PBS will present its Winter/Spring programming slate at the Television Critics Association Press Tour on Friday, February 1 and Saturday, February 2, in Los Angeles and will include an appearance by Shaun Evans at the Press Conference Panel for MASTERPIECE Endeavour (season 6) which is set to premiere in the US the 16th of June (having its UK premiere on February 10, on ITV).
For more information on all programs and for additional program listings, visit www.pbs.org/pressroom.
ITV has released the trailer for the sixth series of Endeavour, which is set to premiere the 10th of February.
“It’s 1969, and things have taken a darker turn for the old Cowley team. With Endeavour, Thursday and the gang now scattered across Oxfordshire, it takes a series of brutal crimes to reunite them. Now joined by former adversary DCI Ronnie Box and his sidekick DS Alan Jago, the gang must battle crime and corruption to finally solve their greatest challenge – the truth behind George Fancy’s death.”
ITV Magazine - New Year 2019
Fans of the nostalgic detective series are in for a treat on Sunday evenings as an approaching new decade is marked by Seventies moustaches and more aggressive policing. Buckle in… Endeavour is back
There’s something going down in the heart of Oxford. Around the corner comes Police Chief Superintendent Reginald Bright, hugging the limestone wall. He’s followed by a menacing-looking man in a trench coat, who withdraws a bladed weapon. At the other end of the street is another thug with a bulbous nose and peaked cap. For fans of Endeavour, ITV’s prequel to Inspector Morse, things are about to get very real.
‘It’s like a cowboy shoot-out’, grins Anton Lesser, the actor who plays Bright, as passers-by on bicycles weave around the crew. To say more about Bright’s fate would constitute spoiler territory but, suffice to say, the sixth season of Endeavour offers a major sea-change for the law-enforcers of Oxford City Police CID. The year is 1969 and a new decade is fast approaching.
‘At the end of last season, we all go our separate ways’, explains a suited-and-booted Shaun Evans, the actor who has effortlessly slipped into John Thaw’s brogues to become our eponymous hero, the younger Endeavour Morse. For those in need of a recap, Icarus, the final episode of season five, saw the announcement that Cowley Police Station was set to close, with the dissolution of the Oxford City Police and merger with Thames Valley Constabulary.
‘The idea was to ring the changes with a creative refresh’, admits producer Deanne Cunningham. ‘Certainly, in episode one, viewers will find it’s quite different from where we left them. Everybody’s torn asunder, in separate places’. With all left reeling after the death of DC George Fancy, DS Morse is back in uniform (now complete with a Seventies ‘tache) overseeing a country police station in the ‘one-horse town’, as Shaun puts it, of Woodstock.
Bright, meanwhile, has been reduced to organizing traffic. ‘It’s a come-down for him. His authority is undermined’, says Anton. He also has changes in his personal life, with viewers introduced to Mrs. Bright (Carol Royle) after years of veiled references to her.
‘Everything in his world is reversing and collapsing, and therefore becoming much more interesting and complex’, he continues. ‘It’s what I’ve been waiting for years! I’ve been saying, “Let’s see a bit more of the man behind the uniform.” I think audiences love that: to see into the characters they’ve become familiar with.’
Then there’s Morse’s boss DCI Fred Thursday – played by Roger Allam – who has been moved to the new police station, a brutal concrete structure. ‘He’s been bumped down a rank’, says Roger, who arrives to chat after finishing his scenes for the day. ‘Things are not good in Thursday land.’
The old-school copper must adjust to working with new boss DI Ronnie Box, played by Simon Harrison, ‘an aggressive Sweeney-type’, says Roger, in what feels like an oblique nod to John Thaw, who made his name in 1970s show The Sweeney. Together with his junior, DS Alan Jago (Richard Riddell), Box represents ‘a different way of policing’, says Deanne, ‘rough and ready – Flying-Squad style. It’s anathema to Morse and Fred.’
There’s no question, this four-episode season of Endeavour is straying into darker territory.
With the whole production for series six spanning 20 weeks, there are just 13 days to go now on the fourth and final episode that we’re here to witness being filmed. Directed by Oscar-nominated Jamie Donoughue (Shok), it’s another story that reflects real-life history, namely that of Ronan Point, a tower block in East London that collapsed in 1968, killing four people and injuring 17. After the first episode sees a tower block being erected, this final film shows a catastrophic consequence (requiring some complex visual effects). ‘It’s an epic story’, says Deanne.
‘Within the block, we find a body that has been there for a year, which has a connection to a body we find at the beginning of the series’, says Shaun. ‘It’s a good way to round up and bring back all the characters we’ve introduced this season.’
Technology is rushing headlong into Endeavour’s world. In the new police station, there is a computer. ‘In ’69, Thames Valley did actually have a very early collating computer’, explains Paul Cripps, Endeavour’s set designer. The production borrowed one from the Centre for Computing History in Cambridge. ‘It’s about the size of a small upright piano.’ There are other innovations too – not least a vending machine that causes Thursday some bother.
Does this gradual move into the Seventies mean there will be a seventh season in the offing, with Endeavour team joining the dots ever closer towards the Eighties Inspector Morse? ‘When you’re coming towards the end of a project, you need to have a period of peace away from it, to allow the experience to settle’, says Shaun coyly. ‘Who knows…?’ In the meantime, there’s a wonderful sixth season to relish.
The sixth series of Endeavour will return in February on ITV.
The annual Carol Concert at Christchurch Cathedral, Oxford was held last 7th of December, in support of Macmillan Cancer. The concert featured the world-class vocal ensemble the Blenheim Singers and this year's readers were Shaun Evans, Sinéad Cusack, Will Gompertz and John Lloyd. The following photos were taken by: https://www.philipjoycephotography.co.uk/
If you would like to donate to Macmillan you can do so here: https://www.macmillan.org.uk/donate
ACTOR Shaun Evans takes on a Sweeney look as the new series of Endeavour is brought up to 1969. In the sixth series of the prequel to Inspector Morse, the young detective sergeant now has a moustache and boasts an open-top sports car in what appears to be a nod to the late actor John Thaw’s time in 1970s police drama The Sweeney.
By DAVID STEPHENSON - Express
Thaw went on to play the original Inspector Morse, the Oxford detective created by Colin Dexter.
Evans himself will direct one of the Endeavour episodes, following his success at the helm of two episodes of the BBC’s Casualty earlier this year.
And Endeavour Morse has a role change too, starting as a uniformed officer with Woodstock police.
Roger Allam makes a comeback as Detective Inspector Fred Thursday, alongside Anton Lesser as Chief Superintendent Reginald Bright, Sean Rigby as Detective Sergeant Jim Strange, James Bradshaw as Dr Max DeBryn, Sara Vickers as Joan Thursday, Abigail Thaw – John Thaw’s daughter – as Dorothea Frazil and Caroline O’Neill as Win Thursday.
The story picks up from the dissolution of Oxford City Police and the merger with Thames Valley Constabulary at the end of the last series.
But despite their separation, the unsolved murder of Detective Constable George Fancy still hangs over the team.
Other faces in the new series include Two And A Half Men star Sophie Winkleman, Indian Summers actor Blake Ritson and EastEnders actress Alison Newman.
Source: ITV Press Centre
Filming began this month on the sixth series of critically-acclaimed detective drama, Endeavour. Whilst reprising his titular role as Endeavour Morse, much-admired actor Shaun Evans will also be putting his directorial mark on the show, heading behind the camera for the second feature-length film in the series. The move follows his success directing two episodes of continuing drama Casualty earlier this year.
Evans’ character will similarly be trialling pastures new, with Morse having started a new role as a uniformed officer at the Woodstock police department and embracing the fashion of the period by growing a moustache.
Alongside Evans, the new series will see celebrated stage and screen actor Roger Allam return as DI Fred Thursday, alongside Anton Lesser as CS Reginald Bright, Sean Rigby as DS Jim Strange, James Bradshaw as Dr Max DeBryn, Sara Vickers as Joan Thursday, Abigail Thaw as Dorothea Frazil and Caroline O’Neill as Win Thursday.
Following the dissolution of Oxford City Police and the merging with Thames Valley Constabulary at the end of the last series, the latest instalment is set in 1969 and picks up with the team dispersed as they find their feet in their various new roles. However, despite their separation, the tragic murder of DC George Fancy still hangs over them both collectively and individually, with the case remaining unresolved.
With their new positions also come new colleagues and responsibilities. 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).
Produced by leading drama indie Mammoth Screen in a co-production with Masterpiece, each story in the highly-anticipated sixth series will once again be written by series creator Russell Lewis who has penned each of the 23 screenplays to date.
Russell Lewis says: “As our story reaches the last year of the 1960s, and mankind makes its giant leap, all at #TeamEndeavour look forward to exploring further early chapters in the casebook of Colin Dexter’s beloved creation.”
Morse with a moustache: the ITV star shows a new look that is just right for 1969
By Ben Dowell - Radio Times
Endeavour series six is currently filming for ITV, and judging by new set photos star Shaun Evans will have a whole new look when he returns as Endeavour Morse.
A new image courtesy of ITV shows the star sporting a new moustache as Morse faces up to life in a new police station in 1969 when the action starts.
Filming has just started on the new run, which picks up the story following the dissolution of Oxford City Police and its merger with Thames Valley Constabulary at the end of the last series. The new episodes are expected to air in early 2019.
Roger Allam returns as DI Fred Thursday, alongside Anton Lesser as CS Reginald Bright, Sean Rigby as DS Jim Strange, James Bradshaw as Dr Max DeBryn, Sara Vickers as Joan Thursday, Abigail Thaw as Dorothea Frazil and Caroline O’Neill as Win Thursday.
In the new series, the tragic murder of DC George Fancy at the end of series five following a gangland shootout still hangs over the characters with the case remaining unresolved.
Fred Thursday must also adjust to working with new boss DI Ronnie Box played by Simon Harrison and junior DS Alan Jago played by Richard Riddell. Meanwhile, Thursday’s troubled daughter Joan – whom Endeavour is in love with – has returned to Oxford and is training to work in social services under the mentor of new manager Viv Wall (played by EastEnders actressAlison Newman).
Guest stars in the upcoming series include Sophie Winkleman (Two and a Half Men), 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 will also be putting his directorial mark on the show, heading behind the camera for the second feature-length film in the series. The move follows his stint directing two episodes of continuing drama Casualty earlier this year.
Each story in series six will once again be written by series creator Russell Lewis who has created each of the 23 screenplays to date.
Lewis said, “As our story reaches the last year of the 1960s, and mankind makes its giant leap, all at #TeamEndeavour look forward to exploring further early chapters in the casebook of Colin Dexter’s beloved creation.”
Endeavour was also recently voted the fourth greatest British crime drama in a Radio Times poll.
Once again cast and crew of the popular detective series have returned to Oxford. Many were the fans who were able to spot Shaun Evans and other familiar famous faces in the city on Sunday as they recorded a new film of Endeavour's sixth series. Oxford's iconic Bridge of Sighs and Keble College were the locations chosen this time by the film crew and filming is expected to conclude today.
The following photos were taken by fans and shared on social media. According to the images, we can presume Shaun Evans is also directing the episode currently being filmed although there hasn't been any official confirmation yet.
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.
DAILY REPUBLIC Solano County’s News Source
By Tribune Content Agency
The persistent Det. Constable Morse has returned to “Masterpiece Mystery” on PBS, where the indefatigable cop is on the hunt for a serial killer. The show, “Endeavour,” is entering its fifth season. It’s the prequel to “Inspector Morse,” which ran for several years on PBS and was cut short by the death of its star.
Shaun Evans has taken over the role as the young Morse. Evans says the thing about “Endeavour” that fascinated him was the story. He’d read the books, he says. “I really like stories. I like people who tell stories, like the stories we tell about ourselves as well. I’ve always been surrounded — my family’s from the north of Ireland — and they’re great storytellers and I like the whole thing. It kind of excites me. So I wouldn’t even limit it to acting. I like books, films, TV. I like the ideas behind stories, so it’s kind of primal in a way. If you think about a father sitting around a campfire telling stories, there’s something about it that’s just amazing.”
Casualty episodes #32.35 and #32.36, directed by Shaun Evans, will air on 19th May and 26th May 2018, on BBC One, in the UK.
by Keith Watson for METRO
The actor, 37, on the melancholy of playing the young Morse in Endeavour, why he’d be good at general knowledge and dealing with gore directing Casualty
How would you sum up Endeavour’s personality? I heard the phrase ‘an ineffable melancholy’ the other day and that seemed a perfect fit…
That’s really strange because I read that phrase just the other day too — in a Paul Auster book, I think. Where did you hear it?
Bizarrely, in a documentary about early Bee Gees lyrics.
Oh… that’s curious. I’d say I think the melancholy is really Endeavour’s way of responding to life — all the s***ty things that happen in the job that he does and all the minutiae he has to deal with on a daily basis. So is it a good way to describe him? I could give you a really long answer but… ‘an ineffable melancholy’? Yes, let’s go with that.
Endeavour haunts the dreaming spires of Oxford. Were you ever tempted by the academic life?
Not really. I don’t think an academic life would have suited me. It can feel quite restrictive, in a way — you have to have the right type of personality. I like a bit of mental chaos.
You must pick up a lot of Endeavour’s knowledge of the classics. How would you get on in Celebrity Mastermind?
I’d really struggle because I’m a jack of all trades and a master of none, so I’d have absolutely no chance with a specialist subject. One of the things I most enjoy about my job is that you get to learn a little about a lot of different things, so I reckon I’d have a good crack when it came to the general knowledge round.
There are some pretty graphic murder images in Endeavour. Anything turn your stomach?
No, I don’t mind all that. I used to read all the Stephen King novels when I was younger, so I’ve got a pretty strong stomach for all that. I’m working on Casualty as a director at the moment and on the set there you’re having to do things like push bits of intestine, muscle and guts back into stomachs — all kinds of gruesome stuff like that. It’s actually a pretty funny thing to do, you can’t let it bother you.
How did you wind up going behind the camera?
Well, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. I’d wanted to try my hand at it for quite a while and a friend knew they [the team at Casualty] were looking and he put me in touch with them.
It’s an unusual route to get into directing. Hadn’t you thought of doing your own indie film?
That’s a plan for the future. I’ve always been interested in doing as many different things. I want to learn as much as I can about storytelling and whether that’s on stage or television, it’s about being part of a team. With Casualty there’s no better place to learn than with a team that knows the job inside out. And in contrast to an indie film, with Casualty you know a big audience is going to see it on Saturday night TV.
Which directors inspire you?
All the usual suspects, I guess. I do really admire Hungarian director István Szabó. But actually I’ve been influenced most by working with the directors on Endeavour. It’s the people I work with that I find the most inspiring.
There’s a strong sense of time passing in Endeavour. Does that make you pause and reflect?
It’s a really essential part of what we’re doing and what’s going on — we keep coming back to that when we talk about each series. The way the politics of the time is reflected on one level, then on a personal level for the characters, there’s inevitably the feeling of life passing by, of missed opportunities. How we reflect that is always an ongoing conversation when we come to make a new series.
Do you think about the end of Endeavour? At some point we’ll get to the Doctor Who moment when Endeavour morphs into Inspector Morse…
Yes, there’s no sense of jeopardy with Endeavour to that extent — we know where things are heading.
Do you look forward to that moment with anticipation or sadness?
It doesn’t make me feel sad because I know I’ve been incredibly lucky to have been allowed to be a part of this. So there’s no sense of regret or anything like that. I feel grateful for the opportunity for as long as it lasts.
by Reece Goodall - The Boar
The fifth season of Endeavour has now come to a close, and it has been a phenomenal run of television, mixing compelling characters with engaging plots. ‘Icarus’ continues that run, offering an interesting case and a lot of emotional heft, delivering on the series’ plot threads and wrapping up on a note that means the recently-commissioned sixth season can’t come soon enough.
Morse is sent on an undercover assignment to Coldwater, a forbidding boys’ public school, with WPC Trewlove acting as his wife. His mission is to discover what happened to the man he replaced, a teacher named James Ivory, who has vanished without a trace, a case that has attracted Superintendent Bright’s attention after the mysterious death of the former investigating DI. As Morse begins to unravel the school’s secrets, the rest of the force has other things on its mind. The police station is soon to be closed, and Thursday is still thinking about retirement – his hopes of bringing down Eddie Nero and Cromwell Ames may not be realised quite as he’d hoped, however, as a tragedy rocks the station.
There was so much packed into ‘Icarus’ that it’s hard to know where to start. The case this episode is a strong one, pitting Morse against some typically unpleasant students, and his sense of decency takes somewhat of a pummelling. The staff are not particularly helpful, save the gentle Mr Bodnar (Andrew Buckley), and it soon transpires that Coldwater may not be the best place for helping fashion these young boys into men. It’s an interesting and twisty case, but it’s not really where the focus of ‘Icarus’ lies.
The Thursday plotline really came to a head this week. In perhaps the most unsurprising plot occurrence ever, Phil Daniels returned as Charlie and revealed that he had lost all of Fred’s investment money from earlier in the series. It also transpires that Charlie was pushed by the lowlifes he owed money to to use his business as a front for fraud, effectively casting a shadow over Fred for the rest of his life. When he breaks the news to Win, she is furious and leaves him – only a reconciliation with Joan helps raise his spirits as he realises his career will have to be a lot longer than he’d hoped.
The Eddie Nero-Cromwell Ames clash also hit breaking point in ‘Icarus’ – Thursday and Strange manage to track down Ames and arrest him, but they’ve nothing to hold him on. They warn Nero and Ames against doing anything rash, but neither man listens, culminating in a gunfight at Nero’s bar between two rival gangs. Although the spectre of Nero has rocked up throughout the series, Ames has been a bit of an under-developed presence – for him to be dispatched so quickly was a bit of a shame, and meant his supposed threat never really materialised.
This clash had another, more tragic element to it (spoiler alert) – after having to release Ames, Thursday gets Fancy to follow him. Fancy calls in Ames’ arrival at the bar but, when the police arrive to stop it, they find that Fancy is among the dead. Earlier in the episode, Fancy is unhappy with Morse and Trewlove’s masquerade – we see him buying a ring for her – only to be told by Morse to grow up and concentrate on his police work. This is a rebuke that he soon regrets. Fancy’s death also sets up one of the series’ lingering plot threads, as Dr DeBryn tells Morse that the bullets do not match any of the guns at the crime scene – someone else killed Fancy, and the force are determined to find out who. Trewlove, meanwhile, puts in a transfer request – it will be a shame to say goodbye to Richards, who has frequently been the only person on par with Morse.
‘Icarus’ is a strong end to a very strong series of Endeavour – we have a case, but the emotional heft is what carries this episode. It really speaks to the incredible scripts and the top-quality acting (Shaun Evans and Roger Allam have been amazing leads) that we care so much about these characters and what will happen to them. The sixth season cannot come soon enough.
ITV Press Centre
ITV recommissions hit detective drama, Endeavour
ITV has commissioned a sixth series of hugely popular detective drama, Endeavour, following successful ratings and critical acclaim for the fifth series.
Produced by leading indie Mammoth Screen, the smart and savvy Inspector Morse prequel charts the career of Endeavour Morse as he rises up through the ranks, with each feature-length film investigating a new intricately plotted case.
The new set of films will see Shaun Evans reprise his titular role as DS Endeavour Morse, and celebrated stage and screen actor Roger Allam return as mentor DI Fred Thursday. Each story will be written by Russell Lewis, who contributed to Inspector Morse and has written each of the 23 Endeavour screenplays so far.
Receiving praise from critics and viewers alike, the drama has gone from strength to strength since its first outing as a one-off film in 2012 to mark the 25th anniversary of Inspector Morse on ITV. The latest series launched with consolidated figures of 6.7m and 25% a share, with the consolidated figures for the first four films the highest for three years.
Filmed in and around Oxford, the new set of films will be set in 1969 and go into production later this year for transmission in 2019. Mammoth Screen’s Damien Timmer executive produces, alongside writer and creator Russell Lewis and WGBH’s Rebecca Eaton. Deanne Cunningham (Cold Feet) will produce the new series.
Creator, Russell Lewis said: “As our story reaches the last year of the 1960s, and mankind makes its giant leap, all at #TeamEndeavour look forward to exploring further early chapters in the casebook of Colin Dexter’s beloved creation.”
ITV’s Head of Drama, Polly Hill added: “Endeavour continues to be hugely popular with ITV audiences and we’re delighted to be bringing viewers more films to enjoy. Thanks to Russell Lewis’s consistently intriguing scripts and the excellent production values at Mammoth Screen, it is a high quality drama that ITV is immensely proud of.”
ITV Studios Global Entertainment distribute the drama internationally.
Exclusive: Executive producer Damien Timmer gives us the inside scoop on the latest series of the Inspector Morse prequel – as well as a few hints at what we can expect in the future. Contains spoilers
By Huw Fullerton - Radio Times
As well as being the usual head-scratching mystery for Shaun Evans’ troubled detective, the series five finale of Inspector Morse prequel Endeavour was also a massive gamechanger for the drama as a whole.
With the Cowley CID team facing a very uncertain future and key characters seeming to say goodbye to the series forever, you might have thought things couldn’t get any worse – but then, the unimaginable happened…
You see, the latest episode also included the shock death of Lewis Peek’s DC George Fancy, a new character introduced this year who was apparently caught in the crossfire of a gang war in the latter half of the story. After his death, Cowley police station was shuttered and the team found themselves headed to separate postings, while WPC Trewlove (Dakota Blue Richards) went off to pastures new and DCI Fred Thursday (Roger Allam) was forced to put off his retirement.
So what’s next for the series? To find out, we caught up with Endeavour’s executive producer Damien Timmer who revealed that DC Fancy was doomed from the start, how real-life historical events influenced writer Russell Lewis’ finale, and exactly what we can expect for the newly-announced sixth series of the drama.
Spoiler alert: the times, they are a-changin’.
Hi Damien – there’s a bit of a shake up at the end of this series, with characters moving to different places. What was the thinking behind that?
Because of the real life change in 1968 with the birth of Thames Valley Police, it felt creatively like a good time to challenge our characters and have them leave their police home. More pragmatically, we have had to leave our production base in Beaconsfield, and this is a chance for a new studio build in a new home.
Russell Lewis enjoyed the idea of shaking it up, as you put it, because the dynamic between Endeavour, Thursday, Bright, Strange, has been set since series one. Now, five series into it, we rather enjoyed the fact that history forced us into a change in the dynamic.
Did it need a refresh?
In a very positive way, Russell takes our 1960s timeline very seriously, and since the pilot he has enjoyed locating particular Endeavour seasons and individual Endeavour stories very clearly in a particular time. So, for example, in series three, there was a story called Prey which was set in the time of the Six-Day War.
In series five we have enjoyed glancing to real historical events – the assassination of Martin Luther King, for example, kind of informs one of the stories. We think it just gives it another layer.
We’ve known for years, in truth, at some point that we’d have to leave the world of Oxford City police. We’ve rather enjoyed throwing things up in the air.
So as the characters move to new stations, could it lead to us seeing some more modern policing techniques in any future series?
Yes, I think it absolutely would.
How would the characters we’ve grown to know and love still interact if they’re all working in different stations? Will we be meeting a lot of new characters?
You’ll have to wait and see! It throws everything up in the air. And I suppose things land, pieces land in strange situations. And it might take some time to sort things out, and it’s possible that things are never quite the same again.
We’ve really enjoyed spending quite a few years of the 1960s with that sort of police family, and seeing Endeavour develop in that, when in series one he is very much an outsider. Superintendent Bright, played by Anton Lesser, is incredibly suspicious of him. He’s a very isolated figure.
And by the time you leave series five, he’s much more accepted by that group, and they have become a real police family. It feels interesting to put them all under this new pressure.
Thursday seems to be retiring for most of the series, which had me pessimistically assuming he was going to die! Was there an attempt to lead the audience in that direction?
Well, part of his arc for the series was Thursday coming to a point where it feels to him that the old order is changing. And for Win, his wife, this sense of emotional retirement is quite appealing. And it’s set up pretty early on in the series that his ne’er-do-well brother borrows money from him, and it was always there in Russell’s mind that that wasn’t going to work out, and be one of the factors that makes it difficult for Thursday to leave.
And one of the things that the show has always been preoccupied with is the world changing around our heroes, and I think that’s very appropriate when dealing with a character like Thursday who has spent a very long time, has grown up in that Oxford City police force, and feels that perhaps this is time for him to take his leave. But events conspire against him.
I don’t think that’s tricking the audience. I think that’s just, hopefully, a pleasing story.
Of course, the death of DC George Fancy is one of the big shocks of the episode – was it always intended that he’d have that one-season arc?
It was! Unfortunately for the very talented Lewis Peek, who plays him, yes, he was dead before he was written. Because we had six films this year, we knew we had a little bit more time to explore the different character dynamics.
The feeling was we’d spent a lot of time seeing Endeavour as Thursday’s protégé, but that in a way that perhaps prefigures Inspector Morse, it was interesting to see Endeavour, since his promotion, play the part of a mentor himself.
We liked the idea of a relationship with a young protégé that begins badly, then gets a little bit better but not very much better – Endeavour and Fancy were never a great love match. But that ended in tragedy. That was always Russell’s design.
The final scenes of the episode suggest that the hunt for whoever killed him is the arc for the next series – is that the idea?
It’s certainly something that will preoccupy the characters, yes.
On a similar topic, is this the last we’ll see of WPC Trewlove, as played by Dakota Blue Richards? She heads off to join Scotland Yard in the finale
This is the end of Trewlove for now – Dakota told us she wanted to leave at the beginning of last year, so we planned series five to give her the arc with Fancy and build to his demise and her leaving. But the door is always open for return appearances!
For the next series, would you like to have another long six-episode run like you did this year, as opposed to the usual four?
It’s a punishing thing, doing six films, because Russell Lewis writes every word. And writing 12 hours of new material is a really serious undertaking. It was never seen as becoming the norm, is my slightly obtuse answer.
Some fans thought Endeavour was more like John Thaw’s Morse this series – was there an attempt to bridge the gap?
I noticed that people seemed to feel that in various films. We’ve now made I think 23 films including the pilot, and across those we’ve wanted to show incrementally how the character could go from being this relatively fresh-faced young policeman to the character who we all know and love as John Thaw’s Inspector Morse.
Were you to sit down and watch them all, I think you’d see a subtle yet certain gentle transformation there. He has become more forthright, or the people around him listen to him slightly more. He has become a little bit more sure of himself, and is perhaps quicker to anger than he originally was. But I think that’s been a creeping thing across the series.
I think perhaps we felt it more this year because we’ve had six films instead of four.
In classic episode Masonic Mysteries, Morse said his mentor was Inspector McNutt – is that a character we could see in Endeavour?
Well, we already know McNutt’s fate from the Inspector Morse story Masonic Mysteries. With DCI Thursday, only Russell Lewis knows what happens to him – which I think raises the stakes in our Endeavour story. We know Morse’s fate, but we have to keep watching to find out Fred’s!
Russell didn’t want to have McNutt at the beginning, because he had a very strong sense of Fred Thursday and the Thursday family. We absolutely love Fred Thursday, we love Roger Allam as Fred Thursday, Roger Allam enjoys playing him and I think the audience would now be incredibly shortchanged if Fred were to go and McNutt were to enter.
That’s not to say that we won’t at some point meet Inspector McNutt – he has been mentioned onscreen hitherto, but he has not yet appeared.
Looking forward, could you do any other Morse spin-offs, say about Laurence Fox’s Hathaway from Lewis?
Hathaway was an extremely popular character! But we have truly, genuinely found the world of Endeavour that Colin Dexter showed us and which Russell has taken so much ownership of, has really kept us very creatively fulfilled. And we’re so happy being in that world for now.
23 films in, we’re still finding that very stimulating and we have no plans for anything like that. Endeavour is where our focus is.
And finally – could you give us the inside scoop on all those clever references hidden away in Russell’s scripts every week?
Russ enjoys sneaking in pop culture refs into his scripts, ranging from Kate Bush lyrics to Terry Pratchett. Some of them we spot, others only become evident on transmission.
I love Chinatown, but hadn’t noticed where Thursday’s “Forget it sergeant, that’s Summertown” line came from until Twitter told me on transmission!
Endeavour will return for a sixth series
Happy Birthday, dear Shaun. Hope your day is filled with excitement, joy, and love. Thank you for being so beautiful, talented and inspiring.
"I think it’s important to live your life the way you want to live it. Don’t live your life in fear. It’s important to me to feel free, not to be hemmed in by what others have to say about me."
"To make the most of time with people we love. If you love people, tell them you love them. Don't be losing sleep over tiny things. Life is complicated enough."
By Reece Goodall - The Boar
Another week, another strong episode of Endeavour, although ‘Quartet’ feels somewhat different in places to the usual episodes this series – it’s that classic trope of crime shows, the spy episode. Secrets are concealed just because (although less so than in a typical spy episode, it must be said), and nobody is ever what they seem. In the backdrop of this, we all have a nice degree of character work and the groundwork really laid for the series finale.
At an international sporting event, a competitor is shot and killed, leaving a little boy wounded in the crossfire. He is saved just in time by Dr DeBryn, and Morse is determined to find justice and the perpetrator. The investigation quickly reveals that the supposed assassin was also murdered, and the case takes on international ramifications as special branch arrive and take over. The rest of the force are content to leave the case alone, but Morse is committed to seeing it through, despite the potential risk to his own life. Meanwhile, as he deals with a case of suspected domestic abuse, DCI Thursday has come to a decision about his future on the force.
‘Quartet’ was, at times, more James Bond than Endeavour – we saw Morse being escorted about by government agents, breaking into a private compound and even sharing snarky comments with a Bond-style villain (German perfumier Sebastian Fenix (Mark Ready), though I’d be lying if I said I could really figure out where he fit into the plot). I enjoyed some of this stuff, and it makes sense for the Cold War to intrude upon 60s Oxford, but I did feel that it was perhaps getting a bit far away from what makes Endeavour tick (the same criticism was true of series 4’s ‘Harvest’ and the finale chase in the nuclear power plant).
The main case contrasted massively with the one that occupied Thursday. He is concerned that local newsagent Joe Dozier (Andrew Paul) is inflicting vicious abuse on his wife Elsie (Mary Roscoe), and spends a bit of time trying to help the situation before Elsie winds up hospitalized. Thursday is keen that Elsie escapes the abuse before she winds up being killed – later, when he hears of a death at the house, he fears he may be too late. I expected this story to play out one of two ways, and I was completely wrong on both guesses – what started off on a predictable level evolved into the episode’s most compelling strand.
It was also topped off with the news that nobody wanted to hear – Fred Thursday is retiring (and, presumably, that means we’re losing Roger Allam too). He tells Morse that he’s going to turn in his “tin star” because he’s uncomfortable with the newly-emerging world of bureaucrats interfering in investigations and thugs committing crimes – his dismay at the senselessness of the murder of the lorry driver in ‘Passenger’ gave us some hint of this. It’s possible this reaction may be probed further in ‘Icarus’ now that we have met Cromwell Ames – he appears at Eddie Nero’s bar, telling him that his time is up. Are we going to be seeing gang war in the final episode? And, more importantly (based on certain hints throughout this series), will Thursday make it to the end credits?
Elsewhere, love has bloomed and vanished. Out on the river with Claudine, Morse sees Fancy and Trewlove sharing a kiss – tragically, his own love life was about to disappear. He is concerned early in the episode that she is planning to leave town – this fear is soon realised, leaving Morse to drown his sorrows at a bar and share another soap opera ‘will-they-won’t-they’ moment with Joan.
On the supporting cast, it’s a typically strong showing – both Dozier and Paul Durden (playing Oxford English professor Alexander Richmond) now lay claim to be the only actors to have appeared in all three Morse shows, and Ellie Haddington puts in a very steely performance as a language tutor who may know a bit more than she first lets on.
Although I enjoyed ‘Quartet’ and although it is a strong episode, it may be the weakest of this run so far simply because elements of it feel a bit out of place in the world of Endeavour. Still, it’s a typically compelling watch, and it only helps ramp up anticipation for the final episode in what has been an incredible run of TV.
By Reece Goodall - The Boar
I’ve referred to it in previous entries of this series blog, but it’s worth emphasising once again that this series of Endeavour has really felt like a cohesive whole in a way that other series haven’t. Sure, we’ve had the odd scenes here and there in past series (the Freemasons claiming pieces of evidence, Sheila Hancock reading tarot cards), but these have mostly been pre-credits stingers – this fifth series, by contrast, has placed a number of threads in its episodes that add a far greater sense of unity. The latest instalment, ‘Colours,’ deals with one of these narrative threads – questions of racism – in another strong piece of television.
At a photoshoot at a nearby army base, one of the young models goes missing and is soon found murdered – suspicion falls on the soldiers who were assigned the job of protecting them, one of whom is Sam Thursday (Jack Bannon). As Supt. Bright tells DCI Thursday that he is too close to events and encourages him to take a backseat, Morse, Strange and Fancy take charge of the investigation. Things are soon complicated by further deaths and the discovery that the murdered model is, in fact, the stepdaughter of Lady Bayswater (Caroline Goodall), a Nazi sympathiser who is helping inflame racial tensions in Oxford.
‘Colours’ felt, to me at least, the least focused on the case of any episode this series – it is concerned more with character work and the political framework that Endeavour is building (although we had a week without Eddie Nero stuff – a comment about him laying low was the end of it). That’s not to say that the case was weak – it was typically strong, with a conclusion that felt earned without being a giveaway. I didn’t massively enjoy the apprehension of the criminal – I thought it was a tired device and one that was obvious about an hour earlier.
No, the focus was on our characters. For fans of Morse, there is something quite upsetting about his happiness with photographer Claudine (Claire Ganaye), seeing as we know it’s not going to last (although it does make for a nice pairing). Fancy and Trewlove appear to be getting a bit closer, and their chemistry is very sweet. We also boasted strong work by a number of the guest stars, Goodall as Lady Bayswater in particular – she brings nuance and conviction to a very hateable character, making her believable rather than a fascist caricature. There was also strong work from our soldier characters, Iain Pirie as Lt. Col. McDuff amongst them. There is a tendency in crime dramas to make soldier characters obstructive officious bureaucrats but, in ‘Colours,’ they felt developed and all-too human.
It’s the hints of the Thursday storyline that may have the biggest weight going forwards. It was good to see Bannon back as Sam, and Joan briefly crops up being arrested at an antiracism protest, but we may have larger ramifications at the head of the family. Win is pushing Fred to retire and, as I’ve mentioned in previous episode reviews, it seems his character has been taking a backseat this series. It would be a shame to lose Allam, because he’s always brilliant, but I fear that’s where we’re heading.
I could sing the praises of the production design and the sheer overall quality of ‘Colours,’ but I’d probably be becoming a bit of a broken record – Endeavour is so strong every week, and so good at balancing its individual elements, that even an episode that feels weaker in certain areas (the case) makes for a strong whole. I’m really intrigued to see where we head next – this fifth season is the first to boast more than four episodes, so we’ll be heading into unprecedented ground next week.
By Reece Goodall - The Boar
Two separate killings strike Oxford. The first, the brutal murder of an old security guard during a lorry hijacking, infuriates Thursday with the senseless level of violence involved. In response, a team from the robbery division arrives to help the force try to solve the case. Morse, meanwhile, is distracted by a missing person’s investigation that soon turns up a body – the woman, strangled to death by the train tracks, her shoes stolen. A mystery lover who claims to have known the dead woman under a different name is identified but, after several similarities emerge with the killing of a schoolgirl, Morse suspects that there may be more going on.
‘Passenger’ feels like an episode of two distinct halves – the first half is the main case, and it is classic Endeavour. Thursday encourages Morse to follow the leads because he wants to deny robbery his best man, and so he mainly solves this case. As always, I shall provide no spoilers, but the ending is once again incredibly satisfying (I never cease to be impressed with the clues in Endeavour – they are logical and realistic, but require some actual thought to figure out).
The second strand – the lorry hijacking – appears that it will shape things later on in the series. Fancy investigates the case with the two robbery detectives (led by DI Ronnie Box (Simon Harrison, playing it suitably smarmy)), and receives a tiny bit of information from WPC Trewlove. He finds a low-level dealer of stolen supplies and arranges to buy some gear from him – the dealer is quickly and brutally killed, and it seems we may be building up to a clash of criminal gangs. We’ve already encountered Eddie Nero, but Thursday rapidly dismisses him as a suspect because of the level of gratuitous violence involved in the murders – add in the fact that Dr DeBryn states that killing is similar to that of one of Nero’s men last episode, and things are likely to start heating up.
A key element of ‘Passenger,’ and seemingly the fifth season of Endeavour, is the changing world. We’ve ended the past couple of episodes on radio reports of assassinations, and there seems to be a distinct clash between ideas and attitudes towards the world (aesthetically, too – compare the psychedelic tones of Marty Bedlow’s (Hadley Fraser) shop to the period trains and buses). This contrast is an underlying theme throughout the episode and the series thus far, and it will be interesting to see how it affects some of our characters – most notably, Superintendent Bright.
Bright is the subject of a key scene this episode. He clashes with Box in his office regarding some appalling sexist abuse of WPC Trewlove, and Box makes a slew of allegations about him and Trewlove (allegations of a nature that I’ve never seen hinted at since Blue Richards joined the show). Bright, rightly offended, orders Box to leave the station – Box responds by informing him that the future of policing will be results-driven, rather than caring particularly about the procedure. If this is something that we see pursued later on, I fear there may not be much of a place left for Bright, and that would be a shame given the quiet strength of Anton Lesser’s performance.
Shaun Evans always gets his own little moment to showcase his acting, and it once again connects to Joan Thursday. Here, she invites him to her housewarming, and they share a nice moment on the roof, but it seems that Morse is still unable to process his feelings for her. Unknowing, she sets him up with one of her friends, a French photographer called Claudine – he refuses the offer, but appears to bump into her on the street below. Perhaps there may be a bit more romance in the air for Morse this series? ‘Passenger’ was not perfect TV – more could have been done with the character of Cedric, the trainspotter, for example – but it was a typically strong and enjoyable episode of Endeavour. Even as the show is shifting into a darker time period, it stills proves itself to be relaxing Sunday evening viewing.
By Reece Goodall - The Boar
Time for a trip to the movies – this week’s Endeavour has a decidedly theatrical touch about it, with film stars and affectionate jabs at horror rocking up throughout the episode. It’s a typically strong outing, and includes more humour and the touch of both darkness and sadness that the show can do well.
Oxford plays host to a veteran film actor, star of an iconic horror movie about a murderous Egyptian mummy, who is in town to visit a local cinema. The death of a retired policeman turns out to be one of a series of murders linked to the film, which offers the newly-promoted DS Morse a fresh case to pursue, putting him up against a supposed curse and a haunted cartouche. Morse and DCI Thursday must also take on racists who have targeted Oxford’s Kenyan Asian population, and the chief inspector finds his hospitality put to the test when the family pays a visit.
Writer Russell Lewis is so good at putting together these stories – they are difficult to solve but never feel as though their solutions are unearned, and tonight is one such mystery. We head through a case that takes a few different tacks – the curse and an aggrieved Egyptian archaeologist, past arrests of the murdered policeman, the potential target being the film star – before leading to a surprisingly powerful conclusion (again, the killer is more sympathetic than you would expect). On the crime front, Eddie Nero also makes a reappearance – we’ll await the episode that sees him being taken down, and hope that this slow building is worth it.
On the emotion front, Thursday has a lot to do. His more jovial side comes out as he deals with his extended family, but Allam really succeeds in playing him as attempting to be stoic. He has two such scenes in this episode – dealing with his brother (Phil Daniels) asking for a loan, and a brief conversation with his daughter as he tries to reconcile his concern for her with his efforts not to meddle too much in her life – the relationship between the two that has been built up in previous series makes this disconnect all the more hard-hitting. Allam is always superb, but he is greater than superb in these moments.
As Morse, Evans has a bit more to do than usual because of a spark of romance – he spends a night with a young woman who turns out to be Thursday’s niece Carol (Emma Rigby), and is tasked with showing her around the city. A more caring side to him is shown, and seems all the more caring because it is contrasted with him still not being fond of DC Fancy. Fancy is shown here having a bit too much to drink on assignment, and questioning why he should bother being thorough when investigating what he believes is an obviously natural death – I get that we’re meant to think Morse is being a bit of a grump, but I find myself siding with him on this one. (There is also a degree of sadness for fans of Morse – young Morse laments the lonely death of the policeman, to be told by Thursday that the same won’t happen to him because he’ll ‘make better choices’ – tragically, we know this isn’t the case.)
I found some of the stuff on prejudice and racism to be a bit heavy-handed (if entirely accurate) – Bright (Anton Lesser) and Thursday discuss it in the former’s office and Bright gives off a little spiel about why hatred in any form is hatred. He’s not wrong, but it comes quite early on and just feels like it’s making a point – a point that, annoyingly, isn’t really returned to in the episode. The plot thread of the racist thugs is somewhat underdone, and it’s a shame given the strength of the rest of the episode.
‘Cartouche’ is a typically enjoyable Endeavour, and the film flourishes couple with 60s Oxford to make an episode that feels both glamorous and gripping. Bolstered by the usual strong performances and plot, Endeavour again proves why it is a highlight of Sunday night television.
By Phil Cunnington - Lancashire Post
After the President’s Club, and grid girls, and Harvey Weinstein, and equal pay at the BBC, it seems there is anational debate under way about male privilege, the abuse of power and the rights of women. So it’s seems right that one of the nation’s favourite dramas had something to say on the issue. The odd thing, however, is that it wasn’t Coronation Street, or Holby City, or EastEnders, it was ‘60s nostalgia fest Endeavour (ITV, Sundays, 8pm).
It’s get everything you would expect from a classy drama set in the swinging ’60s – chrome-bumpered cars, miniskirts, psychedelic happenings – but this week’s episode also had trenchant things to say about the sexual revolution and casual misogyny.
All of this was built around a finely-tooled whodunnit involving Faberge eggs, secret societies, and those staples of British drama, wealth, class and snobbery.
As a prequel to much-loved Inspector Morse, you can see how Shaun Evans’ grumpy young sergeant could develop into John Thaw’s grumpy old inspector, but it has a quicker pace than the earlier series, it’s sharper and more pointed. Roger Allam’s Inspector Thursday tells a suspect, one of the member of the secret society: “A bunch of middle-aged academics prancing around in pretty waistcoats calling each other daft names? I’ve got more time for the Tufty Club.”
So yes, you could enjoy Endeavour as a you might enjoy a mug of hot chocolate – a soothing balm for the troubled soul. But for me – and this is the first time I watched it – Endeavour is much more than that. It’s a con act, smuggling in important modern themes under a sheen of history.
By Angela Kelly - The Bolton News
SEQUELS to popular series are not unusual but it’s a rare pre-quel that catches viewers’ attention and is also a critical success.
Endeavour, though, is one of those rarities as Shaun Evans returns to Sunday evening screens as the young Morse, finding his way through Oxford City Police CID in the macho 1960s.
It’s a tribute to the acting talents of Evans and his boss, DI Fred Thursday (the always brilliant Roger Allam) that the series which began in 2012 is becoming as popular as John Thaw’s original Inspector Morse series of 1987 to 2000.
It’s actually easy to see young Morse as a completely separate individual with only some shared traits, a love of classical music and whisky being the notable ones.
John Thaw was a fine actor and he made the Colin Dexter character very much his own but it shouldn’t detract from the achievements of Shaun Evans who has an impressive stillness and depth about him that means he will be around for a very long time.
By Reece Goodall - The Boar
It’s Oxford, 1968, and things are changing – the city police have been combined with the country force to create the new Thames Valley Constabulary, and DS Morse (Shaun Evans) has been asked to work with a young new detective, DC George Fancy (Lewis Peek). The force is nice and busy, too – Morse is asked to look into the attempted theft of Faberge’s last great masterpiece, Nastya’s Egg, at a college. Morse is happy to consider the break-in as a student prank, but the grisly deaths of a gangster and the academic looking after the sale of the egg cause him to believe something else is going on. The investigation leads to a mysterious woman in a white coat, and a sordid undercurrent of Oxford society.
‘Muse’ is a typical Endeavour mystery – strongly-plotted and (unlike a good deal of crime shows) not easily guessable. Writer Russell Lewis has crafted a tale with some grisly murders, and rooted them in a motivation that is both incredibly timely (at the risk of being a bit too spoilerific, airing this episode after the events at the Presidents Club must be a stroke of fate) and all-too believable. It’s rare that a crime show can create a sympathetic killer and actually have you feel sympathy for them – ‘Muse’ is an example of this done extremely well.
Aside from the central mystery, there is also a decent quantity of character development. Evans and Roger Allam (as Morse’s mentor, DI Fred Thursday) continue to impress, and the strong relationship between the two has really been a lynchpin of this show since its inception. The two must deal with the reappearance of Joan, Thursday’s daughter – the spectre of Morse’s refused marriage proposal still hangs over him and their reunion, whereas Thursday masks a great deal of fatherly concern behind his stolid demeanour.
I can’t claim I massively liked Fancy throughout this episode – he is played well, but the character is cocky, and immediately rubs Morse the wrong way (fans of the original series of Inspector Morse will appreciate Morse’s refusal to suffer fools gladly – John Thaw’s character is shining through here). Morse has always struggled to fit in with his colleagues (leading to an interesting Odd Couple-style set-up with Strange), but his relationship with Jakes in the first two series started the same way, so there’s still hope for the character yet.
I’d also like to highlight the performance of Charlotte Hope in this episode – she plays an artist’s model and a part-time prostitute who has some key relevance to the case, and her interrogation scene with Morse before the detectives figure out what is going on is supremely well-acted (and the best part of a strong episode).
Much though I loved it, there was a big issue for me in this episode – we have prostitutes going by the names of Biblical temptresses, and deaths which were clearly Biblically-inspired, but it took Morse most of the episode to realise this. I know that it would be asking a lot for a chunk of modern audiences to pick up on this, but I find it hard to believe that Morse of all people wouldn’t clock on to the obvious theme to the murders.
‘Muse’ is a strong return for Endeavour – it offers a compelling mystery, and sets up enough plot and character threads to hint at where the season will head. Morse will have to figure out how to incorporate Fancy into the team, and he and Thursday must deal with the return of Joan. There are suggestions that criminal Eddie Nero will crop up throughout the series, and that the police merger will shake up Morse’s world of work. It remains to be seen how this will develop throughout the series but if the rest of the episodes are as strong as ‘Muse,’ we’re in for a top run.
By Sam Wollaston for The Guardian
You know how sometimes even the most adventurous foodie just fancies cheese on toast for tea – familiar, comforting, English and a little old-fashioned, especially on a Sunday night? Well, it can be like that with television, too. Nothing too innovative tonight, please, no parallel universes or subtitles. Murder, oh yes, you need a dunnit in order to ask who, but not too graphic or weird. The sex should be hinted at, rather than actually done. Endeavour? Perfect.
The Inspector Morse prequel, now in its fifth series, has reached 1968, where the Rolling Stones are on the radio. Not that young Morse (Shaun Evans) is doing much swinging or spending the night together with anyone. Promoted to DS in the new Thames Valley force, he is more sure of himself and grumpier than before, further along the journey towards Colin Dexter/John Thaw’s character. He has no time outside work for much apart from opera and the crossword, certainly no time for the new boy: cocky, young DC George Fancy, whose focus is mainly on what he calls “crumpet” – and he is not talking comforting teatime treats.
Victim No 1, a former boxer, has been shot, then a metal spike hammered into his ear. Ouch. The next, a history don, has been stabbed in the eye with a steak knife. Both eyes. “Eye eye,” says Dr Max DeBryn (I love James Bradshaw’s DeBryn, sort of Endeavour’s Gil Grissom in CSI Oxford).
Murder No 3 tops the lot, or rather does not – he has been decapitated, body left in the bed, head under a silver cloche. For your main course … head of art dealer! We don’t see it, of course – this is Endeavour, not Game of Thrones. We see the disgust on the faces of Morse and DI Thursday (Roger Allam); secondhand gruesomeness.
Turns out these murders are all inspired by the biblical paintings of Artemisia Gentileschi, who turned the horrors of her own life into scenes of women’s vengeance on the men at whose hands they had suffered.
Now, a modern-day (well, 1960s) Gentileschi, Ruth Astor, is exacting revenge on the members of a vile men’s dining club, like something between the Bullingdon and the Presidents Club – worse, even, if that is possible. Never has murder seemed so just or such fun. Go on, one more, he is the worst of the lot, rock to the skull, bash.
Has Endeavour suddenly found relevance in the real world, then? Let’s not get carried away – it is a whodunnit, but a clever and excellently crafted one (by Russell Lewis), with plenty of whydunnit, too. I like Shaun Evans’s new pricklier Morse and the lovely period detail: not just the cars and the telephone exchange, but in the attitudes of the day.
So, familiar, maybe, and comforting (as comforting as murder can be). But it is also really good. If it were cheese on toast, it would be made with the finest English cheddar and there would be some kind of pickle.
By CHRISTOPHER STEVENS REVIEWS FOR THE DAILY MAIL
There’s a whole sub-division of the internet devoted to something known as ‘shipping’, where fans depict their favourite pop stars and movie characters entwined in romantic relationships.
The internet’s an odd place, but it’s a fair bet that no one has expended much energy on imagining young Sergeant Morse and his matey rival Sergeant Strange cuddled up together by a roaring fire.
Playful as ever, Endeavour (ITV) returned with the two coppers facing each other uneasily over the breakfast table, both avoiding the other’s gaze, like embarrassed colleagues after an office party has led to an unplanned fling.
To tease us a bit more, a glance at Morse’s desk calendar told us this was April 1, 1968.
But no fooling — Morse (Shaun Evans) really has moved in with the stolid Strange (Sean Rigby), to halve the rent while they both save for mortgage deposits.
Contrary to what millennials might believe, even buying a house 50 years ago demanded every penny you could scrape together, and then some.
Still, perhaps there’s hope for these two as a couple. Strange has even started leaving a bowl of shepherd’s pie in the oven for his flatmate when he gets home.
Now in its fifth series, this superlative murder-mystery drama excels because its characters are deep and real, not anonymous parts in a kit that writers can swap in and out.
Other long-running crime shows, such as Silent Witness or New Tricks, could replace anyone and barely notice — but not Endeavour.
Best of the lot is world-weary DI Fred Thursday, a man on first-name terms with every criminal in Oxford, yet utterly incorruptible.
In a less subtle show, Thursday would be a two-dimensional oaf, a prop and dogsbody whose chief job is to applaud when his young protege catches the killer.
But with the brilliant Roger Allam in the role, Thursday is the emotional heart of the drama.
We admire Morse, but we love his boss, a good man crushed by the weight of things he has seen. His verdict on three years in the vice squad — ‘no job for a family man’ — could have been trite.
Allam made it sound tragic.
Endeavour is also the wittiest crime show on TV.
It’s clever, of course: we expect the crossword clues, the classical allusions and the donnish jokes.
The scripts deliver much more than that — including, this time, a running gag about a Pink Panther-style jewel thief called the Shadow, and a ladies’ man called Fancy who joined the police, he claims, ‘for the social life and the crumpet’.
The look of contemptuous disgust at that on Morse’s face was a perfect echo of John Thaw.