By Keith Watson for Metro.co.uk
TV review: ‘Every story has its hero… a young man on his journey from innocence to experience,’ said the learned academic to a captive student audience at the opening of the final part of Endeavour (ITV).
It was a line knowingly chosen, perfectly describing the journey this intriguing prequel has taken us on.
Taking its time to colour in the grey areas of Inspector Morse’s past, the clues have been sparingly dealt out over the course of this four-part investigation of the iconic detective’s backstory. But as the final tale, tellingly called Home, drew to a close, it felt like some light was finally filtering through the shadows flitting across the young Endeavour’s face. We were finally being let in on his secrets.
That the young Morse is a wounded soul has been evident from the start, but in brief visits to his mother’s grave and his ailing father’s bedside, the root of his pain became evident. We felt the emotional scars on such fleeting exposure so keenly because of how well Shaun Evans does pent-up emotion. With just a scrunch of the shoulders and a blue-eyed stare into the middle-distance you can feel him reliving his childhood grief.
Hang on a minute, you’re thinking, this is a crime show, isn’t it? Not some psychological drama. On that front, Endeavour gets the job done serviceably enough, though the excursion into gangland bosses and seedy clubland wasn’t anything we hadn’t seen before.
What lifts Endeavour to a class above is its characterisation. The paternal feelings Morse’s boss, Thursday, harbours towards his charge are played with masterly understatement by Roger Allam, just one of Endeavour’s subtle pleasures.
In fact, I hardly notice the crime at all. I’m just looking for the clues to the human stories ticking away like a time bomb beneath the action. As a result, the ending felt a touch rushed, the tangled storylines involving a hit and run, planning corruption and the usual amoral academics wrapped up in a rapid volley of gun-toting exposition. That works fine in Poirot but Endeavour feels cut from a different cloth.
Let’s hope the story doesn’t end here. The closing shot, the bent but not broken young Morse nursing his wounds, both emotional and physical, over a whisky glass, is no place to leave this complex and compelling character.
The Endeavour actor talks Fawlty Towers, detective dramas and Irene Adler in Sherlock
By Claire Webb - Radio Times
What can’t you miss?
I watch Channel 4 News every day. I love it. I rarely watch any other news programme. There’s just something about it – and I’m not talking about Jon Snow’s ties and socks, but I appreciate those too.
What makes you reach for the off switch?
I don’t understand The Only Way Is Essex and Made in Chelsea: the way they pretend there’s no camera. I cannot fathom the attraction.
Who’d be your ideal dinner guest?
Beyonce. I’m sure she’d be good company.
Have you ever been star struck?
I’m not that kind of person.
Film of choice?
I recently saw Rust and Bone, which I would recommend. It’s about a woman who works at a marine park and has an accident. It’s a great story and really well told.
My brother and I loved ThunderCats and Robin Williams coming out of an egg in Mork & Mindy. At the time I thought it was funny but looking back it was a crazy concept!
We rarely see you smile on screen. What makes you laugh?
When I was in my late teens I discovered Fawlty Towers and Monty Python and they still make me laugh.
Are you an opera fan like Morse?
I can appreciate the virtuosity of it but would I elect to listen to it when I’m not working? Probably not. I really like Malcolm McLaren’s version of Madame Butterfly but that’s where it begins and ends for me.
Do you enjoy detective dramas?
When they’re done really well, I think they’re hugely satisfying. My favourites are Columbo and a brilliant Italian drama I chanced upon called Inspector Montalbano. It’s similar to Endeavour in that place is a really important part of it: you enjoy the amazing villas of Sicily but it’s not overpowering.
Did you watch your old Wreckers co-star Benedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock?
I’ve only seen one episode of it – the one with Irene Adler – but I thought it was great: it looked beautiful, too.
And Adler stripped. Do you think Morse would benefit from a naked arch-nemesis?
There’s always a place for nudity!
Were you apprehensive about how Endeavour would be received?
I wasn’t, actually. There’s no room for that because ultimately you’re paid to do what you can. If you’re full of fear and anxiety then it impedes you doing your job. It’s not because I’m cocky but because there’s no time to be scared.
Was the pilot popular in the US?
I think so. When I went over there to promote it, I toned down my Liverpudlian accent. You’ve got to play the game, haven’t you? If you present yourself too differently then it’s hard for people to believe it. That’s why I worry about doing personal interviews like this...
Can we look forward to a second series of Endeavour?
I’ve no idea at this stage.
Would you be keen?
If there’s an audience and we can continue telling good stories then definitely.
By Sophie Herdman TV.BT
When Lewis stars Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox announced they were taking a year out from the show, rumours started flying that instead of a sabbatical, it could be the end.
It was a gloomy prospect for Lewis fans who found comfort in the show following the demise of the original Inspector Morse series.
But back at the start of last year, there was a glimmer of hope in the form of a pilot show called Endeavour.
It marked the 25th anniversary of the first Morse episode and told the story of Morse as a young detective in the 1960s who was known by his first name, Endeavour.
The pilot was a huge hit, scoring exceptional viewing figures. As a result, more than a year later, Endeavour is returning to our screens for a four-episode series.
The stars of the new show - Shaun Evans, who plays Endeavour Morse, and Roger Allam, who takes the role of his mentor, Detective Inspector Fred Thursday - are in a light-hearted mood as they explain how they created their on-screen relationship.
Asked if they took part in bonding exercises, they giggle like a pair of naughty schoolboys and Shaun quips: "Oh yeah, there was that one in the sauna."
Roger chips in: "And there's the dancing exercise. It's nice to see panic in the director's eyes when we say we like to do the scene first as expressive dance."
They are joking, of course, but soon the pair switch to serious conversation, discussing how they prepared to take on such a beloved British institution.
Big shoes to fill
"I had never watched the show," Shaun admits. He focused instead on reading the books, aware that an impersonation of John Thaw, the original Inspector Morse, was the last thing that was wanted.
"When I first got the job I very specifically said that it had to move forward. I said if they want someone to do an impression of anything that's gone before they should look elsewhere. But it seemed we all wanted the same thing," explains the 33-year-old Liverpudlian actor.
That's why, while Endeavour might reference old Morse and his penchant for cryptic crosswords, classical music and a pint of ale, the character actually feels novel and fresh.
Each episode of the new series is filmed by a different director. While some actors might have found such diversity challenging, Shaun and Roger agree it was a positive.
"It made it exciting," says Shaun. "There's no room for complacency, each came in and tried to better the latter. It's a great atmosphere to work in."
Roger was more familiar with Morse than his co-star. In fact, he appeared on the other side of the law in one of the original Inspector Morse episodes.
"I guested in a Morse in 19 hundred and never you mind. I also used to watch it when it first came out," says Roger, 59.
With such a successful pilot, it seems a no-brainer that the show will win a big audience. But after 13 years of Inspector Morse and seven series of Lewis, there's always the risk that TV viewers might have Morse fatigue. Shaun and Roger don't seem concerned, however.
"There's a big hunger for something that straddles Sunday evening," says Roger. "Something that's an exciting, interesting and well put together feature-length."
All of the scripts were passed by Colin Dexter, author of the original Inspector Morse novels, before filming.
"I don't think it's a contract thing, it's a courtesy thing," says Shaun. "It's right because the nucleus of the characters came from him - no one else knows them so well."
If you watch closely you might spot Dexter in the background - he features as an extra in each episode.
And if you've got a particularly good eye for faces, you might also spot John Thaw's daughter, Abigail Thaw, who plays the editor of the Oxford Mail.
And of course this wouldn't be a real Morse show without the traditional Oxford setting. "It's a beautiful place," says Shaun, "but also with the architecture and the people that populate it, it all clicks into place, it's such a specific part of these stories."
Endeavour continues on Sunday nights on ITV