OXFORD MAIL - by Andrew Ffrench
OXFORD’S favourite detective, Endeavour Morse, is returning to the nation’s TV screens in a sixth series.
Four new episodes of the Inspector Morse prequel have been filmed and will start on ITV on Sunday at 8pm.
The new series will return to the 1960s and feature Shaun Evans as DS Morse alongside Roger Allam as DI Fred Thursday and Anton Lesser as CS Reginald Bright.
Following the dissolution of Oxford City Police the latest instalment is set in 1969 and picks up with the team as they find their feet in various new roles.
Scenes were shot at various locations in and around Oxford including colleges such as St Edmund Hall.
The sixth instalment of the popular drama has once again been written by Endeavour creator Russell Lewis, who has penned each of the 27 screenplays, based on the character created by Oxford author Colin Dexter, who died in 2017.
Mr Lewis said: “All of us involved in making Endeavour have always wanted to keep the show fresh, moving forward, and pushing the boundaries of what a cosy whodunnit might encompass.”
The four new episodes are entitled Pylon, Apollo, Confection and Deguello, with the second episode, about the moon landing, directed by Shaun Evans himself.
Producer Deanne Cunningham said Morse would find himself back in uniform at the start of the new series and throughout the episodes his team would be ‘like magnets, drawn back together again’. She added that a new ‘Flying Squad-style of policing was anathema to Morse and Fred’.
Ms Cunningham said everyone working on set enjoyed the reception from film fans in Oxford. She added: “It can be challenging when you are filming and you get big crowds gathering but we always get a fantastic welcome.”
Mr Allam said his character did not find himself in a happy place at start of series six. He added: “Things are not good at home - there is empty nest syndrome and he has been bumped down in rank.”
Mr Lesser said CS Bright was also experiencing his own problems. “He has been reduced to watching traffic and his wife is diagnosed with cancer. Everything in his world is reversing and collapsing and we get to see a bit more of the man behind the uniform - I think audiences love that.”
Mr Evans said directing an episode seemed like the ‘next natural step’. He added: “I had expressed an interest in doing it and it felt like the right time.”
ECHO NEWS - By Press Association 2019
Endeavour star Shaun Evans has said the new series will see his character eventually move into the flat occupied by Inspector Morse.
Evans, who plays the young DC Endeavour Morse in the hit show, a prequel to the series Inspector Morse, said the upcoming sixth series set in the 1960s will bring the timeline closer to the start of the series starring John Thaw.
Discussing the prospect of a seventh instalment, he said: “ITV has asked us to do another series, but they only asked us on Friday.
“I think it’s important for us to get together and have a chat about it, just to see what the story is, see where the story goes.
“By the end of this one, I move into the flat that Morse ends up living in. By the end of it I certainly put down roots, so I wonder what that means.”
The new series also sees Evans direct an episode and he said: “It wasn’t too bad, I think, it was interesting, and it was an incredible experience as well.
“It’s great acting and it’s great directing, then if you can mix the two where you know the team and you have shorthand with everyone and also you know the sort of the timbre of the stories as well.
“It was actually a joyous experience to be honest, and it was great as an actor and a director in separate ways to be forced to approach things in a specific way was just good for me personally, you know.”
He continued: “I’ve always been interested in it. I just think that you can at the moment you can do anything, it’s a good time for TV and for storytelling in general and I just don’t think you should ever limit yourself.
“I always thought that when we began, so I’ve been a producer on it for a couple of years now as well.
“I’ve been directing other stuff for a few years so I want to just do as much as I can, so you’re not saying I’m just doing this or that, but actually you can think about things in a different way and who in a way it’s better if you spend a lot of time on sets working with many different directors, writers, actors, producers then it gives you an insight which maybe not a lot of people would have.”
The new series of Endeavour will start on ITV on February 10.
TOTAL TV GUIDE - by Natalie Tambini
Shaun Evans slips into the room, full of smiles, his gentle Liverpudlian accent filling the air.
“It’s real!” he grins, as Total TV Guide marvels at his bristling moustache. “Try pulling it off! I don’t mind the ‘tache, but my family aren’t too keen.”
This series is set in 1969, and the facial hair is just one of many nods to a pre-Seventies theme as the Inspector Morse prequel returns. Shaggier hair and flares abound. Gone is the cosy Cowley police station – closed at the very end of the last series – with Endeavour (Shaun) and his former bosses Thursday and Bright demoted and split up. So does this sixth season feel like a reboot?
“To a degree,” says Shaun. “It gives everyone new conflict to play, which is the name of the game, and the new set is completely different. Often we have picturesque Oxford, and introducing brutalist architecture with hard edges and concrete brings a new dynamic to it. So does having two new bosses at the top of the tree.”
The last series ended with a real shocker – the death of DC George Fancy. The hunt for his killer continues through this four-part run, although it begins with Morse back in uniform and stuck out in the countryside, doing his rounds in a panda car.
“At first I was like, ‘God, this ****ing car, where’s the Jag?” smiles Shaun, 38. “But it’s good for the story for Endeavour to feel slightly humiliated.”
While Bright is on traffic duty, Thursday’s plans to retire are scuppered. He’s dropped down to DI and is in a concrete CID building with two unlikeable bosses – a freshly promoted DCI promoted Ronnie Box and his sidekick DS Alan Jago.
Does Thursday embrace the moustache and the flares? “Good Lord, no!” smiles Roger Allam, 65, who plays him. “There was a discussion about a wider tie, but I resisted that. People, especially of that generation, don’t say, ‘Oh God, I’ve got to change everything about my appearance.’ Indeed, it’s quite the opposite.”
As the plot opens with the cast members at different locations, both Shaun and Roger missed working so closely together with the regulars. “I’ve enjoyed this series less, to be honest,” admits Shaun. “It’s like we’re all passing ships, which I find a bit dissatisfying.”
Storylines include a killing in a picturesque-postcard village inspired by classic children’s shows Trumpton and Camberwick Green, a dead astrophysicist, a missing girl and a murdered librarian. The run has been reduced from last year’s six episodes to the usual four, and the second – themed around the Moon landings – is directed by Shaun.
“I thought that it might be trickier than it was, but I had shorthand with the cast and crew so that made it surprisingly efficient,” he says. “I want to feel like I’m continuing to do new things and not feel stale. You have to push yourself creatively.” So did any of the regulars take the mickey? “No! Thankfully. They were all incredibly supportive.”
Shaun is heavily involved in his character’s development, and with a new love interest popping up this season, he admits he’d like Endeavour to have a night of passion with ex [??] Joan, to end that storyline.
“Or maybe they begin a relationship and one of them says it’s not what they want. But everyone’s got an opinion!”
By the end of this run we find Endeavour in the house where he lives in Inspector Morse (not the actual house, as that has since been redeveloped). So is Endeavour becoming more like the damaged Morse we know? “We’re putting in the footings,” says Shaun. “We are coming to the end, so we have to start making a nod towards that. To be honest, you never know whether Endeavour will be recommissioned. The writer and the executive producer have an overview for it, but it’s always prudent to finish a series in a way which is satisfying, so if it is your last one, you don’t go, “Oh, s***, I wish I’d done this or that”.
Notoriously private, how does he cope with being recognized?
“I’m lucky, it rarely happens. I have a simple, quiet life. Also, the Endeavour audience are perhaps not people who would be up in your grill.
People say you’re cagey, like you have something to hide. I really don’t. I just value my private life, because if I don’t have that, I won’t be able to work. There’s very downtime when filming, so when you’re surrounded by people for long periods, it’s nice to have time to yourself.”
TV TIMES - by Caren Clark
Stars Anton Lesser, Shaun Evans and Roger Allam on the dilemmas and demons our heroes face as they reach 1969…
Inside a former school in Hertfordshire, TV Times turns down a corridor and we suddenly find ourselves in an Oxford police station with dark walls and grey telephones, yellow lamps and full ashtrays on the desks.
In a corner, DS Endeavour Morse is talking to CS Reginald Bright about how the good times with their old team feel a lifetime ago…
Today we’re watching filming for the sixth run of Inspector Morse prequel Endeavour. It’s now 1969 and the stark new station and the cops’ memories reflect the impact of the changes afoot for Endeavour (Shaun Evans), newly demoted DI Fred Thursday (Roger Allam), and Bright (Anton Lesser).
During a break in filming, Shaun, 38, Roger, 65, and Anton Lesser, who turns 67 on 14 February, tells TV Times how the shifting times will affect their characters…
A Brave New World
At the end of the last series saw the team’s former police station in Cowley close as Oxford City Police merged with Thames Valley Constabulary.
Now, Endeavour is in the sticks, Fred’s at Castle Gate CID, DS Jim Strange (Sean Rigby) is in Banbury and CS Reginald Bright (Anton Lesser) has been sidelined into traffic.
Shaun Evans: “Things are moving forward and everyone’s disparate, which keeps things fresh. I don’t enjoy not being with Anton, Roger and Sean! Endeavour’s in uniform and isolated at a country police station in Woodstock. You’d think he’d be happy with nobody bothering him. But he’s in charge of smaller, mundane cases. He doesn’t feel stretched. Events bring him back, though, and the overarching story about who killed DC George Fancy (Lewis Peek) last series also requires our joint brainpower.
Roger Allam: I missed not having as many scenes with Shaun, too. Fred took the fall for Fancy’s death; it plays on his mind. In the first episode, he also looks back to an old case of a hanged man. I had to have younger make-up for the flashbacks!
Anton Lesser: It’s sad for Bright as his status is gone. He’s a laughing stock because of a commercial he makes about pelican crossings. Filming with a real pelican, I was apprehensive but we fell in love!
Problems with Authority
A fresh broom is also sweeping through the team, as Thursday’s new boss, former robbery-squad cop DCI Ronnie Box (Simon Harrison), who has previously clashed with Endeavour, and Box’s sidekick DS Alan Jago (Richard Riddell), have an entirely different approach to policing…
Shaun Evans: Box and Jago are alpha male and physical, which reflects men of the era. Simon and Richard are brilliant and bring a new dynamic. They all rub each other up the wrong way and Endeavour still has attitude. It also echoes the new station set because we often see picturesque Oxford, but this building is all hard edges and concrete.
Roger Allam: Yes, neither the brutalist building nor Box’s aggressiveness are Fred’s style, but he’s knuckling down in order to respect rank. Even Box admits Fred should be at his desk, so he has respect but he’s seen as old-fashioned. Fred tries to get in step with them when they ask him to beat someone up…
All three face problems in their private lives. While Endeavour can’t avoid his former love, Thursday’s daughter Joan (Sara Vickers), Thursday has marital issues and Bright’s wife makes her debut.
Shaun Evans: Joan wasn’t interested so now he barely gives her the time of day because he’s hurt. But in one case, they need each other’s help to save two kids so they’re in and out of each other’s lives. There’s another interesting romance though. But he always goes towards a femme fatale…”
Roger Allam: Things are bad with Fred’s wife Win (Caroline O’Neill). She wanted him to retire but he can’t as he’s in financial difficulty after he was done out of money by his brother. With son Sam in the Army and Joan not at home, it is an empty nest. Home’s a chilly place…
Anton Lesser: We’ve heard about Mrs Bright, but we’d never seen her. We had fun imagining Bright going home and being Mrs Bright and putting on a twinset and pearls! But she’s real and she turns up, played by Carol Royle. It brings emotion for Reg.
… about the ‘tache
TV Times: Endeavour has a moustache this series, how did you find that?
Shaun Evans: “I don’t mind it, anything that takes you away from how you look yourself is good. It’s gone now though. I don’t think my family were keen!”
The New Cases
Shaun Evans’ guide to the four feature-length episodes…
Episode 1 – Pylon
“This is about missing girls and is dark and shows the effect on a community. A few years before, a girl went missing and now another girl’s found dead. Endeavour connects them and that brings him back into contact with Oxford.”
Episode 2 – Apollo
“I directed this episode. It was a terrific experience. This is a very different atmosphere with the moon landing, a racy party and marionette puppets. It is about a car accident that becomes suspicious.”
Episode 3 – Confection
“It’s set around a chocolate factory and is about a life in a pretty village, which is brand-new territory. There’s a ‘happy families’ vibe – although nothing’s as happy as it seems and there’s some poison-pen stuff going on.”
Episode 4 –Degüello
“This episode explores the fallout from a tower block collapsing, which we did partly with CGI. We also have the death of a librarian to get to grips with, evidence to do with who killed DC George Fancy, police corruption, and Strange has a choice to make…”
Endeavour returns on Sunday 10 February at 8pm on ITV
Shaun Evans returns in Endeavour – but what has life taught him since he left his last crime scene?
RADIO TIMES: Interview by MICHAEL HODGES
Locked away in the labyrinth of ITV’s London headquarters, Shaun Evans, so buttoned up when he plays Endeavour Morse, is giving vent to his passions. “I’m interested in stories,” he says, whacking the table with his hand. “What is it about people sitting around a campfire and telling each other tales to illuminate, to entertain, to educate, to inspire? And what about all the amazing histories and religions and books there are? In this line of work, you should know more about things. Does that make sense?” Sort of, I say, “Ah, right,” he exclaims, “you just want me to downplay everything!”
Really, I don’t want him to downplay anything. I’m just trying to keep up with a 38-year-old who pulses with enthusiasm of a man half his age. In our hour together he tells me about his decision to act as well as star in Endeavour, why he drives himself relentlessly to learn more about the world, the reason he doesn’t go boozing anymore, and just how much he cares for the people he works with. “I really love these guys”, he says of the Endeavour team.
He also asks me not to write anything that suggests he has anything but the utmost respect for his colleagues. “I’m always wary,” he says, “I’m just going to say that now.”
He’s wearing slimming dark navy trousers and a shirt, but there’s not an inch of fat on him. He looks like he does on television, focused and very serious. Evans has played Endeavour Morse, the younger version of the detective made famous by John Thaw, alongside Roger Allam’s DCI Fred Thursday, for seven years. With writer Russell Lewis and executive producer Damien Timmer, Evans is one of the key people who steers the hit show’s direction. “And Rog,” Evans adds.
Such is the chemistry between Evans and Allam, I suggest it’s their relationship, rather than the will-won’t-they tension between Endeavour and Thursday’s daughter Joan, that is the real romance at the heart of the show. “Yes,” says Evans, mulling this over as he mulls everything. “I’d agree.” They first appeared together in a 2012 pilot. Five full series followed, and now Endeavour is back for *six feature-length episodes, the second of which Evans has directed. Having directed episodes of the long-running medical drama Casualty before, Evans says he’s determined not be limited to acting. “Even if Endeavour was to end now I feel I’d be able to go and direct something and it wouldn’t be second best.”
The last series of Endeavour finished in disarray, when Lewis Peek’s rookie constable George Fancy was gunned down and WPC Shirley Trewlove, played by Dakota Blue Richards, left for Scotland Yard. Now the 1970s are in sight and hard drugs have hit Oxford. DCI Thursday, after postponing his retirement, is working under a thoroughly unpleasant and possibly corrupt new boss, and a rueful Morse is manning a rural station, back in uniform and sporting a large moustache. “When Fancy got killed, I thought Morse felt responsible for that,” Evans says, explaining the moustache. “So, there was an idea of asking, “What about not being able to look in the mirror? What would take you away from yourself?”
As ever with Endeavour it’s the atmosphere that matters. The souring of the 1960s is signaled by brutalist interiors and lots of Led Zeppelin, and the show also seems more willing to show the bullet holes and wounds than before. “Well, it’s always a compromise,” Evans says. “ITV have specific guidelines about what they want and don’t want to see at a certain time. But I think as a storyteller, you’re interested more in the darker aspect of things. Often, it’s where a lot of the gold is.”
The series, as complex as ever, is less concerned with tying everything up at the end; explaining what has happened has never really been what Endeavour is about. “That’s very astute,” says Evans, as if he has finally found someone who agrees with him. “I find it dissatisfying when I watch something and then walk away and I’m still thinking afterwards, ‘He bought those stamps and sent that letter, but how could he have done that?’ That annoys me. So I always seek clarification on that. Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don’t.”
Evans was born in Liverpool in 1980; his father was a taxi driver and his mother was a health worker. “My family originate from Ireland and that was a massive part of my culture growing up,” he says. “I feel as close an affinity with that as I do with being from Up North. One of the great things about being an actor is you can leave all of that behind – just crack on and do your work. Now I’ve lived in London as I lived there.” Does he worry about becoming a Londoner? “Yes, or of losing a big part of who you are. It’s funny, isn’t it? You spend so long pretending to be other people, then as soon as you go home you’re right back into it.”
When Endeavour began, Evans based his portrayal of young Morse’s voice on that of Michael Palin, another young northerner who found himself in Oxford in the 1960s. He still does. “I was listening to one of his CDs the other day. I get a new one for the series.”
I’m surprised to hear how much of Merseyside remains in Evans’s own voice. “For good or ill for someone in my game,” says Evans. “I was reluctant to do much press for this way back because I thought, ‘Well, as soon as people hear what you sound like, it’s game over, isn’t it?’ I like having a bit of separation.”
When he was 11 years old, he won a place at St Edward’s College, the highly academic Liverpool school run by the Christian Brothers. “I was raised as an Irish Catholic,” he says. “It’s always there, but I don’t really have any religion. I have a system of my own personal beliefs, which are informed by many different things. I’m kind of interested in studying the gospels but just as interested in the origins of Europe.
For half the year Evans is filming Endeavour; the other half is dedicated to a sort of restless search for knowledge that can take him around the world. “I can afford to take six months off,” he says. “I love my work. But if I’m not doing that, I’m taking pictures, I’m writing every day, reading books. The first job I ever had was in a camera shop, so taking pictures and being interested in photography and developing has always been a part of my life. Writing as well. I want to be better. I want to improve as best I can.”
Can he reveal any books, television series that may emerge from this creativity? “No, not right now” he says. “You would look like a prat if you said something and then it didn’t happen.”
Does he ever just take a break? “Of course. You do things that you like to do, but I also like to generate my own work as well, otherwise I’d just be sitting around. You need other things going on. In a way it makes no odds, regardless of how much you’re getting paid. That’s a by-product, isn’t it?”
That rather depends, I suggest, on how much you’re being paid. “I hear what you’re saying,” he concedes. “If you’ve got to run out and get another job. But I think it can be equally dangerous having that luxury, and damaging to someone in my line of work.
“For those six months there’s so many things that I’ve thought about that are interesting, and I want to make sure that I make the most of them. I’m also going to be working with different people, seeing different parts of the world and seeing how different people do different things – photographers and film-makers. And also studying the history of things as well. There’s so much to do…”
He doesn’t tell me if he has a partner, but I imagine Evans would be hard to go on holiday with. “Yes, a nightmare,” he says, “If I went and sat on a beach I’d last about two days.”
I wonder if he ever does anything that isn’t serious or intelligent? “Like what?” Deciding to drink yourself silly this weekend, perhaps. “I’ve done that,” he says, “It’s not like it doesn’t suit me. I just feel like time is of the essence, and I want to work. There have been times when I wasn’t as productive, but I don’t think I was as happy. I’ve realized what keeps me happy and what keeps me going. Seeing things, mates who inspire me to be creative. Not being hungover for four days, and losing those days? Drinking is amazing. I love all that but, right now, I’m into doing my work.”
And finally, I ask, will the series ever come full circle and end in 1987, when the original Morse began? “No,” he says with certainty. “We won’t do that.” Will there at least be another series? “If we reached the destination of the story in this series,” he says. “If we felt that we’d seen it all, then we all have to be brave and say, we’ve done that now.”
He ends as intensely as he began. Feeling a bit blown away, I take the wrong corridor when we part and go down a dead end. I turn back, round a corner and find Evans again. He’s hugging Roger Allam by the lifts.
From the ITV Press Pack
Where do we find Endeavour in the first episode of the new series?
“When the new series starts, Endeavour is back in uniform and on his own out in the sticks. Following the dissolution of Oxford City Police, he’s been stationed in a one-horse town in the countryside. He’s fairly isolated as he’s the only policeman there, but I think he’s quite happy with that. He’s still mourning the death of George Fancy which took place at the end of the last series.”
Is Fancy’s death something that’s explored in the new series? And where do we find the other members of the team following the changes at the end of the last series?
“This series deals with the fallout of Fancy dying and not being able to get to the bottom of who it was that did it. It also deals with the dissolution of the force and it ending on such a sour note.
“In terms of the rest of the team, everyone has been cast to the four winds. Endeavour in the countryside, Thursday at the new Castle Gate station, Bright in the Traffic department and Strange in a new role as well. There’s a lot of change and we see the reaction to this change.
“Their relationships with one another are completely fractured though and the first film is about seeing where everyone has landed in the interim, and the team finding their way back together.”
We see that Endeavour is sporting a new look in this series. What was the thinking behind this?
“With a character you’ve played for a long time, it’s nice to have a change. As we’re now in 1969 and about to enter a new decade, it also marks the transition towards the 1970s. He’s moving with the times.”
You have taken on the challenge of directing a film this series. How did this come about and was it a challenge taking on this new role?
“I had been directing for a couple of years prior and it seemed like the next natural step. I had expressed an interest in doing it and it just felt like the right time, so I decided to give it a go.
“I directed the second film in the new series and I’m pleased to say that as it’s such an amazing team, it all went very smoothly. Everyone within the crew and the cast pulls together and does the best work they can.
“I suppose the only challenge was going on to make the other films. whilst still working on and editing the film I directed at the same time. It’s tricky when you’re trying to keep your mind in a few stories simultaneously, but pain is temporary and I loved doing it - it was an incredible experience.”
Was it hindrance or a help directing other cast and crew you’d known for so long?
“For me, it was definitely a help. I’ve had such a good working relationship with all of the team over the past few years that I had a good idea about what each of the people would need and what would be the best way for us to work.
“The great thing about it was that you don’t have those first few days of getting to know each other and trying to find a way to work together. You know from the first scene the best way to tell the story and they’re all incredibly professional and brilliant at their jobs so fortunately for me, there were no problems.”
The series once again alludes to some of the key historical moments that took place in 1969 such as the moon landing in the second film. What do you feel this brings to the drama?
“I think it’s just nice to be able to take things that have gone on - whether it be the World Cup, Wimbledon or indeed the moon landing - and place them into the series. Personally, I was delighted with including the moon landing as it’s so interesting and it allows you to think more epically about the story. Also, if you allow that to inform the style, it can be more visually interesting, which was useful for me directing that film.”
How would you describe the visual style of the second film which you directed?
“There’s a particular colour palette which I’ve used, which is sort of borrowed from the night sky and the idea of the moon. I wanted to explore the macro and the micro, so you have people going to the moon but at the same time, you have a marionette show. You have something massive and awesome which is epic, and then the reality in the meantime - or the reality that we’re trying to create. There’s something about that which I find really interesting and it gives it a bit of breadth and size, I think.”
We’re now on the sixth series. How do you feel the character of Endeavour has evolved over this time and where do you see him going?
“In terms of evolution, I think one of the most monumental things we achieve this series is that we see Endeavour buy his own place in Oxford and it’ll be the same place that the later character of Morse (played by John Thaw) lives in. That, I think, is incredibly significant as it shows he’s committed to staying there, whereas in the past he’s been uncertain as to whether he should stay or go. That indecision has gone now, and it’s quite concrete that he’s settled there.”
The Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour, held in Los Angeles, included an appearance by Shaun Evans for MASTERPIECE "Endeavour" (season 6). During day one of the PBS portion (February 1-2) he attended the Masterpiece photo call alongside cast members from "Les Misérables" and "Mrs Wilson" and then, on Saturday, Shaun joined the Press Conference Panel along with "Grantchester" actor Tom Brittney and executive producer Rebecca Eaton.
Whilst reprising his titular role as Endeavour Morse, Shaun also put his directorial mark on the show, heading behind the camera for the second feature-length film in the new series. As the episode he directed was the first they shot this series, he had to edit it over the weekend before they moved onto filming the next episodes. The challenge was keeping a few episodes in his head while he was editing and acting in episodes at the same time, Shaun says. ‘It was an extraordinary experience’. As a director, he brought his photography books and showed the color palette & visual style he wanted to use in the episode. He says knowing what is important to a director gives him a sense of how an episode will turn out.
During the panel, Shaun opened up about playing the young detective Endeavour in the Inspector Morse prequel, noting that one has to keep pushing things and keep changing things up to keep the story interesting. The important part of Series 5 to Series 6 for "Endeavour" was taking the characters through a personal and professional humiliation, according to Shaun Evans.
The new series will see the young Morse embracing the fashion of the period by growing a moustache. Shaun didn't mind it at all. He liked it as something that could be done in the longform storytelling that "Endeavour" enjoys.
As for the ongoing emotional journey Endeavour has been having with Joan, Fred Thursday's daughter, Shaun Evans says he's been fighting for Morse and Joan to have a night of passion, and then Morse to wake up like "that's it?" and be dissatisfied. Because his path (as we know) is to be alone although, on change over the five series, Shaun feels maybe Morse isn't quite so much of a loner as he recognizes the importance of being part of the team.
When questioned if he watched American crime dramas, Shaun answered that the nature of his work ruins watching other shows (in the genre) since one can recognize what's coming. He likes nevertheless the Italian show "Inspector Montalbano”.
After seven years of playing the younger Endeavour Morse, Shaun Evans is still often questioned about whether he feels the pressure of taking over the role of the much beloved detective made famous by John Thaw. This panel was no exception and so, when asked if he felt like he was doing what John Thaw did, Shaun answered no as he hadn’t seen Thaw’s episodes and therefore wasn't working towards John Thaw's interpretation of the character. He says the writing is what should be working towards that eventual goal.
When he landed the role of a young Morse in Endeavour, Shaun Evans felt it important to make it his own and not do an impression of someone else's work. While he respected the original fans, he wanted to welcome a new generation as well. He thought it would shortchange the audience if he just did an impression of Thaw and so he has always gone his own way but "obviously with a huge amount of respect" for the original portrayer.
Shaun Evans aspires to being alive and spontaneous in the moment rather than a preconceived notion of what his character should be.
Endeavour is set to premiere February 10 in the UK and June 16 in the US.
PBS will present its Winter/Spring programming slate at the Television Critics Association Press Tour on Friday, February 1 and Saturday, February 2, in Los Angeles and will include an appearance by Shaun Evans at the Press Conference Panel for MASTERPIECE Endeavour (season 6) which is set to premiere in the US the 16th of June (having its UK premiere on February 10, on ITV).
For more information on all programs and for additional program listings, visit www.pbs.org/pressroom.
ITV has released the trailer for the sixth series of Endeavour, which is set to premiere the 10th of February.
“It’s 1969, and things have taken a darker turn for the old Cowley team. With Endeavour, Thursday and the gang now scattered across Oxfordshire, it takes a series of brutal crimes to reunite them. Now joined by former adversary DCI Ronnie Box and his sidekick DS Alan Jago, the gang must battle crime and corruption to finally solve their greatest challenge – the truth behind George Fancy’s death.”
ITV Magazine - New Year 2019
Fans of the nostalgic detective series are in for a treat on Sunday evenings as an approaching new decade is marked by Seventies moustaches and more aggressive policing. Buckle in… Endeavour is back
There’s something going down in the heart of Oxford. Around the corner comes Police Chief Superintendent Reginald Bright, hugging the limestone wall. He’s followed by a menacing-looking man in a trench coat, who withdraws a bladed weapon. At the other end of the street is another thug with a bulbous nose and peaked cap. For fans of Endeavour, ITV’s prequel to Inspector Morse, things are about to get very real.
‘It’s like a cowboy shoot-out’, grins Anton Lesser, the actor who plays Bright, as passers-by on bicycles weave around the crew. To say more about Bright’s fate would constitute spoiler territory but, suffice to say, the sixth season of Endeavour offers a major sea-change for the law-enforcers of Oxford City Police CID. The year is 1969 and a new decade is fast approaching.
‘At the end of last season, we all go our separate ways’, explains a suited-and-booted Shaun Evans, the actor who has effortlessly slipped into John Thaw’s brogues to become our eponymous hero, the younger Endeavour Morse. For those in need of a recap, Icarus, the final episode of season five, saw the announcement that Cowley Police Station was set to close, with the dissolution of the Oxford City Police and merger with Thames Valley Constabulary.
‘The idea was to ring the changes with a creative refresh’, admits producer Deanne Cunningham. ‘Certainly, in episode one, viewers will find it’s quite different from where we left them. Everybody’s torn asunder, in separate places’. With all left reeling after the death of DC George Fancy, DS Morse is back in uniform (now complete with a Seventies ‘tache) overseeing a country police station in the ‘one-horse town’, as Shaun puts it, of Woodstock.
Bright, meanwhile, has been reduced to organizing traffic. ‘It’s a come-down for him. His authority is undermined’, says Anton. He also has changes in his personal life, with viewers introduced to Mrs. Bright (Carol Royle) after years of veiled references to her.
‘Everything in his world is reversing and collapsing, and therefore becoming much more interesting and complex’, he continues. ‘It’s what I’ve been waiting for years! I’ve been saying, “Let’s see a bit more of the man behind the uniform.” I think audiences love that: to see into the characters they’ve become familiar with.’
Then there’s Morse’s boss DCI Fred Thursday – played by Roger Allam – who has been moved to the new police station, a brutal concrete structure. ‘He’s been bumped down a rank’, says Roger, who arrives to chat after finishing his scenes for the day. ‘Things are not good in Thursday land.’
The old-school copper must adjust to working with new boss DI Ronnie Box, played by Simon Harrison, ‘an aggressive Sweeney-type’, says Roger, in what feels like an oblique nod to John Thaw, who made his name in 1970s show The Sweeney. Together with his junior, DS Alan Jago (Richard Riddell), Box represents ‘a different way of policing’, says Deanne, ‘rough and ready – Flying-Squad style. It’s anathema to Morse and Fred.’
There’s no question, this four-episode season of Endeavour is straying into darker territory.
With the whole production for series six spanning 20 weeks, there are just 13 days to go now on the fourth and final episode that we’re here to witness being filmed. Directed by Oscar-nominated Jamie Donoughue (Shok), it’s another story that reflects real-life history, namely that of Ronan Point, a tower block in East London that collapsed in 1968, killing four people and injuring 17. After the first episode sees a tower block being erected, this final film shows a catastrophic consequence (requiring some complex visual effects). ‘It’s an epic story’, says Deanne.
‘Within the block, we find a body that has been there for a year, which has a connection to a body we find at the beginning of the series’, says Shaun. ‘It’s a good way to round up and bring back all the characters we’ve introduced this season.’
Technology is rushing headlong into Endeavour’s world. In the new police station, there is a computer. ‘In ’69, Thames Valley did actually have a very early collating computer’, explains Paul Cripps, Endeavour’s set designer. The production borrowed one from the Centre for Computing History in Cambridge. ‘It’s about the size of a small upright piano.’ There are other innovations too – not least a vending machine that causes Thursday some bother.
Does this gradual move into the Seventies mean there will be a seventh season in the offing, with Endeavour team joining the dots ever closer towards the Eighties Inspector Morse? ‘When you’re coming towards the end of a project, you need to have a period of peace away from it, to allow the experience to settle’, says Shaun coyly. ‘Who knows…?’ In the meantime, there’s a wonderful sixth season to relish.
The sixth series of Endeavour will return in February on ITV.
The annual Carol Concert at Christchurch Cathedral, Oxford was held last 7th of December, in support of Macmillan Cancer. The concert featured the world-class vocal ensemble the Blenheim Singers and this year's readers were Shaun Evans, Sinéad Cusack, Will Gompertz and John Lloyd. The following photos were taken by: https://www.philipjoycephotography.co.uk/
If you would like to donate to Macmillan you can do so here: https://www.macmillan.org.uk/donate
ACTOR Shaun Evans takes on a Sweeney look as the new series of Endeavour is brought up to 1969. In the sixth series of the prequel to Inspector Morse, the young detective sergeant now has a moustache and boasts an open-top sports car in what appears to be a nod to the late actor John Thaw’s time in 1970s police drama The Sweeney.
By DAVID STEPHENSON - Express
Thaw went on to play the original Inspector Morse, the Oxford detective created by Colin Dexter.
Evans himself will direct one of the Endeavour episodes, following his success at the helm of two episodes of the BBC’s Casualty earlier this year.
And Endeavour Morse has a role change too, starting as a uniformed officer with Woodstock police.
Roger Allam makes a comeback as Detective Inspector Fred Thursday, alongside Anton Lesser as Chief Superintendent Reginald Bright, Sean Rigby as Detective Sergeant Jim Strange, James Bradshaw as Dr Max DeBryn, Sara Vickers as Joan Thursday, Abigail Thaw – John Thaw’s daughter – as Dorothea Frazil and Caroline O’Neill as Win Thursday.
The story picks up from the dissolution of Oxford City Police and the merger with Thames Valley Constabulary at the end of the last series.
But despite their separation, the unsolved murder of Detective Constable George Fancy still hangs over the team.
Other faces in the new series include Two And A Half Men star Sophie Winkleman, Indian Summers actor Blake Ritson and EastEnders actress Alison Newman.
Source: ITV Press Centre
Filming began this month on the sixth series of critically-acclaimed detective drama, Endeavour. Whilst reprising his titular role as Endeavour Morse, much-admired actor Shaun Evans will also be putting his directorial mark on the show, heading behind the camera for the second feature-length film in the series. The move follows his success directing two episodes of continuing drama Casualty earlier this year.
Evans’ character will similarly be trialling pastures new, with Morse having started a new role as a uniformed officer at the Woodstock police department and embracing the fashion of the period by growing a moustache.
Alongside Evans, the new series will see celebrated stage and screen actor Roger Allam return as DI Fred Thursday, alongside Anton Lesser as CS Reginald Bright, Sean Rigby as DS Jim Strange, James Bradshaw as Dr Max DeBryn, Sara Vickers as Joan Thursday, Abigail Thaw as Dorothea Frazil and Caroline O’Neill as Win Thursday.
Following the dissolution of Oxford City Police and the merging with Thames Valley Constabulary at the end of the last series, the latest instalment is set in 1969 and picks up with the team dispersed as they find their feet in their various new roles. However, despite their separation, the tragic murder of DC George Fancy still hangs over them both collectively and individually, with the case remaining unresolved.
With their new positions also come new colleagues and responsibilities. Thursday must adjust to working with new boss DI Ronnie Box played by Simon Harrison (Fearless) and junior DS Alan Jago played by Richard Riddell (Bodyguard). Meanwhile, Joan has settled back in Oxford and is training to work in social services under the mentor of new manager Viv Wall played by Alison Newman (EastEnders).
Produced by leading drama indie Mammoth Screen in a co-production with Masterpiece, each story in the highly-anticipated sixth series will once again be written by series creator Russell Lewis who has penned each of the 23 screenplays to date.
Russell Lewis says: “As our story reaches the last year of the 1960s, and mankind makes its giant leap, all at #TeamEndeavour look forward to exploring further early chapters in the casebook of Colin Dexter’s beloved creation.”
Morse with a moustache: the ITV star shows a new look that is just right for 1969
By Ben Dowell - Radio Times
Endeavour series six is currently filming for ITV, and judging by new set photos star Shaun Evans will have a whole new look when he returns as Endeavour Morse.
A new image courtesy of ITV shows the star sporting a new moustache as Morse faces up to life in a new police station in 1969 when the action starts.
Filming has just started on the new run, which picks up the story following the dissolution of Oxford City Police and its merger with Thames Valley Constabulary at the end of the last series. The new episodes are expected to air in early 2019.
Roger Allam returns as DI Fred Thursday, alongside Anton Lesser as CS Reginald Bright, Sean Rigby as DS Jim Strange, James Bradshaw as Dr Max DeBryn, Sara Vickers as Joan Thursday, Abigail Thaw as Dorothea Frazil and Caroline O’Neill as Win Thursday.
In the new series, the tragic murder of DC George Fancy at the end of series five following a gangland shootout still hangs over the characters with the case remaining unresolved.
Fred Thursday must also adjust to working with new boss DI Ronnie Box played by Simon Harrison and junior DS Alan Jago played by Richard Riddell. Meanwhile, Thursday’s troubled daughter Joan – whom Endeavour is in love with – has returned to Oxford and is training to work in social services under the mentor of new manager Viv Wall (played by EastEnders actressAlison Newman).
Guest stars in the upcoming series include Sophie Winkleman (Two and a Half Men), Blake Ritson (Indian Summers), Matthew Cottle (Unforgotten), Oliver Chris (Motherland), Sargon Yelda (Strike), Alice Orr-Ewing (A Very English Scandal) and Ross Boatman (Mum).
Evans will also be putting his directorial mark on the show, heading behind the camera for the second feature-length film in the series. The move follows his stint directing two episodes of continuing drama Casualty earlier this year.
Each story in series six will once again be written by series creator Russell Lewis who has created each of the 23 screenplays to date.
Lewis said, “As our story reaches the last year of the 1960s, and mankind makes its giant leap, all at #TeamEndeavour look forward to exploring further early chapters in the casebook of Colin Dexter’s beloved creation.”
Endeavour was also recently voted the fourth greatest British crime drama in a Radio Times poll.
Once again cast and crew of the popular detective series have returned to Oxford. Many were the fans who were able to spot Shaun Evans and other familiar famous faces in the city on Sunday as they recorded a new film of Endeavour's sixth series. Oxford's iconic Bridge of Sighs and Keble College were the locations chosen this time by the film crew and filming is expected to conclude today.
The following photos were taken by fans and shared on social media. According to the images, we can presume Shaun Evans is also directing the episode currently being filmed although there hasn't been any official confirmation yet.
New York Post - Robert Rorke
One of the most successful British crime spinoffs has been “Endeavour on Masterpiece.” A prequel to the iconic “Inspector Morse” series that starred John Thaw and ran from 1987-2000, it follows the constable’s earliest years on the job, when he left Oxford University for a different kind of career. With the fifth season now airing on PBS and a sixth about to go into production in London, it seemed as good a time as any to talk to Damien Timmer, a longtime executive producer on the series who spoke about this week’s episode and the history of the brand.
Sunday night’s episode, “Cartouche,” centers on movie star Emil Valdemar (Donald Sumpter), who attends a retrospective of his films at an English movie palace, the Roxy. When an employee of the theater is found dead on the theater’s organ, Morse (Shaun Evans) and his boss, Detective Chief Inspector Fred Thursday (Roger Allam), take a closer look.
To what do you attribute the show’s popularity?
First, Colin Dexter’s creation of Inspector Morse has become a very iconic part of British culture. I also attribute it to Russell Lewis, for creating the young man who became the Detective Inspector and the 1960s world of Oxford. We are about to shoot the 24th episode (over six seasons) and he has written every word of it. I think the depth he brings to it is impressive. We’re very lucky to have Shaun Evans and Roger Allam.
Much of the series is set in Oxford. How often do you actually shoot there?
Twenty percent of the show is filmed there. We also film in and around London and use the Beaconsfield Studios.
Is the Roxy Theater in Oxford?
The exterior of the theater was filmed in Islington in London and the interior was filmed at a theater in Wimbledon. Our writer Russell Lewis likes that trend in cinema design with faux-Egyptian motifs, so that’s why we chose the theater in Islington. The organ that you see in the episode was built by our crew and it was rigged to a platform that moved up and down.
The individual episodes of “Endeavour” have their own look. How did that come about?
Russell likes to play with genres. The first episode of the season was a love letter to the British rail system. The fourth plays with spy motifs. The fifth alludes to different army stories and the sixth is set in a public school for boys. He wants every episode to look different.
Detective Inspector Thursday suggests that Morse, who is still single, has something missing in his life. Is this a theme the show will explore this season?
Yes. Thursday has his family life. It’s the defining thing about him. Endeavour always walks alone. In the “Inspector Morse” series you see Endeavour become this very singular, rather difficult middle-aged man. In our series, Endeavour is exploring why he isolates himself.
How did you find Shaun Evans?
I had worked with him on another program where he was just an episodic player. At the time I felt there was something of a fallen angel about him that would be very useful for Endeavour. There’s something very soulful about him. He has a wisdom beyond his years and he’s very good at conveying sadness. Fortunately, Shaun himself is actually very jolly.
DAILY REPUBLIC Solano County’s News Source
By Tribune Content Agency
The persistent Det. Constable Morse has returned to “Masterpiece Mystery” on PBS, where the indefatigable cop is on the hunt for a serial killer. The show, “Endeavour,” is entering its fifth season. It’s the prequel to “Inspector Morse,” which ran for several years on PBS and was cut short by the death of its star.
Shaun Evans has taken over the role as the young Morse. Evans says the thing about “Endeavour” that fascinated him was the story. He’d read the books, he says. “I really like stories. I like people who tell stories, like the stories we tell about ourselves as well. I’ve always been surrounded — my family’s from the north of Ireland — and they’re great storytellers and I like the whole thing. It kind of excites me. So I wouldn’t even limit it to acting. I like books, films, TV. I like the ideas behind stories, so it’s kind of primal in a way. If you think about a father sitting around a campfire telling stories, there’s something about it that’s just amazing.”
Casualty episodes #32.35 and #32.36, directed by Shaun Evans, will air on 19th May and 26th May 2018, on BBC One, in the UK.
by Keith Watson for METRO
The actor, 37, on the melancholy of playing the young Morse in Endeavour, why he’d be good at general knowledge and dealing with gore directing Casualty
How would you sum up Endeavour’s personality? I heard the phrase ‘an ineffable melancholy’ the other day and that seemed a perfect fit…
That’s really strange because I read that phrase just the other day too — in a Paul Auster book, I think. Where did you hear it?
Bizarrely, in a documentary about early Bee Gees lyrics.
Oh… that’s curious. I’d say I think the melancholy is really Endeavour’s way of responding to life — all the s***ty things that happen in the job that he does and all the minutiae he has to deal with on a daily basis. So is it a good way to describe him? I could give you a really long answer but… ‘an ineffable melancholy’? Yes, let’s go with that.
Endeavour haunts the dreaming spires of Oxford. Were you ever tempted by the academic life?
Not really. I don’t think an academic life would have suited me. It can feel quite restrictive, in a way — you have to have the right type of personality. I like a bit of mental chaos.
You must pick up a lot of Endeavour’s knowledge of the classics. How would you get on in Celebrity Mastermind?
I’d really struggle because I’m a jack of all trades and a master of none, so I’d have absolutely no chance with a specialist subject. One of the things I most enjoy about my job is that you get to learn a little about a lot of different things, so I reckon I’d have a good crack when it came to the general knowledge round.
There are some pretty graphic murder images in Endeavour. Anything turn your stomach?
No, I don’t mind all that. I used to read all the Stephen King novels when I was younger, so I’ve got a pretty strong stomach for all that. I’m working on Casualty as a director at the moment and on the set there you’re having to do things like push bits of intestine, muscle and guts back into stomachs — all kinds of gruesome stuff like that. It’s actually a pretty funny thing to do, you can’t let it bother you.
How did you wind up going behind the camera?
Well, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. I’d wanted to try my hand at it for quite a while and a friend knew they [the team at Casualty] were looking and he put me in touch with them.
It’s an unusual route to get into directing. Hadn’t you thought of doing your own indie film?
That’s a plan for the future. I’ve always been interested in doing as many different things. I want to learn as much as I can about storytelling and whether that’s on stage or television, it’s about being part of a team. With Casualty there’s no better place to learn than with a team that knows the job inside out. And in contrast to an indie film, with Casualty you know a big audience is going to see it on Saturday night TV.
Which directors inspire you?
All the usual suspects, I guess. I do really admire Hungarian director István Szabó. But actually I’ve been influenced most by working with the directors on Endeavour. It’s the people I work with that I find the most inspiring.
There’s a strong sense of time passing in Endeavour. Does that make you pause and reflect?
It’s a really essential part of what we’re doing and what’s going on — we keep coming back to that when we talk about each series. The way the politics of the time is reflected on one level, then on a personal level for the characters, there’s inevitably the feeling of life passing by, of missed opportunities. How we reflect that is always an ongoing conversation when we come to make a new series.
Do you think about the end of Endeavour? At some point we’ll get to the Doctor Who moment when Endeavour morphs into Inspector Morse…
Yes, there’s no sense of jeopardy with Endeavour to that extent — we know where things are heading.
Do you look forward to that moment with anticipation or sadness?
It doesn’t make me feel sad because I know I’ve been incredibly lucky to have been allowed to be a part of this. So there’s no sense of regret or anything like that. I feel grateful for the opportunity for as long as it lasts.
by Reece Goodall - The Boar
The fifth season of Endeavour has now come to a close, and it has been a phenomenal run of television, mixing compelling characters with engaging plots. ‘Icarus’ continues that run, offering an interesting case and a lot of emotional heft, delivering on the series’ plot threads and wrapping up on a note that means the recently-commissioned sixth season can’t come soon enough.
Morse is sent on an undercover assignment to Coldwater, a forbidding boys’ public school, with WPC Trewlove acting as his wife. His mission is to discover what happened to the man he replaced, a teacher named James Ivory, who has vanished without a trace, a case that has attracted Superintendent Bright’s attention after the mysterious death of the former investigating DI. As Morse begins to unravel the school’s secrets, the rest of the force has other things on its mind. The police station is soon to be closed, and Thursday is still thinking about retirement – his hopes of bringing down Eddie Nero and Cromwell Ames may not be realised quite as he’d hoped, however, as a tragedy rocks the station.
There was so much packed into ‘Icarus’ that it’s hard to know where to start. The case this episode is a strong one, pitting Morse against some typically unpleasant students, and his sense of decency takes somewhat of a pummelling. The staff are not particularly helpful, save the gentle Mr Bodnar (Andrew Buckley), and it soon transpires that Coldwater may not be the best place for helping fashion these young boys into men. It’s an interesting and twisty case, but it’s not really where the focus of ‘Icarus’ lies.
The Thursday plotline really came to a head this week. In perhaps the most unsurprising plot occurrence ever, Phil Daniels returned as Charlie and revealed that he had lost all of Fred’s investment money from earlier in the series. It also transpires that Charlie was pushed by the lowlifes he owed money to to use his business as a front for fraud, effectively casting a shadow over Fred for the rest of his life. When he breaks the news to Win, she is furious and leaves him – only a reconciliation with Joan helps raise his spirits as he realises his career will have to be a lot longer than he’d hoped.
The Eddie Nero-Cromwell Ames clash also hit breaking point in ‘Icarus’ – Thursday and Strange manage to track down Ames and arrest him, but they’ve nothing to hold him on. They warn Nero and Ames against doing anything rash, but neither man listens, culminating in a gunfight at Nero’s bar between two rival gangs. Although the spectre of Nero has rocked up throughout the series, Ames has been a bit of an under-developed presence – for him to be dispatched so quickly was a bit of a shame, and meant his supposed threat never really materialised.
This clash had another, more tragic element to it (spoiler alert) – after having to release Ames, Thursday gets Fancy to follow him. Fancy calls in Ames’ arrival at the bar but, when the police arrive to stop it, they find that Fancy is among the dead. Earlier in the episode, Fancy is unhappy with Morse and Trewlove’s masquerade – we see him buying a ring for her – only to be told by Morse to grow up and concentrate on his police work. This is a rebuke that he soon regrets. Fancy’s death also sets up one of the series’ lingering plot threads, as Dr DeBryn tells Morse that the bullets do not match any of the guns at the crime scene – someone else killed Fancy, and the force are determined to find out who. Trewlove, meanwhile, puts in a transfer request – it will be a shame to say goodbye to Richards, who has frequently been the only person on par with Morse.
‘Icarus’ is a strong end to a very strong series of Endeavour – we have a case, but the emotional heft is what carries this episode. It really speaks to the incredible scripts and the top-quality acting (Shaun Evans and Roger Allam have been amazing leads) that we care so much about these characters and what will happen to them. The sixth season cannot come soon enough.
ITV Press Centre
ITV recommissions hit detective drama, Endeavour
ITV has commissioned a sixth series of hugely popular detective drama, Endeavour, following successful ratings and critical acclaim for the fifth series.
Produced by leading indie Mammoth Screen, the smart and savvy Inspector Morse prequel charts the career of Endeavour Morse as he rises up through the ranks, with each feature-length film investigating a new intricately plotted case.
The new set of films will see Shaun Evans reprise his titular role as DS Endeavour Morse, and celebrated stage and screen actor Roger Allam return as mentor DI Fred Thursday. Each story will be written by Russell Lewis, who contributed to Inspector Morse and has written each of the 23 Endeavour screenplays so far.
Receiving praise from critics and viewers alike, the drama has gone from strength to strength since its first outing as a one-off film in 2012 to mark the 25th anniversary of Inspector Morse on ITV. The latest series launched with consolidated figures of 6.7m and 25% a share, with the consolidated figures for the first four films the highest for three years.
Filmed in and around Oxford, the new set of films will be set in 1969 and go into production later this year for transmission in 2019. Mammoth Screen’s Damien Timmer executive produces, alongside writer and creator Russell Lewis and WGBH’s Rebecca Eaton. Deanne Cunningham (Cold Feet) will produce the new series.
Creator, Russell Lewis said: “As our story reaches the last year of the 1960s, and mankind makes its giant leap, all at #TeamEndeavour look forward to exploring further early chapters in the casebook of Colin Dexter’s beloved creation.”
ITV’s Head of Drama, Polly Hill added: “Endeavour continues to be hugely popular with ITV audiences and we’re delighted to be bringing viewers more films to enjoy. Thanks to Russell Lewis’s consistently intriguing scripts and the excellent production values at Mammoth Screen, it is a high quality drama that ITV is immensely proud of.”
ITV Studios Global Entertainment distribute the drama internationally.
Exclusive: Executive producer Damien Timmer gives us the inside scoop on the latest series of the Inspector Morse prequel – as well as a few hints at what we can expect in the future. Contains spoilers
By Huw Fullerton - Radio Times
As well as being the usual head-scratching mystery for Shaun Evans’ troubled detective, the series five finale of Inspector Morse prequel Endeavour was also a massive gamechanger for the drama as a whole.
With the Cowley CID team facing a very uncertain future and key characters seeming to say goodbye to the series forever, you might have thought things couldn’t get any worse – but then, the unimaginable happened…
You see, the latest episode also included the shock death of Lewis Peek’s DC George Fancy, a new character introduced this year who was apparently caught in the crossfire of a gang war in the latter half of the story. After his death, Cowley police station was shuttered and the team found themselves headed to separate postings, while WPC Trewlove (Dakota Blue Richards) went off to pastures new and DCI Fred Thursday (Roger Allam) was forced to put off his retirement.
So what’s next for the series? To find out, we caught up with Endeavour’s executive producer Damien Timmer who revealed that DC Fancy was doomed from the start, how real-life historical events influenced writer Russell Lewis’ finale, and exactly what we can expect for the newly-announced sixth series of the drama.
Spoiler alert: the times, they are a-changin’.
Hi Damien – there’s a bit of a shake up at the end of this series, with characters moving to different places. What was the thinking behind that?
Because of the real life change in 1968 with the birth of Thames Valley Police, it felt creatively like a good time to challenge our characters and have them leave their police home. More pragmatically, we have had to leave our production base in Beaconsfield, and this is a chance for a new studio build in a new home.
Russell Lewis enjoyed the idea of shaking it up, as you put it, because the dynamic between Endeavour, Thursday, Bright, Strange, has been set since series one. Now, five series into it, we rather enjoyed the fact that history forced us into a change in the dynamic.
Did it need a refresh?
In a very positive way, Russell takes our 1960s timeline very seriously, and since the pilot he has enjoyed locating particular Endeavour seasons and individual Endeavour stories very clearly in a particular time. So, for example, in series three, there was a story called Prey which was set in the time of the Six-Day War.
In series five we have enjoyed glancing to real historical events – the assassination of Martin Luther King, for example, kind of informs one of the stories. We think it just gives it another layer.
We’ve known for years, in truth, at some point that we’d have to leave the world of Oxford City police. We’ve rather enjoyed throwing things up in the air.
So as the characters move to new stations, could it lead to us seeing some more modern policing techniques in any future series?
Yes, I think it absolutely would.
How would the characters we’ve grown to know and love still interact if they’re all working in different stations? Will we be meeting a lot of new characters?
You’ll have to wait and see! It throws everything up in the air. And I suppose things land, pieces land in strange situations. And it might take some time to sort things out, and it’s possible that things are never quite the same again.
We’ve really enjoyed spending quite a few years of the 1960s with that sort of police family, and seeing Endeavour develop in that, when in series one he is very much an outsider. Superintendent Bright, played by Anton Lesser, is incredibly suspicious of him. He’s a very isolated figure.
And by the time you leave series five, he’s much more accepted by that group, and they have become a real police family. It feels interesting to put them all under this new pressure.
Thursday seems to be retiring for most of the series, which had me pessimistically assuming he was going to die! Was there an attempt to lead the audience in that direction?
Well, part of his arc for the series was Thursday coming to a point where it feels to him that the old order is changing. And for Win, his wife, this sense of emotional retirement is quite appealing. And it’s set up pretty early on in the series that his ne’er-do-well brother borrows money from him, and it was always there in Russell’s mind that that wasn’t going to work out, and be one of the factors that makes it difficult for Thursday to leave.
And one of the things that the show has always been preoccupied with is the world changing around our heroes, and I think that’s very appropriate when dealing with a character like Thursday who has spent a very long time, has grown up in that Oxford City police force, and feels that perhaps this is time for him to take his leave. But events conspire against him.
I don’t think that’s tricking the audience. I think that’s just, hopefully, a pleasing story.
Of course, the death of DC George Fancy is one of the big shocks of the episode – was it always intended that he’d have that one-season arc?
It was! Unfortunately for the very talented Lewis Peek, who plays him, yes, he was dead before he was written. Because we had six films this year, we knew we had a little bit more time to explore the different character dynamics.
The feeling was we’d spent a lot of time seeing Endeavour as Thursday’s protégé, but that in a way that perhaps prefigures Inspector Morse, it was interesting to see Endeavour, since his promotion, play the part of a mentor himself.
We liked the idea of a relationship with a young protégé that begins badly, then gets a little bit better but not very much better – Endeavour and Fancy were never a great love match. But that ended in tragedy. That was always Russell’s design.
The final scenes of the episode suggest that the hunt for whoever killed him is the arc for the next series – is that the idea?
It’s certainly something that will preoccupy the characters, yes.
On a similar topic, is this the last we’ll see of WPC Trewlove, as played by Dakota Blue Richards? She heads off to join Scotland Yard in the finale
This is the end of Trewlove for now – Dakota told us she wanted to leave at the beginning of last year, so we planned series five to give her the arc with Fancy and build to his demise and her leaving. But the door is always open for return appearances!
For the next series, would you like to have another long six-episode run like you did this year, as opposed to the usual four?
It’s a punishing thing, doing six films, because Russell Lewis writes every word. And writing 12 hours of new material is a really serious undertaking. It was never seen as becoming the norm, is my slightly obtuse answer.
Some fans thought Endeavour was more like John Thaw’s Morse this series – was there an attempt to bridge the gap?
I noticed that people seemed to feel that in various films. We’ve now made I think 23 films including the pilot, and across those we’ve wanted to show incrementally how the character could go from being this relatively fresh-faced young policeman to the character who we all know and love as John Thaw’s Inspector Morse.
Were you to sit down and watch them all, I think you’d see a subtle yet certain gentle transformation there. He has become more forthright, or the people around him listen to him slightly more. He has become a little bit more sure of himself, and is perhaps quicker to anger than he originally was. But I think that’s been a creeping thing across the series.
I think perhaps we felt it more this year because we’ve had six films instead of four.
In classic episode Masonic Mysteries, Morse said his mentor was Inspector McNutt – is that a character we could see in Endeavour?
Well, we already know McNutt’s fate from the Inspector Morse story Masonic Mysteries. With DCI Thursday, only Russell Lewis knows what happens to him – which I think raises the stakes in our Endeavour story. We know Morse’s fate, but we have to keep watching to find out Fred’s!
Russell didn’t want to have McNutt at the beginning, because he had a very strong sense of Fred Thursday and the Thursday family. We absolutely love Fred Thursday, we love Roger Allam as Fred Thursday, Roger Allam enjoys playing him and I think the audience would now be incredibly shortchanged if Fred were to go and McNutt were to enter.
That’s not to say that we won’t at some point meet Inspector McNutt – he has been mentioned onscreen hitherto, but he has not yet appeared.
Looking forward, could you do any other Morse spin-offs, say about Laurence Fox’s Hathaway from Lewis?
Hathaway was an extremely popular character! But we have truly, genuinely found the world of Endeavour that Colin Dexter showed us and which Russell has taken so much ownership of, has really kept us very creatively fulfilled. And we’re so happy being in that world for now.
23 films in, we’re still finding that very stimulating and we have no plans for anything like that. Endeavour is where our focus is.
And finally – could you give us the inside scoop on all those clever references hidden away in Russell’s scripts every week?
Russ enjoys sneaking in pop culture refs into his scripts, ranging from Kate Bush lyrics to Terry Pratchett. Some of them we spot, others only become evident on transmission.
I love Chinatown, but hadn’t noticed where Thursday’s “Forget it sergeant, that’s Summertown” line came from until Twitter told me on transmission!
Endeavour will return for a sixth series
Happy Birthday, dear Shaun. Hope your day is filled with excitement, joy, and love. Thank you for being so beautiful, talented and inspiring.
"I think it’s important to live your life the way you want to live it. Don’t live your life in fear. It’s important to me to feel free, not to be hemmed in by what others have to say about me."
"To make the most of time with people we love. If you love people, tell them you love them. Don't be losing sleep over tiny things. Life is complicated enough."
By Reece Goodall - The Boar
Another week, another strong episode of Endeavour, although ‘Quartet’ feels somewhat different in places to the usual episodes this series – it’s that classic trope of crime shows, the spy episode. Secrets are concealed just because (although less so than in a typical spy episode, it must be said), and nobody is ever what they seem. In the backdrop of this, we all have a nice degree of character work and the groundwork really laid for the series finale.
At an international sporting event, a competitor is shot and killed, leaving a little boy wounded in the crossfire. He is saved just in time by Dr DeBryn, and Morse is determined to find justice and the perpetrator. The investigation quickly reveals that the supposed assassin was also murdered, and the case takes on international ramifications as special branch arrive and take over. The rest of the force are content to leave the case alone, but Morse is committed to seeing it through, despite the potential risk to his own life. Meanwhile, as he deals with a case of suspected domestic abuse, DCI Thursday has come to a decision about his future on the force.
‘Quartet’ was, at times, more James Bond than Endeavour – we saw Morse being escorted about by government agents, breaking into a private compound and even sharing snarky comments with a Bond-style villain (German perfumier Sebastian Fenix (Mark Ready), though I’d be lying if I said I could really figure out where he fit into the plot). I enjoyed some of this stuff, and it makes sense for the Cold War to intrude upon 60s Oxford, but I did feel that it was perhaps getting a bit far away from what makes Endeavour tick (the same criticism was true of series 4’s ‘Harvest’ and the finale chase in the nuclear power plant).
The main case contrasted massively with the one that occupied Thursday. He is concerned that local newsagent Joe Dozier (Andrew Paul) is inflicting vicious abuse on his wife Elsie (Mary Roscoe), and spends a bit of time trying to help the situation before Elsie winds up hospitalized. Thursday is keen that Elsie escapes the abuse before she winds up being killed – later, when he hears of a death at the house, he fears he may be too late. I expected this story to play out one of two ways, and I was completely wrong on both guesses – what started off on a predictable level evolved into the episode’s most compelling strand.
It was also topped off with the news that nobody wanted to hear – Fred Thursday is retiring (and, presumably, that means we’re losing Roger Allam too). He tells Morse that he’s going to turn in his “tin star” because he’s uncomfortable with the newly-emerging world of bureaucrats interfering in investigations and thugs committing crimes – his dismay at the senselessness of the murder of the lorry driver in ‘Passenger’ gave us some hint of this. It’s possible this reaction may be probed further in ‘Icarus’ now that we have met Cromwell Ames – he appears at Eddie Nero’s bar, telling him that his time is up. Are we going to be seeing gang war in the final episode? And, more importantly (based on certain hints throughout this series), will Thursday make it to the end credits?
Elsewhere, love has bloomed and vanished. Out on the river with Claudine, Morse sees Fancy and Trewlove sharing a kiss – tragically, his own love life was about to disappear. He is concerned early in the episode that she is planning to leave town – this fear is soon realised, leaving Morse to drown his sorrows at a bar and share another soap opera ‘will-they-won’t-they’ moment with Joan.
On the supporting cast, it’s a typically strong showing – both Dozier and Paul Durden (playing Oxford English professor Alexander Richmond) now lay claim to be the only actors to have appeared in all three Morse shows, and Ellie Haddington puts in a very steely performance as a language tutor who may know a bit more than she first lets on.
Although I enjoyed ‘Quartet’ and although it is a strong episode, it may be the weakest of this run so far simply because elements of it feel a bit out of place in the world of Endeavour. Still, it’s a typically compelling watch, and it only helps ramp up anticipation for the final episode in what has been an incredible run of TV.
By Reece Goodall - The Boar
I’ve referred to it in previous entries of this series blog, but it’s worth emphasising once again that this series of Endeavour has really felt like a cohesive whole in a way that other series haven’t. Sure, we’ve had the odd scenes here and there in past series (the Freemasons claiming pieces of evidence, Sheila Hancock reading tarot cards), but these have mostly been pre-credits stingers – this fifth series, by contrast, has placed a number of threads in its episodes that add a far greater sense of unity. The latest instalment, ‘Colours,’ deals with one of these narrative threads – questions of racism – in another strong piece of television.
At a photoshoot at a nearby army base, one of the young models goes missing and is soon found murdered – suspicion falls on the soldiers who were assigned the job of protecting them, one of whom is Sam Thursday (Jack Bannon). As Supt. Bright tells DCI Thursday that he is too close to events and encourages him to take a backseat, Morse, Strange and Fancy take charge of the investigation. Things are soon complicated by further deaths and the discovery that the murdered model is, in fact, the stepdaughter of Lady Bayswater (Caroline Goodall), a Nazi sympathiser who is helping inflame racial tensions in Oxford.
‘Colours’ felt, to me at least, the least focused on the case of any episode this series – it is concerned more with character work and the political framework that Endeavour is building (although we had a week without Eddie Nero stuff – a comment about him laying low was the end of it). That’s not to say that the case was weak – it was typically strong, with a conclusion that felt earned without being a giveaway. I didn’t massively enjoy the apprehension of the criminal – I thought it was a tired device and one that was obvious about an hour earlier.
No, the focus was on our characters. For fans of Morse, there is something quite upsetting about his happiness with photographer Claudine (Claire Ganaye), seeing as we know it’s not going to last (although it does make for a nice pairing). Fancy and Trewlove appear to be getting a bit closer, and their chemistry is very sweet. We also boasted strong work by a number of the guest stars, Goodall as Lady Bayswater in particular – she brings nuance and conviction to a very hateable character, making her believable rather than a fascist caricature. There was also strong work from our soldier characters, Iain Pirie as Lt. Col. McDuff amongst them. There is a tendency in crime dramas to make soldier characters obstructive officious bureaucrats but, in ‘Colours,’ they felt developed and all-too human.
It’s the hints of the Thursday storyline that may have the biggest weight going forwards. It was good to see Bannon back as Sam, and Joan briefly crops up being arrested at an antiracism protest, but we may have larger ramifications at the head of the family. Win is pushing Fred to retire and, as I’ve mentioned in previous episode reviews, it seems his character has been taking a backseat this series. It would be a shame to lose Allam, because he’s always brilliant, but I fear that’s where we’re heading.
I could sing the praises of the production design and the sheer overall quality of ‘Colours,’ but I’d probably be becoming a bit of a broken record – Endeavour is so strong every week, and so good at balancing its individual elements, that even an episode that feels weaker in certain areas (the case) makes for a strong whole. I’m really intrigued to see where we head next – this fifth season is the first to boast more than four episodes, so we’ll be heading into unprecedented ground next week.