By Mary Comerford - TV Guide
It's the end of an era for Morse and co as the hit show kicks off an extended run
Endeavour, which returns this week for a new series, is packed once again with baffling (and suitably esoteric) cases, but it's a very different crime under investigation when Total TV Guide pitches up on set - who ate all the KitKats? It seems Roger Allam, who plays DCI Fred Thursday, had been enticed to our interview on the promise of a chocolate snack, and is vexed to discover only a couple of sad-looking tea cakes. It's touch-and-go before the affable TV 'tec cuts his losses and offers a taster of what's in store in this bumper six-part run, up from the usual four films.
Set in 1968, the story takes place against a backdrop of social upheaval, including the fallout from Enoch Powell's 'rivers of blood' speech. Meanwhile, the Oxfordshire constabulary are now part of the newly formed Thames Valley Police, which has repercussions for the Cowley Road force.
'They're moving into a new station and going their separate ways', explains Roger, 64, whose character has survived various attempts to kill him off in previous series, even famously coughing up a piece of bullet which had been lodged in his lung. 'He feels that the world is moving on, so there's a retirement story going on.'
It's an era Roger himself remembers well, glued to the TV as a young teenager while momentous events unfolded.
'I recall Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King being killed, the civil unrest in Paris, demonstrations against the Vietnam War, and the Troubles starting in Belfast the following year. They are images etched on my mind.'
Viewers will have to tune in to discover if Thursday does exit (hopefully not in a box), but there's plenty to enjoy before then, including Fred and his wife, Win, entering a ballroom dancing competition, as well as a guest appearance by Phil Daniels as his brother Charlie.
'Let's just say the script oversells my talents, but I'm doing the tango', he confesses, clearly a shoo-in for Strictly. 'As for Phil, I've known him a very long time, because we worked together several decades ago at the RSC and we've been neighbours in London, so it's very nice to see him.'
Meanwhile, Morse is warming to his sergeant's role, with the arrival of a new junior detective. He's also moved on following his emotional journey with Thursday's errant daughter, Joan, last series - including his shock proposal.
'You can't stay heartbroken forever', smiles Shaun Evans, clearly very comfortable in Endeavour's skin after all these years. 'There are a few more relationships this time, although I think, ultimately, she's the one for him. But if they do get together, of course it won't last forever', says the Liverpool-born actor. The older Morse, as portrayed by John Thaw, was eternally unlucky in love.
Uncertainty looms as structural changes threaten everything Endeavour holds dear, and he also finds himself homeless and forced to move in temporarily with colleague Jim Strange (Sean Rigby).
'This is an ending of sorts, and it feels like we're all being thrown to the four winds', says Shaun. 'So if we come back, it will be interesting.'
Although the show takes up a huge chunk of his year, Shaun, 37, has also diversified into directing, helming an episode of Casualty last February.
'I didn't want to make a big song and dance about it, but it was my first TV directing work, and Im going back to do some more.
'I've been interested in it since I got this job, and I'm at the beginning of that journey. I find the acting satisfying, but it's a different side of the same coin.'