The popular Morse prequel returns for its sixth series and viewers can expect a moon landing, swingers and a new 'tache
i NEWS: by Laura Martin
As a nation, it seems we can’t get enough of detective-based dramas – the first six weeks of 2019 have already seen the return of Luther, Grantchester, Vera and Death in Paradise. Our interests in playing arm-chair sleuths show no signs of abating, which is good news, as it’s now time to go retro and return to the ’60s to catch up on the exploits of the young Inspector Morse, in the show’s prequel, Endeavour.
The popular Oxford-based series returns to ITV on Sunday 10 February, with four episodes. I met up with the show’s lead actor, Shaun Evans – who has played the young Endeavour Morse since 2012 – to find out what we can expect in the up-coming season:
Morse has grown a moustache
In perhaps the most shocking news of the series to date: Morse has grown a handlebar ‘tache. Evans says this was a suggestion from the show’s creator, Russell Lewis. “It was not my idea. Russell said to me: ‘Remember you had that tache in the play I saw you in? I was thinking because [DC George] Fancy is dead, maybe you want to shake it up and not be recognised’. So I thought: ‘Yeah, cool man, that’s a good idea.'” He hints that the death of Fancy – who was killed at the end of series five by a gang member – has been weighing heavy on Morse’s mind: “I know Russell kept harking back to this idea of feeling responsible for Fancy’s death and that guilt for not being able to look at yourself in the mirror.”
The romance between Morse and Joan Thursday is heating up – but could be over before it starts
We last saw the potential love-birds agreeing to meet for coffee, but Evans says he thinks the storyline might work out better if they flipped the script on the romance: “I think what will be interesting is if they hooked up and then woke up the next day and were like ‘that was terrible!’. Or maybe that we just weren’t meant to be together. Like, what I’ve been hoping for for five or six years is not what I need at all. “There’s something interesting in that rather than a ‘will they, won’t they’, and I know Sara [Vickers] feels the same.”
It’s all change as Morse is sent away to work elsewhere – and has to wear a uniform
The last series saw Cowley station shut down, and all the force are sent across the country to work, breaking up the colleagues. Evans says: “Everyone’s been scattered to the four winds. Morse is sent to Woodstock [a town in Oxfordshire] to work and there’s a new station, which is very brutalist in its architecture. “The colours are very different and it allows you to introduce a whole raft of new characters as well who are very different beasts, which shakes things up and then allows it to go into a new direction and gives it a little bit of a new life.” There’s a new colleague for the gang too. Thursday must adjust to working with new boss DI Ronnie Box played by Simon Harrison (Fearless) and junior DS Alan Jago played by Richard Riddell (Bodyguard). Meanwhile, Joan has settled back in Oxford and is training to work in social services under the mentor of new manager Viv Wall played by Alison Newman (EastEnders).
Elsewhere, there’s new faces in the cast including Sophie Winkleman (Peep Show‘s Big Suze), Blake Ritson (Indian Summers), Matthew Cottle (Unforgotten), Oliver Chris (Motherland), Sargon Yelda (Strike), Alice Orr-Ewing (A Very English Scandal) and Ross Boatman (Mum).
Evans directed one of the new episodes and he went from the whole of the moon to the moon landing
Evans says the first show in the new series are about the deaths of two young girls; the second is about “swingers and a moon landing”, the third he describes as “a bit Happy Valley” and the fourth is about a tower block falling down. It’s also the first time he has directed an Endeavour episode – though he has previously co-produced the show – and he relished the chance to get on the other side of the camera. “It was an incredible experience, actually,” he said. “It’s great acting, and it’s great directing, and then if you can mix the two on something where you know the team and you have a shorthand with everyone and also you know the type of the stories as well, it’s just great. “It was actually a joyous experience. “You basically spend a lot of time on sets working with many different directors, writers, actors and producers so it gives you an insight which not a lot of little people would have. I was really lucky that the opportunity arose.” He says that the subject matter of his self-directed episode (two) includes a group of swingers – that both he and DI Fred Thursday [Roger Allam] laughingly stress they do not partake in when asked – and the Apollo moon landing of 1969.
Series 7 is already up for discussion
He adds that despite the fact this season is yet to air, they’re already chatting about series seven. “Will we go into the ’70s? Well, ITV have asked us to do another series and I think it’s important for us to get together and chat about it and see what the story is,” he said. “By the end of this one, I end up living in the flat that [the older] Morse used to live in, I put down roots. And you have to wonder what that means and what that looks like. Do we leave it there and go, ‘boom – job’s a good ‘un’? I’m not so sure. But we’re going to have a conversation and take it from there,” he added.
Endeavour is on ITV from Sunday 10 February at 8pm