ITV celebrates 30 years of the Oxford sleuth with a new series of the acclaimed spin-off, Endeavour.
By VICKI POWER - Daily Express
It’s time to pull the Jaguar out of the garage and put a Wagner LP on the turntable, as Oxford’s opera-loving sleuth Endeavour Morse is back for a fourth series – and it has an important milestone to mark.
It’s been 30 years since Colin Dexter’s detective first started solving crimes on our TVs in the original Inspector Morse. But the fact that the last series of Endeavour still pulled in more than six million viewers is proof that viewers retain huge affection for the Oxford copper.
When we meet Shaun Evans, who’s played the young Morse since 2012, he describes his delight at returning to the lead role, not least because he didn’t like how the last series ended.
“I didn’t feel we ended it in a great place, so when this is all done I want to have been satisfied with the experience for me and for the audience,” says Shaun, 36.
“And I feel it wouldn’t have been a great place to leave it.”
He’s right. The third series’ finale ended on a sad note. Morse and Joan Thursday (Sara Vickers), daughter of his boss, DI Fred Thursday (Roger Allam), were held hostage during a bank robbery.
Although all were safely rescued, the end of the episode saw Joan leave Oxford to start a new life elsewhere, leaving Morse heartbroken and unable to tell her, even at the last minute, of his feelings.
The new series picks up just two weeks after the robbery, still in the summer of 1967 and the height of the Cold War.
At Lovelace College, a team of boffins is about to unveil a “thinking” computer that plays against a Russian chess master who’s come over specially.
“The whole theme of this series is man versus machine,” explains Shaun.
“As a backdrop, these boys keep turning up – all have been drowned and all seem to have a connection to chess, but we’re not sure what it is. Are they suicide victims or is there something suspicious going on?”
On top of it all, Endeavour, Thursday and Thursday’s wife Win (Caroline O’Neill) are still reeling from Joan’s departure. But they can’t discuss it, says Shaun.
“It’s not, ‘I feel like this – let’s chat about it,”’ he explains. “Thursday doesn’t know Endeavour has feelings for Joan, but Endeavour can see he’s devastated about her leaving. Still, when two people die in two days, work still has to be done.”
Roger Allam has played Fred Thursday, Morse’s mentor and father figure, since the beginning.
He explains that Joan’s departure has thrown Thursday into a depression, affecting the relationship between Thursday and Morse.
“Things get quite scratchy between them, but that becomes by the by, because Thursday is so preoccupied with not being able to find Joan,” explains Roger. “I don’t think Fred’s picked up on Morse’s feelings for Joan because it’s so under his nose, and because nothing obvious has happened.”
But the good news for fans is that Endeavour has already been commissioned for six more episodes next year, taking the Morse franchise up to 31 years and counting.
“The experience is enjoyable and I know it won’t last forever, so I want to make the most of it,” reflects Shaun.
His next project, though, sees him stepping behind the camera.
“I’m going to direct something this year for the BBC, one episode of a series that already exists,” says Shaun. “I can’t say what it is but it will be my debut behind the camera. I asked for it and I was very lucky that they said yes.”
ENDEAVOUR, Sunday, 8PM, ITV