THE CUSTARD TV - Contributed by Will Barber-Taylor
1969 was a definitive year for world history. Richard Nixon assumed the office of President, Sharon Tate was murdered by Charles Manson’s “family”, also both Woodstock and Stonewall hit the headlines. And man landed on the moon. The Apollo 11 Moon landings are both the backdrop and centre of this riveting episode of Endeavour.
As the Apollo spaceship is preparing to land on the Moon, the newly returned to CID Detective Sergeant Morse (Shaun Evans) is called out to an apparent road accident. The death of Professor Adam Drake (Ben Wainwright), a prodigal astrophysicist, and a mysterious woman (Katie Faye) by his side soon catches the attention of both Morse and Thursday (Roger Allam). Whilst at first glance it looks like a simple accident, things take a more dramatic turn – both Drake and the woman have been murdered. Morse and Thursday are soon drawn into a world where high science meets low morals and where illusions are everything.
Transferred from uniform to CID, Morse begins Apollo by attempting to find a role for himself in the new City station. Assigned to be evidence officer by DCI Box (Simon Harrison) he feels as if all his work has resulted in him going around in circles – that he’s ended up back where he started as he suggests to Dorothea Frazil (Abigail Thaw). The echoing theme of renewal is one that is felt throughout the story and seems to be an underlining theme of the series itself. Russell Lewis is often at his best when he is disrupting the status quo and replacing it with something new.
This is particularly true in Apollo and some of the best moments in the episode are reflections on the change of circumstances for Morse and his friends. Lewis understands that great drama comes from change and he hammers home how different things have become – Morse’s relationship with Joan Thursday (Sara Vickers), Thursday’s feelings about the police and the atmosphere of the new Oxford City Police Station. Lewis elegantly plays on the ambiguity of Morse’s position within the station to create drama not only between Box and him but also between Thursday and him too. Some elements of Morse’s character, his frustration over seemingly not progressing through the ranks of the police force and his desire to fight against Box’s domination of the station, are indicative of the “angry young man” that filled late 60s plays and films. This is an interesting and engaging twist on the character – Morse has always disliked authority but Lewis projects this into a new direction that hasn’t been seen before.
The acting throughout the episode has to be greatly praised, particularly from the main cast. Shaun Evans, as always, manages to give a top class performance as the titular Endeavour Morse. As I’ve previously said, Endeavour has a great deal of anger and regret in him in this episode and Evans channels this perfectly. His performance roots the whole episode and his quiet determination to solve the murder of Drake is one which drives both him and everyone else along.
Perhaps the best scene in the episode, however, is a short one between Roger Allam’s Fred Thursday and Anton Lesser’s Superintendent Bright. Bright and Thursday reflect on the future – the astonishing feat of man landing on the Moon and how Alcock and Brown’s trip across the Atlantic seemed impossible. There is a true sense of melancholy in the scene – both Thursday and Bright feel as if they have been cast aside and that they can no longer be of any use. Bright expresses this by how depressed he feels to have discovered that he is a “joke”. Thursday consoles him, saying that his Pelican Crossing campaign will save thousands of lives. Bright’s expression of renewed purpose makes this scene truly outstanding. Both Allam and Lesser play their parts to perfection and there is a real bond of friendship between the two old comrades. Both have felt as if they are no longer needed – that they are on the shelf. Yet through shared pain comes a determination to succeed. Both Allam and Lesser are excellent actors and they make this scene not only memorable but truly real. Shaun Evan’s excellent directing understands this, and he perfectly films this scene, understanding when to cut between each actor. The combination of superb acting, thoughtful writing and dynamic directing allow it to be a work of pure art. Both Allam and Lesser are superb and should be praised for their efforts on Endeavour and for their contribution to this episode in particular.
As with many actors, the ability to direct is developed and refined through their own experience. Many actors are also excellent directors and examples of them directing shows that they’ve starred in are frequent. Warren Clarke showed excellent flair when he directed the Dalziel and Pascoe story “For Love Nor Money.” Shaun Evans shows just as much skill and capability as any other director. From the opening shot of the Moon to his use of it as a closing shot, Evans creates a distinct and dynamic feel to the story particularly his use of circular visual storytelling and of emphasizing space and lack of it. As I said earlier, his directing of the scene between Bright and Thursday is pitched at the perfect level so that there is a balance between his directing style and their own individual emotional tics which allows the scene to play out realistically and with a truly insightful organic nature.
Apollo is a further excellent development of Russell Lewis’s plan for Endeavour. The series, as a whole, is like a great tapestry and one which you could easily spend hours looking at each section. It has a dramatic beauty of its own, regardless of whether it is looked at as a part of something or as an individual piece. Apollo combines excellent directing with superb acting and a sophisticated and sublime script which makes you want to watch is as often as possible. It is, simply, a classic.
Endeavour’s leading man Shaun Evans on directing his co-stars in this week’s episode…
By Caren Clark - TV TIMES
As brooding DS Endeavour Morse in ITV’s classy 1960s-set crime drama Endeavour, Shaun Evans spends much of his time looking pretty gloomy!
But, thankfully, when TV Times catches up with him at ITV’s London HQ for an exclusive interview, he couldn’t be better company as he cracks jokes and grins infectiously while telling us about the fun he had, and the pride he felt, directing an episode of the show for the first time.
‘I’ve learnt more about Endeavour as a character by having a different directing head on,’ explains Shaun, 38, who, here, with the help of some exclusive on-set photos, takes us behind the scenes of this week’s episode, Apollo…
Taking the helm
‘It was good seeing my name as director on the clapperboard,’ says Shaun. ‘I enjoyed every minute. But I didn’t want to make it all about me like some egomaniac!’
This is Shaun’s first time as director on Endeavour, but he has directed episodes of Casualty in the past.
‘It felt like I was prepared and I knew what I wanted,’ he says. ‘I was editing at weekends during the filming of the rest of the series, though, so it was Endeavour-tastic! But I knew that by the end, we’d achieve something I hadn’t done before, which I could be happy about.’
Two jobs at once
‘I love discussing the story and being in every scene,’ says Shaun, who clearly enjoyed juggling his two jobs of acting and directing for this week’s episode.
‘You have to be efficient with your time because you’re doing two different things, but I knew where the character was and how we would tell each scene from a technical point of view.
‘It changes how you do both jobs for the better. I want to carry on doing acting and directing if I’m lucky enough because I learnt so much from this and there are things I’d like to get off the ground myself.’
Pulling the strings
‘Having puppets added to my directing challenge because you shoot them differently,’ says Shaun of the marionettes that feature in this week’s episode.
‘They were made specifically for us. It’s good because it also reflects the idea of the story of, “Who is pulling the strings?”
We look at the moon landing this week, too, and there’s just something about that epic scale compared to the micro-world of the puppets.
‘We took a lot from the colour palette of the night sky, and it definitely made me think in a different way visually.’
Behind the ‘tache
‘Those are my own sunglasses!’ reveals Shaun.'That was a really hot day and I was having a break. Our costume designer Molly Rowe had the idea of Endeavour wearing darker shirts this year, which I like.
‘That ‘tache was there for long enough, though, thanks! It’s gone now but it was fun having it,’ adds Shaun of Endeavour’s new image this series, which reflects the changing fashions of the time.
‘That car belongs to one of the people at a racy party that the victim attends in this week’s episode. There are several cars and keys involved, so we had to be specific about who had the various keys in each scene. Tina Murray, our script supervisor, and I both had notebooks to keep track!’
‘It was amazing directing my mates because we already have a shorthand,’ says Shaun. ‘They’re all at the top of their game and the best actors around. I know what atmosphere to create for us all to do good work together and they wanted it to be the best for me, too. They’d disagree if needed or be open to things as well, so it was joyous and we had a laugh.’
Shaun admits he did put Roger Allam aka DI Fred Thursday, through the mill!
‘For one scene in this episode, Roger was beaten up,’ says Shaun. ‘He wore padding initially, but I said, “What do you think about taking that off?” He was willing to remove it and take a pounding from the stuntmen. He is awesome – I can’t speak more highly of him.’
‘Shaun’s a natural’
Roger Allam, Anton Lesser and Sean Rigby what their co-star was like as director…
Roger Allam (DI Fred Thursday)
‘There’s always collaboration with Shaun, whether he’s directing or not, so it was fantastic. He was on top of the material and moving from behind the scenes to in front of the camera seemed easy for him. Did we take the mickey out of him? Good lord, no! Well, probably yes!’
Anton Lesser (CS Reginald Bright)
‘Shaun is terrific because he has a passion for it and wants to do more. He’s very clear because he knows what actors need to hear and what they don’t. It was great watching him work and he’s such a lovely guy, so everybody was helping him achieve what he wanted.’
Sean Rigby (DS Jim Strange)
‘Shaun was brilliant. I don’t know where he finds the energy – he has limitless patience and creativity, and there are no half measures. His attention to detail as an actor has transferred to his directing and in every scene he knew what he wanted, so it was a smooth experience. He’s a natural.’
Episode 2 - Apollo
As the highly-anticipated moon landings of Apollo 11 draw near, Endeavour, now at Castle Gate CID, finds himself investigating the death of promising young astrophysicist Adam Drake and girlfriend Christine. Their deaths seeming to be a result of a tragic car accident on first inspection, but when the clues start to point towards foul play, Endeavour enlists the help of an injured Thursday to uncover the truth.
A visit to the Oxford observatory where Adam worked uncovers professional and personal tensions between him and colleagues Elliott Wingqvist and Larry Humbolt. However, when Larry reveals that the car Adam was driving actually belonged to him, Endeavour and Thursday have to rethink their focus.
It seems possible that the sabotage has missed its intended target, and attention turns to a new-age group of which Drake and his colleagues appear to be members. Claiming to offer lifestyle guidance to the thriving middle classes, the group seems more like a cult than a support team, and he suspects leader Gabriel Van Horne knows more than he’s letting on.
STV interview with Shaun Evans who discusses season 6 of Endeavour, the changes in Morse's life and the reasons for the new moustache.
WITH AN ACCENT By Valerie Parker
Endeavour returns for its 6th season tonight on ITV in the UK (and 16th June on Masterpiece on PBS in the US), and the season sees a new situation for Morse, Thursday, and the rest of the now-defunct Oxford City Police as they’ve been scattered to the wind in the wake of restructuring. After last week’s TCA Winter Tour Presentation we took the opportunity to ask a few questions of series star Shaun Evans.
In a glimpse at Season 6 of Endeavour that was shown during the presentation, it becomes pretty clear that while Morse, with his strict moral code, has long been able to rein in what one might say were the less-savory aspects of Fred Thursday’s behavior (read: his willingness to get a bit rough with someone he’s interrogating), the fact that the two are no longer working directly together, and Thursday has been assigned to a division that includes coppers we know are unethical from their appearances in Season 5. So where does that leave Morse and Thursday now?
“I suppose they’ve never been further apart,” says Evans, and continues the discussion, referring to the story that plays out from the end of Season 5, when their colleague George Fancy was murdered, and the culprit remains at large, with the team vowing to continue their investigations even as they are pulled apart professionally. “Ultimately, they need each other in this. If that continues apace, they need each other in order to fulfill the next level of their obligations.”
“I also think it’s never been a more honest relationship,” he continues. “That’s what I’ve noticed in the acting at least. It’s never felt more honest and open and we’ve never connected as much, so my hope is that that comes across in the story, which I think it does.”
The other dangling thread at the end of Season 5 was the kernel of a hope that Morse would finally find love (albeit doomed, as we know from Inspector Morse that he remains a bachelor indefinitely) with Thursday’s daughter, Joan. But it doesn’t sound like we’ll be getting even a happy interlude anytime soon. Evans expressed his desire for an unsatisfactory union for the two when discussing the subject during the panel, but he claims he’s been met with resistance when pitching the idea. “You know, why not get together and then it’s if, like I said, to be a nightmare. For it to be not what you thought it would be, do you know what I mean? Like I think there’s something particularly heartbreaking about that rather than, oh they just won’t get together. You know what, who knows? We haven’t at this point and who knows.”
Evans has also long discussed the importance of keeping the series fresh and engaging, and that he isn’t someone who would want to stay in a series indefinitely. He’s even recently alluded to the fact that the series could soon be coming to an end. When pressed on the subject, he’s very blunt. “We constantly have story meetings about all of this. And I think, there are lots of ways to take the lead from me, so no one’s gonna force anyone to do something more than they want to do. And I think, it should be imagination and intuition [that keeps driving the story forward]. So, if you feel as though it’s done, then I don’t know, then it’s gonna be a feeling rather than ‘OK, he needs to have done this and have x-amount of money in the bank’ or whatever, do you know what I mean?”
“I’ll be honest in this story, there’s no two ways about it, I wouldn’t sign [a contract] for any extended period of time so you take like all, well, I did, on a season by season basis. Also the story should dictate not an arbitrary number of seasons to make someone else… to sell someone else the story. And I think that there’s a very concrete thing which happens at the end of this particular season. I think it could potentially be an ending but we’ll just have to see. We’ll just have to see.”
SUNDAY POST Written by Bill Gibb
IT has become one of ITV’s biggest hits, an annual staple that’s sold all over the world.
But Shaun Evans, star of Endeavour, has told us he can’t believe it’s still going strong as it begins its sixth series tonight.
“I really didn’t think I’d still be here,” admitted Shaun, 38. “You never know in television, so I feel very lucky.
“At the end of each series we never take it for granted that we’re going to be back.
“So if we’re fortunate enough to get recommissioned, we sit down with a cup of tea and have a chat about what’s good, what’s bad and if there’s still a story to tell.”
The series is the second spin-off from the hugely popular Inspector Morse, played so memorably by John Thaw.
Kevin Whately spent years as Lewis, Morse’s former sidekick, set in the present day.
And Endeavour is all about the young Morse, making his way through the ranks in the 1960s.
Although he plays the title role, Liverpudlian Shaun insists he can’t feel the weight of expectation on always having to come back lest the whole thing wouldn’t happen.
“I honestly don’t think like that and it’s important not to,” said Shaun.
“Work as an actor can be few and far between and it should be a joy.
“I want to feel that when I come in each day and I can’t have the responsibility of anyone else’s living.
“I don’t think other people think like that either.
“But I know the lead actor can set the tone for everyone and I think that’s incredibly important.
“I’ve been on sets where I’ve had less to do and the atmosphere hasn’t been great.
“I know the environment that works best for me and for other people is to be serious about the work but still have a laugh.
“It’s a team effort rather than one person calling all the shots.”
This new series begins in 1969, following the dissolution of Oxford City Police and the merger with Thames Valley Constabulary at the end of the last run.
It means the old team have been scattered, with Endeavour reluctantly settled into a sedate way of life at an isolated countryside outpost and his boss DI Fred Thursday (Roger Allam) also uncomfortable in his new position.
Hanging over all, still, is the tragic unsolved murder of DC George Fancy.
One of the big things viewers will notice is a change of look for Shaun, who sports a very-60s ’tache.
“Of course I grew it, it’s not stuck on,” laughs Shaun.
“I actually had a beard when we started filming, so I just shaved that off and then didn’t look in the mirror for six months.”
There are four very different investigations this time round, all reflecting the period and with the moon landings as the backdrop for one.
Some of the attitudes of the times are quite shocking and Shaun says he’s glad they are highlighted and not shied away from.
“The writer does a very good job of showing the things that, rightly so, we’d find unpalatable now.
“But it doesn’t feel ham-fisted or that you’re getting a moral lesson.”
Shaun gets behind, as well as in front of, the camera this time as the director of one of these four new episodes.
“I’ve been doing that for a few years but Endeavour is the first time I’ve directed something I’m in,” said Shaun, who also has a role as a producer.
“I think the key to it is just being as prepared as possible. You’ve got to do your homework and you’ll know how you want to do it.”
And with no guarantee that the show will return, he always has other possibilities on his radar.
“If other jobs come up, Endeavour have been really good at accommodating it,” said Shaun.
And he reckons he knows at least one reason for the series’ enduring appeal.
“I think we all like the idea that everything will be all right in the end,” he adds. “Something terrible happens but it’s OK, it’s going to get sorted.”
Endeavour, ITV, tonight, 8pm.
SUNDAY EXPRESS - David Stephenson
There’s a dramatic change in tone for viewers when we meet Endeavour in the sixth series of ITV’s hit drama. The Inspector Morse prequel has taken a darker, more ominous and more intriguing turn than before. But its days may be numbered, as we will reveal.
Shaun Evans, who plays Endeavour, says: “The intention was to pull the rug from under the characters and to put them in uncomfortable situations, leaving them humiliated.”
The new series certainly does that. For the first five minutes of episode one you can’t quite tell what’s going on. Cowley police station has closed and its happy(ish) band of detectives have been given lesser roles.
Although Lewis Peek’s DC George Fancy was shot at the end of the previous series, there are still familiar faces in the new Thames Valley Police Station. Roger Allam returns as Endeavour’s partner and mentor Fred Thursday. Yet people are uneasy about what the future holds, if indeed they have a future in the force, and this includes Endeavour himself. He now has a ‘tache, which is very 1969, when the series is set. But he is also wearing a police uniform, having been demoted to a common-or-garden sergeant working in a tiny village. He has effectively been sent to Siberia.
Who can bring this happy band back together? Judging by the first episode, the situation is rather hopeless. But it makes for a gripping, tense drama.
Shaun, now 38, inhabits Endeavour in much the same way that John Thaw did, with grit and compassion, dogged by unrequited love. The character is famously dreadful at relationships, after all.
The advantage of making a prequel is that we know where we are heading and what will await Endeavour when he eventually takes his rightful place as a detective chief inspector at Thames Valley Police Station.
Jim Strange is already in place – a future superintendent in the Thaw era – and he finds himself investigating the death of his colleague George Fancy.
Not only does he have connections with the Masons but there is also more to his police role than meets the eye.
Liverpudlian Shaun has grown in stature along with the young Endeavour, showing a broad acting range while giving continuity to a character we know so well.
And with each series, he and writer Russell Lewis manage to add new dimensions to Endeavour and, most importantly, tell a good mystery story that is a challenge for both him and the viewers to solve.
But first of all, we must talk ‘taches. “It was good shaving it off”, Shaun reveals, “and it’s not coming back! It was just after the last scene and off it came.
But it was kind of fun. And I liked the idea of doing something that takes it a little bit further away from you. And it was good for him to be in uniform too. It was a sign of low status.”
And the reaction back in Liverpool from family and friends? “’Oh God, what is that?’ kind of sums it up!”
Evans has even directed his first episode. It’s a big achievement but he appears taken aback when I ask if it was his dream to both star and direct.
“Do you know,” he begins with characteristic modesty, “I’ve never really thought about it. It’s amazing, yes. And I’m lucky. It’s incredible.
“I just always hope that I’ll work and I continue to hope that. I never thought, ‘Oh, I’d love to do that’.”
What next? A feature film, perhaps? There’s a very long pause. “I just love telling stories. And I wouldn’t like to limit myself saying, ‘I’d like to do that next’. I want to be open. I just feel totally blessed right now.”
It’s not his first outing in the director’s chair. He says: “I got to do two stints in Casualty, which was incredible. It’s been an amazing experience to do Endeavour, right from start to finish.
“It’s also been nice to put into practice all the things I had been learning along the way watching others. We’ve had some terrific directors. I wanted to put my own stamp on it, too.”
And he adds: “There’s something about having two jobs that makes you do each one very economically – which I think is very useful moving forward. And I think that I will do more. This is really the beginning for me. It’s not a novelty. Fingers crossed, I hope other chances will come along.
“But it’s just storytelling. For both. The great thing is that because you’re in the majority of scenes and you’re leading the story through, you have a sense of what’s important in a scene. As an actor, you’re picking apart the script anyway.”
But might this be the end? Shaun Evans’s silences appear to give it away. “It just depends on so many things… viewing figures… whether it gets recommissioned, however many we want to do… and how much story there is left to do. I think we should let the story itself dictate that.”
Could you make it to 10 series? There’s a longer silence. “I just think it’s important not to stay beyond your welcome.” But would he like to bring it to 10 series? “No.” Better prepare some emergency Kleenex.
WITH AN ACCENT - By Valerie Parker
Season 6 of the Inspector Morse prequel Endeavour is due to hit ITV in the UK starting this Sunday, 10th February, and Masterpiece Mystery on PBS in the US on 16th June. To celebrate that fact, PBS brought Endeavour Morse himself, Shaun Evans, back to the TCA stage to give us a look at the series ahead.
The biggest change this year, and one that is right there in your face (and Evans’ face, literally) when you see promotional material for season 6, is the mustache our hero will be sporting as Endeavour moves into 1969. So what does Evans think of his new addition (which was shaved by the time he hit the TCA stage)? “I’m easy. I don’t mind it, I don’t mind it. I like it. I think it’s cool. What I think is terrific opportunity wise, if you’re telling a longform story, that you can change a little bit, and the audience will go with that. I also like it as an idea as a sort of metaphor for not being able to look in the mirror or try to change yourself in a way. Yeah, I like it. I didn’t really think too deeply about it, to be totally honest with you.”
“It was born out of a conversation with myself and the writer and the exec, Damien, just on an idea,” elaborates Evans, on the genesis of Morse’s Mustache (TM?). “Because at the end of the last series, Fancy, a character called George Fancy dies, whom I was a mentor to. And the last time we see each other, we have cross words. Then in the scene afterwards, I say to Thursday, ‘You know, I could have been kinder.’ And he says, ‘Well, who couldn’t?’ When we pick up in the beginning of this series, the time in between, it’s weighed quite heavy, the guilt of that. And so it’s an opportunity to be a bit more down on it, if that makes any sense.”
Along with the death of Fancy, last season saw the breakup of the department as their police station was shut down, and the characters were scattered to the wind, all while vowing to work together to see that Fancy’s death is investigated. That means the partnership that has been a cornerstone of Endeavour since its first episode, that of Morse and his mentor Fred Thursday (Roger Allam), is broken up, and in the clips shown, it was clear there is a strain there. “In this one I think it was important for the rug to be pulled from everyone and to take the characters, all of them, into a place which is humiliating, both professionally and personally as well. At the end of last season, the station closes. Everyone is scattered to the four winds, and the death of Fancy hangs over everybody. So the arc of this series is everyone coming back together to sort out who killed Fancy. You get to see everyone in different guises and different scenarios. You have to keep pushing things, I think. You have to keep pushing things in order to keep it interesting. Change is the only constant, right? So they have to keep changing. We can’t keep playing the same thing. We can’t keep playing the same relationship. So I think it was born out of that, you know, just to kind of keep it interesting.”
As for the relationship many want to see blossom, that of Morse and Joan Thursday, Evans may not be the ship champion fans would hope for. “I think, well, it’s tricky, isn’t it,” says Evans. “Because it wouldn’t be interesting if they were happy. I think it would be good to have a moment or an opportunity for him and Joan to get together, this is what I’m fighting for, but I just don’t think it’s getting any purchase. If they had a moment or a night of passion and then, the next day, woke up and was, like, ‘Oh, is that it?’ and it’s just not what he thought it would be, I think that speaks more to someone who is just destined to be alone rather than a will they/won’t they kind of vibe. They’re complicated. I guess they’re complicated characters, right? So it would be difficult to hold down a relationship. And also, I think, if they were mediocre at their jobs, then they wouldn’t get anything done, so you wouldn’t tune in every week. So they need a sort of devotional element to how they consider their work, I think. And that means a singularity of mind, a singularity of purpose, which doesn’t leave much room, I don’t think, for relationships.”
You’d think with 5 seasons (albeit, British seasons, so they’re a bit on the short side) under his belt, there might be a dearth of challenges for Evans, but this season sees the star take his first crack at the directing side of things on the Endeavour set with an episode entitled “Apollo.”
“It was an extraordinary experience from start to finish,” says Evans of the opportunity. “I’d been directing for a few years prior to that, but it was the first time I’ve done anything that I was in. And it was extraordinary because you realize what you can achieve if you’re prepared and if you’ve got a good team around you. The challenging thing was because we shot it first. We shot my episode, the one that I directed, first. And then I did my edit in the post production over the weekend while we were shooting the next three episodes. So that was challenging, only in terms of trying to keep a couple of stories in your head at all times and to give every moment its full weight and attention. But it’s, like, an extraordinary opportunity, and I just wanted to make the most of it. And it was an amazing experience.”
As the series continues, and the Morse we see in Endeavour comes closer to the Morse fans knew from Inspector Morse (played by the late great John Thaw), it’s inevitable that fans look for similarities growing in the characters. But if they are happening, it’s not due to anything deliberate on Evans’ part. “I still haven’t seen him, to be totally honest with you. And that’s purposeful, and that’s with a huge amount of respect because I know they will be brilliant when I do get around to watching them. I think, if there is any similarities in terms of the character, then that needs to be born out of the writing. And I don’t think it’s, like I think you would be shortchanging the audience if you were to come in and do an impression and to start morphing into something else. But with, obviously, an enormous amount of respect to all of the things that have gone prior to it because my first port of call was the books and the imagination and I still want all of that now, you know, as we draw to a close.”
On the changes we’ve come to see in Morse’s character over 5 seasons of Endeavour, Evans has this to say, “I think he’s way less idealistic and probably slightly more realistic now about it. I would like to think he is less than a loner and knows that he’s got people who have got his back at work, that you can open yourself to rely upon people. Maybe that’s true for me as well. Perhaps that’s true for me too. But maybe that’s just a thing of growing old, you know, getting older. You realize that it’s not all about you. It’s about a team, and it’s about working together to sort something out and to have a bit of humility, I guess, in it all. I would say it’s probably the same for the both of us.”
Endeavour airs its four-episode sixth season on ITV in the UK starting 10th February, and PBS will air the season from 16th June.
OXFORD MAIL - By Katherine MacAlister
Endeavour is back for a sixth series, kicking off on Sunday, and this time Shaun Evans is making waves on both sides of the camera.
With a newfound moustache, a countryside outpost and a shot at directing - it’s all change.
But the Walton-born actor, who will reprise the title role of a young DS Endeavour Morse for a sixth time, wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Uniform, tache, I’m up for it!” quips Evans, 38, who has led the ITV crime drama - written by creator Russell Lewis - since 2012.
Following the dissolution of Oxford City Police and the merging with Thames Valley Constabulary in season five, the latest instalment, set in 1969, sees the team finding their feet in various new roles.
“Endeavour is back in uniform and on his own out in the sticks,” Evans elaborates. “He’s been stationed in a one-horse town in the countryside and he’s fairly isolated as he’s the only policeman there. But he’s quite happy.[???]
“Everyone has been cast to the four winds,” he adds. “Thursday (Roger Allam) is at the new Castle Gate station, Bright (Anton Lesser) in the traffic department and Strange (Sean Rigby) is also in a new role.
“There’s a lot of change and we see the reaction to this change,” explains Evans, who reveals the force is still mourning the loss of DC George Fancy, who was murdered at the end of the last series.
“Their relationships with one another is completely fractured though and the first episode is about seeing where everyone has landed in the interim, and finding their way back together.”
It’s a reshuffle that has allowed the show to introduce a “whole new raft of characters,” which shakes it up and allows it to go in a new direction.
As for Shaun’s new, well-groomed facial topiary, he laughs and says: “It wasn’t my idea! But I try not to think too deeply about it; I just didn’t shave my top lip.”
Taches aside, Evans has four brand new cases to solve in series six - each divided into a feature-length film, but the second episode marks the star’s first series directorial.
“It’s great acting and it’s great directing, so if you can mix the two it’s a joyous experience, and to be forced to approach things in a specific way was good for me, personally. It’s a good time for TV and for storytelling, in general,” he elaborates.
Hinting about further series, Evans concludes: “I think it’s important for us to get together and have a chat about it, just to see what the story is, see where the story goes because Endeavour is a blessing.
“But you want to make sure that you’re only going to do it if it’s going to be amazing.”
Shaun Evans reveals the inspiration behind his new Morse-tache – and just how long the character will be keeping it…
RADIO TIMES - By Huw Fullerton
The sixth series of ITV’s Endeavour is full of change, with the former Cowley CID split up between different police stations, Shaun Evans’ Morse back in uniform and the 1970s approaching fast – but perhaps the most notable change of all lies on Evans’ upper lip.
Yes, this year DS Morse has grown a moustache (or Morse-tache) after series creator Russell Lewis encouraged Evans that it was time for a bit of a shake-up.
“It warms your top lip, if nothing else,” Evans told RadioTimes.com on the set of series six, where he also confirmed that the moustache was all of his own making.
“I had a beard so it was just a case of shaving it down to a handlebar…no I’m joking!” he laughed. “It’s not too bad. I’ve had it for nearly six months now.”
However the germ of the idea for Morse’s new look apparently came much earlier in 2014, when Evans grew a moustache for a part in a play and sparked an idea in Lewis.
“I was in a play in Chichester, called Miss Julie,” Evans recalled. “And as we’re all friends, Russ came to see the play. Had a chat afterwards, la la la, forgot about it.
“When it did all wrap up last year, myself, Russell and [executive producer] Damien Timmer got together as we do at the end of every season, and had a chat about what we felt was good and what we felt could be improved upon.”
Lewis’ idea, according to Evans, was that following the death of young officer George Fancy (Lewis Peek) in the previous series there should be a visual shift for Morse’s character to signify his inner change – and a simple way to show that to audiences was to have Evans grow another moustache.
“Russ said to me, ‘I’m thinking to really hit home after Fancy dies, and you’re out in the sticks on your own, that maybe there is a transition that takes place and you are trying to be something different,’” Evans told RadioTimes.com
“‘Or you can’t look at yourself in the mirror and you’re trying to style it out in a new way’. I thought it was a good idea so I said ‘Yeah OK, let’s do it.’
“It was Russ’s idea, not mine, and I was more than happy to oblige,” Evans concluded.
When Evans’ Endeavour Morse is reintroduced in episode one, his new uniformed look combined with the moustache makes for quite the change – but while it doesn’t take too long for the detective to find his way back out of uniform and into CID, fans might have to wait a while longer before they see him clean-shaven again.
RadioTimes.com can confirm that Evans keeps the moustache until at least the fourth and final episode of the new series, which he was filming at the time of our visit. Whether he’d retain the look in another series is less clear, though it’s worth noting that original Morse actor John Thaw always played the part clean-shaven, suggesting that it’s not a style the character remains fond of for long.
For now, though, you’d best get used to the Morse-tache – because for the next few weeks, it’s not going anywhere.
Endeavour airs on ITV on Sundays at 8.00pm
DAILY MAIL - by Tim Oglethorpe
Warren Beatty isn't the first person you'd think of as a role model, but Endeavour star Shaun Evans says the Hollywood rogue, [...], is his inspiration.
'I hung out with Warren and his wife Annette Bening when I was filming Being Julia with her – one of my first jobs, when I was about 22 – and it had a big impact on me,' he recalls.
'I was inspired by the example they set, by how they got things done, how they worked, how they still got access to good parts while preserving a bit of themselves for themselves.
'People say, 'Shaun, you're so cagey about your private life,' like I've got something to hide.
'But I just value my privacy and if I didn't have that, I wouldn't be able to do my work.
'I was influenced to conduct myself the way I do by Annette and Warren.
'We know very little about their life together and that means I'm not thinking about Annette when she performs, I'm just being blown away by her work.
'The actors I like most are those who have an air of mystery about them, who don't make themselves bigger than the story they're telling.'
'I've tried to be like that myself.'
To the extent that he's largely retained his anonymity, his plan seems to have worked.
Apart from the fact that he's single and from Liverpool, has family roots in Northern Ireland and once dated singer Andrea Corr, not much is known about Shaun Evans.
But his character Endeavour Morse has been scrutinised and analysed for more than 30 years, first with John Thaw's older version of the detective in the classic Inspector Morse from 1987 until 2000, and since 2012 with Shaun's portrayal of the young Endeavour.
Over five previous series we've been gradually building up a picture of the younger man, a highly educated northerner, and the jigsaw will become more complete in the new four-part series on ITV.
As well as putting down roots in his adoptive city of Oxford, we'll see Endeavour renewing his relationship with Joan, the daughter of his colleague Fred Thursday, who's now a trainee social worker in Oxford.
At the end of the last series, policing in Oxfordshire was being reorganised, and Morse, Thursday (played by Roger Allam), their former boss CS Reginald Bright (Anton Lesser) and DS Jim Strange (Sean Rigby) were scattered to the winds.
They remain separated at the start of the new series, with Morse back in uniform and out in the countryside patrolling a quiet rural beat, while Bright's churning out unintentionally comical road safety films for children.
Strange has taken up a managerial role at divisional headquarters and poor old Thursday, who carried the can for the murder of his colleague George Fancy in the final episode of the last series, is now working with a couple of tough guys, DCI Ronnie Box (Simon Harrison) and his sidekick DS Alan Jago (Richard Riddell) at Castle Gate station.
But that doesn't mean there aren't murders for Morse to solve.
Throughout, Endeavour demonstrates the intellect and eye for detail that are his hallmark. '
He loves the process of detection,' says Shaun.
Set in 1969, the new series embraces momentous real-life events such as the investiture of Charles as the Prince of Wales and the Apollo moon landing, as well as the changing fashions.
Endeavour sports longer hair, a moustache and sideburns, and even wears sunglasses.
'The moustache is all my own work,' says Shaun.
'My family don't care for it very much but it was easy enough to grow.
'I grew a beard and then just shaved that off, leaving the moustache.
'Anything that gives me distance from my character has to be a good thing.'
By the end of this series there will have been 27 episodes of Endeavour, closing in on the 33 episodes of Inspector Morse that John Thaw filmed.
But with the foundations for the life of the older version firmly put in place in this series – we'll see Endeavour move in to the house in Oxford where the older Morse lived, for example – Russell Lewis, the man who writes Endeavour, says time is definitely ticking on the younger version.
'Endeavour has a timeline, a sense of development for our characters as we move towards a pre-ordained terminus which is, alas, inching slowly into view,' he says.
So could this be the end of Endeavour?
'It could be, but I've been saying that for a while now,' laughs Shaun.
'What we've taken to doing is ending each series as if it could be the last so we don't end up thinking, "I wish I'd done that in that final episode".
'I'd have tried to make that happen if I'd known we weren't coming back.' We make sure there are no regrets.'
Shaun was a guest on the BBC 2 Radio show 'Steve Wright in the afternoon' where he talked about the new series of Endeavour, set to premiere this Sunday, February 10 at 8pm on ITV.
[This is an extract from the article "When is series six of Endeavour on TV? Who is in the cast? What will happen?" published by RADIO TIMES, 7 February 2019]
While on set, series lead Shaun Evans gave us a quick guide to each of the stories this year, which take in a variety of settings and characters. Starting with…
Episode 1 – Pylon
“There’s a girl goes missing and it’s repetitive for a case where a girl has gone missing three years before,” Evans said.
“And I think there’s a connection, although nobody else does. When will they learn?”
Episode 2 – Apollo
“The second one’s really fun actually,” Evans said of episode two, which he directed.
“It’s about the Moon Landing in 69, and this group of people in a sort of New Age centre. So it’s got a very particular, not tongue-in-cheek exactly, but very particular sort of humorous attitude to it.”
“Obviously ’69 was the moon landings, so film 2, which is Shaun’s episode, is looking at that, tying into that and what that means for mankind and Endeavour,” producer Deanne Cunningham said.
“It was the first thing I’d directed that I was in,” Evans continued.
“So that brought with it its own challenges, but made it quite economical and efficient as well.”
Episode 3 – Confection
“The third one is at a chocolate factory, where everything looks perfect on the surface but if you dig underneath then it’s all kind of cankerous at its heart,” Evans told us.
“It’s set at Chigton Green, which is this sort of picture perfect village just outside Oxford,” added Cunningham.
“Is it as picture-perfect as it seems, or is there something darker lurking underneath the roses and the bunting?”
Episode 4 -Degüello
“Film four is, I think, a terrific story,” Evans told RadioTimes.com.
“You have the collapse of a building. Within the foundations of a building we found a body which has been there for a year, which has a connection to a body that we find at the beginning of the story. So we know that they’re connected.
“It’s a great way to round it up, I think. And it’s a great way to pay off the characters that we’ve introduced this season, and also bring us all back together as well by the end of it.”
A look at the new Police Headquarters in this exclusive clip from the new Series of Endeavour. Starts Sunday 10th February at 8pm on ITV.
Episode 1 - Pylon
With the Cowley team scattered across Oxfordshire, Endeavour finds himself policing a lonely country patch, and back in uniform. His day job is a monotonous investigation of missing livestock and stolen tractors. But when he discovers the dead body of a missing schoolgirl, it opens this quiet backwater to the roar of Castle Gate CID – now staffed by Thursday and an old adversary, the newly promoted DCI Ronnie Box, alongside sidekick DS Alan Jago.
Box is keen to get Endeavour out of the picture, but when Endeavour’s own investigations manage to uncover a potential suspect – a homeless drug-fuelled teenager named Stanley – Box dangles the suggestion that the arrest could be Endeavour’s way back into CID. However, when Thursday reveals to Endeavour that he knows the suspect from an old murder case, they start to worry that they have the wrong man. With Thursday’s hands tied, Endeavour resolves to prove the teenager’s innocence and uncover the truth behind the young girl’s murder.
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
"There's still more stories to tell."
DIGITAL SPY - BY JO BERRY AND JUSTIN HARP
Endeavour is about to embark on its sixth series – and with any series that deep into its run, the end has been prepared for!
The ITV detective procedural fits into a specific timeline between Endeavour Morse (Shaun Evans) leaving Oxford University and the events of 1987's Inspector Morse, but that window is admittedly quite wide.
In an exclusive chat with Endeavour creator Russell Lewis and star Evans about the new episodes moving into 1969, Digital Spy asked the duo if they'd had discussions about how their show will eventually end.
"If there's an appetite to see Endeavour in the early '70s – if the audience are keen, and the network are keen, and the guys want to do it, then yeah, absolutely [we'd do it]," Lewis confirmed.
"In a way, I'd always thought we'd probably stop in the '60s, but there's still more stories to tell. We always shape them so that – heaven forfend, force majeure stops us from doing any more – that that would be an appropriate endpoint with each series.
"But yeah, there is a much larger destination in mind if we get there. So yeah, there is a plan. There's always been a plan from the start."
Evans stressed that he'd want to make sure any continuation didn't hurt the credibility of either Endeavour or Inspector Morse.
"I always think it should be dictated by story, rather than an arbitrary number," he explained. "And so, by the end of this one, I am in the house where this character lives for the rest of his life, which I think is significant.
"I think it's important for us to go and have a cup of tea and have a chat when this has aired, and to be like, 'OK, where else is there to go with this story? Where else can we take these characters?' And to be brave about what comes up in that as well – but not for it to be an arbitrary number."
The new episodes pick up with Morse and his team processing the murder of DC George Fancy, who was killed off in a shock cliffhanger at the end of the last series.
Endeavour series six begins Sunday, February 10 at 8pm on ITV.
The Inspector Morse prequel returns next week
DIGITAL SPY: BY JO BERRY AND JUSTIN HARP
Morse is back on the case for more new Endeavour episodes beginning next week – but it will be a quick trip back to screens this time.
ITV renewed the Inspector Morse prequel for a sixth season shortly after its extended fifth wrapped up with the shocking murder of Detective Constable George Fancy last spring, except this new run will move back down to four episodes as in the show's early years.
Digital Spy recently chatted exclusively to Endeavour star Shaun Evans and creator Russell Lewis about why it was more feasible to have the smaller episode count moving forward.
"It’s particularly taxing on the crew and on members of the cast as well," Evans explained. "The danger being that it becomes 'just a job'.
"It’s something that… you want it to feel special, and not for standards to slip. Rather than: 'God, we have to make another two after this'."
Lewis added: "I loved doing six. It was lovely to have a slightly bigger canvas to paint on. You could develop things slightly more across 12 hours. But it was a big ask of all the team to do those six. I mean, it took us pretty much the year to get them done.
"I think for Shaun and Roger [Allam], they like to be doing other things as well – as much as they love it – just to stretch themselves, and take time out. They like to be able to do other things, so that kind of dictated why we’re doing four this year, rather than six."
But don't worry about missing out on anything with a smaller episode count! Endeavour is planning to pack even more tension into the four episodes as the murder of George Fancy hangs over Morse's head.
"It certainly is a factor in the four films. It’s bubbling under," Lewis teased. "It’s there, and I think it’s that which informs where they all are as we begin this round with Endeavour and Thursday and Bright and Strange. Because it’s eight months on. It’s a long time after it happened.
"And it’s just exploring what that has done to all of those guys, and those that care for him, in different ways, really. When we got to the end of the last series with George’s death, that felt like an act two curtain, really. So we are now firmly in act three of our story."
Evans added: "Every character is in a very different place now. So Thursday and Bright and Strange and Morse... you get to see them really out of their comfort zone, and slightly humiliated, both in the workplace and then – for Thursday and for Bright as well – personal humiliations, or personal tragedies which they have to deal with.
"Which I think is good and interesting for them. And also just puts us in a new place. It makes us all interact in a different way, and interact with our jobs in a different way."
Endeavour series six begins Sunday, February 10 at 8pm on ITV.
OXFORD MAIL - by Andrew Ffrench
OXFORD’S favourite detective, Endeavour Morse, is returning to the nation’s TV screens in a sixth series.
Four new episodes of the Inspector Morse prequel have been filmed and will start on ITV on Sunday at 8pm.
The new series will return to the 1960s and feature Shaun Evans as DS Morse alongside Roger Allam as DI Fred Thursday and Anton Lesser as CS Reginald Bright.
Following the dissolution of Oxford City Police the latest instalment is set in 1969 and picks up with the team as they find their feet in various new roles.
Scenes were shot at various locations in and around Oxford including colleges such as St Edmund Hall.
The sixth instalment of the popular drama has once again been written by Endeavour creator Russell Lewis, who has penned each of the 27 screenplays, based on the character created by Oxford author Colin Dexter, who died in 2017.
Mr Lewis said: “All of us involved in making Endeavour have always wanted to keep the show fresh, moving forward, and pushing the boundaries of what a cosy whodunnit might encompass.”
The four new episodes are entitled Pylon, Apollo, Confection and Deguello, with the second episode, about the moon landing, directed by Shaun Evans himself.
Producer Deanne Cunningham said Morse would find himself back in uniform at the start of the new series and throughout the episodes his team would be ‘like magnets, drawn back together again’. She added that a new ‘Flying Squad-style of policing was anathema to Morse and Fred’.
Ms Cunningham said everyone working on set enjoyed the reception from film fans in Oxford. She added: “It can be challenging when you are filming and you get big crowds gathering but we always get a fantastic welcome.”
Mr Allam said his character did not find himself in a happy place at start of series six. He added: “Things are not good at home - there is empty nest syndrome and he has been bumped down in rank.”
Mr Lesser said CS Bright was also experiencing his own problems. “He has been reduced to watching traffic and his wife is diagnosed with cancer. Everything in his world is reversing and collapsing and we get to see a bit more of the man behind the uniform - I think audiences love that.”
Mr Evans said directing an episode seemed like the ‘next natural step’. He added: “I had expressed an interest in doing it and it felt like the right time.”
ECHO NEWS - By Press Association 2019
Endeavour star Shaun Evans has said the new series will see his character eventually move into the flat occupied by Inspector Morse.
Evans, who plays the young DC Endeavour Morse in the hit show, a prequel to the series Inspector Morse, said the upcoming sixth series set in the 1960s will bring the timeline closer to the start of the series starring John Thaw.
Discussing the prospect of a seventh instalment, he said: “ITV has asked us to do another series, but they only asked us on Friday.
“I think it’s important for us to get together and have a chat about it, just to see what the story is, see where the story goes.
“By the end of this one, I move into the flat that Morse ends up living in. By the end of it I certainly put down roots, so I wonder what that means.”
The new series also sees Evans direct an episode and he said: “It wasn’t too bad, I think, it was interesting, and it was an incredible experience as well.
“It’s great acting and it’s great directing, then if you can mix the two where you know the team and you have shorthand with everyone and also you know the sort of the timbre of the stories as well.
“It was actually a joyous experience to be honest, and it was great as an actor and a director in separate ways to be forced to approach things in a specific way was just good for me personally, you know.”
He continued: “I’ve always been interested in it. I just think that you can at the moment you can do anything, it’s a good time for TV and for storytelling in general and I just don’t think you should ever limit yourself.
“I always thought that when we began, so I’ve been a producer on it for a couple of years now as well.
“I’ve been directing other stuff for a few years so I want to just do as much as I can, so you’re not saying I’m just doing this or that, but actually you can think about things in a different way and who in a way it’s better if you spend a lot of time on sets working with many different directors, writers, actors, producers then it gives you an insight which maybe not a lot of people would have.”
The new series of Endeavour will start on ITV on February 10.
TOTAL TV GUIDE - by Natalie Tambini
Shaun Evans slips into the room, full of smiles, his gentle Liverpudlian accent filling the air.
“It’s real!” he grins, as Total TV Guide marvels at his bristling moustache. “Try pulling it off! I don’t mind the ‘tache, but my family aren’t too keen.”
This series is set in 1969, and the facial hair is just one of many nods to a pre-Seventies theme as the Inspector Morse prequel returns. Shaggier hair and flares abound. Gone is the cosy Cowley police station – closed at the very end of the last series – with Endeavour (Shaun) and his former bosses Thursday and Bright demoted and split up. So does this sixth season feel like a reboot?
“To a degree,” says Shaun. “It gives everyone new conflict to play, which is the name of the game, and the new set is completely different. Often we have picturesque Oxford, and introducing brutalist architecture with hard edges and concrete brings a new dynamic to it. So does having two new bosses at the top of the tree.”
The last series ended with a real shocker – the death of DC George Fancy. The hunt for his killer continues through this four-part run, although it begins with Morse back in uniform and stuck out in the countryside, doing his rounds in a panda car.
“At first I was like, ‘God, this ****ing car, where’s the Jag?” smiles Shaun, 38. “But it’s good for the story for Endeavour to feel slightly humiliated.”
While Bright is on traffic duty, Thursday’s plans to retire are scuppered. He’s dropped down to DI and is in a concrete CID building with two unlikeable bosses – a freshly promoted DCI promoted Ronnie Box and his sidekick DS Alan Jago.
Does Thursday embrace the moustache and the flares? “Good Lord, no!” smiles Roger Allam, 65, who plays him. “There was a discussion about a wider tie, but I resisted that. People, especially of that generation, don’t say, ‘Oh God, I’ve got to change everything about my appearance.’ Indeed, it’s quite the opposite.”
As the plot opens with the cast members at different locations, both Shaun and Roger missed working so closely together with the regulars. “I’ve enjoyed this series less, to be honest,” admits Shaun. “It’s like we’re all passing ships, which I find a bit dissatisfying.”
Storylines include a killing in a picturesque-postcard village inspired by classic children’s shows Trumpton and Camberwick Green, a dead astrophysicist, a missing girl and a murdered librarian. The run has been reduced from last year’s six episodes to the usual four, and the second – themed around the Moon landings – is directed by Shaun.
“I thought that it might be trickier than it was, but I had shorthand with the cast and crew so that made it surprisingly efficient,” he says. “I want to feel like I’m continuing to do new things and not feel stale. You have to push yourself creatively.” So did any of the regulars take the mickey? “No! Thankfully. They were all incredibly supportive.”
Shaun is heavily involved in his character’s development, and with a new love interest popping up this season, he admits he’d like Endeavour to have a night of passion with ex [??] Joan, to end that storyline.
“Or maybe they begin a relationship and one of them says it’s not what they want. But everyone’s got an opinion!”
By the end of this run we find Endeavour in the house where he lives in Inspector Morse (not the actual house, as that has since been redeveloped). So is Endeavour becoming more like the damaged Morse we know? “We’re putting in the footings,” says Shaun. “We are coming to the end, so we have to start making a nod towards that. To be honest, you never know whether Endeavour will be recommissioned. The writer and the executive producer have an overview for it, but it’s always prudent to finish a series in a way which is satisfying, so if it is your last one, you don’t go, “Oh, s***, I wish I’d done this or that”.
Notoriously private, how does he cope with being recognized?
“I’m lucky, it rarely happens. I have a simple, quiet life. Also, the Endeavour audience are perhaps not people who would be up in your grill.
People say you’re cagey, like you have something to hide. I really don’t. I just value my private life, because if I don’t have that, I won’t be able to work. There’s very downtime when filming, so when you’re surrounded by people for long periods, it’s nice to have time to yourself.”
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
Shaun Evans returns in Endeavour – but what has life taught him since he left his last crime scene?
RADIO TIMES: Interview by MICHAEL HODGES
Locked away in the labyrinth of ITV’s London headquarters, Shaun Evans, so buttoned up when he plays Endeavour Morse, is giving vent to his passions. “I’m interested in stories,” he says, whacking the table with his hand. “What is it about people sitting around a campfire and telling each other tales to illuminate, to entertain, to educate, to inspire? And what about all the amazing histories and religions and books there are? In this line of work, you should know more about things. Does that make sense?” Sort of, I say, “Ah, right,” he exclaims, “you just want me to downplay everything!”
Really, I don’t want him to downplay anything. I’m just trying to keep up with a 38-year-old who pulses with enthusiasm of a man half his age. In our hour together he tells me about his decision to act as well as star in Endeavour, why he drives himself relentlessly to learn more about the world, the reason he doesn’t go boozing anymore, and just how much he cares for the people he works with. “I really love these guys”, he says of the Endeavour team.
He also asks me not to write anything that suggests he has anything but the utmost respect for his colleagues. “I’m always wary,” he says, “I’m just going to say that now.”
He’s wearing slimming dark navy trousers and a shirt, but there’s not an inch of fat on him. He looks like he does on television, focused and very serious. Evans has played Endeavour Morse, the younger version of the detective made famous by John Thaw, alongside Roger Allam’s DCI Fred Thursday, for seven years. With writer Russell Lewis and executive producer Damien Timmer, Evans is one of the key people who steers the hit show’s direction. “And Rog,” Evans adds.
Such is the chemistry between Evans and Allam, I suggest it’s their relationship, rather than the will-won’t-they tension between Endeavour and Thursday’s daughter Joan, that is the real romance at the heart of the show. “Yes,” says Evans, mulling this over as he mulls everything. “I’d agree.” They first appeared together in a 2012 pilot. Five full series followed, and now Endeavour is back for *six feature-length episodes, the second of which Evans has directed. Having directed episodes of the long-running medical drama Casualty before, Evans says he’s determined not be limited to acting. “Even if Endeavour was to end now I feel I’d be able to go and direct something and it wouldn’t be second best.”
The last series of Endeavour finished in disarray, when Lewis Peek’s rookie constable George Fancy was gunned down and WPC Shirley Trewlove, played by Dakota Blue Richards, left for Scotland Yard. Now the 1970s are in sight and hard drugs have hit Oxford. DCI Thursday, after postponing his retirement, is working under a thoroughly unpleasant and possibly corrupt new boss, and a rueful Morse is manning a rural station, back in uniform and sporting a large moustache. “When Fancy got killed, I thought Morse felt responsible for that,” Evans says, explaining the moustache. “So, there was an idea of asking, “What about not being able to look in the mirror? What would take you away from yourself?”
As ever with Endeavour it’s the atmosphere that matters. The souring of the 1960s is signaled by brutalist interiors and lots of Led Zeppelin, and the show also seems more willing to show the bullet holes and wounds than before. “Well, it’s always a compromise,” Evans says. “ITV have specific guidelines about what they want and don’t want to see at a certain time. But I think as a storyteller, you’re interested more in the darker aspect of things. Often, it’s where a lot of the gold is.”
The series, as complex as ever, is less concerned with tying everything up at the end; explaining what has happened has never really been what Endeavour is about. “That’s very astute,” says Evans, as if he has finally found someone who agrees with him. “I find it dissatisfying when I watch something and then walk away and I’m still thinking afterwards, ‘He bought those stamps and sent that letter, but how could he have done that?’ That annoys me. So I always seek clarification on that. Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don’t.”
Evans was born in Liverpool in 1980; his father was a taxi driver and his mother was a health worker. “My family originate from Ireland and that was a massive part of my culture growing up,” he says. “I feel as close an affinity with that as I do with being from Up North. One of the great things about being an actor is you can leave all of that behind – just crack on and do your work. Now I’ve lived in London as I lived there.” Does he worry about becoming a Londoner? “Yes, or of losing a big part of who you are. It’s funny, isn’t it? You spend so long pretending to be other people, then as soon as you go home you’re right back into it.”
When Endeavour began, Evans based his portrayal of young Morse’s voice on that of Michael Palin, another young northerner who found himself in Oxford in the 1960s. He still does. “I was listening to one of his CDs the other day. I get a new one for the series.”
I’m surprised to hear how much of Merseyside remains in Evans’s own voice. “For good or ill for someone in my game,” says Evans. “I was reluctant to do much press for this way back because I thought, ‘Well, as soon as people hear what you sound like, it’s game over, isn’t it?’ I like having a bit of separation.”
When he was 11 years old, he won a place at St Edward’s College, the highly academic Liverpool school run by the Christian Brothers. “I was raised as an Irish Catholic,” he says. “It’s always there, but I don’t really have any religion. I have a system of my own personal beliefs, which are informed by many different things. I’m kind of interested in studying the gospels but just as interested in the origins of Europe.
For half the year Evans is filming Endeavour; the other half is dedicated to a sort of restless search for knowledge that can take him around the world. “I can afford to take six months off,” he says. “I love my work. But if I’m not doing that, I’m taking pictures, I’m writing every day, reading books. The first job I ever had was in a camera shop, so taking pictures and being interested in photography and developing has always been a part of my life. Writing as well. I want to be better. I want to improve as best I can.”
Can he reveal any books, television series that may emerge from this creativity? “No, not right now” he says. “You would look like a prat if you said something and then it didn’t happen.”
Does he ever just take a break? “Of course. You do things that you like to do, but I also like to generate my own work as well, otherwise I’d just be sitting around. You need other things going on. In a way it makes no odds, regardless of how much you’re getting paid. That’s a by-product, isn’t it?”
That rather depends, I suggest, on how much you’re being paid. “I hear what you’re saying,” he concedes. “If you’ve got to run out and get another job. But I think it can be equally dangerous having that luxury, and damaging to someone in my line of work.
“For those six months there’s so many things that I’ve thought about that are interesting, and I want to make sure that I make the most of them. I’m also going to be working with different people, seeing different parts of the world and seeing how different people do different things – photographers and film-makers. And also studying the history of things as well. There’s so much to do…”
He doesn’t tell me if he has a partner, but I imagine Evans would be hard to go on holiday with. “Yes, a nightmare,” he says, “If I went and sat on a beach I’d last about two days.”
I wonder if he ever does anything that isn’t serious or intelligent? “Like what?” Deciding to drink yourself silly this weekend, perhaps. “I’ve done that,” he says, “It’s not like it doesn’t suit me. I just feel like time is of the essence, and I want to work. There have been times when I wasn’t as productive, but I don’t think I was as happy. I’ve realized what keeps me happy and what keeps me going. Seeing things, mates who inspire me to be creative. Not being hungover for four days, and losing those days? Drinking is amazing. I love all that but, right now, I’m into doing my work.”
And finally, I ask, will the series ever come full circle and end in 1987, when the original Morse began? “No,” he says with certainty. “We won’t do that.” Will there at least be another series? “If we reached the destination of the story in this series,” he says. “If we felt that we’d seen it all, then we all have to be brave and say, we’ve done that now.”
He ends as intensely as he began. Feeling a bit blown away, I take the wrong corridor when we part and go down a dead end. I turn back, round a corner and find Evans again. He’s hugging Roger Allam by the lifts.
From the ITV Press Pack
Where do we find Endeavour in the first episode of the new series?
“When the new series starts, Endeavour is back in uniform and on his own out in the sticks. Following the dissolution of Oxford City Police, he’s been stationed in a one-horse town in the countryside. He’s fairly isolated as he’s the only policeman there, but I think he’s quite happy with that. He’s still mourning the death of George Fancy which took place at the end of the last series.”
Is Fancy’s death something that’s explored in the new series? And where do we find the other members of the team following the changes at the end of the last series?
“This series deals with the fallout of Fancy dying and not being able to get to the bottom of who it was that did it. It also deals with the dissolution of the force and it ending on such a sour note.
“In terms of the rest of the team, everyone has been cast to the four winds. Endeavour in the countryside, Thursday at the new Castle Gate station, Bright in the Traffic department and Strange in a new role as well. There’s a lot of change and we see the reaction to this change.
“Their relationships with one another are completely fractured though and the first film is about seeing where everyone has landed in the interim, and the team finding their way back together.”
We see that Endeavour is sporting a new look in this series. What was the thinking behind this?
“With a character you’ve played for a long time, it’s nice to have a change. As we’re now in 1969 and about to enter a new decade, it also marks the transition towards the 1970s. He’s moving with the times.”
You have taken on the challenge of directing a film this series. How did this come about and was it a challenge taking on this new role?
“I had been directing for a couple of years prior and it seemed like the next natural step. I had expressed an interest in doing it and it just felt like the right time, so I decided to give it a go.
“I directed the second film in the new series and I’m pleased to say that as it’s such an amazing team, it all went very smoothly. Everyone within the crew and the cast pulls together and does the best work they can.
“I suppose the only challenge was going on to make the other films. whilst still working on and editing the film I directed at the same time. It’s tricky when you’re trying to keep your mind in a few stories simultaneously, but pain is temporary and I loved doing it - it was an incredible experience.”
Was it hindrance or a help directing other cast and crew you’d known for so long?
“For me, it was definitely a help. I’ve had such a good working relationship with all of the team over the past few years that I had a good idea about what each of the people would need and what would be the best way for us to work.
“The great thing about it was that you don’t have those first few days of getting to know each other and trying to find a way to work together. You know from the first scene the best way to tell the story and they’re all incredibly professional and brilliant at their jobs so fortunately for me, there were no problems.”
The series once again alludes to some of the key historical moments that took place in 1969 such as the moon landing in the second film. What do you feel this brings to the drama?
“I think it’s just nice to be able to take things that have gone on - whether it be the World Cup, Wimbledon or indeed the moon landing - and place them into the series. Personally, I was delighted with including the moon landing as it’s so interesting and it allows you to think more epically about the story. Also, if you allow that to inform the style, it can be more visually interesting, which was useful for me directing that film.”
How would you describe the visual style of the second film which you directed?
“There’s a particular colour palette which I’ve used, which is sort of borrowed from the night sky and the idea of the moon. I wanted to explore the macro and the micro, so you have people going to the moon but at the same time, you have a marionette show. You have something massive and awesome which is epic, and then the reality in the meantime - or the reality that we’re trying to create. There’s something about that which I find really interesting and it gives it a bit of breadth and size, I think.”
We’re now on the sixth series. How do you feel the character of Endeavour has evolved over this time and where do you see him going?
“In terms of evolution, I think one of the most monumental things we achieve this series is that we see Endeavour buy his own place in Oxford and it’ll be the same place that the later character of Morse (played by John Thaw) lives in. That, I think, is incredibly significant as it shows he’s committed to staying there, whereas in the past he’s been uncertain as to whether he should stay or go. That indecision has gone now, and it’s quite concrete that he’s settled there.”
The Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour, held in Los Angeles, included an appearance by Shaun Evans for MASTERPIECE "Endeavour" (season 6). During day one of the PBS portion (February 1-2) he attended the Masterpiece photo call alongside cast members from "Les Misérables" and "Mrs Wilson" and then, on Saturday, Shaun joined the Press Conference Panel along with "Grantchester" actor Tom Brittney and executive producer Rebecca Eaton.
Whilst reprising his titular role as Endeavour Morse, Shaun also put his directorial mark on the show, heading behind the camera for the second feature-length film in the new series. As the episode he directed was the first they shot this series, he had to edit it over the weekend before they moved onto filming the next episodes. The challenge was keeping a few episodes in his head while he was editing and acting in episodes at the same time, Shaun says. ‘It was an extraordinary experience’. As a director, he brought his photography books and showed the color palette & visual style he wanted to use in the episode. He says knowing what is important to a director gives him a sense of how an episode will turn out.
During the panel, Shaun opened up about playing the young detective Endeavour in the Inspector Morse prequel, noting that one has to keep pushing things and keep changing things up to keep the story interesting. The important part of Series 5 to Series 6 for "Endeavour" was taking the characters through a personal and professional humiliation, according to Shaun Evans.
The new series will see the young Morse embracing the fashion of the period by growing a moustache. Shaun didn't mind it at all. He liked it as something that could be done in the longform storytelling that "Endeavour" enjoys.
As for the ongoing emotional journey Endeavour has been having with Joan, Fred Thursday's daughter, Shaun Evans says he's been fighting for Morse and Joan to have a night of passion, and then Morse to wake up like "that's it?" and be dissatisfied. Because his path (as we know) is to be alone although, on change over the five series, Shaun feels maybe Morse isn't quite so much of a loner as he recognizes the importance of being part of the team.
When questioned if he watched American crime dramas, Shaun answered that the nature of his work ruins watching other shows (in the genre) since one can recognize what's coming. He likes nevertheless the Italian show "Inspector Montalbano”.
After seven years of playing the younger Endeavour Morse, Shaun Evans is still often questioned about whether he feels the pressure of taking over the role of the much beloved detective made famous by John Thaw. This panel was no exception and so, when asked if he felt like he was doing what John Thaw did, Shaun answered no as he hadn’t seen Thaw’s episodes and therefore wasn't working towards John Thaw's interpretation of the character. He says the writing is what should be working towards that eventual goal.
When he landed the role of a young Morse in Endeavour, Shaun Evans felt it important to make it his own and not do an impression of someone else's work. While he respected the original fans, he wanted to welcome a new generation as well. He thought it would shortchange the audience if he just did an impression of Thaw and so he has always gone his own way but "obviously with a huge amount of respect" for the original portrayer.
Shaun Evans aspires to being alive and spontaneous in the moment rather than a preconceived notion of what his character should be.
Endeavour is set to premiere February 10 in the UK and June 16 in the US.