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
Lisa Howells - Heat Magazine 7-13 January 2017
In our mental Hierarchy of TV Hotness, Young Morse takes the top spot. His soulful face and moody sleuthing do more to get us through dreary Sunday nights in January than any amount marshmallow-cramed hot chocolate. The fourth series opens in the summer of 67 - Joan Thursday has left and Morse is anxiously awaiting the results of his Sergeant's exam. Eager to take his mind off his troubles, he's called to what looks like a suicide when a research scientist working on a project involving computers that "think" (how very modern) is found drowned. But, when more bodies turn up, Morse is soon plunged into a baffling - and highly dangerous - case.
What can we expect from this fourth series?
The first episode is classic Endeavour. Oxford, uni, chess. The second is set in a mansion house where a band's recording an album. The third one set in a hospital is more Scandi noir, as is by a great Icelandic director. And the fourth is in a power station.
How's Morse doing now?
At the beginning, he's feeling optimistic about work, but not great about his personal life. But things soon go wrong, and he gets a bit "F**k this!" [Laughs] You've also got DI Thursday mooning about now Joan's left, and that has a big impact on their relationship.
Why is the show such a hit?
It's about having a good story and telling it well. But we're lucky. It's one thing to have a great idea, another for someone to pay for it. We change location nearly every day and it's always, "Incredible stately home!", "Really big mansion house!".
It goes to some dark places for a Sunday night drama...
We all say when we're working on it, "The darker, the better." There's no point pretending it's something it's not, but that's not to say it has to be lukewarm. It could fall into the trap of being safe, the fact that it doesn't lies with the writer and the team.
Morse is pretty useless with women - does he have more luck this time?
Yeah, he ballsed it right up with Nurse Monica, but she was just too nice. He needs someone who's a bit more [thinks] "Grrr". But Monica comes back, so we get to end that in a better way. And things with Joan take a twist, which is quite satisfying. It can be frustrating for me, too, I'm like "Why isn't Morse saying anything? Why isn't he speaking up?". But the writer says, "Please, just trust me on this." And he gets is right.
Does any of the script ever go over your head?
So much of it! I always want to make it as simple as possible, but that's the style. It's set at Oxford and the writer has chosen to make the stories complex and the characters verbose. But my friends always say to me, "Bloody hell, it's complicated, isn't it?"
By Katherine MacAlister - Oxford Mail
Katherine MacAlister finds Shaun Evans intriguingly elusive about the new series of Endeavour
I spot Shaun Evans taking a break from filming ITV series Endeavour, resting against the railings by the Radcliffe Camera, enjoying the warm weather.
A passing American tourist, immediately recognises him – Endeavour now being a worldwide phenomenon – and can’t believe her luck. Here is a bona fide star, on location, just minding his own business... and she immediately monopolises him.
Later, Shaun, well known for guarding his privacy zealously, laughs at my surprise and says: “I’m always available for people to talk to. Without our fans we would have nothing and Oxford is so accommodating to us.”
He says he knows the trouble Endeavour sometimes causes, taking up the streets with film crews: “So, of course, I stop and say hello now and again.”
It means that Shaun now has an intimate relationship with our fair city, not just because he spearheads Oxford’s very own iconic detective series, seizing the baton ably passed on from Morse, through Lewis to Endeavour, but because he spends so much time here, accessing parts most of its residents don’t even see.
“Yes, it’s a very special and amazing place for me. I didn’t know it well until Endeavour came along. But I love the colleges and The Bodleian, the Radcliffe Camera, the gardens and the quads, the beautiful little houses, so it’s an amazing job in that respect.”
So how did Endeavour come about for Shaun, a relative unknown until then? “My agent just called me and said: ‘this script has just come in’.
“I had just committed to doing something else for six months, but they said they were really keen, so I went out and bought Colin Dexter’s books.
“Once I started reading them I was really excited to see how this person became Morse and knew that it would be an interesting journey. And Endeavour really has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
A big responsibility though?“I just had to remember that there must have been a reason they chose me, something they saw in me and I had to trust them on that,” he replies.
Has Endeavour’s success taken him aback then? “We know the reaction is had already, going in, so it couldn’t be that much of a surprise, but it’s always interesting,” he said enigmatically.
He also bitterly refuted claims that, as this is now his fourth series, he can play the part with his eyes closed, as suggested in previous interviews.“It’s as challenging now as it's always been, so no I can never rest on my laurels because it’s a big responsibility.
Dodging questions about owning his own character, he would only say: “We all want the same goal, so it’s never really a case of ‘my character wouldn’t say that’.
As for any plot divulging, Shaun remains tight lipped :”You’ll just have to wait and see,” he teases, “ I can’t say too much
So does he worry about Endeavour’s inability to form serious female relationships? “I never really think about that. I just get on with it and hope people enjoy it.”
Enigmatic until the bitter end. What we do know about this fascinatingly aloof man, both on stage and off is that Evans’ family is from Northern Ireland. He was born and raised in Liverpool, Merseyside, where his father worked as a taxi driver and his mother was employed as a hospital health care worker. He gained a scholarship to St. Edward’s College, completed a course with the National Youth Theatre before moving to London, where he still lives, at the age of 17-18 to study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
His first major role was that of gay French teacher John Paul Keating in the Channel 4 comedy-drama Teachers. The following year he made his feature film debut in The Boys from County Clare, starring alongside Bernard Hill, Colm Meaney and Andrea Corr, with whom he then went out with.
In 2012, Evans played the role of new pupil Daniel in BBC legal drama Silk alongside Maxine Peake and starred in the ITV series The Last Weekend.
Then came Endeavour and changed everything that came before, which has since been recommissioned for four new seasons by ITV.
So how much has Endeavour impacted things? “It hasn’t really changed my life. I’m very lucky really. Of course the job does afford me the luxury of being a bit more picky, and of course as an actor so I’m grateful for that
“But it’s a team effort and I work with such an incredible group of actors as well as some amazing guest actors, and it’s their commitment that makes Endeavour such a success,” he says unhelpfully.
Does he mean Roger Allam, with whom Shaun must spend an inordinate amount of time: “Roger is an absolute legend and I have a massive amount of respect for him. We are great pals now of course. And hang out quite a lot.”
As for the future, what of another series? “An actors work is never guaranteed so we reassess at the end of each series, year by year. Nothing is taken for granted, but that’s not my incentive anyway.
“I just work hard to get these amazing stories told while the demand is there and I really enjoy it. It’s something to strive for.”
Shaun Evans takes the title role in Endeavour in the new series – set in Oxford – which starts on Sunday on ITV
By Natalie Tambini - TV Choice January 2017
Endeavour Morse is heartbroken. After her traumatic hostage ordeal at the end of the last series, his boss DI Fred Thursday's daughter, Joan - the love of both their lives - has left Oxford.
Picking up the story two weeks later, in 1967, Endeavour (Shaun Evans) is turning to whisky and Wagner to numb the pain. But when an eminent chess player is found drowned before a match between man and machine, he gets on the case.
'I know myself that if you're heartbroken, you do go out on the lash - it's happened plenty of times!' smiles Shaun, 36. 'This is the Sixties, so you are not likely to be sitting there going, "Come on, Thursday, tell me how you feel!" We have to crack on with work.'
The worlds of Sixties pop and doctors and nurses are among the other subjects in the four-part series, which sees Chef Supt Bright and PC Jim Strange return, plus Abigail Thaw - whose father, John, played the original Morse - as journalist Dorothea Frazil.
Surprisingly, Shaun has never seen any episodes of Inspector Morse, first shown 30 years ago, and isn't a fan of including lots of references to it. 'I don't want Endeavour to pay homage to something I've never seen. I might sound a spoilsport, but my ambition has been that I'd reach my generation, who had never seen Morse. I want to create my own work.
Fans, however, may notice several nods to the original series, including a face who appeared in the very first episode.
Blunt copper Thursday (Roger Allam) is in full health again after coughing up that bullet fragment - and back on his pipe. 'It's horrible,' says Roger, 63. 'During filming you might have to smoke it for two hours, by which time your mouth is like an old ashtray. Disgusting!'
By Caren Clark - TV Times
It's hard to believe that it's 30 years this month since we were first introduced to the real ale and classical music-loving Chief Inspector Morse, played by the much-missed John Thaw.
And this week, the opening episode of the new four-part series of Endeavour sees Shaun Evans clock up his own fifth year as the young Detective Constable Morse, with nostalgic nods to the original.
'It's a privilege to be able to do this show. Although my ambition has always been to get people of my generation who hadn't seen Morse to watch Endeavour, we also have an opportunity to bring in more things that are synonymous with the older Morse', says Shaun as TV Times catches up with him on location in a north London hospital, which serves as Oxford's Cowley General in the show.
As Shaun suddenly brandishes a notebook, we start to get uneasy that TV's sharpest detective might be about to interview us!
'This is Endeavour's notebok, but it doubles as mine', he chuckles. 'I've always had one in my pocket to jot down ideas for scenes and because the police have one, too, I can use my own book.'
Here Shaun, 36, reveals what's in store for Endeavour and his grounded boss DI Fred Thursday (Roger Allam)...
The last series ended with Endeavour's potential romance with Thursday's daughter Joan (Sara Vickers) hitting a stumbling block when she left Oxford. Where do we find him now? It's two weeks later in 1967, and Joan's loss is felt greatly by Endeavour and the Thursdays.
What's Endeavour's relationship with Fred like now?
There's tension over Joan that comes out at work and you never know how much Fred is aware about Endeavour loving her, but there's more honesty between them this time. It's too easy and clichéd for it to be just like a father-and-son thing, life is more complicated.
Any new romance for Endeavour?
He's constantly getting his heart broken, isn't he? There's always a bit of heartache, it's his 'go-to' setting and he's drinking a lot this time, but it would be nice if there was a moment of joy. What I found interesting in Colin Dexter's Morse books is that he's attracted to these femmes fatales and we honour that again in one episode and in another three of his exes are all dating someone new!
What about the new cases?
The episode we're shooting today is set in Cowley General, but the first story is about this boffinish science group and how a Russian comes over to play in a chess tournament.
Endeavour is also waiting for the results of his sergeant's exam. Will he finally get promotion?
I can't say, but there are people who perhaps don't want Endeavour in the force... There's conflict, too, because Strange [Morse's future boss] is already a sergeant. Endeavour is going to need to get cracking if he wants to be Chief Inspector eventually, isn't he?
By Natalie Tambini - Total TV Guide
It's been 30 years since John Thaw's hard-drinking Inspector Morse first captivated us, solving murders amid Oxford's gleaming spires - let alone kept us on tenterhooks to learn his first name . and as prequel Endeavour returns, fans can look out for more hat-tips to the original.
Perhaps surprisingly, Shaun Evans, 36, who plays young Endeavour, has never watched Inspector Morse and isn't keen on including nods to it. 'I might sound like a spoilsport, but I don't want [the script] to be flabby and paying homage to something I've never seen', says Shaun, in his native Liverpudlian lilt. 'Generally when I put a question mark next to something in the script, it comes back that it's a "heritage thing". For me, if it stuck out in the story it hasn't really got a place. If there are some in this series, they're so well-embedded I haven't noticed them.'
Written by Endeavour creator Russell Lewis - who also worked on Inspector Morse - the series picks up two weeks after the last ended, in late 1967. Both Endeavour and Det Insp Fred Thursday (Roger Allam) are missing Thursday's daughter, Joan, who walked away after the dramatic hostage scenes at the end of the last run. But of course neither of them are talking about it.
'It's the Sixties, so you're not saying, "Come on, Thursday, tell me how you feel" ', grins Shaun. 'Endeavour never said, "I'm in love with your daughter", so he doesn't have a chance to clear the air or know how much Thursday knows. Endeavour's always getting his heart broken - it's his go-to setting. I know myself, if that happens to you, you go out on the lash - it's happened plenty of times - so we have an opportunity to seed his drinking in and should make the most of that'.
The four-part series also ventures into the realma of Sixties' pop, featuring Downton Abbey's Michael Fox and a song specially written for the episode.
'The world we've created is very decadent and we really lucked out with the lads in the band - Michael's a great singer. We all went to the recording studio in St John's Wood - not Abbey Road [made famous by The Beatles] but the cheaper one opposite. It's just as good!'
What would classical music-loving Morse have made of pop? He hasn't got much time for it. For him, it's turgid nonsense!'
John Thaw's daughter Abigail returns as journalist Dorothea Frazil. So is Shaun tempted to watch just one of the originals? 'I don't see what benefit it would be. I want to create my own work. So I don't see the point in being reverential. That sounds very disrespectful, and I don't mean it to be. My ambition coming into this job was to reach my generation who hadn't seen it before.'
Word is that ITV is talking about six more episodes next year. 'After this series we'll get round the table and say what was good, what we could do better and how much further we're going to go', he smiles. 'If it doesn't do well they might rethink and bring Downton back!'.
Endeavour IV Press Pack
Q: What can we expect from the new series and where do we ﬁnd Endeavour at the beginning?
“We pick up two weeks after we left oﬀ last time and it’s business as usual. In the ﬁrst episode, a number of people have died and it all seems to be in the same way - they’ve all been found drowned. However, by the end something slightly diﬀerent has taken place.”
“At the beginning of the series, Endeavour is obviously also gutted that he didn’t pass his sergeant’s exams - he’s fuming ‐ and I think that’s one of the main conﬂicts and character arcs that drives through this series, then comes into its own in the ﬁnal episode.”
Q: The end of the last series saw an emotional goodbye to Joan Thursday. What aﬀect has this had on both Endeavour and the Thursday family?
“I think everyone is quite private about it. They don’t talk about it but obviously Thursday is gutted that his kids have left home. And Endeavour is devastated that he felt that he was in love with someone and then she left. Because of the time, Thursday doesn’t know that Endeavour has feelings for her and this does add a certain degree of tension.”
Q: How is his relationship with Thursday in Series 4?Is there tension between them following Joan’s departure?
“They’re ﬁnding it hard to get on at the beginning of this series as Thursday is obviously missing his daughter and he doesn’t know that Endeavour had feelings for her so that creates a sense of conﬂict between them.”
Q: What do you feel the stories being set in the late 1960s brings to the drama?
“I think it’s the absence of any technology that separates the series. Nowadays, you could just text someone or look for forensic evidence, whereas the show is more about thinking, speaking and ﬁnding clues out in that way. That’s where the drama comes from and if it was murder detective story set now it would obviously be very, very diﬀerent.”
Q: You’ve ﬁlmed in some brilliant locations again this series. Which did you enjoy most?
“I always look forward to Oxford, we are so lucky - we go to amazing places every couple of days - but my favourite to go is always Oxford. We don’t do all of it in Oxford, only three or four days per episode, and I just really like it as a location.
Q: You film in some of the most iconic colleges in Oxford. What’s that like?
“It was good. The architecture in the first one we used - St Catherine’s College - was different from ones we’ve used before. It was much more modern which fits into the idea of the story well. It’s just a small thing but I think when you’re in an ongoing drama, you have to keep it fresh as much as you can rather than using the same colleges. St Catherine’s is a beautifully designed place.”
Q: What is your favourite film of the new series and why?
“I don’t really have a favourite as they’re all so different. It’s the directors really that have a say on what the final films turn out like but ultimately each of them is a great experience and there’s not one I prefer more than the others to be honest.”
Q: Do you try to guess the culprit as you read the scripts? If so, do you ever get it right?
“On first reading, I tend to just look at the story itself. Sometimes I do guess who it is, but then you have to be attuned to that. If it’s obvious, I make a point of saying it is and highlighting the point where I knew who the killer was as you don’t want the audience to feel like that. You need to be in it but also have a distance.”
Q: 2017 marks the 30th anniversary of Morse on ITV. How does it feel to be part of such a well-loved British institution?
“It feels really good. I tend to just come in and do my day’s work and feel very lucky and privileged that I can.”
Q: Why do you think audiences love this character so much?
“I think they’re good stories told well.”
Abigail Thaw tells Radio Times about the clever ways her father is remembered in the ITV drama starring Shaun Evans
Endeavour Morse, ITV’s longest-serving detective, celebrated his 30th anniversary last week. Starting with John Thaw’s first outing on 6 January 1987 the original Inspector Morse racked up 33 episodes in 13 years – followed nine series of the Kevin Whately sidekick spin- off Lewis, and now the 1960s prequel Endeavour (which starts its fourth series this Sunday). With its beautiful Oxford backdrop, its intellectual-but-preposterous mysteries and its procession of grumpy heroes, Morse embodies traditional British TV murder mystery at its best.
But, in 1986, when John Thaw was weighing up whether to take the part, it didn’t seem cosy or traditional at all – it seemed like a big risk. “Dad believed in it – it was just a bit scary as to whether or not it would take off,” says John Thaw’s daughter, the actress Abigail Thaw (who now, in a neat nod to the original Morse, plays the Oxford Mail editor Dorothea Frazil in Endeavour). Midsomer Murders and Poirot have gone on to turn cosy feature-length mysteries into a staple of the ITV schedule – but it took Inspector Morse to blaze the trail, says Abigail.
“It was this premise of being two hours long – which everyone was very sceptical about. Channel 4 hadn’t been out that long, and it was all about fast, furious, youth-culture programmes.” But despite – or perhaps because of – its leisurely pace, Inspector Morse was an instant hit. That first episode, The Dead of Jericho, pulled in nearly 14 million viewers. In fact, there was something about Inspector Morse that means the character lives on to this day.
“First, and foremost and always, it’s John Thaw’s performance. ‘National treasure’ is a term that’s thrown around all too often, but in his case… Also, he was a fine actor,” says Russell Lewis, who wrote episodes of both Inspector Morse and Lewis and is the creator and sole writer of Endeavour. “The other key ingredient was the interplay between John and Kevin Whateley.”
Colin Dexter, who wrote the novels on which Inspector Morse was based, once described Morse as “melancholy, sensitive, vulnerable, independent, ungracious and mean-pocketed”. The TV audience nonetheless adored him: when the on-screen Morse died of a heart attack in 2000’s final episode, The Remorseful Day, nearly 14 million viewers once again tuned in.
“Going to work on Endeavour doesn’t feel like a homage to my father,” says Abigail, “but it does give me a jolt every now and then – it happens, funnily enough, when I’m in Oxford, where I think about him a lot more. I’m tired after a few days’ filming and think, ‘Blimey, he did this for months.’ I never realised when I used to go round to see him for Sunday lunch and a gossip.”
Abigail’s inclusion in the cast is far from the only nod to the original Inspector Morse. There’s her character’s name, Dorothea Frazil. The dictionary definition of “frazil” is a kind of slushy ice – so “D Frazil” could be read as “de-ice” – which, you guessed it, brings us back to “Thaw”. Is this intentional? “Of course,” says Abigail. “Russell’s full of them, clever little things, little codes – all the crossword lovers will be satisfied.” Sunday’s episode guest-stars James Laurenson, who was also in the first episode of Inspector Morse, and Sheila Hancock, John Thaw’s widow, guest-stars later in the series.
The only person missing from this new run is Colin Dexter himself, who used to have a brief cameo in every episode – but who’s now 86 years old. “I think he’s allowed, after 30-odd years, to take tea in the pavilion,” smiles Russell Lewis. “We haven’t got him in the flesh this year. But there’s a big part of the fandom that likes to spot Colin – like spotting Hitchcock.” Then Lewis adds, mysteriously: “He’ll be there in spirit, not in flesh. He’ll be that little bit harder to find than usual.”
In the dramatic finale of series three, Endeavour was safely rescued from a bank raid – along with Joan (Sara Vickers), the daughter of Endeavour’s boss, DI Fred Thursday (Roger Allam). But Joan, traumatised, then fled Oxford. Fred was bereft – and Endeavour, still unable to voice his crush on her, was heartbroken. “We pick him up two weeks after we left off, which is a brilliant move from Russ, because that’s still quite recent,” says Shaun Evans, who plays Endeavour. “Thursday’s daughter’s left, and that creates a bit of tension between Endeavour and Thursday, which then plays out across the whole series.
For fans of the original Inspector Morse, these romantic and professional knocks to the young Endeavour help to shape the irascible, middle-aged loner they once loved. Indeed, audiences loved John Thaw so much that it could easily have daunted Evans when he first started to play Endeavour. So did Evans feel like Endeavour was his show right from the get-go?
“Yeah, of course man, bloody hell,” says Evans. “Of course I felt like it was mine.”
You didn’t have any..? “Why would I?”
Well, just because another actor had played the part before. “But they hadn’t, had they? They’d played a version of it, 20 years older. They hadn’t played the script that I had in front of me. No one else had played that. My intention with this was of course to please the audience that already existed – but it was also to get an audience of my generation to watch it. To watch my work, to watch our work. It wasn’t about a nostalgia fest.”
Evans chose not to watch the old Inspector Morse before he started filming. “Only because I wanted to approach it from a brand-new point of view,” he says. The current round of those scripts is set in 1967. If Endeavour is recommissioned by ITV, it will move on to 1968 – and, mathematically speaking, it could one day reach 1987, with Endeavour finally morphing into that original Morse.
When Abigail Thaw looks forward to a potential Endeavour set in 1987, she smiles – it clearly conjures up a new mental picture that jostles with a very fond, 30-year-old memory. “As long as people want it, and as long as the stories are good, and as long as Shaun keeps fresh-faced, why not?” she says, with a chuckle. “He’s going to have to get some white hair and some padding, isn’t he?”
Endeavour returns on Sunday at 8pm on ITV