my heart was in the right place and then gave me the opportunity,” he recalls. “I prepared like a motherfucker and went and did it. The great thing for me at least about doing that rather than making a short film as a transition [into directing] is there’s something that focuses the mind when, yes it’s a machine, yes in six months time this will be out and people will see it, but also you’re surrounded by paid professionals who can sniff out if someone doesn’t know what they fuck they’re doing.
“For me, it’s better to learn under a little bit of pressure. It was an amazing experience in that respect. I started to learn about scenes and covering scenes. It was nerve-wracking for the first day or so but you’ve got to have a thick skin and be like, ‘Okay, I wasn’t so great at that. I’ll learn for next time.’”
He went on to direct three episodes of Casualty before filming 2019’s Apollo episode of Endeavour. “That was a really good experience and then they asked me to do it again. We also have a shorthand together now, myself and the team, because we’re friends and because we’ve made so many of them. I understand the tropes of this kind of story so I’m not wasting time there. I also have a shorthand with both the returning crew and the cast, so it makes it very efficient.”
Oracle opens with shots across the Oxford skyline and above rooftops, with atmospheric images of haunting woods and fog-covered bridges and canals. These are cross-cut with pictures of Endeavour attending the opera in Venice, where an elaborate performance – created purely for the series – is taking place on stage. There are also shots taken through windows, framing characters in different ways, while the camera, rarely still, is often moving with characters as they walk through crowds or waiting for them to approach from afar.
Evans says directors on the show, which is distributed by ITV Studios Global Entertainment, are encouraged to be “as bold and as different” as they can to make the film their own, rather than relying on a directing blueprint.
“I storyboard it for myself in a very rudimentary way and then I make a list of things I want to see and the backgrounds I want to see and where I imagine things will take place, and then throw it out, and then start again,” he says of his preparation process. “You have to build to be able to destroy but that’s part of the nerves. I want to be the one with all the answers, as a director should be. There’s nothing worse than seeing someone in that role falter and flounder. It’s most effective when that person is most decisive and has a clear goal and is confident enough to be open to better suggestions. That’s what I’ve noticed by working for 20 years.”
For Oracle, he also enjoyed the opportunity to film in Venice, where he and a skeleton crew spent just a few days collecting what they needed.
“When you’re working on a TV show, it’s a huge circus that comes around but it’s great because you have all of that support,” he says. “But we wrapped on the Tuesday and then me and three others went to Venice on Wednesday, so we were shooting it in a very different set-up. There’s much more of a guerrilla style then. I flew out on Wednesday morning, looked at the location Wednesday afternoon and then we started shooting Thursday so you’re open to the TV gods to give you what you need and then you make it. It’s as simple as that.
“After being in the pressure cooker of being on a TV set, there’s something very freeing about just being in this place with a camera and a small team and knowing what you need, with just very rudimentary equipment. There’s something about that I found really engaging that I hadn’t done before, either on Casualty or Endeavour.”
Evans says what’s great about directing versus acting is that you can learn to become a better director, while acting is more instinctive and intuitive. He has also learned that, behind the camera, both preparation and an openness to other people’s ideas are key.
In addition, “experience is all,” he notes. “Don’t be precious. Go and do a show just to have hours. That was my take on it. You can learn even on a job you know is not your ultimate goal, but you’ve started on the journey and you learn some things. And work begets work as well. There’s no point you being aloof, sitting in the house until you get your big opportunities to make your film. If you’re out there busy grafting, then you’re learning something and people are talking about you anyway, and you’re not becoming stale. That would be my last thing that goes for anything. That’s a skill to be learned.”
The actor says he would eventually like to direct something he had written himself, adding that he’s “ambivalent” to whether that be a film or on television. “My hope is I’m in all of this for the long haul, so you can just keep that keep getting better and not just have one film that you want to direct or one part that you want to play,” he adds. “To get better at your work would be my goal.”
So, '70s Morse - are we going to see you all running about in flares, yelling, "Shut it, you slags"?
Absolutely not! [Laughs.] I think there's always an expectation for something set in this era to be like The Sweeney, so we wanted to be different. It's more dark, sombre, melancholy - all of those words.
What cases are Morse and co getting stuck into this season?
We're entering a new time, and the women's lib movement features quite heavily in our first episode. There's this female scientist who's getting short shrift because of her sex, even though she's the brightest person in the room. It's a lot about a woman's place in society, which is resonant now. Episode three follows a similar theme, as students at a ladies' college face the prospect of having men join them. In the second one, there is a lot about migration and a politician who's stoking racial hatred, which again is very timely. So, we're dipping into all those kinds of worlds, and it's really interesting to draw those parallels. Of course, we have all the crime stories and the relationships, but what was going on at the time socially offers so much, too.
Now, in the opening shot of episode one, we see you covered in blood. Should we be worried?
Well, our intention is to leave you heartbroken... [Laughs.] No, only in the sense that we are very close to the end of the whole thing now, so there has to be something that leads our Morse character to become the Morse character we know from the later series and books. Saying that, we do hope there will be an, "Oh f**k, I didn't see that coming" moment.
We also see Morse with a new lady...
That'll be because he's lost that moustache! Yes, he meets this woman while he's at the opera in Venice on New Year's Eve, and she's this unattainable goddess type, so he's blown away. But that's all I can say...
And what about his relationship with Fred? That's a bit up and down...
Oh, Fred is always up and down. But things between them get to the worst they can be now. In the books and later TV show, Fred's character isn't mentioned, so we have to decide why. If that character has been as instrumental as he is through our iteration of the Morse story, then we have to do something so big, it means he is never mentioned again.
"They're incredibly technical."
BY DAN SEDDON AND JO BERRY - DIGITAL SPY
Endeavour's Shaun Evans has revealed the art of shooting sex scenes, and admits they're nowhere near as awkward as you might think.
The actor and director recently sat down with Digital Spy to talk all things season 7 and we thought we'd mention one particular moment featuring Stephanie Leonidas' Violetta, which focuses on the atmosphere more than what's going on under the sheets.
On this unique love scene, Shaun reflected: "Well, to be totally honest with you, they're super easy because they're incredibly technical. I mean, it's a very PG love scene in this one, but in the ones that I've done just as an actor, they're incredibly technical because you want be very specific movement-wise.
"Whereas with this, the joy of this one, which I was directing, was Stephanie was so game and so up for it and had such an idea of what she wanted to do," he claimed.
"What I was more interested in was creating the atmosphere between the two of us, because it wasn't about, you know, actually having the sex," Shaun added.
"It was about what this person makes this person feel and she just nailed it."
Endeavour will return to ITV on February 9.
The ITV detective drama will incorporate storylines dealing with issues ranging from sexual harassment to immigration
Radio Times - By Flora Carr
Endeavour star Shaun Evans has revealed that that the upcoming seventh series of the ITV detective drama will cover various timely topics — including a scenario inspired by the #MeToo movement.
Speaking to RadioTimes.com, the actor (who plays the young Endeavour Morse) and director was asked for his thoughts on the timeliness of various plotlines in season seven, including one about a male character who misreads signals from a female co-worker.
“Yeah of course, it’s not by accident. It’s intentional [the timely plotline], it’s not a coincidence,” Evans said. “I don’t want to say it’s a comment, but I think these stories work best when there is a reflection of what’s going on now. There’s a lot of women’s lib stuff. And the guy who misreads the signals… and how she’s [the female character] sort of dismissed in that situation. Then in the second [episode], there’s a lot about immigration and immigrants.
“None of these things are accidents, [we] try and do them with a lightness of touch, not heavy handed,” he added.
Asked whether he was directly inspired by the #MeToo movement, Evans (who directed the season’s first episode) said: “Well I mean it’s so in the ether at the moment – and rightly so – that I think yeah, of course, of course.”
Endeavour series seven premieres on ITV at 8pm on Sunday 9th February
And why some hardcore Morse fans might take issue
BY JOE ANDERTON AND JO BERRY - DIGITAL SPY
ITV's Endeavour has been slowly ticking in the background of the television landscape and, wouldn't you know it, it's gone and reached its seventh series!
The Inspector Morse prequel is finally reaching the 1970s, the decade before the original series is set, and there's plenty for fans to get excited for.
Speaking exclusively to Digital Spy, actor Shaun Evans talked about what he is most excited for viewers to see.
"I think the relationship with Violet builds and builds and builds, and it's that which I'm interested in. That relationship builds while the one with Thursday deteriorates."
Shaun isn't just acting in the show but is also directing episodes, including the Venice-set first episode of the seventh series. He stated that while that job comes with budget and technical challenges, he actually enjoys that since it challenges him to think more creatively.
He also admitted that the first episode contains a love-making scene that is generally quite mild, but some hardcore Morse fans might think is a bit racy considering the character.
Previously, Evans and Endeavour creator Russell Lewis told us that they "always thought we'd probably stop in the '60s' and while they have an endpoint in mind, they'll go for as long as there is demand.
Endeavour will return to ITV on February 9
ITV Press Pack
Endeavour is back for a seventh series. How does it feel to be slipping back into Morse’s shoes? Do you find it easy to get back into the role?
It’s fantastic. I’m really delighted and grateful that there’s an appetite for it, so I’m very happy to be back and continue with the story. I never want it to be too easy to return to the character, so this time before we started again, I actually went back to the books and read some of them again. I wanted to remind myself what I found initially engaging about the character and incorporate that as much as I could into it this time. It allowed me to think about it in a slightly different way and not make it as easy for myself.
Where do we find Morse at the beginning of the new series?
The new series starts on New Year’s Eve, 1969 and we find Morse in Venice where he’s gone to see the opera. He’s put down roots in his life, bought a flat and made the decision to stay in Oxford as a Police Officer, which is quite monumental for him. With that, brings a load of baggage in so much as starting a romance with someone, starting new friendships and ending older ones or calling people out on their actions. He’s very much being his own person when we find him at the beginning of the series.
We also see him doing up the flat himself, which is a nice touch.
Yes, I really liked that. The producer and production designer did a great job there as we stripped all the walls in the first episode, in the second one they’re all bare and in the third one, they’re wallpapered. That’s a place that we keep revisiting, so they had to keep doing it as other productions were working in the house as well. I’m really pleased that we’ve shown that part of his life, and it feels symbolic of where he’s at.
We can see that the moustache has gone - did you miss it or were you ready to say goodbye?
You forget about it, to be honest! One of the great things about doing something long-form is that you can show people’s little fads and changes. It was just an idea that we had and ran with. There was talk of us having a scene with him shaving it off, but it just felt surplus to requirements.
What was it like filming the scenes in Venice for Film 1? How did you approach this as director of the film?
It was incredible and very refreshing, because when you’re working on something like this, there’s usually a big unit which travels around with you which is great and a massive support. However, going to Venice, there was just four of us with very different camera equipment and a different way of getting the shots. There was something about that which was incredibly invigorating, particularly after the more traditional way we’d been telling the story. To be carrying the camera equipment myself, stopping people myself and doing the scene, felt quite guerilla-esque, which wasn’t something I’d done before - either as a director or as part of the show. There
was something about it that I found very refreshing and interesting.
Was there a particular reason why Venice was chosen?
It’s sort of similar to Oxford in a way, and is comparable with the towpaths and the water aspect featured in the series. There’s also something incredibly romantic and timeless about Venice. It’s almost an impossible city and there’s such a mystique around it, which wouldn’t have been the same in another city.
Did you feel it was important to explore a new location in the series?
I think so. We’re very lucky that we’re afforded that luxury now. It’s important to not keep doing things in the same way, and we’re always trying to push ourselves so you start thinking: Why not Venice? Why not New Year’s Eve? Why not the opera? There’s something about that which is good and I love the appetite from ITV and the team to embrace those challenges and make the most of them.
You touched upon the fact that we do see some romance for Morse this series. What can you tell us about this?
He meets this woman at the opera, and given that they’re both away from home and it’s New Year’s Eve, they start a romance. There’s something unattainable about this woman. This isn’t the person he’ll be settling down and making dinner with. It’s really useful in the history of his girlfriends and lovers that there’s something that’s not mundane - in fact, it’s the opposite. That’s what she represents. She is something completely different.
As you say, the series opens on New Year’s Eve, moving from the 1960s to 1970s. Do you feel there’s a marked change with the characters moving into a new decade?
It’s a gradual thing, but there is an evolution for all of the characters as the times are changing. What’s going on at the time means that there is a shift, but it’s a slow thing.
There feels like there’s been a social shift, with politics coming to the forefront and the dawn of women’s liberation. How is this touched upon during the series?
It’s interesting because - and this is what Russell Lewis is great at - that time is so rich, not unlike now in fact, that if you just dig a little bit and see what was actually going on, it’s a great backdrop to some of these stories. You can sort of acknowledge that we haven’t come miles away now in terms of our attitudes towards immigration, women’s rights, equal pay etc. I find that so interesting, and I think the show works best when it does that, in a very subtle way of course. It’s not
a hard-hitting political show, but it’s important to pay attention to what was going on at the time as it offers you so much.
Morse also strikes up a new friendship with a man called Ludo. Would you say they bond over a shared interest in the finer things?
Absolutely. Like the woman who Morse meets in the first episode, he’s different and there’s something about him which is not the mundane; not the everyday. It’s a financial thing, but also to do with his aspirations about things - his travel and experiences bring so much to the table has not been brought before. There’s an undercurrent of something that he brings - Ryan Gage (who plays Ludo) delivers that so well - and you’re not really sure whether this is good or bad.
What effect does this new friendship have on Morse’s long standing friendship with Strange?
Ludo and Strange would never be friends, but Endeavour contains both within him. The day to day drudgery of the work that they do can be incredible, but then there’s this aspirational urge in Endeavour for art, opera, music, travel and literature which he doesn’t get at work. So, Ludo and Strange represent two different parts of him.
I also think he’s wise enough to keep them separate. He’s not inviting Strange in for a drink, saying he and Ludo will really get along. He knows they won’t get on, so he might as well keep it separate. Perhaps what both the woman he meets at the opera and Ludo represent is something he’s been thirsting for since he left Oxford University - that kind of intellectual rigour.
How would you say that Morse and Thursday’s relationship has changed after the events of last series? There seems to still be tension between them…
It’s interesting, because in the later books and the Inspector Morse TV series, Thursday is never mentioned, so we need to give a reason for that. Something begins to happen which is irreconcilable, and we’re seeing the beginnings of that now as this series goes on. I think familiarity breeds contempt. I think both of these guys have been in each other’s pockets for many years now and they’re just getting on each other’s nerves. In their way of doing things, they can’t see the wood for the trees with the other and are starting to fail to see the positives.
You once again directed an episode of the series. Are you embracing pairing acting and directing?
It was awesome. I felt like I learned so much last time and was desperate to come back and put it into practice. I felt way more confident as well this time. I love directing because, whereas acting’s quite elusive in its way, - there’s no real right or wrong - with directing, it’s a skill that you can learn how to be better and more economical in telling the story. I really like being able to improve.
How did you balance doing both roles (actor and director) simultaneously?
Just being super prepared and knowing exactly what you want and need from a scene, as well as having to be open to things. It’s also important to ask for help. You rely a lot on your cast and the crew, but if you’re clear about what you want and what each scene is about, then anything is possible I think. There’s no time to find out on the day, but that really appeals to me - I like to know what I’m doing and then do it.
What’s next for you?
I’ve got lots going on! I’ve got a new TV show for next year with a director I’ve been dying to work with for ages, so I’m looking forward to starting that, and then I’m also adapting a book.
Endeavour star Shaun Evans 'struggles' to understand why women are attracted to his detective character
Endeavour star Shaun Evans can’t work out why his character is so popular with women.
Across the seven series of the drama, which tells the story of Inspector Morse before he became Inspector, Endeavour (Evans) hasn’t done too badly with the ladies – although all his romances so far have either been short lived or ended in disaster.
He previously tried, and failed, to keep things going with Joan Thursday (Sara Vickers), and that was after he brutally ditched nurse Monica Hicks (Shvorne Marks).
But despite all these love interests, Shaun doesn’t get why he’s catnip to the opposite sex.
‘It’s hard to answer that,’ he said.
Laughing he added: ‘I’m trying to give a good answer but…struggling.’
In the new episodes, Endeavour might have found romance with the mysterious Violetta (Stephanie Leonidas) who he meets in Venice – but there’s a twist in their relationship which suggests this can only end in tears.
Shaun explained: ‘It’s the unattainable. There’s an operatic quality to her. There’s something slightly unreal. You could never have a proper relationship with her. It’s never gonna end happily because she’s so not of his world.
’ Having played the character for seven series now, Shaun has got pretty good at playing detective and spotting the culprit in a murder mystery.
But he would never take on the role himself for real as police work can get ‘pretty gruesome’.
‘I don’t think I would [be a good detective],’ he confessed.
‘It can be pretty gruesome can’t it? It takes a very specific, amazing kind of person to want to visit that every day.
‘Watching this show is like f***ing hell, the things the police force go through is properly extraordinary.’
Largs & Millport Weekly News
Endeavour star Shaun Evans has said he is thankful that the rising popularity of the TV show has not had a huge impact on his life.
The actor has had the lead in the Inspector Morse prequel since 2012, but said he does not have “a public” and prefers to just go home and live his life after filming.
Asked if the increasing popularity of the show has had an impact on him, Evans said: “No, it doesn’t, thankfully.
“That is another blessing about this job, it has very little impact on my life, which I like.”
He continued: “I’m not a person who has a public… I don’t have a Twitter feed, I’m not on social media and all that. I don’t Google myself.
“I just like to come in and do my job and then go home and crack on with my life.”
“But that being said, the increasing popularity is what enables us to come back and do some more,” he added.
Evans also told how he likes to stay fresh, so recently re-read the detective novels by Colin Dexter that the series is based on.
“You don’t want to be complacent as an actor,” he said.
“And what I don’t want, because this is an amazing job in many ways, but there’s also a danger that you become lazy with your work.
“And so I’ve always tried to push myself, to be producing or directing and to be doing things alongside and in conjunction with this, and then part of that is, again, in terms of not making it too easy for yourself, so you’re not just playing yourself, or that your shorthand, your way into something, isn’t a lazy way.”
He said: “That’s why it was important for me personally to read the books again, and be like, ‘I’d forgotten that’ or ‘I missed that’ or ‘That’s interesting’.”
“I suppose in short, keeping yourself interested in it, you’ll then keep yourself interesting,” the actor added.
Inspector Morse ran from 1987 to 2000, and Endeavour – which charts the early career of the young Endeavour Morse – started in 2012.
Endeavour returns on Sunday February 9 at 8pm on ITV.
Shaun Evans tells us about the new Endeavour series, falling out with Thursday, directing and Morse's terrible taste in women
By Ox In A Box
Shaun Evans is in a buoyant mood when we meet to discuss the new series of Endeavour.
Now as synonymous with the Morse stable as any earlier incarnations, he is articulate, measured and amusing.
He considers each question carefully, not wanting to be misconstrued, (his dislike of interviews is well documented), but today he is chatty and effusive, proud perhaps of what the team have achieved in this, the seventh series of Endeavour.
He cares as much about the part, as the craft, which is why he directed episode one.
“You do not want to become complacent as an actor. And this is is an amazing job in many, many ways. But there is also a danger that you become lazy with your work so I always try to push myself. You have to engage with it.”
Presumably then Morse is too easy to slip back into? “I don’t want it to be easy and I think that’s important. I want to keep learning. And that’s why I enjoy the directing. Sure there is a pressure in taking on the first episode because it sets up the whole season, but I felt ready for the challenge this time. And I’m already dying to do it again because there is so much to learn.”
He does however love spending time in Oxford, adding: ” I am very fond of Oxford. My relationship with it is so wrapped up with my work, but I love it there. It’s a great place.”
One big new development in the three part series is a new love interest which is exciting. Do tell more. “Violetta occupies a very distinct and unique place in the history of this character, which makes him the person that he becomes, and this series is a very definite stepping stone on the way to that.”
How exciting….so what’s she like? “She is a character we haven’t seen before – completely unobtainable – wealthy, flies around the world, she is incredibly enigmatic on one hand but then very available on the other.” In other words bad news.
What about Thursday’s daughter, the pair’s chemistry is always so tangible? “Not this time around. But would that work out for the best?” he asks. “Would she actually be the one that makes him happy. Do you know what I mean?”
As for Morse himself, Shaun says: “I thank its good that he’s enigmatic – that you will never know him. Successful relationships should be like that, we don’t need to know every part of someone. They are the most interesting people. And your work as an actor should be the same.
“But he has a new flat; in the first episode it still has the old wallpaper, in the second the walls are bare, and the third they are painted. So yes, there is a feeling of putting down roots and a sense of responsibility.
Shaun does however muse on Morse’s terrible taste in women adding “where would the fun be in that?” when asked if he meets someone nice in this series.
“One girl recently asked me what women see in Morse,” he laughs incredulously pretending to be offended. “He is incredibly charming though, don’t you think?”
Still, three rather than six episodes will be a disappointment for the series legions of worldwide fans? “It’s the shortest one we’ve done, and very definitely has a beginning, middle and an end. There’s way more connected tissue between them, so while you can watch them individually they are also a proper series.
“We haven’t done it this way before, and isn’t just a crime of the week scenario but invites people in. You can see more of the characters this way because they unpack a little bit more which makes things quite satisfying and richer.”
As for the plot, Shaun will only say that it’s essentially about “the nucleus of the separation between me and Thursday,” which is awful in itself, the two work mates having settled their differences at the end of the last series.
So does he still like Morse as a person? “Yes, I like him. I think there is something interesting about him. It’s hard to say because I’m playing him. But I’m happy because I think that he’s an incredibly rich character.”
One that’s impacting Shaun’s life off screen? “No, that’s the blessing of this job. It has very little impact on my life which I like because I’m not a person who has a public persona, or a profile on social media. I just like to do my job and then go home and carry on with my life.”
Endeavour Series 7 starts on Sunday 9 February at 8pm on ITV.
Radio Times - By Flora Carr
Endeavour's seventh season could spell the end of Endeavour's friendship with Fred Thursday...
Inspector Morse prequel series Endeavour may be named after the scholarly young Morse (Shaun Evans), but at the heart of the detective drama is his relationship with his friend, colleague and mentor, Fred Thursday (Roger Allam).
However, it looks like the unlikely buddy-cop alliance is coming to an end, after Shaun Evans teased that tensions may hit breaking point between the two during the upcoming series seven.
Speaking to RadioTimes.com, Evans explained that the new series would reveal why Fred isn’t mentioned in the original drama series Inspector Morse (starring John Thaw) or in author Colin Dexter’s book series of the same name — potentially spelling a major fall-out between the two detectives.
“In the books, and then in the later series, Thursday’s never mentioned, obviously he’s an invention [for Endeavour]. So we have to make a decision as to why that is. So we’re coming towards that now,” Evans said.
Asked about the rising conflict between the Fred and Endeavour, he added: “It’s more interesting I think when there is a bit of conflict there, you know.”
In the seventh series’ first episode (directed by Evans), Endeavour returns from holiday and is asked to reexamine a recent case overseen by Fred — and the pair have vastly different views on how to handle it.
“It’s about different ways of doing the same thing in a way,” Evans said. “And my character saying, ‘Yeah but that [how Fred handled the case] was shoddy, what you did there was shoddy’, so he’s just calling him on it really. Alright, he might be stitching him up a little bit, but…”
Endeavour series seven will premiere on ITV at 8pm on Sunday 9th February
BBC One’s new thriller Vigil has announced its star-studded cast line-up. Suranne Jones (Gentleman Jack, Doctor Foster), Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones, The Good Fight), Shaun Evans (Endeavour), Anjli Mohindra (Bodyguard) and Martin Compston (Line of Duty, Mary Queen of Scots) will appear in the six-part series.
The mysterious disappearance of a Scottish fishing trawler and a death on-board a Trident nuclear submarine bring the police into conflict with the Navy and British security services. DCI Amy Silva (Suranne Jones) leads an investigation on land and at sea into a conspiracy that threatens the very heart of Britain’s nuclear deterrent.
Written and created by Bafta-nominated writer Tom Edge (Judy, The Crown, Strike) with episodes by Ed Macdonald (The End Of The F***ing World) and Chandni Lakhani (Dublin Murders), the fictional drama will be directed by Bafta-winner James Strong (Broadchurch, Vanity Fair, Liar) and Isabelle Sieb (Shetland, The Athena).
The series is set in Scotland and filming is due to begin there soon. It will be executive produced by Simon Heath (Line of Duty) for World Productions and Gaynor Holmes for the BBC.
source: BBC Press Office
This year's Macmillan's Celebration of Christmas will be held the 6th of December, in Christ Church Cathedral. Shaun Evans will be a reader along with Roger Allam, Patricia Hodge and Sally Philips. A Celebration of Christmas has become Macmillan’s largest single fund-raising event in Oxfordshire.
The event will be followed by a VIP Champagne Reception, tickets for which are included with gold seats, but can be purchased by other ticket holders separately on the booking site.
Here's the trailer for this year's celebrity carol concert (with footage from last year - Shaun is seen performing with Sinéad Cusack)
Shaun Evans looks dapper in a black tuxedo and bow tie as he begins filming for the seventh season of ITV's Endeavour
By BHVISHYA PATEL FOR MAILONLINE
He stars as the young Inspector Morse in the ITV drama Endeavour.
And Shaun Evans looked ready for action as he began filming for the highly-anticipated seventh series of the detective series set in Oxford on Sunday.
The actor, 39, sported a dapper appearance in a slick black tuxedo which boasted satin detailing as he immersed himself into the unfolding drama on set.
Shaun teamed his suave ensemble with a stylish bow tie and a pair of polished black shoes.
The star appeared calm and focused as he stood in the middle of a street before falling to the ground as the drama ensued.
The dramatic TV show, which is set in the 1960s, follows the adventures of a young Endeavour Morse after he transfers to the Oxford City Police following a double-murder investigation.
The last series saw Endeavour, who had now worked his way up to the position of DS, try to re-establish his relationship with the daughter of his colleague Fred Thursday, Joan, while also trying to put down roots in Oxford.
Now in its seventh series, the drama will see Endeavour reprise his position as a member of Castle Gate CID in an new era marked by the beginning of the women's liberation movement, social progression and scientific growth.
The first episode, which begins on New Year's Eve 1970, will see Endeavour's Castle Gate CID team called into action when a body is discovered at a canal towpath.
With very few clues to help him, viewers will be left on the edge of their seats as Endeavour is tested to breaking point both personally and professionally while trying to uncover the killer.
Also reprising their roles for the upcoming drama will be Roger Allam, who stars as DCI Fred Thursday and Anton Lesser who plays CS Reginald Bright.
Speaking about the new series writer Russell Lewis said: 'The prospect of Colin Dexter's immortal creation entering a new decade is hugely exciting for all of #TeamEndeavour.
'We're always looking to break new ground, and go places we haven't been before - both physically and emotionally.
Directing Endeavour Season 6’s “Apollo” was one giant leap for series star Shaun Evans, who worked in front of and behind the camera to produce a taut, unique, and riveting episode that moved the plot and deeply moved viewers. In this excerpt from the MASTERPIECE Studio podcast interview, Evans shares details about his process and reveals how he arrived at some of the episode’s most powerful moments. Learn more below, and listen to Evans’ complete interview with host Jace Lacob.
JACE LACOB: I love the framing the shot of Morse as he comes into Castle Gate with his box and finds it empty. He’s very alone. He’s small. He’s sort of isolated. What were you trying to achieve with that specific shot?
SHAUN EVANS: Exactly what you’ve just said.
LACOB: It’s a good shot.
EVANS: Thank you.
LACOB: There’s a noir-like chase sequence involving Fred Thursday, who’s assaulted when two men jump out of the shadows at him. There are also scenes of sort of quiet desperation of him at home with Winn. What was it like directing Roger Allam in this episode?
EVANS: Incredible, incredible. I’ll take my hat off to him. He’s such a wonderful actor and a dear, dear friend now, as well. As indeed are all of the cast, but especially Rog. And we have a very similar way of working: both of us care deeply about our work, but both love having a laugh, and have got a sense of humor. Roger is also a producer on the show, as well, and so we both care deeply about it. Having known Roger now for a few years, I had a sense of what he would require as an actor. I think the best way to work is to create an atmosphere where everyone can do good work. So if you create an atmosphere of lightness and joy and freedom to be creative, then you’re halfway there. If you’re clear about where the characters are going in the scene, then there’s a freedom, and the scenes sort of the play themselves. If you’ve got actors like we’re lucky enough to have on the show, who come in—all of them, to a man—with their lines down, with a sense of the scene, with an idea of where they will be coming in and out of, where they’re going, and again with an openness to somebody having a different idea, and to being a part of the whole piece rather than it just being about them, then it’s a really easy working relationship. Also, because we have a history, I know their heart is in the right place and they know my heart is in the right place, as well. so it’s not. It’s very simple in a way you know. Let’s have a line run, this is where I think people are coming from…should we have a little rehearse, and play with it? Yeah let’s do it. Okay someone’s got a better idea, let’s try that. Sure, let’s do that instead. It’s an openness, really and also you know, just not making it about you, we’re making it about the story, making it about the scene. So Roger’s incredible. They all were.
LACOB: This episode involves multiple murders, mistaken identities, wife-swapping, key parties, new age therapies…
EVANS: Oxford, baby.
LACOB: The craziest of the crazy, to me, was Moon Rangers, the Thunderbirds-like space puppet show which is so weird and retro. What was it like filming these bizarro Thunderbirds-esque sequences?
EVANS: Incredible. I mean, I knew nothing about that… my childhood cartoons were like, Thundercats, so I wasn’t really into supermarionation (is what it’s called). So I sought the guidance of an expert who was incredibly helpful, who showed us how they would have used the studio and how the puppets would have been shot and how they move and how to get the best out of them. Worked incredibly closely with this this guy you helped us that. What particularly love about this story is that you’ve got the moon, this epic: guys going to the moon. So that exists on that one macro, huge level. Then on the middle level, you’ve got us, the characters, inter-playing and doing their normal stuff. And then on a micro view of this these puppet characters also working on a moon base. There’s something about it, those three things, which I just find kind of intoxicating.
LACOB: And the moon, of course, signifying change, and waxing and waning.
LACOB: The perfect sort of macro metaphor for this entire season, and this episode particularly.
EVANS: Exactly, exactly! But also, it’s just a fascinating thing, isn’t it, the moon? I’m endlessly fascinated by it. Yeah, so I was just delighted with it. That just that idea of loneliness, as well, which I think speaks about this character, particularly. There’s just something about it which is pleasing.
LACOB: I think there’s another beautiful moment in this episode when Morse and Thursday discovered the old black Jaguar at the shop and are told that it’s had its day and will be turned into scrap and spares. How much of this is as a knife to the heart for Thursday?
EVANS: It should be, but I also think it’s representative—that’s what I was trying to achieve. Thursday has just been beaten and…This is a guy who was in the army, who fought in North Africa, and then got beaten by these two guys. And then you’ve got this barely new officer in this new nick saying “You just sit down now, you sit this one out” or, you know, “you’re on light duties”…He’s being put out to pasture. He’s being told he’s past his sell-by date. So I think so it’s symbolic, really: you get this Jag which is not past its sell-by date, just being neglected, as someone’s putting it out to pasture. So it’s to do with that, really.
LACOB: Even when they’re not past their prime, there’s still use to them. They still have utility. It’s like Fred Thursday—there’s still a lot of good left in him.
EVANS: That’s exactly what I’m trying to say…It’s him, in a way.
LACOB: I mean, if anything represents him, I think it is that car, that says so much about him. I thought that was a heartbreaking moment.
EVANS: Good. Good.
LACOB: The final shot of “Apollo” might just be my favorite. Morse in his car listening to the moon landing on the radio, in front of the Radcliffe Camera, the moon overhead. There’s just this sense of innate, intense loneliness and isolation embedded in the single image. What was the idea for this shot composition?
EVANS: Exactly that, to be honest with you. Going back to the film director I was talking about, Tsai Ming-liang, I remember reading an article with him—he was saying…that “people who like my movies are the same people who like to look at the moon,” and I thought, God, that’s interesting. And I don’t know if anyone can relate to this, but I frequently look at the moon, and there’s a sense of that weird feeling that you can’t put your finger on, of being a part of something but also being separate from something, because it makes you feel tiny. And I suppose that’s what I wanted, really. I think it’s helped enormously by the music, which was not difficult, but took us a while—it was kind of easy because Matt [Matthew Slater] is a brilliant composer. I just wanted everything stripped away, so you just have one thing, one note on a piano, which is painful. And it makes you think you know you got the Thursday family a home doing their thing, and of course things aren’t great, but they have each other. And then, you have this person alone, in the car, in Oxford, lonelier than the man on the moon. Because that’s his fate. That’s what I was trying to do with it.
LACOB: Was that shot as scripted? I seem to remember Morse asleep in the back of the police car in at least one draft of Russell’s script for this.
EVANS: Yeah, there were a few: that he’s in the station house, and then he’s sleeping in his car because he can’t bear being in the station house. Two things really, two reasons why that changed: the time of the landing, he likely wouldn’t have been asleep at 8 o’clock (or whatever time, I can’t remember specifically, now). So that was problematic. Also to get the shot that I wanted, it would have been tricky to have me asleep in the back of the car and or in the front of the car. Also, again, it’s about being clear about what you’re trying to achieve, right? I want to achieve exactly what I’ve said, and exactly what you’ve picked up on. What I didn’t want is for it to end, and for people to go “Why is he asleep in the back of his car?” You know what I mean? But to be, hopefully, moved by the moment. So we spoke about it and decided to make the change.
LACOB: I think it’s a good change, because it is a momentous moment for mankind, and to see him sort of alone, adrift, not in space but just as sort of lonely and lost. I think was very touching.
EVANS: Oh good, I’m glad. Thank you. Also, it raises questions as well: if he’s listening to that on the radio, he can’t be sleep in the back of the car. If he is asleep in the back of the car, why has he got the radio on? And if not, if neither of those things are true, then where’s noise coming from, you know? So you have all these logistical, practical questions as well.
LACOB: Looking at “Apollo” as both a director and an actor, do you have a favorite scene that stands out to you?
EVANS: Yeah, I do, there’s a few things that I love, actually. Are you supposed to say that about your own work? Yeah, well whatever anyways, I do. I love this montage sequence in the middle. Because I’m an actor, as well—and I always try to do this, in all of the work that I do or have done up to this point, as much as you can—is to nick, or steal, little private moments with the character, so you get to see them when no one else is there, and you get an insight, a little chink, into how they’re feeling about something. I always try and achieve that, even if you’re in the middle of a scene, there’s many many ways of doing it. What I like about this is, I love the scene where Thursday comes in, his wife is listening to some music, so we get the sense that she perhaps is having a romantic involvement with someone else, he just looks up the stairs—he’s on his own in a room—he looks at the stairs, the music is playing in the background, and we read on his face that he is devastated about this.
Then, we have Mrs. Wingqvist meditating. Because this speaks to this idea of going to the moon—to me, in a way, kind of a pointless road trip to find meaning, and these people going to the Single Way Institute, or meditating, or being part of a swingers party, going within to find meaning. So we have this girl—I really liked this—where she’s meditating, she’s trying to find some degree of peace. But you can see on her face that there’s something troubling, and at the end she opens her eyes and then we cut to the brother and sister, who are all lost in their own thoughts as well. We’re nicking private moments with them. It’s so incredible, I think, to be afforded the luxury of that over 90 minutes. If you have to squeeze something into, like, a TV hour, you don’t have the time for that, whereas one of the things that I particularly love about this show, I feel very fortunate about, is that you have the time to let things breathe, to not say everything that needs to be said, but actually to visually tell a story, rather than hitting it over the head. So I love that section of it. There’s like two seconds that I think are hilarious, where Strange is talking to them, the brother and sister are sitting there, and she says, “I took Miss Susann to bed” and he goes, “Oh, I see. Where can we find Miss Susann?” and he misinterprets that it’s a book. She’s an author. I love that moment. There’s a few lighter, funnier moments I really like as well.