The moustache may be gone, but Morse’s mind is sharp as ever as Endeavour enters the 1970s…
Endeavour, Sunday 9 February, 8pm, ITV/HD (CH 103/113). Also available for 30 days in Catch Up > Channels > ITV Hub
For a show centring on countless, often quite grisly, murders, and featuring characters who’re about as trustworthy as a bus timetable, Endeavour is a strangely cosy, comforting watch.
Consistently captivating performances from a stellar cast combined with the beautifully shot, Oxford-based, nostalgia-inducing period setting make for a show that’s rather calming, despite the subject matter. As it returns for a seventh series (with an eighth due to start filming this summer), and the titular detective enters a whole new decade, we sat down with stars Shaun Evans and Anton Lesser to discuss all things Morse.
After the Cowley Station team was torn apart for much of series 6, series 7 sees the band get back together… well, sort of. “There’s a sort of emotional fragmentation that’s happened, which starts to increase as we go into this series,” explains Lesser, who returns as former chief superintendent Reginald Bright.
Change looks set to be the thread running through each episode, both in terms of the stories and the overarching narrative. Where previous series have consisted of between four and six episodes, series seven is just three.
“It’s less “story of the week” and more an ongoing narrative, this series,” says Evans, who once again stepped behind the camera to direct this week’s opening episode. “It’s different, but kind of satisfying. With one story in three parts you can unpack a little bit more about these characters.”
In the case of Lesser’s longstanding police chief Bright, this couldn’t be more on the money. “[This series] is so revealing. You see aspects of Bright we’ve never seen before, which I’ve been longing to be seen,” he says.
Roger Allam returns as Detective Inspector Fred Thursday, and we also meet a new character in Bright’s wife, who’s ailing health and alternative means of medication unwittingly brings more of Bright’s personality to the fore. “He’s starting to question everything about himself. What’s life about? The big questions – why is he here, has he failed as a human being, as a husband? All that’s being challenged now.”
Series 7 also sees Morse maturing into the man many viewers know he will become. “There’s definitely a feeling of putting down roots,” Evans explains, “and taking some responsibility”.
For Evans, the series also presented another chance to challenge himself, both in front of the camera as an actor and behind it as a fledgling director. “You don’t want to be complacent. This is an amazing job, but there’s a danger that you become lazy. I’ve always tried to push myself; doing things in conjunction with this. Not making it too easy for myself.
“That’s why it was important to re-read the books. He’s such a rich character, he’s so interesting, so if I can nick a little bit of that and put it in this then I'm happy, to be honest.”
Endeavour enters a new decade – the 1970s – this series, with many of the characters still reeling from the aftermath of the explosive finale in series 6. But it’s oddly gripping watching characters you’ve become so fond of look seemingly lost, as they attempt to rediscover what makes them tick, or in some instances, drift apart.
With its exceptional writing, direction and performances, Endeavour remains as thoroughly engrossing as ever, and we couldn’t be happier that it’s back. And, after watching this weekend’s thrilling opening, you’ll be hard pressed not to feel the same.
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