"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.”