[the title of this post is from the original text published on the author's site]
By NATALIA KUTSEPOVA 05 Jun 2019 PopMatters
When Shaun Evans was recruited to play young Morse, he had been acting for over ten years, yet it's Endeavour that's likely his magnum opus. In this interview, he discusses the defining work that not only allowed his acting talent to blossom but also nurtured his natural storytelling ability.
The connection is terrible, the hum and the crackle a memory of rotary phones and heavy receivers, of analog, slow time.
Hello, my friend, how are you?
We're with Shaun Evans, a British actor who plays the title role in ITV's Endeavour series. Endeavour is a meticulously crafted, slightly subversive prequel to Inspector Morse (1987-2000), a beloved crime-drama series based on Colin Dexter's detective novels of the same name.
By 2011, when Evans was recruited to play young Morse, he had been acting for over ten years, yet it's Endeavour that proved to be his magnum opus - a defining work that not only allowed his acting talent to blossom, but also nurtured his natural storytelling ability. As the series progressed, Evans quickly earned the job of an associate producer and eventually got his wished-for moon: the opportunity to direct Endeavour. His is "Apollo", the second of the four episodes of season six that airs on PBS this month.
Here Evans, a figure quite untypical for the high-profile television milieu, speaks of his creative process as both an actor and a director, of his (somewhat confusing) relationship with the character of DS Endeavour Morse, his earnest reluctance to live a celebrity's life, and his aspirations as a storyteller, which include writing and photography as well as acting and directing. In conversation, he is mercurial, unafraid, reactive, and - though hospitable - an island.
[Note: The moustache, being a very obvious/drastic change in Endeavour's appearance, seems to have hijacked 99% of popular discussion about season 6. Ever since the moustache appeared, Shaun had been asked about it in every single interview, without fail.]
This is not a question about the moustache...
One great thing about doing something long-form is that you can afford to change and open it up, you know? A person grows; nobody stays the same. So I think on a purely facile level it's just something new. [laughs] It's also something to do with Fancy's death, and with becoming a person that you weren't before.
A hair shirt of sorts? Self-punishment, no?
Yeah. Yeah, I think you're right. That's probably an element to that too, subconsciously.
You assumed parallel duties of acting and directing in season six of Endeavour; this was your first time directing yourself, too. Viewers, in general, tend to have a vague idea of what directing entails and how it's spliced together with other filmmaking roles - those of a writer, producer, production designer, DP, etc. As a director, what is it, exactly, that you do?
Basically, you have a script - along with the rest of the team. Everything is a collaboration, no one works in isolation, even the writers don't work in isolation, everything - when you're doing stuff for TV or film - is a collaboration. As a director, ultimately you see the script, and as the script is being reviewed and then re-drafted, you have ideas on your take on the script, a sort of outside point of view, which can then be incorporated in further drafts as the story progresses. Before you begin shooting, you hopefully have a kind of overall view of the film that you want to create. You then make a decision about locations - again, like I said, this is not in isolation, it's a part of collaborating - but you make decisions on both locations and on the choice of the cast and the guest artists and also on the costume.
You make all those decisions up front, run them by your team, and then you get to shooting: on each day you prepare where you're going to shoot, what the action is that's going to take place, how it's going to take place and how you can cover the scene in-camera. Again, you do that as part of a collaboration with people working on the shop floor, the DP and camera operator and the actors.
When that's finished, you assemble the material that you've shot and work in collaboration with the editor; you change scenes around, you change shots around. You have a fresh pair of eyes on what you have shot, to see if it's still in accordance with decisions you had at the beginning, though very rarely is that the case: oftentimes, something new will happen and you'll see a new avenue and follow that if it's more interesting than the original idea. Of course, you then work with the editor, and with the executive producer at that stage as well.
After that, you work with the composer: you watch it - well, this is how I tend to do it - silently first and stop at points where you feel there should be music, or there should be something to either help the story along or to give it bit of a background to help tell the story from a sonic point of view. The composer then goes away and does his work, you sit and review it, and then - in this case we went to studio in Abbey Road where the Beatles recorded some albums! - we recorded it with the full orchestra. You put that on and you're constantly tinkering again in collaboration with executive producers, and then you present it to the world and hope that people enjoy it. That's the director's point of view.
[Note: Evans directed the visually stunning "Apollo" that juxtaposes - painfully, in high relief and with use of puppets - humanity's reach for the moon and that same humanity's smaller passions, eventually prompting an ever-important question of which is the larger of two. Endeavour's production design has always been impeccable, but in "Apollo" the environment is elevated to a language rather than just a well-crafted background. The effect is slightly, yet unsettlingly, surreal; one of its visual vehicles is the very dramatic use of red in the frame.]
As an example of your involvement - who is responsible for the reds in "Apollo"?
All the red colours? That's part of your preparation; you're trying different things out. Some directors work this way, some don't. And that's marvelous, that all works, but I think you have to take responsibility for the visual way you're trying to tell a story, and that includes a colour palette, which will help you to tell the story in the way that is akin to the vision you had at the very beginning.
So, in our case, you work with the designers and say well, these are the colours that I like, this is the colour I think that should be, this is the atmosphere that I'm trying to create and I think that could be helped with this colour or that colour, you know? But then, each director gets to do that with his own film. It's not set.
It seems that some of your scenes in Endeavour were self-directed well before you assumed the director's role.
To be honest, I think if you're a good actor, then you're kind of directing the scene anyways, in your mind - or at least you're directing the character that you're playing: he would do this, I imagine I will come in from this entrance and I would say it in this way. Likewise, if you're a good director, then you've acted out each of the scenes and each of the characters' parts in your head anyway. So, I think, they go hand in hand.
I am always open to collaborating with the director that comes in. You want someone to tell you something: if you're self-directing as an actor, in isolation, I think it's kind of problematic. Just given the fact that the story is called "Endeavour" and I play, obviously, Endeavour, you have a strong sense - or, at least, I have a strong sense - of what's important in each of the stories and what's important in each of the scenes, where I've come from, where I'm going to, just really on a narrative level. So, of course, if I've done all that homework, it limits the options: you know what the scene's about, you know the most efficient, the most interesting way to tell the story, and so you are kind of... oh, I don't know, it's tricky what I'm trying to say now. It's not like you're self-directing, but you do have a strong idea of something. Of course, I'm always open to another way of doing things, but I guess you have to come in with an idea yourself in order to then be blown away by someone else's. That'd be easy though!
Do you ever argue with the director about, say, your vision of a scene?
Oh no, I never argue! Yeah, I will give my opinion, but I will always listen to their opinion as well. There shouldn't be a hierarchy; one solution should always present itself and make sense. For example, someone says, "You should come in from here", but it's not compatible with the scene that you haven't shot yet which you're shooting in three weeks' time, where you know that you're coming from somewhere else, then it makes sense.
The director has an enormous amount of things to think about, and if you're playing one part, then what you have to think about is different, and you think about it in a different way. A good director will allow actors - and every department, actually - the room to do their own work. There shouldn't ever really be cause for argument. There should be always cause for discussion though. I think, argument is good in one sense, inasmuch as you can really wrestle with "is this the right thing, is that the right entrance, if that's the right thing to be focusing on?" It's good to have a discussion - sometimes a frank, robust discussion - about it, because then you come to the truth of it, you know? And that can only ever be a good thing. But there always must be dialogue. I never argue.
The episode that you directed ["Apollo"] though second in series 6, was shot first. Looking from the outside, the quality of your self-awareness as an actor has been slightly new ever since. How did directing change your view of yourself as an actor and of other actors?
I've been directing for three or four years now, and, I think, it's not that you see yourself differently... as you grow, you understand the new way of doing things. But... yeah, I suppose it modifies [your outlook] and then, hopefully, your work evolves. My hope would be that your work as a storyteller evolves regardless of which hat you're wearing, do you know what I mean? Then you do it in a more precise way, so perhaps. Perhaps that's the case. Perhaps not as well, I don't know. But I also think that it should be something that's never visible.
Each of us is a cluster of information bits projected into the outside world. This is also true for fictional personalities, if they are articulated well enough. DS Endeavour Morse certainly is by now, thanks to Russell Lewis [Endeavour's writer] and you. Is he a job, separate, well-controlled thing? Or would you say that his personality exerts influence on you now?
That's a really good question! ... What I would say is... [pause] Thank you, first and foremost, for the compliment. My goal has always been - since I started acting nearly 20 years ago - to make each of these lines on a page into a living breathing character that has hopes, and dreams, and fears, that people can then relate to. I see that as my task. And you do that by your imagination. I don't believe in a sort of mystical - this is just me, personally - "being" you create which then can influence you. And, I suppose, this goes back to the question you asked me previously as well about [my] ambition as a storyteller.
The more you direct, the more you see the economy of a gesture. You become technically more proficient when you're watching things; you just need to do one thing in order to tell that part of the story. I don't need to create so much as an actor, I don't need to do... oh, I'm not being very clear. Perhaps it's not clear to me. Hang on for a second, let me just think about it. [ten seconds of s i l e n c e] You hope, as an actor - or I hope, as an actor - that you create the environment where you can do work that is believable and potentially inspired, right? So, you're not thinking about it too much. You put your mind into a different place. What would I want to achieve in this, what would I... ? So your mind is occupied with something else.
You couldn't allow... I mean, a character couldn't come and... Oh, I don't know what I'm saying. I'm just talking shit now. [laughs] I don't know what I'm saying anymore. Maybe it's not very clear to me. Yeah, perhaps it's not very clear to me. I don't really think about it too much, to be honest with you. [laughs] I don't really think about it, I just do it!
That's an answer enough! You used to say that playing Endeavour required effort to not just let it go and "play yourself". Does that still stand?
Yeah, it always requires effort, without a doubt it being because we're very different, d'you know what I mean? The character, the part and myself are very different. I suppose - going back to the moustache - it's another manifestation that, at this point, it shouldn't be too comfortable. If it becomes too comfortable, then it easily becomes boring, and it becomes boring for me. That's why you have to keep pushing yourself and keep challenging yourself both as a director, as a producer, and as an actor as well. You have to, even if it's not there in the writing.Fortunately for me, in this case, it is; but I'm involved with the story throughout the year so by the time it comes to shooting, things are in place and the story is advanced enough that it never feels like you're playing a character. Eeeee, you're playing yourself, you know? I feel like you should always be looking for the differences rather than similarity.
I'm not that interesting, bloody hell! This is a way more interesting character in a more interesting set of circumstances than myself, you know? And, I think, a good worker... [pause] I don't really want to be seen. I want my work to be invisible. So you just crack on, you just believe the character, you just believe that that person's there... I know you watch me on TV and whatnot, but I don't really want people to see me. If that makes any kind of sense.
It does make sense, yeah. Even though, having watched you work, I would say there's a little bit more of you in him now than it used to be... but I might be mistaken. You haven't taken an acting job outside of Endeavour for four years now, and I think there were only *two since 2012, why?
Well, I know that's because... I really love acting, I think it's an amazing job, but I've begun to be interested in different ways of telling stories that didn't involve me physically. As a result, I knew that I wanted to produce and direct more, and the only way to do that - I knew that ultimately wanted to direct an episode of Endeavour! - is to pay your due diligence and go and do work, so you learn your trade, you know? You're going to keep learning your trade, so I purposefully created this... I was fortunate enough to be in a situation where, as soon as Endeavour finished, I could go and learn how to direct on a different show for the BBC, and I was afforded that opportunity.
It takes you a long time to learn and to get good at a thing, you know? You have to keep practicing and keep practicing, so I filled the time in between Endeavour with directing, which was an amazing experience. I think, like I said earlier, it's the two sides of the same coin; if you learn to tell the story both as an actor, and a director... and a producer, then you are still telling a story. There's something about it which just works for me. It felt like a natural evolution.
Don't get me wrong, it'd be nice to play - I am kind of looking for something now, another part to play, but I do feel like time is precious and you ought to look for where and what is going to challenge you. After working all day every day - after what I think was 20 weeks or 30 weeks, or however long it takes to make Endeavour - I felt a bit exhausted... not exhausted, exactly, but I just felt, what would be the next thing, what would be challenging? I've just been acting for 12 hours a day on that job, for 20 weeks straight; what would challenge me and push me? So, I'm throwing myself into an environment which doesn't make you feel comfortable, like directing. Directing other actors, learning how to speak to the crew, and how to set up shots and all that - I felt more scared by that, I felt more daunted by that, and I thought... whoa, these are the things that make you go and do that.
What's your visual "home", or homes, if any? A visual space that you feel an affinity with, perhaps, be it a movie, or a director's style, or an artist's vision that's close to your heart?
Oh, that's a good question. Again, look, I think inspiration is everywhere, and we're all, each of us - whether we know it or not - completely influenced by so many things. There are a few directors [whose] work I admire greatly; likewise, there are a lot of writers [whose] work I admire greatly, and photographers. I suppose, for me personally, that's always been...
The first time I ever had a job was in a camera shop! So I've always been incredibly interested in photography for two reasons, really. I think, when we talk about economy of storytelling, that could be the best way. If you can tell the story in one picture, or a selection of pictures, that is a sort of a precursor to the work that we do anyways, so when I prepare my work as a director - and sometimes as an actor as well, and occasionally as a producer - I always have a visual sort of template. I may be inspired by one particular photographer, but for whatever the job is, I bring hundreds of photographs,'cause that speaks to me more and it's an easy way to articulate whatever it is you're trying to create yourself. There's hundreds, there's really hundreds of photographers that I really like. Yeah - this, this, this, this, and this.
Speaking of photography, The Liverpool Art Book project has shared your contribution online recently; is this is the first time your artwork is being shown in public?
Yeah. This is going to change. But I'm kind of very private about that because I think, like I said earlier... I love photography and I love working, but prior - up to this point - I always felt like you have to keep a little bit of something for yourself, you know? And both photography and writing I really enjoy as my own pastime. Now I feel like I would like to make exhibitions and perhaps make a book.
That's something I'm up for doing next, to make an exhibition and make a book of the prints that I've done. Or even just a little book, perhaps, of short stories... and maybe the photographs would be accompanied by short stories. The reason I want to do that is because everywhere I go I always have a camera with me, and always have a notebook and pen. There's something very simple about it, about having that complete agency over your work as a storyteller.
I suppose, what I seek now after being in the middle of a big team of people for a long period of time - which is wonderful! - is just singularity and a bit of agency over what I do: this is the story that I want to tell in these words, and this is the story that I want to tell in these images, or, this is how I see this particular thing, you know? Just as me, just as a person. This is my take on that, this is an idea that I have - without having to turn it into a film or a TV show, or a play, or whatever. But just as an offering: there's my offering, my take on this.
So, the Liverpool art book... Originally, they asked me for a quote. They sent me a couple of pages of the book and asked me - because I'm also from Liverpool - if I would be interested in making a quotation for it. And I said, yeah, cool, no worries, but sent them a selection of my photographs instead. Actually, I was in Liverpool a couple of weeks ago, so I just shared it with them and they were like - yeah, amazing, we'll include this in the book, is it OK with you? So I thought well, it's happened so swiftly and fortuitously that I should just embrace it, run with it, you know?
Wonderful. I would like to say that your photographs are particularly terrific.
Thank you so much. This is really really appreciated.
Oh, yeah. They're wonderful. Wonderful.
Is there a special significance to the photograph that you contributed to the "Liverpool art book"?
There sort of is. I was thinking about the story that I was writing, a story about a soldier who returns to Liverpool and has a sort of connection to the river and water. I did it because Liverpool is my home; I don't live there, but that's the place that I go to when I need to just have a bit of time for myself, see my family. There's something about returning to the source.
So my idea - or the thing that I was toying with - was the source of that particular river, its tributaries, and where it begins... I was doing a bunch of research into that and thinking how that would fit in with both how I see why Liverpool itself, as a place, is useful and important to me, and how it could be important to this character that I was thinking about having in the story. So I frequently went down to just see the river, and like I said, I always have a camera with me. So I was just compelled to take some pictures and then make something out of it, you know? It's all just evolved; it was kind of like a sketchbook for the story I was writing, to be honest. [laughs]
What camera do you use for everyday shooting?
A Leica... It's a film camera, I've got a Leica M3 and a Leica M6, both of which I always have on me. Both of them are film; one I tend to use more for black and white and one I use for colour, and then I develop them myself. Yeah, just a little Leica with a very simple lens. I don't want to be bogged down with all the equipment and all the different lenses, I just think - get in and get out, you know? What camera do you use?
A Canon DSLR. Everything happens in post. I do love film, but the last time I developed a roll myself was when I was ten years old. Should, maybe, get back to that.
[laughs] Ah, but you do what works for you. Each has pros and cons, I think.
You are not using social media at all, but how is it with you and media in general? News, politics, popular TV shows, whatever else is current? It can, I suppose, get very loud - to the point where you have to shield yourself from it...
I'm kind of selective about what I choose to expose myself to in that regard, but I think it's incredibly important. You can't work in isolation, like I said, I feel like I'm always consistent about collaborating and talking about big and little things. It's important to any storyteller to be a part of their time. As to me, I do do that, I'm very much abreast of current affairs. And the world interests me. I love being in the world. [laughs] I love being right here right now, that's a part of telling stories, part of writing, part of photography, part of being an actor, part of being a director, it's all about understanding the times, so yes, I do keep abreast of that.
I've sort of flirted with Instagram and Twitter and all that, but it's probably only purely from a voyeuristic point of view. Like I said, what I'm interested in is for people to just enjoy the work. Whatever medium it takes, it's good to just enjoy the work and perhaps get something out of it or perhaps not. But for me personally, it's not a means to... it's not for me to be... I'm not sure how to say this. I don't need attention. [laughs] I would like my work to get attention, and of course there's some degree of yourself that you have to put out there in order to facilitate that, to make it happen, but I'm not interested in letting people know about what I had for breakfast. I just choose to live that way. But I'm also very much a part - and that's not answering your question, is it? - yeah, I know what's going on in the world, I suppose is what I'm saying. I think that's important.
Was there anything today, even if very small, that made you look, made your heart skip a beat, but you haven't told anyone about it yet?
You know what, today, to be totally honest with you, has been a magnificent day. I got up super early, went into town with my camera to take a few pictures on my way to a talk that a photographer was doing... Susan Meiselas, she's just won the - I don't know how to pronounce it! - the Börse prize. I don't know if she won it? Yeah, I think she won it. In any event, she was opening an exhibition and doing a talk this morning, so I went into town early to see that. And as I got into town, the light was just particularly incredible, it kind of was amazing.
Right after that, I went for a coffee - just to get a bit of breakfast 'cause it was, probably, 8am - and I was planning a trip. I'm going to go on a trip soon, and I was planning it in my notebook, and then [it turned out that] a guy at a counter lived there, at the place where I was going to go. And It was just beautiful too; I ended up asking him what it was like there and if he could give me any tips. It was one of those amazing mornings. Everything had a flow.
Oh, and there's a stray question about "Apollo" that I wanted to ask. Last one - and a bit of a teaser for the American viewers who are yet to watch the new season. There is a scene with Joan Thursday in which DS Endeavour Morse goes completely outside of his character; we've never seen him like this, ever. What's behind this?
As I said, everything is a part of a collaboration. That particular scene was written - and we shot it - two seasons ago. There's something which happened in the story, and we shot it in a very different way (we were in a car). We shot it, but when it came to the crunch, it didn't fit into the story. Everyone thought it was a little bit too bleak which, to be honest, I agreed with. And then it turned up again, almost verbatim, in my story.
I thought, maybe there has to have been enough water under the bridge between the two of them that it would warrant that level of aggression. So we shot it and then, in the edit, I toyed with having it in and, I then took it out to see if it would work without it, and it worked equally well without. I did feel like it would be nice to keep them moving on. Not everything needs to be explained. It's good to surprise. Sometimes I surprise myself, we all surprise ourselves and we surprise each other, right? So, you know, why not?
" Are we good, my friend? Have to shoot," says Evans but forgoes no courtesy as we pick up loose ends. He asks, among other things, about this year's run of the project I've worked on that distributes an unofficial Endeavour calendar in lieu of donations to War Child. He helped by signing a few copies, which made for a spectacular increase in contributions. Fame - though an ill-fitting word in Evans' case - at work, in the way that won't damage a state of not being seen. His goodbye wishes are many and warm, as if to equip one for a long journey. Yep, we are good.
*1. Sir Richard Worsley (Lady Seymour Worsley husband) in The Scandalous Lady W (Sheree Folkson, 2015), an 18th century drama detailing the scandalous life of Lady Seymour Worsley,based on Hallie Rubenhold's book, The Scandalous Lady W: An Eighteenth-Century Tale of Sex, Scandal and Divorce.
2. Tom, a government official in War Book (Tom Harper, 2014), a drama depicting eight government officials act out their potential response and decisions in a simulated war game scenario in which escalation of nuclear threat between India and Pakistan leads to nuclear war and quite likely the end of the world.
Season 6 of Endeavour airs on PBS stateside mid-June. Season 7 - likely to be the series' last - is set to begin filming in late summer.
Having chanced upon Endeavour in early 2017, I became very intrigued by Evans' performance and, as a photographer, felt compelled to study his process of character creation the best way I knew how - by taking pictures. Nina Kharchenko shared my curiosity; we began visiting the set of Endeavour in Oxford to photograph the filming two years ago. In the fall of 2018, an exhibition of our behind-the scenes photos ran at the Jam Factory in Oxford. The exhibition was titled "Endeavourneverland", and we share the pictures on social media under the same name; we are, one might say, a tiny creative collective. The images for this article were taken during the filming of series 6 in August and October 2018.
ITV Press Centre
Morse returns for a seventh series of Endeavour.
ITV has confirmed that hit detective drama Endeavour has been recommissioned for a seventh series. The announcement follows critical acclaim and consistently strong viewing figures for the most recent series.
Produced by leading indie Mammoth Screen in partnership with PBS Masterpiece, the successful series charts the early career of the young Endeavour Morse, played by acclaimed actor, Shaun Evans. The new set of films will see Evans reprise his role alongside celebrated star of stage and screen, Roger Allam as mentor DI Fred Thursday.
Written once again by Russell Lewis, who has penned all of the 27 Endeavour screenplays to date, the new series will be set in 1970 and production will begin later this year for transmission in 2020. Filming will take place in Oxford and the surrounding area.
Creator Russell Lewis says: “We’re thrilled ITV has asked #TeamEndeavour to continue to add to the Casebook of Colin Dexter’s immortal creation, and take E. Morse and Oxford’s Finest into a new decade of decimalisation, package holidays, the Oil Crisis, Blackouts, Three Day Weeks, and Europa Endlos.”
Mammoth Screen’s Managing Director, Damien Timmer added: “We’ve been thrilled with the response to Series 6 – it's testament to Russell Lewis’ continuing cleverness and also the brilliant partnership between Shaun Evans and Roger Allam as Endeavour Morse and Fred Thursday. The 1970s are calling us, and we can’t wait!”
Head of Drama at ITV, Polly Hill commented: “We’re incredibly proud of Endeavour and delighted to have recommissioned the drama for a seventh series. Writer and creator Russell Lewis continues to engage viewers with carefully crafted stories for Endeavour and Thursday as we move into the 1970s. We’re grateful to the production team at Mammoth Screen for continuing to deliver such a high quality drama.”
Recently voted the fourth greatest British crime drama of all time in a poll conducted by Radio Times, the drama has gone from strength to strength since its first outing as a one-off film in 2012. The latest series launched with a consolidated audience of 6.9m and a 27% share, marking Endeavour’s biggest audience since 2014.
Mammoth Screen’s Damien Timmer and Helen Ziegler will act as executive producers for the seventh series, alongside writer and creator Russell Lewis and WGBH’s Rebecca Eaton. The new set of films will distributed by ITV Studios Global Entertainment internationally.
ENDEAVOUR 2019 star Shaun Evans has been as sharp as ever during the sixth instalment of the Inspector Morse saga. However, with the series coming to an end this evening, will there be another?
By Charlie Milward - SUNDAY EXPRESS
Shaun, 38, has starred in the leading role of Endeavour Morse since the prequel to Inspector Morse (played by John Thaw) began on ITV with a TV film in 2012.
Six series later, Endeavour (played by Shaun Evans) has continued to crack some tough cases, with the fourth and final of the current episodes coming to a conclusion this evening.
The finale will see DI Morse and his partner Fred Thursday (Roger Allam) investigate the murder of a librarian which leads to some shocking fallouts as the case spirals into something much greater.
Ahead of the final episode, Endeavour star Evans has spoken out about the future of the show and has revealed whether viewers can expect to see another series.
Speaking to Radio Times, Evans revealed it was unlikely the series would continue all the way through to 1987, where fans of the original Inspector Morse series saw the late John Thaw’s portrayal of the detective come to light.
Explaining the decision not to follow through with the timeline, Evans said: “No. We won’t do that.”
Teasing the return of his younger portrayal of the DI, the actor revealed there would only be another series “if we reached the destination of the story in this series".
“If we felt that we’d seen it all, then we all have to be brave and say, we’ve done that now,” Evans added.
Although Evans revealed the show won’t tie in with the crossover to Inspector Morse, future series' could see the detective step into the 1970s and the early 80s, with viewers seeing further challenges the DI had to face before Thaw’s time.
With the current and previous series set in the 1960s, seeing Morse as he matures even further could reveal more about the character's past.
The sixth series saw Evans also step behind the camera as the star of the show directed the second episode of the current block.
This isn’t the actor's first directing credit as he also took on an episode of BBC medical drama Casualty in the past.
If the detective drama were to come to an event after the current series, Evans admitted he would continue with directing alongside his acting career.
With the potential of another saga of crimes for Morse to uncover, the sixth instalment began with an expected twist as the Endeavour and his mentor Thursday were seen working alone after the previous series saw them solving crimes side by side.
Thursday actor Roger Allam, 65, spoke about the sudden divide between the characters which saw his character demoted as he was sent to work away from the Oxford City Police division.
“Morse starts off in uniform in Woodstock. And Thursday is at a new station; he’s been bumped down a rank, and he’s under the command of Box, who’s a younger, aggressive Sweeney-type, shall we say.
“He’s tempting Thursday with bribes, with a bung. Obviously, he’s in a bit of a vulnerable position, and so he’s tempted by Box with that,” Allam explained to Radio Times.
However, the split was brief as tonight will see the pair tackle another case, with the synopsis for the episode reading: “The detective investigates the murder of a librarian, and suspicion immediately falls on two professors connected to each other by a seemingly innocent college bequest.
“As Endeavour and Thursday dig deeper, they uncover a web of professional and personal rivalries, and a series of broken promises with a grim connection to the Holocaust.
“There are further casualties in the recent series of heroin-related deaths, and Strange is convinced that a larger criminal conspiracy is at work as evidence emerges of a link to the murder of George Fancy.”
Endeavour concludes tonight at 8pm on ITV.
Shaun Evans directs what may be Endeavour's best episode to date in Apollo.
DEN OF GEEK – contributed by Gem Wheeler
July 20th, 1969: Apollo 11 makes its historic landing on the Moon’s surface. As a turbulent decade draws to its close, one lone figure takes one giant leap for his species, watched by millions huddled around black-and-white TV sets. And, in an ancient city back on that distant homeworld, another man is returning from a very different kind of isolation, only to find nothing quite as he left it.
Endeavour’s in its sixth series now, a point at which most shows find themselves floundering a little. Characters, no matter how well-crafted, begin to exhaust their potential; scenarios, however compelling they may once have been, start to lose their intrigue as plot threads fray into irrelevance or are brutally cut. It’s a tough line to tread: paying due respect to established relationships while giving the treasured snowglobe just enough of a shake to keep things fresh.
Apollo, the second film in series six, is a masterclass in how to do just that. Even after all this time, Endeavour – both the show and the character, it transpires – is still in the game.
The deaths of up-and-coming astrophysicist Adam Drake (Ben Wainwright) and his girlfriend Christine Chase (Katie Faye) in a car accident seem, on the face of it, to be tragic but uncomplicated. Appearances, however, can’t pull the wool over the indispensable Max DeBryn’s eyes for long. Drake certainly perished in the crash, but the pattern of lividity on Christine’s face indicates that she didn’t die at the scene. Endeavour and Fred develop a theory, nurtured by DCI Box, for whom every case is an open-and-shut-job: or at least, one that’ll close with a well-placed thump. Drake killed the girl for reasons unknown, then crashed his car deliberately in a tidy murder-suicide. Stranger things, and all that.
Mechanic Mac (Ross Boatman) puts a spanner firmly in the works with the revelation that Drake’s brakes had been tampered with. It soon emerges that the car wasn’t his, but had been borrowed from his colleague, Larry Humbolt (Sargon Yelda), who, along with his volatile wife, Isobel (Sophie Winkleman), attended the party Drake and Christine attended on the night they died. This divided couple, along with the party’s hosts, Elliott Wingqvist (Oliver Chris) and his languid spouse, Natalie (Alice Orr-Ewing), present a youthful, glamorous side of Oxford’s academic life that swings, as it turns out, in more ways than one.
Drake’s rising star had also hitched itself to another booming business: television, and more specifically, a sci-fi puppet show – lovingly, and delightfully, recreated here – that bears more than a passing resemblance to the works of the legendary Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. When Morse questions Jeff and Hildegard Slayton (Matthew Cottle and Mary Stockley) about Drake’s role as scientific advisor on their popular programme, it soon emerges that the womanising scientist wasn’t quite as clean-cut as he appears. As marionettes inch their clumsy way across a replica lunar landscape, their small steps manipulated by husband-and-wife team, Eric and Marilyn Gidby (Robert Hands and Terenia Edwards), a grimmer picture develops.
Scandal in Oxford’s leafy suburbs, Morse in fine sleuthing form, and a last-minute twist that upends our cosy assumptions about guilt and innocence. So far, so Endeavour, surely? In theory, yes. In practice, Apollo is perhaps the series’ finest hour to date. Everything just works: Russell Lewis’s script, poignant and pointed; Matthew Slater’s score, best described as out of this world; and, above all, Shaun Evans’ superbly stylish direction. Endeavour’s always been fortunate in its directors, but its leading man’s stint behind the camera is a true standout. With an eye both detached and empathetic, he shows us just what can be achieved when an actor, with a unique perspective on characters, cast and setting acquired on the other side of the lens, gets the chance to call the shots.
Not content with helming one of the series’ finest episodes, Evans also reveals new depths of light and shade in Endeavour Morse. The delicate, bookish youth of the early days has been through quite the wringer, and it shows. The morose stare, the chippy, take-no-prisoners wit, the suppressed rage. Fresh, yet familiar, because we’ve met this Morse – or rather, an older version of him – before. The man John Thaw came to embody is taking shape before our eyes, yet the transition’s been seamless. There’s a nice gag in the mortuary, when DeBryn bids both Fred Thursday and Endeavour farewell. “Inspector. Morse.” He will be, soon enough.
Most impressive of all is the breadth of the characterisation here. Fred, struggling wordlessly with Win’s emotional distance; Bright, cut to the quick by the mockery of his subordinates, and so touchingly responsive to a little kindness; Strange, attempting to hide his covert investigation into Fancy’s murder from Morse, and failing miserably; Joan, eager to prove her worth in her new job and infuriated by Endeavour’s resentful sarcasm. Like the constellations Humbolt points out to his eager kids, Flora and Matthew (Sasha Willoughby and Gabriel Payne, a delightful picture of sibling solidarity), each star burns with its own brightness, now and then dimmed by some inner turmoil, the patterns of their motion only visible from a far distance.
There’s a wonderful moment when Morse first encounters Gabriel Van Horne (Blake Ritson, all inscrutable charm) in his pristine sanctum of new-age codswallop, favoured by Drake’s smart set. Morse jumps at the sound of women screaming in unison, only to find a room full of adepts practising their primal yells. It’s a deliciously unsettling jolt in an episode full of pleasant surprises, and expertly releases some of the tension that’s been steadily building.
The bleached-out sterility of the cultish surroundings is in sharp contrast to the inky darkness of that later memorable night on which we leave Endeavour, and on which three men, far from home, face their destiny as a certain someone’s future crossword clues. Flora, safe now from her wretched parents, tells him of a Cherokee legend, that of the Moon-Eyed People of North Carolina, who could only see by night. Perhaps he’s one of them, she wonders aloud.
Perhaps she’s right. Or perhaps it’s that lonely sun, still in the ascendant, that guides him on his way.
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.”