"It’s not something that can go on and on. I really don’t think it will"
By David Brown, Radio Times
For millions of Morse fans, it’s the ending they cannot bear to contemplate. The melancholy detective made famous by the late John Thaw has, of course, met his maker before, both in print and on screen. But having breathed new life into the character for prequel hit Endeavour, actor Shaun Evans is now the one person who could kill Morse off for ever.
“I know that the creator, Colin Dexter, has it in his will that no one else can play the part. Which is as it should be,” Evans reveals in his soft Liverpool accent. “It’s not something that can go on and on. I really don’t think it will.”
So for how long does he intend to go on? The new series of Endeavour continues to chart the Detective Constable’s early career with the Oxford police force during the mid-1960s, but can we expect to see Endeavour in the 70s? “Listen, never say never. It would be a great life for me, I suppose. But is it something you’d want, creatively? I’m not so sure.”
At the moment though, Evans appears fulfilled. He’s determined for his Morse to stand on his own two feet and not to do an impersonation of John Thaw, the man who first brought the character to life in 1987. Indeed, instead of turning to recordings of Thaw – for whom he says he has the greatest respect – Evans found inspiration from a different source: “I listened a lot to Michael Palin, who was from the north, went to Oxford and who was alive at that time. That’s how I imagine Morse’s voice to be.”
Famously, Thaw’s Morse was unlucky in love and prone to falling for either murder victims or femmes fatales. Evans’s creation is rather more lusty, a characterisation truer to the Morse of the books than the TV series.
Rather than consulting Inspector Morse DVD box sets for research, the actor decided to go back to Dexter’s novels, where the character is an altogether more lecherous figure who browses enthusiastically through porn magazines and enjoys the odd strip show.
“The more we can introduce of that, the better,” Evans reveals. “I’m always fighting to make that a reality, without him becoming this full-on seedy, depraved character, of course. What you don’t want is for it to be sanitised and pasteurised, which a lot of stuff is nowadays.”
Knowing all of this, what are we to then make of Endeavour’s love interest in series two: a nurse of Jamaican descent called Monica (Shvorne Marks), who becomes the object of his affections? No matter how hard Morse strives for a normal life, he’s always destined to be a solitary man who struggles to make emotional connections. So surely there can’t be any future in that relationship?
“It’s got to end in tears,” says Evans. “In the third episode, you see that Endeavour is too busy getting loved up. He ends up missing something vital, which costs someone their life. And that weighs heavily...”
Endeavour does seem a world away from the eternal summers of the TV Inspector Morse, where sunshine always framed Oxford’s dreaming spires and cases were cracked against a picturesque background of the Bridge of Sighs and the Bodleian.
For instance, in the opening episode to series two, a lead is pursued in the neon-lit streets of London’s Soho while Endeavour is, at one point, seen brooding under an umbrella as the rain pours down. “We’re using the seasons. And as it goes on, it gets darker. Winter comes – and I mean that in all aspects. Characters are getting shot and we’re losing the people who are close to us. But that’s life, man. It should be dark.”
It’s a sensibility that chimes with the spate of Scandinavian shows like The Killing and The Bridge that have changed the face of TV crime drama in recent years. And when you think about it, Morse has a lot in common with those Scandi sleuths: like Sarah Lund or Saga Noren, he’s pessimistic, slightly vulnerable and an outsider wherever he goes.
“There is an influence from the Scandinavian dramas,” says Evans. “Audiences want a certain darkness now and you have to pay attention to that. There’s no denying that this character is a bit of a loner and slightly out of joint with his time and place. That’s what I find endearing about him. And perhaps the audience does, too.” Does he appeal to the misfit in all of us? “Well, loner heroes do appeal to that part of yourself that feels as though your genius hasn’t been recognised.”
Evans, 34, has carved out a niche playing off-kilter leads, be they on stage as Kurt Cobain opposite Danny Dyer’s Sid Vicious in the play Kurt and Sid or on the big screen alongside Benedict Cumberbatch as troubled ex-soldier Nick in Wreckers. In 2012, he also sent a shiver down the spines of TV viewers when he terrorised Rupert Penry-Jones in ITV’s The Last Weekend.
And although Endeavour Morse is easier to root for than some of Evans’s other roles, there is still that streak of sorrow. After all, this is a character who we know full well will eventually die a bachelor in his late 50s after keeling over from cardiac failure.
Fans hoping that more of Morse’s missing years are filled in should pray that writer Russell Lewis keeps finding fresh and ambitious ways of putting the copper through the emotional wringer. Because it’s this, you feel, that will encourage Evans to return for more episodes and keep Morse alive.
“It should be ambitious and aim high because as soon as that goes, we go. The world doesn’t need another detective series, so we have to do something different with it. If you’re going to do a show that has already had a long life, you have to grab it and do something new. So that’s what we attempted and I feel we’ve largely succeeded.”
See Endeavour Sunday 8:00pm, ITV
By Sarah Deen for Metro.co.uk
Endeavour returns for its second full series on ITV tonight, which is great news for Sunday night telly.
The period drama, following the early years of Inspector Morse, is a piece of telly gold which ITV has wisely decided to hold on to.
Series two, set in 1966, will consist of four two-hour films, and star Shaun Evans (who is amazing in this – more on him later) as the titular character.
Writer Russell Lewis, who was a contributor to Inspector Morse, said of the new series: ‘Though offset by the possibility of love unlooked for, against a backdrop of a growing change in Britain and the wider world, Endeavour must face a challenge that threatens to take from him all he holds dear.’
If that’s not enough to tickle your fancy, here’s 5 reasons why you should tune in to Endeavour.
1. It isn’t your average Sunday night telly fare
Think of Sunday night telly and the likes of Where The Heart Is, Heartbeat and The Royal probably come to mind. While they were a decent way to wind down before work on Monday, they weren’t exactly high-octane and thrilling. The most dangerous thing to happen on any of those programmes was someone dropping half a Custard Cream into their cuppa. Endeavour is the opposite – laced with high-tension, suspense and even a bit of action.
2. The cases
Endeavour’s cases are intriguing and unique. In series one he had to track a killer who bumped off his victims in a similar fashion to the endings of famous operas. It sounds complicated, but even the less musically knowledgeable viewers could follow it. Series two looks set to have another brace of head-scratchers for us, including one involving a beauty pageant, and another which star Evans has described to Digital Spy as a ‘spooky, sort of horror story’. Intriguing…
3. Endeavour’s love life
The young policeman’s constant search for a soul mate is one of this series’ most intriguing ongoing plot points. He came close a couple of times with series one, but with the detective set to strike up a romance with a nurse this series is the second time the charm?
4. The 60s, baby!
Endeavour is a period drama and accordingly, there will be plenty of nostalgia for those over a certain age. As writer Lewis said, there was a growing change in Britain at the time, and Endeavour – like similarly wonderful 60s-set detective drama George Gently – will have heaps of nods to the state of Britain at the time. Notably, ’66 was the year of England’s world cup win, so expect some football madness thrown in.
5. Endeavour’s relationship with Thursday
Endeavour and Thursday have represented two sides of the same coin when it comes to policing, with Endeavour being the new and Thursday firmly stuck in his old ways. Evans and Roger Allam are the perfect pairing, so it’ll be interesting to see their working relationship develop as times change.
6. Shaun Evans
There really aren’t enough superlatives to describe Evans’ performance in this role, but here’s a few: beautifully understated, nuanced and enchanting. The Liverpudlian actor steals the show in every scene he’s in and says so much without saying much at all. Like another popular TV detective I could mention, Endeavour is dedicated to his work and fiercely intelligent, but Evans also manages to make him grounded and completely likable.
SHAUN Evans returns as the young Morse in a new series of Endeavour
By VICKI POWER - Sunday Express
Shaun Evans is looking a bit battered and bruised. With cuts and scratches on his face, he looks as though he’s been in a lovers’ tiff or a pub brawl. And given that Shaun is playing the young Endeavour Morse, who spent many hours propping up the bars of Oxford, the latter is most likely.
Luckily, the abrasions are just make-up, and 34-year-old Shaun is otherwise in fine form. He’s back for a second, four-part series of Endeavour, the prequel to ITV’s much-loved Inspector Morse detective series, set in 1960s Oxford.
We meet on the set near Maidenhead in Berkshire, where the police HQ and Morse’s flat have been created in period detail. For Shaun, it’s a new experience to return to a role, and he’s keen that neither he nor the series appear to be coasting on their success.
“My feeling is, if you’re coming back to do it again, you need to up your game,” he says. “Those things we know about the character are in our subconscious, but this time you have to do the things you felt you didn’t achieve last time a little better.”
It’s an admirable sentiment from the actor, who’s had roles in Whitechapel, The Last Weekend and Silk, among others. Tackling Colin Dexter’s fictional hero has given Shaun a platform from which to flex his acting muscles, portraying a younger version of the melancholic, hard-drinking, irascible Morse that audiences grew to love when the late John Thaw played him from 1987 to 2000.
The previous series of Endeavour saw the young detective’s father die and Morse shot and injured. Now, it’s four months on and Morse has been moved to a different station, removing him from the kindly influence of DI Fred Thursday (Roger Allam).
“When we do come back this time, Morse is very much isolated and unhappy and not firing on all cylinders. A lot of that is to do with him drinking too much,” says Shaun. “There’s mileage in a story like this in that you get the opportunity to see Morse at home, so you understand why he’s behaving in a way that makes the rest of the office go, ‘What’s wrong with you, man?’
“Morse has inherited some of his father’s bills, so there’s financial pressure, and he has to look after his stepmum and sister. He’s in a slightly darker place, I think.”
While Shaun brings youthful energy to his role, Roger Allam, 60, brings a more measured wisdom as Morse’s mentor, Thursday. Roger, also known from BBC2’s political satire, The Thick Of It, says Thursday is concerned about Morse’s mental state.
“He’s concerned that Morse is drinking a bit too much and that it’s a sign that not all is well,” he says.
Allam appeared in a 1996 episode of Morse and is an acclaimed theatre actor who has largely stayed away from TV to avoid typecasting. “One of the things that attracted me to Fred Thursday is that he’s a character I’ve not played much of,” he says. “He’s down to earth, a good, pipe-smoking individual. I’d love to be in a western, and probably playing Thursday is the closest I’ll get to it, with the occasional bit of gunplay and fisticuffs.”
Roger, who grew up in London’s East End, has a personal reason for wanting to play Thursday, who fought in the Second World War before becoming a policeman.
“My father was a vicar in the East End just after the war,” he says. “My grandparents’ generation fought and lived through the First World War and my parents through the second, so war was still very present as I was growing up. One of the reasons I love playing Fred Thursday is that it’s a slight way of honouring that past and narrative and what people lived through.”
The new series sees Morse tackling murders against the background of the 1966 World Cup and Bonfire Night, hunting a fictitious Oxford Strangler and investigating a boys’ borstal and a private girls’ school.
With last year’s series of Endeavour achieving impressive viewing figures, Morse and Thursday have clearly struck a chord.
“I’m delighted the series has found an audience,” says Shaun.
BY CATRIONA WIGHTMAN - Digital Spy
Yes, Endeavour might be based on Inspector Morse, but it's pretty clear by now that the show has become its own entity. "That was always my intention," star Shaun Evans told Digital Spy. "I think as it grows, yeah, I think it is treading its own path a little bit more." And with the second series starting on Sunday, we thought it was time we found out a little bit more about what could be coming. Enter Shaun, who gave us hints from romance to retirement, stranglers to shootings...
1. The end of the last series - you know, when Endeavour was shot and his dad died - will unsurprisingly have a bit of an impact on the new episodes.
"Four months have elapsed since the shooting and losing his dad, and then we pick up with my first day back. I've had four months off and I come back, and it's my first day back at the office. Endeavour's not really ready! I think that's part of where the drama of the first one comes into play."
2. Endeavour is still questioning his role in the police.
"He's always toying with that idea of, 'Am I in the right place? Is this what I want my life to be?' I think as we all are - constantly questioning. I think until you reach your mid-30s there's either a real acceptance of where you are or a resignation of where you are."
3. The Thursday-Morse dynamic is still going strong - but it's not just a father-son thing.
"I hesitate to say that because I feel like it can be kind of reductionary if you just say 'father-son, la la la'. I think it's more interesting than that. Yeah, of course, Thursday is more advanced in years but I think the beauty of these two is Thursday represents the older way of solving crime and Endeavour represents something new. So they kind of need each other. I think what's interesting about this is towards the end you get Thursday thinking, 'Maybe I'm done now'. So they're two people who kind of have to exist together in the stories that we're telling. It's an interesting dynamic. It's difficult to divorce yourself from it because you're doing it all the time, but it's certainly one of the most interesting things about the show for me."
4. Endeavour has got a wide variety of cases.
"There are some great ones, actually. The first is a missing girl who is involved in a beauty queen contest. The second one is a spooky, sort of horror story - these little girls keep going missing and it's happening in this house where we think something sinister might be going on, we're not sure what. A lot of people are willing to jump to the conclusion that it's a spooky sort of supernatural thing, but obviously Endeavour's like, 'Come on! Stop it, you nutters! There's a rational explanation for this'. The third one is a strangler on the loose, who's going round strangling women with a pair of tights. So there are some great stories, I think."
5. The new episodes are set in 1966.
"You see the World Cup. Women are starting to come into their own more in this time period, and we've really tried to reflect that. It's such a plethora of amazing things going on at that time, it would be stupid not to use them. And also, it's kind of another hook for the audience: 'Oh, I remember that'. Certainly there's a world that's there that's waiting to be used."
6. Speaking of women...
"There's a bit of romance, there's a bit of romance! I don't know how it's going to pan out... But yeah, there's a bit of romance. The girl who lives opposite is a nurse. I don't want to be ungentlemanly and speak about what happens! I don't want to kiss and tell! But yeah, she's there throughout the four of them. And it's another way of showing who this person is and seeing a different side of this person. It's easy at the beginning but I think Endeavour makes things difficult - unnecessarily so, especially with women! So we see that at the beginning and by the fourth one it's in a place where I think she's into it more than he is. Really awkward!"
7. (And by the way, Shaun wanted to make it even more awkward.)
"We toyed with the idea - I thought it would be really interesting, and the writer did too - if she's a little bit keen, she gets pregnant, but he's kind of going, 'Oh, I'm really over this now', but then she tells him that she's pregnant. Can you imagine? But that doesn't happen, only because there wasn't enough time and there was so much else going on. But imagine if he's like, 'I think we're done' and she goes, 'I'm having a baby!' It would have been an interesting way to end it."
8. Shaun doesn't actually understand all those Morse references.
"I don't get them, to be honest, no. No, they have to be explained to me, because I haven't seen them all. I've read the books, but I haven't seen all the films. But to me, to be honest, they always jar. I always think, 'That doesn't make any sense, why are we doing that?' And they sort of go, 'That's a reference', and I go, 'Oh, OK, I get it'. But oftentimes when I read it or I see it I go, 'That seems odd'. Which is cool... But whilst it's great to please the existing Morse members, I would hope for a new generation of audiences. The show can't just be nostalgic. I hate that word, but it can't just be something that is constantly referencing the past - it has to be something new. To do that, we have to engage a new audience. So you can't keep referencing the past. So yeah, it's good - let's keep that, let's please the audience that exist, but let's try to get new audiences as well and please my generation who perhaps haven't seen it. Otherwise, the show has no future. It needs to evolve."
9. Shaun is quite fond of his Endeavour suit.
"I've only got one suit and it's the first one I've had. I found it myself with the costume designer we had on the first one. It's very specific and I do like wearing it. It's an original from the '60s so I suppose, yes, that is helpful - the cut of it helps and the style of it and the weight of it helps as well. Yeah, that is important I think... I love costume so it does really help for me and I'm very specific about it - not only what he wears but how it's worn as well. There's a certain element of scruffiness to it, there's a certain element of 'lived in' to it. It all just helps to believe the story. If you're doing something from the past, it's easy to feel a distance from it. All of these things are just little tricks to help me feel it and to help the audience go with it more."
10. Shaun wasn't just up for any old crime series.
"When I came into this that was my exact thing - the world does not need another show about crime. It really doesn't. So if we're going to do it, we have to do something different, unusual and exciting with it. For us, it's a combination of factors that are pretty obvious - the fact that it does have a heritage, but that we're trying to do something new. For me, one of the winning things about this is the team involved. Everyone's always striving to do their best - all of the actors, the executive producers, the writer, the directors we get on board. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we fail, but it's difficult to say what one thing specifically sets it apart from the others - which is my intention, to set it apart from the others. My feeling is it's the team involved, and I think that that translates in a multitude of ways."
11. Shaun isn't counting on a third series.
"I don't want to be complacent about it. I feel lucky that we've made nine of these thus far. And I'm grateful that there's been such an audience response, but it's changing, it's evolving, it's growing. I hope that the audience allows that to happen and that they enjoy these, and when these have aired and the dust has settled, I suppose we'll have a chance to sit and assess it. But there's no idea right now to spring into starting. We need to let the dust settle and see which things work and which don't work so well. I just hope that the audience enjoy it, really, and then we'll take it from there."
Endeavour returns on Sunday (March 30) at 8pm on ITV.
By Claren Clark - What's On TV
Shaun Evans returns as troubled young Endeavour Morse in 1960s crime drama Endeavour on ITV this Sunday and TV & Satellite Week took him in for questioning to find out more…
Where do we find Endeavour in the new series?
“Well last time his dad had just died and he had been shot and he has now spent four months away in a different station so he is coming back and much finding his feet and there is an irritation with Thursday that he has been left out in the cold. He is frustrated, but also turning towards the booze more and Thursday is concerned that he is not firing on all cylinders.”
Is there a story arc to this series?
“Yes, during the series we discover evidence going missing and there is something standing in the way of us solving crimes. At the end of the first episode one character says to Endeavour, ‘Everything that you hold dear will be taken away,’ and that promise comes true in the final one when everything is turned on its head.”
Are all the characters involved in the fall-out?
“Yes, there is a sense of something new coming and something old dying so at the start Endeavour is thinking whether he is in the right job, but there is a role reversal because by the end Thursday, and also Bright, question whether they have a place in this new world. Then the younger lads Jakes and Strange also have to decide how they will move forward and what they will bring to the table. So everyone has a massive journey and gets a crack of the whip, it really feels like an ensemble.”
Will we see some romance this time?
“He meets a new neighbour Monica who is a nurse. Apparently it was common for police and nurses to get together at the time. We see him falling in love ,but he takes his eye off the ball and it affects his professional life and he has to make a choice. It is good to see him enamoured with someone, but he has to have his heart broken and ultimately we know he does die alone.”
Will we see more of a reflection of the 1960s?
“There was a whole world of interesting stuff going on and it would be stupid not to use it. There is a tendency to have a femme fatale character, but we were missing a trick because it was an amazing time for women and now we can open ourselves up to more dynamic female characters who reflect society and the emerging women’s lib.”
Have you had people come up to you who have never seen the original?
“I have, but equally I’ve had a lot of people say, ‘I really buy you as a young John Thaw,’ and I’m pleased that Morse fans respond to the show and I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for what has gone before. But it has always been my intention to get a new audience to the show and to honour the original while doing something different, because it needs to move forward. We have discovered an open-mindedness where audiences are willing to embrace it. I have never been in this position before to pick a show up again and there is a responsibility to put our own stamp on things now.”
Do you ever look back at the original Morse episodes?
“No, I didn’t think that would be useful for this because when scripts arrive you have to depend largely on your imagination and that is not to do down anything that has gone before, but I want it be something that has come from me versus something that has been a copy of something else. I did listen to a lot of Michael Palin though, who was from the north and went to Oxford and was alive around that time. That is how I imagine Morse’s voice to be and it was easier to capture his, but I didn’t listen to John Thaw.”
Endeavour II Press Pack
A dramatic series finale saw Endeavour Morse lose his father and get shot in the line of duty. After a stint on lighter duties at a different station, the young detective is deemed medically fit and returns to Oxford City Police to help solve serious crime and murder in the new second series.
“In the first Endeavour film of this series my character comes back to the station after a few months in another division where he was assigned light duties”, explains Shaun Evans who reprises his role as Endeavour Morse in the drama.
“At the end of last series his father died and he was shot. The events have rocked him, and his absence means relationships with his colleagues in the police force have changed.
Shaun continues: “He comes back a far more damaged person. He’s a bit lost in his grief. He’s also still questioning himself, thinking am I any good? Was the last solved crime a fluke?
“A lot of what we want to do with this series is to try and tease out the qualities that make him unique. It’s a continually shaping process.”
As the series unfolds it becomes clear there are tensions at the station, which also cause Morse to question his future on the police force.
“The Force itself is changing. The whole thing rests on uneven ground and Endeavour feels like it is shifting constantly. He begins to question, is this the right place for me?”
One reason to stay on the Force is Morse’s Detective Inspector Fred Thursday, played by Roger Allam.
“A lot of this series is about relationships. One of the most important to Endeavour is with Thursday.
“Thursday sees the brilliance in him. Whilst it can be counter-productive in some spheres of his life, with a bit of help his brilliance could make him a great detective and a great man as well.
“Endeavour brings a different thought process into detective work. Thursday is nurturing that side of him and helping him become a more rounded person.
“I think if you can solve four unusual crimes in a year like he does it certainly deserves some credit! If he didn’t work in that way then they probably would never have been solved. Thursday can see there is a place for him on the Force and has his back covered. This series becomes more about the upper echelons of the hierarchy of the Police Force recognising and learning that there is a place for him too.”
DI Fred Thursday has established himself as a mentor and firm father figure for Morse. It’s a relationship that extends beyond the boundaries of the police station.
Explains Shaun: “The relationship between Endeavour and Fred Thursday is more twosided this time.
“Fred and the whole Thursday family feel Endeavour is someone they should take under their wing. But Endeavour is someone they need in their life too.”
Another important relationship begins when Morse moves into a new flat in Oxford. Living next door is Monica, a nurse who soon becomes the object of his affections…
“Monica comes into Endeavour’s life when he’s on his knees. I think it’s very telling that the relationship comes along at this time. It’s ironic she’s a nurse; she automatically has that caring, nurturing nature he needs. He’s a broken man and she contributes to his mending.
“I think it’s a very good thing. Apparently it was very common in those days for policemen to be with nurses.
“We don’t know how their relationship is going to develop or end up. It’s very much up for grabs.”
Shaun reveals he was very happy with the audience’s response to the pilot and first series of Endeavour.
“I’m delighted it got such a great audience, particularly as so much work goes into it. In this job you want to get a good story, tell it well, and hope the audience enjoys it. We seem to have ticked those boxes.
“I think it’s great to have the opportunity to build and improve on a character so I was glad to get back and have another crack.”
Endeavour was created by writer and executive producer Russell Lewis as the prequel to the acclaimed series Inspector Morse (1987-2000), starring John Thaw.
“Building on the character of Morse has always been the intention. On one level I’m glad the audience is open to what we’ve done. But even more so that those people who haven’t seen the original series before can see this series for what it is.
“The second series has allowed us to deepen the relationships and add more depth to all the characters – Endeavour, Thursday, Jakes. The series is not just about crime or whodunit, although that’s a massive part, it’s also about the people. Whether you grow to like them or hate them more, you get to know them better.”
So, is Shaun any good at guessing whodunit?
“I am getting more used to working it out. But I’m actually more interested in how Endeavour makes the discovery - how the crime is solved, rather than who committed the crime and why. Endeavour uses his intuition and for me, it’s about those discoveries on the way. I think it is incredibly intellectual and that’s what makes it interesting.”
Why does Shaun think Endeavour is popular with audiences?
“Let’s face it, there are a lot of detective shows out there. I think it needs to be different and interesting – that’s what’s great about this particular character. Where else would you get a policeman who sings in a choir, who likes crosswords, went to Oxford, and is at the lower end of the police hierarchy? He’s an interesting character and an interesting human being. I think that’s what makes Endeavour unique.”
Being set in the 1960s also sets Endeavour apart from other crime drama.
“I’m delighted people like the history of it”, says Shaun. “It was a period of great cars, great costumes, great styles and great ideas. Also, women are starting to get much more of a voice and it’s a significant period of change in music.”
The Jaguar driven by Endeavour Morse has become an icon of the series and of that period in time. What’s it like?
“Fantastic. It smells of old leather. It’s a beautiful car, such a classic. If I had the opportunity I would take it home. It would probably break down, but it’s a beautiful motor and nice to drive.”
Life of Wylie
THE latest TV puzzle starts with a crossword. Plus a flashback to the young detective being shot at the end of the last story. Endeavour returns to ITV on Sunday for a second series of the Inspector Morse prequel. It’s May 1966 and the young Morse (Shaun Evans) is on his first day back at work at Oxford City Police with Det Insp Fred Thursday (Roger Allam). But doubts remain about whether the Detective Constable is fully recovered from his ordeal. “The light’s gone out of him,” Thursday tells his wife.
There are four 120-minute films in the new series, which again pays respect to John Thaw’s Morse while continuing to carve its own place in television history. The first episode guest stars Beth Goddard as Labour Parliamentary candidate Barbara Batten.
Alongside Jonathan Coy, Pooky Quesnel, David Westhead, Jessie Buckley and Liam Garrigan. With John Thaw’s daughter Abigail Thaw returning as newspaper reporter Dorothea Frazil and Anton Lesser as Chief Supt Reginald Bright.
The new series further explores the relationship between Endeavour and Thursday, while revealing more about the latter’s background. There’s a taste of romance for the young detective on his journey towards becoming the older, lonelier Inspector Morse. With a first glimpse of his lifelong conflicts with organisations like the Freemasons.
I went along to the London media launch of Endeavour 2 earlier this month. A screening of the first episode and later series highlights. Followed by a Q&A with Shaun Evans (Endeavour Morse), Roger Allam (Det Insp Fred Thursday) and Russell Lewis (Writer & Executive Producer). During which Shaun spoke about that romance, studying the voice of Michael Palin rather than John Thaw and much else besides.
You can read my edited transcript below.
I had the pleasure of interviewing the late John Thaw many times over the years, including during the early days of Morse in the late 1980s. And my main thought during the Endeavour series two preview screening? Just how much he would have loved it.
Endeavour returns to ITV at 8pm on Sunday (March 30).
Q: (From me) We know that the relationship between Thursday and Morse obviously develops in this series. Do you want to talk a little about how it develops. Also I gather in the third film, we learn a bit more about Thursday’s past? I don’t know how much you can say about that?
Roger Allam: “Well it develops, I suppose, because this series starts off with Endeavour coming back to Cowley station, having been wounded at the end of the last series – and also the death of his father at the end of the last series. So I think there’s concern on Thursday’s part about whether he’s going to be up to speed, match fit, as sharp as he was. Because as imaginative as he was in the right way…in the way that I think attracted Thursday to begin with, about Endeavour…that here was someone who had a particular way of working which wasn’t usual in the police but it would be a very good ability to have in your police station, in your squad of men. To have someone with that imagination and intelligence. So there’s concern to begin with about whether he’s going to quite get back to that and some anxiety around there. And even those comfortable little pegs that you have, those everyday things like those jokes – he always knows what is in my sandwich…so there’s anxiety both trivial like that but fun and also larger. And then, of course, he gets back and it’s fine.”
Shaun Evans: “I think also you’ve got in this as well…as it develops they flip. At the beginning you have the Endeavour character thinking, ‘Is this the right place for me? Am I in the right job?’ But by the end of the fourth one it’s Thursday who’s questioning whether he’s in the right place, whether he has a future. So there’s like an about face from both characters. I think that’s what’s interesting as it develops. That you see that they need each other in order to move forward.”
Roger Allam: “And in film three, as well, I suppose Endeavour finds out something about Thursday’s past. Something specific about Thursday’s past which I can’t, alas, reveal to you now, (laughter) that adds very much to his knowledge of Thursday as well. So as you go on in time, like you do with anyone, they’re finding out more about each other.”
Russell Lewis: “I think that what we didn’t want to do is just let it fall into a too comfortable relationship. That it became predictable, week in, week out, how they were going to be with one another. So it’s the stronger for it, that it’s not just rubbing along like an old married couple. They’re constantly finding out things about each other.”
Q: Endeavour has gone back to work and is almost learning again. Is that nice for you to almost go back to a blank canvas?
Shaun Evans: “Yeah. It’s funny because obviously you’ve done it before but it has to be brand new and you have to find all of those things again. So, yeah, this time I was going back for this first one – you’re re-evaluating your role in it and what the stories are as they develop. And also, one of the great things about this is it’s constantly evolving. And even while we may have done one there’s still things that need to be finished on the ones that come prior to it. So it is a funny, constantly evolving thing. And yeah, you are learning. I’m learning doing it. So it’s good that that’s reflected in it.”
Q: Grown-up drama to bring Freemasons in as well. Do we go further into that. The tension at the police station between those who are and those who aren’t?
Russell Lewis: “Yeah, we do. It’s canon really. Morse’s relationship with that fraternity. And we thought it would be interesting to look at that a little across these stories.”
Q: Roger – Thursday seems to have many lines of wisdom in every episode. Do you have any favourite lines from this series?
Roger Allam: “I can’t remember any from this episode now. There are a lot. Not necessarily to do with wisdom but certainly in the way that Russell writes for Thursday, which is a slightly older generation way of speaking. They’re lovely to play and I find them deeply charming, to me, personally. Because Thursday is roughly around the age of my father, I would guess. He would have been born around about the same time as my father. Maybe my uncle, maybe his younger brother, who was also, curiously, called Fred. That way of speaking…London…lower working class thing, I have great love for. So I like that. Not just the wisdom but that way of speaking is a way, I think, of recapturing that time.”
Russell Lewis: “Very much he’s drawing on my own father…fundamental decency of his class and putting him into Thursday a little.”
Q: Shaun – how would you define the way in which Endeavour’s working method was different to other police inspectors? What makes him attractive in the way he works?
Shaun Evans: “Great question. I think there’s an imagination and an intuitiveness. But also an intelligence. He’s probably not particularly well suited to being a policeman but to that cryptic way of working things out. I think that’s what sets him apart from others. I would say.”
Q: Shaun – because you’re a young man, do you find it a problem to throw yourself back into the Sixties and the way people used to act as police officers in those days, entirely different to today?
Shaun Evans: “Whenever you take a job, if it’s set in a different period it gives you an opportunity to learn a little bit more about it. I think specifically for this, I don’t think the character is particularly in tune with his time. So how people are behaving in the Sixties isn’t that so important for me, to copy the mannerisms of that, if you know what I mean? But I think that for any job it is only really ever an opportunity for you to see that new…if it’s set in a new place, in a new time…People did have those attitudes. You just have to trust that. You have to trust that in the writing. Sometimes you think, ‘That’s perhaps a little sexist’ or whatever. But you have to trust that it’s there in the writing. And it is. Again, it’s just an opportunity to think, ‘Oh God, look how far we’ve come in that respect.’ In some ways.”
Q: Shaun – did you go back to looking at the old Morse and John Thaw or..?
Shaun Evans: “No, I didn’t. I didn’t think that would be useful for this. Because when the scripts arrive you have to depend largely upon your imagination to recreate something. That’s not to do down anything that’s gone before. It’s only with the greatest amount of respect. Plus if I’m going to sit here and talk about something I want it to be something that’s come from me versus something that’s been a copy of something else. So, no I didn’t. Perhaps I should have.” (laughs)
Q: Shaun – could you summarise Endeavour’s state of mind at the beginning of this episode?
Shaun Evans: “At the beginning, when we return, it’s been four months since losing his dad and being shot. He’s been seconded to another station and he’s had a bit of time out of work. The first day back is the first day of this film. So you see him coming into the station, sort of brand new, not feeling a hundred per cent. I hesitated to say ‘post-traumatic stress’ but along the lines of being in deep shock and probably needing a little bit more time off. But that’s where we find them at the beginning. The interesting thing about that is that then you have a crime which occurs and it needs to be solved. He needs to solve it in a particular way to get himself back. And needs to be back in this groove in order to heal himself, in a way. I think that’s where we are at the beginning. I don’t want to spoil it but when you get to the end it’s in a very different place. By the end of the fourth film it’s in a very different place in terms of his relationship both to Thursday, to the job, to the station and to himself as well.”
Q: How are we going to see the relationship between Morse and Monica develop?
Shaun Evans: “That’s an interesting one. In a way I wish, and I think we all do as well…you could dedicate a whole film, or a large portion, to who this person is and how they relate, especially to a woman. But we just haven’t got the time and there’s so much other stuff to fit in. How it develops though, which I think we’ve achieved in this, is a relationship begins to blossom. Ultimately we know, having seen them and knowing that this guy (John Thaw’s Morse series) dies in the end on his own. So it’s not going to work out. But I think that creates a certain amount of conflict and drama. By the end of it, I feel like she’s probably slightly more keen than he is. In the third one we get to see that as he’s slightly fallen in love with her, his work is suffering. And so then – off screen – you have to make that choice. ‘How can I have both? And if I can’t have both, which one will I choose? Will I choose a happy relationship and try to emulate Thursday and his wife? Or will I go down another path?’ All of these subconscious as well. But that’s at least what we’ve attempted to achieve in both the third and the fourth (film) and as it progresses.”
Russell Lewis: “I think it weighs quite heavily on him, his great intellect. There’s a warning giving to him in Fugue, in the second film of the first series by the villain, which is, ‘That to be intelligent is to always be alone.’ And I think across this run of films there’s almost a push from him to try and reach for normality, to fit in, to be a regular guy. And given his nature we know that’s something that, although he’s going to strive for, it really does go against his better nature, which is solitary and thoughtful. But he’s certainly reaching for that, in places across these four.”
Q: It’s difficult to imagine any other actors playing Morse and Thursday. What was the point when you both knew that you had the key to playing your characters?
Roger Allam: “Listen…when you put on a hat and smoke a pipe and, to some extent, wear a coat and stuff like that, it gives you a feeling of the period, which is one thing. And another thing is that it gives you a habit. Often those tiny things can be like a kind of portal into something else about the character. They’re not the character but they become like a sign of the character, in a way. And they’re very, very helpful. It would be foolish to deny. Also they’re very enjoyable to play with. Once you feel at home…for Thursday, I think it’s very different for Endeavour, but for me and Thursday, once you feel at home with those things, once you feel comfortable, you feel like you’re wearing the clothes of the man and you can go further in from there.”
Shaun Evans: “I think the feeling of ownership comes and goes. You attack each day and each scene in a script as best you can. Sometimes you think, ‘Oh yeah, I achieved what I set to do there more than I did yesterday,’ or whatever. I think it’s an ongoing thing. But then by the same token, we’ve made nine thus far with the same creative team. And so you hope you’re starting to get into a groove a bit more. But it still feels like it comes and goes, to be honest. For me, at least.”
Q: Shaun – what does Endeavour’s version of romance looks like? Will we see him get quite romantic?
Shaun Evans: (Laughs) “I actually think that’s a question for Russ, more than it is for me. What Endevour’s idea of romance would be.”
Russell Lewis: “Well, he’s a well read man. But I think it’s the disconnect between his own family life, which was fairly unhappy and I don’t imagine there was a great deal of romance going on in the Morse household, to the ideals of romantic love that he’ll have read about and studied, doing grades. So it’s almost like a Haynes Manual to life, really. That this is how things are meant to be, according to the books. And I think there’s a falling short for anyone that tries to make life conform to that written ideal. But, yeah, he’s a romantic.”
Roger Allam: “It’s obvious though, isn’t it? He’d stay in, they’d read Henry James aloud whilst listening to Tannhauser. It’s the perfect romantic evening.” (laughter)
Q: Were there little Mad Men references in there at all?
Russell Lewis: “Might have been. I think that we have a lot of fun with hiding things across all the films, to a greater and larger extent. Some you are meant to catch first time around and some…they’re just a little added bonus, really, as a kind of nod to…because we can’t set you a crossword at the start of each film, we hide little clues to other things that hopefully inform the drama and fun of it across the four. But well spotted.”
Q: Shaun – you said you didn’t watch the Morse tapes but you read the books. You’ve got the voice exactly right…
Shaun Evans: “I listened a lot to Michael Palin, who was from the north and went to Oxford and was alive around that time. I imagine his voice would be…that’s how I imagine the voice to be. So I listened more to that versus trying to capture something else. Only because it’s easier to get Michael Palin’s voice as well. I don’t know why. I’m glad that it works.”
Q: Are you planning for Endeavour to run for years like Morse?
Russell Lewis: “Well it’s very much down to how long the audience wants to see them and very much down to Roger and Shaun for how long they want to remain as Endeavour and Thursday. But yes. There’s never going to be a shortage of stories to do because each year we move on and draw on the events of real world, in one way or another, and pull those through the Endeavour filter. So we’re never going to run out of ideas. But it really is very much down to the audience.”
Q: Shaun – Endeavour takes quite a hiding in this first one. Is there more of that to come throughout the series and did you incur any real injuries?
Shaun Evans: “I didn’t incur any real injuries. But yes there is more to come. There is more to come for both of us, in fact. A bit of fisticuffs. I like those scenes because it’s so different from the rest of the stuff that we do in these stories. I do like them, just the pure physical stuff. It’s good.”
Q: (I started so I finished): Two questions: I don’t know where it was filmed, but was filming the underground river scene particularly memorable? And I know there’s an episode including the 1966 World Cup Final, which I think Morse isn’t bothered about at all. Does that go against the grain for you in real life, Shuan, or not?
Shaun Evans: “It’s underneath Finsbury Park that place and it’s an incredible…”
Roger Allam: “It’s extraordinary.”
Shaun Evans: “Isn’t it? It’s a Victorian reservoir but cavernous and so well designed.”
Roger Allam: “Just under the park. It’s like this huge cathedral. Vast. It’s amazing.”
Shaun Evans: “Yeah, definitely one of the highlights. Football? Yeah, I can take it or leave it. I’ll go to the game occasionally but I’m more into boxing than I am into football. So, not too much of a stretch.”
TV Choice - Interview Extra
The second series of Inspector Morse prequel Endeavour returns with four new two-hour long films that show the iconic detective as a young man making his mark on Oxford’s police force. This time the smart and stylish series is set in 1966, and just as the year has moved on, so has our rookie copper, played by Shaun Evans, who displays more and more personality traits of the much-loved Morse that John Thaw portrayed. Reprising his role as Morse’s mentor DI Fred Thursday is Roger Allam, and TV Choice went on set to find out more about the series from the two men themselves…
How will Endeavour’s relationship with Thursday change this series?
Shaun Evans: I think towards the end of the last series they got closer, but I think it's more interesting to continue to play with that. What we are trying to play with this time is that, if you imagine the time frames between when the last world ended and the new one begins, we haven’t been hanging out or seeing each other so there is that sort of strangeness and irritation on Endeavour’s part that he’s been left out in the cold — that’s where it's going at this stage. In the stories we are telling, Endeavour and Thursday, they came along together, so they are linked. I think for the audience and myself and Roger, it's more interesting if it continues to evolve like normal relationships. They couldn’t really function without each other but we should always continue to play with how they relate to each other.
Roger Allam: I don’t know yet. In the first episode there is some worry for Thursday that after the injury Endeavour isn’t back up to speed. In the first film their relationship is sort of him getting his faculties back.
In the last series Endeavour was stabbed and shot… are there any more scrapes in store?
Shaun Evans: He gets beat up by a couple of policemen in episode one. It’s good — constantly evolving and punishing!
What’s it like working with The Killing director Kristoffer Nyholm, who directs the first episode, Trove?
Shaun Evans: Great, really great. That’s one of the fantastic things about this job, with the directors this time we have four different European film-makers on board and it's really exciting. I think it’s a really smart move because they bring something to it, having not really known about it, not coming with the same baggage or view of the character that the English might do. They’ve come at this with a fresh eye and I think that’s the only way we can make this evolve and move forward. Kristoffer’s great, I think he’s brilliant and we are very fortunate. But it’s great for Kristoffer as well as he has never worked in the UK before.
Roger Allam: Terrific, he’s terrific, and lovely — very relaxed, supportive and encouraging — which is always good. He gives you very clear and simple notes and instructions. I don’t know, maybe it's because it's not his first language, that he has to find a very clear way of saying things, or maybe that’s just the way he works. It’s a very relaxed set and it's easy to just do your work, it’s good.
You are keen to put your own stamp on the iconic character — do you feel now that you’ve succeeded in doing that?
Shaun Evans: People always mention it, but that’s fine. They give me the scripts and I try to do my best with it — as I do with every job. What we’ve discovered is an open mindedness with the audience that they are willing to embrace it and go with it, but I don’t think that’s down to me, it’s down to Roger as well, that they are open to being entertained. It’s as basic as that. Good stories well told — I’m happy. I think the fact we are making more is testimony to that.
Will you change anything for the second series?
Shaun Evans: I’m going to do it completely in drag! Or knitwear! There’s always stuff that when you look back you do you think, ’Oh, that could have been better’. They are tiny little things. I want to get better — it's an amazing job being an actor and then to have something like this where you are in every day… There is a responsibility to the audience, people who are putting money in to make it and the other actors to be the best you can be at it. Sometimes trying to be the best you can be stops you being the best you can be. I think there should always be room for improvement. By the same token the nature of this work lends itself to be judged by the audience and journalists. I want it to be the best it can be.
What is it about your character DI Fred Thursday that you like so much?
Roger Allam: I do like him, I like wearing a hat, I like smoking a pipe. I don’t really like smoking a pipe, but I do in the films. I like the period and I like the fact that he would have been very much of my parents age, my aunts and uncles, who came from very ordinary backgrounds. It’s sort of like, some sort of version or tribute or homage to them, who were all very ordinary and decent people. It’s nice to play someone like that, I think, who is decent and good but who is prepared to bend the rules as well.
Your character goes on a bit of a journey, which we saw a bit of in the last series, what can you tell us about what’s in store?
Roger Allam: Oooh well I don’t really know. What came back to haunt him in the last series was his past in the East End and in this one, this series, I think there’s going to be a sort of through story about where you stand with the police. Whether you stand on the right side of them or not and what’s morally right.
Lots of fans like the idea of Fred Thursday’s daughter and Endeavour having a relationship, do you think he’d ever approve of that?
Roger Allam: Well he might. I think he might want her to do better than a policeman, that’s what they wanted their children to do, that generation, do better. I don’t know… there’s a lot worse around than Endeavour.
What reaction have you had from the public since the first series transmitted?
Roger Allam: Generally people have said nice things. I have a surviving aunt who is 90 who loves it and much younger people, teenagers, love it. It’s great to be in something that appeals across so many ages. The period helps it appeal to so many as you see stories re-fractured that make you think back to what life was like back then, if you are old enough to remember, or if not, then to imagine what life was like back then. It makes you see people in different ways.
What is it that people like about Endeavor and Thursday’s relationship?
Roger Allam: I think everyone would like a Fred Thursday in their lives wouldn’t they? Someone older and reliable — who is like a father figure, a teacher and a friend. And also everyone who is like that would like someone who is rather brilliant who they can be the friend to — maybe that’s what people like, I don’t know…
ITV Sunday - Cecile Metcalf