By Sarah Selwood - TV Times
Our fingernails are bitten and our nerves are in tatters. How could the makers of ITV period crime drama Endeavour leave us on tenterhooks for nearly two years with that shocking finale to the second series?!
In the episode Neverland, which aired on 20 April 2014, offbeat DC Endeavour Morse unearthed corruption within the top ranks of the Oxford police.
But his investigation took a very sinister twist, and we last saw him languishing in prison after being falsely accused of the murder of Chief Constable Rupert Standish (Derek Hutchinson).
As if that wasn't enough, Endeavour's beloved senior officer DI Fred Thursday's (Roger Allam) life was left hanging in the balance after he was shot in the chest by corrupt Assistant Chief Constable Clive Deare (James Wilby).
So, when TV Times was invited to visit the cast during filming for series 3, which begins this week, we were delighted to see both Shaun and Roger back pounding the Oxford beat!
The new series comprises four episodes and the action has moved to 1967. Here, we take Shaun, 35, and Roger, 62, in for questioning about what happens next...
Hello, Roger - you're back! We were worried about you, especially after Thursday said in Neverland: 'I was born a copper - and I'll die one, I expect...
Roger: Ah, were you? The first time I read the script for that episode, I thought: I'm only signed up for two series; maybe they're covering themselves here!' But I soon knew I'd be coming back - it was made clear they wanted a big cliffhanger between that series and this.
Where do we pick up the action?
Shaun: Three months have elapsed, and Endeavour has just come out of prison and is suspended from his duties. When I picked up the character after he was shot in the series one finale, he was in a slightly post-traumatic state of mind, but this time it's more ambivalence towards the force. So he's got back in touch with some very decadent and wealthy friends from Oxford university days - the characters borrow heavily from The Great Gatsby - and is now staying in one of their cabins by a lake to reassess his options. He's going to parties every night. But then, on the way to one party, he sees the body of a dead girl and is like, 'Oh God! It's the idea that you can't escape your destiny.
And how is Thursday doing after the shot?
Roger: A bit of the bullet has remained inside his chest. It makes him cough and he's been told it could get him at any time because it could work its way to his heart. So he's got that sword hanging over his head.
Episode two sees Dakota Blue Richards join the cast as courageous Pc Shirley Trewlove. What can you tell us about her character?
Roger: Trewlove and Morse are kindred spirits. She's another oddball - an unexpected person to be working for the police.
Shaun: She's the first woman Pc we've had. Endeavour first meets her when he's investigating the case of a man burnt to death in his bed in a flat. Shirley's been talking to the neighbours and it's immediately clear to him that she's very bright, articulate and as smart as him. It's funny because, a couple years ago, I met Dakota at a work thing and was immediately struck by her. She was slightly irreverent and honest, which was really refreshing. Every time I look at Trewlove, I remember that first meeting.
Does her surname suggest romance is on the cards for them?
Shaun: Yes. her surname is interesting. I don't know what it means but thus far there's certainly no romance. She's just a brilliant part of the team.
Creator and writer Russell Lewis has again put subtle nods in the script to Inspector Morse and Lewis. In episode three we meet a young Philip Hathaway [Rob Callender], whom Lewis fans will know is the dad of DS James Hathaway [Laurence Fox]. Do you enjoy these references?
Shaun: For me, my intention when I was given this amazing job was to please the existing audience but try to take it somewhere new. I don't have a massive knowledge of Lewis or Morse, and I try to take each story as it is. So I understand that aspect of it pleases fans and I'm more than happy to do that, but if it doesn't fit in with the story, it would become a problem. It has to be carefully done in a very subtle and delicate way, which it always is.
Given all that Endeavour has been through so far, would you like him to have some happiness one day?
Shaun: It's funny because I get a few letters saying, 'It would be nice to see him smile every now and then!' And I think, 'Would it? Or would it stop being interesting then?' The only way would be for him to be really happy for a short time and then to have that snatched away from him. [Shaun bursts out laughing as he comes up with a storyline idea.] He could meet someone, fall head over heels and then perhaps she gets killed!
Er, moving on... So, finally, Roger, is there another cliffhanger ending in store for Thursday, or will you definitely be back if a fourth series gets the green light?
Roger: [Chuckling] Should it be comissioned again, I'd be delighted to come back!