Shaun Evans hosted a Masterclass for aspiring actors yesterday, 17th January, in Belfast, giving young people aged 16-25 first-hand industry insight drawing from his vast experience in film, theatre and television. In the final hour of the Masterclass Shaun was joined by Director Michael Lennox and both took part in an Industry Q&A, sharing top tips on how to succeed in the film and television industry with aspiring young directors and actors. The Cinemagic masterclass took place at the Crescent Arts Centre supported by Creative Skillset, to inspire and motivate young people.
Endeavour star Shaun Evans on partying with his pals and why he loves exploring the world...
With his strong Liverpool accent and cheeky grin, it isn't hard to see why Shaun Evans has become a bit of a heart-throb. His breakthrough came in 2002 when he played JP in Channel 4 comedy Teachers and he also starred as Daniel Lomas in BBC1's Silk in 2012. Now he's back as young detective Endeavour Morse for the fourth series of Endeavour. We sat down with Shaun, 36, to find out why he wasn't scared to take over the role made famous by John Thaw and what he likes to do while filming in Oxford...
Hi, Shaun. Endeavour is back for a new series. Did you ever expect it to be this successful?
No. But each series, we try to make it better than the time before.
Where do we find Endeavour at the start of this series?
It picks up two weeks after we left off last time because Joan [Thursday, Endeavour's love interest, played by Sara Vickers] has just left and it's better to capture them at the rawness of that rather than too much water going under the bridge. Endeavour's also waiting for his sergeant's exam results.
What can we expect from the four episodes?
Four very different stories, each of them in a very different world from the ones we've done previously. The second one is quite rock'n'roll - we have a band, there's loads of drugs in it, odd sexual encounters and then someone dies!
Did you feel a lot of pressure when you first took on John Thaw's famous role?
No, I'd never seen Inspector Morse! And I didn't want it to be a nostalgia fest - I wanted to attract an audience that would have been me. I knew very little about the old show. Then when they offered me the job, I read the books.
Do you enjoy that it's set in the 60s?
Yes, I love all the cars and all the clothes. There's something about it that removes it from the mundanity of daily life. It took me ages to find the suit that I wanted for it - an original suit from the 60s! Now it just feels right to wear that.
What would you be doing if you were young in the 60s?
I would have opened coffee shops - they're everywhere now but it wasn't like that in the 60s, so I'd be sitting on a fortune! But I'd like to think that I'd have been a rock'n'roll star.
Do you get to enjoy some fun nights out with the cast?
When the whole team is together, we always organise a little night out - we go for a few beers and have dinner. I love filming in Oxford - it's just nice to get out and socialise with everyone. It's been known to get a bit wild. I can't tell you any stories, though!
We've heard you've done quite a bit of travelling. Where's the best place you've been to?
There are so many amazing places in the world. I had the good fortune of working in both Hawaii and Australia. But South Africa is incredible. I went on safari and saw the big five [lion, elephant, buffalo, rhinoceros and leopard], plus the music's great, the food is delicious and the people are wonderful.
Do you still have anywhere left to tick off your list?
Japan, because it sounds so different. I like going to places and seeing how other people do things - how they have their coffee, how they speak, spend their time. Because then you look at yourself and go, 'Why do I do that? That's funny'.
Have you ever had any weird fan mail?
No, but I've had nice letters. When I played a character with PTSD [in 2011 film Wreckers], someone wrote to me saying, 'I work in mental health and was ready to jack it all in. But having seen the part you played, I realised I'm on the right path.' Isn't that an amazing thing to hear?
Do you get people stopping you in the street?
Very rarely, fortunately. I like just being able to bumble around in obscurity.
If you had 24 hours to yourself, what would you spend it doing?
I like hanging out with my family and friends. We'd go for a drink, have dinner and just have a bit of banter. Liverpool, where I'm from, is a great place - there's always a bit of mischief to be had!
Who would be your dream dinner party guest?
[Endeavour co-star] Roger Allam. He's a much better cook than me, so he'd have to do the cooking. He's into nose-to-tail cooking, so he uses all the parts of the animal. I probably wouldn't like that but I could have the potatoes. They'd probably be dauphinois, so it'd be awesome!
The Custard TV
This new series of the Morse prequel has returned in the midst of a busy and great period for British crime drama It might only be the first week of the new year but crime drama wise we're already we are spoiled for choice. We've always championed Endeavour and four series in we barely think of it as a Morse prequel, it's far more than that. It's a show that oozes class and sophistication. It uses its 2 hour episode length to tell complex crime stories that other shows would struggle with. It's a become something we look forward to every year and miss when its short series come to a close. With No Offence, Silent Witness, Unforgotten, Death in Paradise and Sherlock all airing at the moment you may feel a little crime drama-ed out but Endeavour is a beast all of its own.
At the end of the last series, Joan, daughter of Roger Allam’s Detective Thursday, left home unexpectedly and we find Morse and Thursday still reeling from her sudden departure. The always wonderful Shaun Evans returns playing the young Morse and now seems to now have perfected John Thaws’ contemplative looks along with the occasional powerful aggressive outburst. His anger is compounded when it is revealed he has failed his Sergeant’s exam as his papers went missing. Chief Super Bright (played superbly by Anton Lesser) suggests Morse has made enemies and should consider a transfer out of Oxford.
Things kick into gear with the discovery of three separate drownings which at first glance seem completely unrelated but slowly reveal a deep and disturbing connection centred around a chess match between a Russian master and a new computer system which predicts moves. The connection comes to the light when Morse discovers the first victim is one of the professors working on the computer program.
As the discovery of the drownings continue the tension between Thursday and Morse is apparent as Thursday dismisses Morse's view that the other two drownings are also linked. Thursday is clearly struggling without his daughter and not focused on the case. Morse on the other hand is throwing himself into his work whilst flirting with the possibly appropriately named WPC Truelove who fans will remember was introduced last year.
Each drowning is accompanied with a clue, only linked when Truelove notices chess notation in Morse's notebook. Once again there is a good subplot involving a reporter and editor at the local newspaper, a young ambitious reporter, Ruby Thomas, finds part of the link between the drownings and a local Doctor in Binsey, Oxford. But in her ambition for the scoop ends up being a victim by drowning.
As we've come to expect from the series the complex story lines weave brilliantly together, following the discovery of the drowning victims being chosen as part of a bizarre chess game by the deranged Dr Castle (chess links!). He makes plaster cast masks of the victims as a throwback to masks made by his Father for WW1 disfigurement victims. Castle has also struggled to come to terms with the death of his sister who herself drowned years earlier.
One of the reasons I love Endeavour is how it unravels over two hours, slowly revealing information and how sometimes Morse gets it wrong before the final capture or reveal. Writer Russell Lewis takes his time using every inch of his allotted time to weave his story together. It's a show that rewards viewers who take time to invest in the complex storyline. In a world where we told people don't have the attention span for long form TV, Endeavour demands you pay attention and every moment of it is a pleasure.
I don't think the third series was perfect, an episode where Morse and Thursday ended up in a maze with a wild tiger was a rare low point but I can forgive one odd decision. Morse and Thursday bounce off one another perfectly with Allam equally matched by Evans' understated and quiet performance as the pensive detective. Although this opener saw both men struggling with the loss of Thursday's daughter it also proved how much the pair need one another. In a TV landscape where every other thing on your telly box is most likely a crime drama it can be hard to know which to choose, for us Endeavour will always be superior. Make sure you enjoy it while you can as we've only three left before it disappears for another year!
"You don't want it to be like putting on a pair of slippers, and it's boring."
BY MORGAN JEFFERY - Digital Spy
Endeavour is now a returning favourite for ITV - but its star Shaun Evans has always refused to sign up for more than one series at a time.
Evans told Digital Spy that a bad experience early in his career - on Channel 4's Teachers - made him wary of ever agreeing to a big contract.
"That was my first job out of drama school and it was a funny experience," he explained. "I enjoyed it for the most part, but I didn't enjoy the fact that I didn't know where it was going.
"I found that irritating and I found it difficult to work like that. I loved all the other actors - I thought they were terrific - but I just didn't find it as fulfilling as I'd hoped that I would.
"Ultimately, I knew it wasn't somewhere that I wanted to stay, to be honest. I was lucky that they let me out of the contract."
10 years later, when he landed the role of a young Morse in Endeavour, a more experienced Evans was keen not to make the same mistake twice.
"When we started with this, there were no contracts, no 'You'll be doing this for six years' - because of that experience," he revealed.
"I just don't really like starting a job if I don't know where it finishes. I want to know where something begins and ends, so that you can invest something in it. If there's no end in sight, there'd be a tendency to play yourself or to not put any creativity into it."
Knowing that his Morse will one day go on to become the character as played by John Thaw was "definitely" an advantage, Evans said.
"I think it'd be super difficult otherwise - it'd be like going completely into the unknown. I know where this is going - and so that takes a weight off my mind."
The downside to having your character's path laid out for you is that it might all get a bit predictable - But Evans insists that he and the team behind Endeavour work hard to keep the show fresh and inventive.
"There is a certain amount of baggage that comes with it," he acknowledged. "It's a funny one in that respect.
"We try and make it our own thing. You don't want it to be a bloody nostalgia-fest. It wouldn't be very good, I don't think. You don't want it to be like putting on a pair of slippers and it's boring. It's got to be challenging."
Evans says he has a "feeling in [his] mind" as to when Endeavour will end, too - though it sounds as though he's happy to sign on for a few more series yet... one year at a time.
Endeavour returns to ITV tomorrow night (Sunday, January 8) at 8pm on ITV.
ITV celebrates 30 years of the Oxford sleuth with a new series of the acclaimed spin-off, Endeavour.
By VICKI POWER - Daily Express
It’s time to pull the Jaguar out of the garage and put a Wagner LP on the turntable, as Oxford’s opera-loving sleuth Endeavour Morse is back for a fourth series – and it has an important milestone to mark.
It’s been 30 years since Colin Dexter’s detective first started solving crimes on our TVs in the original Inspector Morse. But the fact that the last series of Endeavour still pulled in more than six million viewers is proof that viewers retain huge affection for the Oxford copper.
When we meet Shaun Evans, who’s played the young Morse since 2012, he describes his delight at returning to the lead role, not least because he didn’t like how the last series ended.
“I didn’t feel we ended it in a great place, so when this is all done I want to have been satisfied with the experience for me and for the audience,” says Shaun, 36.
“And I feel it wouldn’t have been a great place to leave it.”
He’s right. The third series’ finale ended on a sad note. Morse and Joan Thursday (Sara Vickers), daughter of his boss, DI Fred Thursday (Roger Allam), were held hostage during a bank robbery.
Although all were safely rescued, the end of the episode saw Joan leave Oxford to start a new life elsewhere, leaving Morse heartbroken and unable to tell her, even at the last minute, of his feelings.
The new series picks up just two weeks after the robbery, still in the summer of 1967 and the height of the Cold War.
At Lovelace College, a team of boffins is about to unveil a “thinking” computer that plays against a Russian chess master who’s come over specially.
“The whole theme of this series is man versus machine,” explains Shaun.
“As a backdrop, these boys keep turning up – all have been drowned and all seem to have a connection to chess, but we’re not sure what it is. Are they suicide victims or is there something suspicious going on?”
On top of it all, Endeavour, Thursday and Thursday’s wife Win (Caroline O’Neill) are still reeling from Joan’s departure. But they can’t discuss it, says Shaun.
“It’s not, ‘I feel like this – let’s chat about it,”’ he explains. “Thursday doesn’t know Endeavour has feelings for Joan, but Endeavour can see he’s devastated about her leaving. Still, when two people die in two days, work still has to be done.”
Roger Allam has played Fred Thursday, Morse’s mentor and father figure, since the beginning.
He explains that Joan’s departure has thrown Thursday into a depression, affecting the relationship between Thursday and Morse.
“Things get quite scratchy between them, but that becomes by the by, because Thursday is so preoccupied with not being able to find Joan,” explains Roger. “I don’t think Fred’s picked up on Morse’s feelings for Joan because it’s so under his nose, and because nothing obvious has happened.”
But the good news for fans is that Endeavour has already been commissioned for six more episodes next year, taking the Morse franchise up to 31 years and counting.
“The experience is enjoyable and I know it won’t last forever, so I want to make the most of it,” reflects Shaun.
His next project, though, sees him stepping behind the camera.
“I’m going to direct something this year for the BBC, one episode of a series that already exists,” says Shaun. “I can’t say what it is but it will be my debut behind the camera. I asked for it and I was very lucky that they said yes.”
ENDEAVOUR, Sunday, 8PM, ITV