New York Post - Robert Rorke
One of the most successful British crime spinoffs has been “Endeavour on Masterpiece.” A prequel to the iconic “Inspector Morse” series that starred John Thaw and ran from 1987-2000, it follows the constable’s earliest years on the job, when he left Oxford University for a different kind of career. With the fifth season now airing on PBS and a sixth about to go into production in London, it seemed as good a time as any to talk to Damien Timmer, a longtime executive producer on the series who spoke about this week’s episode and the history of the brand.
Sunday night’s episode, “Cartouche,” centers on movie star Emil Valdemar (Donald Sumpter), who attends a retrospective of his films at an English movie palace, the Roxy. When an employee of the theater is found dead on the theater’s organ, Morse (Shaun Evans) and his boss, Detective Chief Inspector Fred Thursday (Roger Allam), take a closer look.
To what do you attribute the show’s popularity?
First, Colin Dexter’s creation of Inspector Morse has become a very iconic part of British culture. I also attribute it to Russell Lewis, for creating the young man who became the Detective Inspector and the 1960s world of Oxford. We are about to shoot the 24th episode (over six seasons) and he has written every word of it. I think the depth he brings to it is impressive. We’re very lucky to have Shaun Evans and Roger Allam.
Much of the series is set in Oxford. How often do you actually shoot there?
Twenty percent of the show is filmed there. We also film in and around London and use the Beaconsfield Studios.
Is the Roxy Theater in Oxford?
The exterior of the theater was filmed in Islington in London and the interior was filmed at a theater in Wimbledon. Our writer Russell Lewis likes that trend in cinema design with faux-Egyptian motifs, so that’s why we chose the theater in Islington. The organ that you see in the episode was built by our crew and it was rigged to a platform that moved up and down.
The individual episodes of “Endeavour” have their own look. How did that come about?
Russell likes to play with genres. The first episode of the season was a love letter to the British rail system. The fourth plays with spy motifs. The fifth alludes to different army stories and the sixth is set in a public school for boys. He wants every episode to look different.
Detective Inspector Thursday suggests that Morse, who is still single, has something missing in his life. Is this a theme the show will explore this season?
Yes. Thursday has his family life. It’s the defining thing about him. Endeavour always walks alone. In the “Inspector Morse” series you see Endeavour become this very singular, rather difficult middle-aged man. In our series, Endeavour is exploring why he isolates himself.
How did you find Shaun Evans?
I had worked with him on another program where he was just an episodic player. At the time I felt there was something of a fallen angel about him that would be very useful for Endeavour. There’s something very soulful about him. He has a wisdom beyond his years and he’s very good at conveying sadness. Fortunately, Shaun himself is actually very jolly.