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.