TV TIMES - by Caren Clark
Stars Anton Lesser, Shaun Evans and Roger Allam on the dilemmas and demons our heroes face as they reach 1969…
Inside a former school in Hertfordshire, TV Times turns down a corridor and we suddenly find ourselves in an Oxford police station with dark walls and grey telephones, yellow lamps and full ashtrays on the desks.
In a corner, DS Endeavour Morse is talking to CS Reginald Bright about how the good times with their old team feel a lifetime ago…
Today we’re watching filming for the sixth run of Inspector Morse prequel Endeavour. It’s now 1969 and the stark new station and the cops’ memories reflect the impact of the changes afoot for Endeavour (Shaun Evans), newly demoted DI Fred Thursday (Roger Allam), and Bright (Anton Lesser).
During a break in filming, Shaun, 38, Roger, 65, and Anton Lesser, who turns 67 on 14 February, tells TV Times how the shifting times will affect their characters…
A Brave New World
At the end of the last series saw the team’s former police station in Cowley close as Oxford City Police merged with Thames Valley Constabulary.
Now, Endeavour is in the sticks, Fred’s at Castle Gate CID, DS Jim Strange (Sean Rigby) is in Banbury and CS Reginald Bright (Anton Lesser) has been sidelined into traffic.
Shaun Evans: “Things are moving forward and everyone’s disparate, which keeps things fresh. I don’t enjoy not being with Anton, Roger and Sean! Endeavour’s in uniform and isolated at a country police station in Woodstock. You’d think he’d be happy with nobody bothering him. But he’s in charge of smaller, mundane cases. He doesn’t feel stretched. Events bring him back, though, and the overarching story about who killed DC George Fancy (Lewis Peek) last series also requires our joint brainpower.
Roger Allam: I missed not having as many scenes with Shaun, too. Fred took the fall for Fancy’s death; it plays on his mind. In the first episode, he also looks back to an old case of a hanged man. I had to have younger make-up for the flashbacks!
Anton Lesser: It’s sad for Bright as his status is gone. He’s a laughing stock because of a commercial he makes about pelican crossings. Filming with a real pelican, I was apprehensive but we fell in love!
Problems with Authority
A fresh broom is also sweeping through the team, as Thursday’s new boss, former robbery-squad cop DCI Ronnie Box (Simon Harrison), who has previously clashed with Endeavour, and Box’s sidekick DS Alan Jago (Richard Riddell), have an entirely different approach to policing…
Shaun Evans: Box and Jago are alpha male and physical, which reflects men of the era. Simon and Richard are brilliant and bring a new dynamic. They all rub each other up the wrong way and Endeavour still has attitude. It also echoes the new station set because we often see picturesque Oxford, but this building is all hard edges and concrete.
Roger Allam: Yes, neither the brutalist building nor Box’s aggressiveness are Fred’s style, but he’s knuckling down in order to respect rank. Even Box admits Fred should be at his desk, so he has respect but he’s seen as old-fashioned. Fred tries to get in step with them when they ask him to beat someone up…
All three face problems in their private lives. While Endeavour can’t avoid his former love, Thursday’s daughter Joan (Sara Vickers), Thursday has marital issues and Bright’s wife makes her debut.
Shaun Evans: Joan wasn’t interested so now he barely gives her the time of day because he’s hurt. But in one case, they need each other’s help to save two kids so they’re in and out of each other’s lives. There’s another interesting romance though. But he always goes towards a femme fatale…”
Roger Allam: Things are bad with Fred’s wife Win (Caroline O’Neill). She wanted him to retire but he can’t as he’s in financial difficulty after he was done out of money by his brother. With son Sam in the Army and Joan not at home, it is an empty nest. Home’s a chilly place…
Anton Lesser: We’ve heard about Mrs Bright, but we’d never seen her. We had fun imagining Bright going home and being Mrs Bright and putting on a twinset and pearls! But she’s real and she turns up, played by Carol Royle. It brings emotion for Reg.
… about the ‘tache
TV Times: Endeavour has a moustache this series, how did you find that?
Shaun Evans: “I don’t mind it, anything that takes you away from how you look yourself is good. It’s gone now though. I don’t think my family were keen!”
The New Cases
Shaun Evans’ guide to the four feature-length episodes…
Episode 1 – Pylon
“This is about missing girls and is dark and shows the effect on a community. A few years before, a girl went missing and now another girl’s found dead. Endeavour connects them and that brings him back into contact with Oxford.”
Episode 2 – Apollo
“I directed this episode. It was a terrific experience. This is a very different atmosphere with the moon landing, a racy party and marionette puppets. It is about a car accident that becomes suspicious.”
Episode 3 – Confection
“It’s set around a chocolate factory and is about a life in a pretty village, which is brand-new territory. There’s a ‘happy families’ vibe – although nothing’s as happy as it seems and there’s some poison-pen stuff going on.”
Episode 4 –Degüello
“This episode explores the fallout from a tower block collapsing, which we did partly with CGI. We also have the death of a librarian to get to grips with, evidence to do with who killed DC George Fancy, police corruption, and Strange has a choice to make…”
Endeavour returns on Sunday 10 February at 8pm on ITV