When DCI Fred Thursday‘s daughter Joan first set eyes on Morse in TV series Endeavour, history was made. Because when writer Russell Lewis saw the chemistry between them he knew he was onto something.
And so Joan and Morse’s enduring ‘will they won’t they’ love story, which threads through each of the eight series, began, even though originally Joan was only intended to star in the first few episodes.
“We were told Series 8 would be the last. Now we know there is another one, but after that who knows?”
“It’s been so amazing to play such a pivotal role,” Sara Vickers, who plays Joan, tells me from her home in Edinburgh, “because their love story is at the heart of the piece, which Shaun (Evans who plays the young Morse) and I created and Russell decided to run with,” she says in her thick Scottish accent, unrecognisable from Joan’s clipped Oxford vowels.
And so Shaun Evans and Sara Vickers have kept us all waiting, their chemistry palpable, except that, for reasons we cannot fathom, they’ve never managed to clinch the deal, and time is running out, especially as Morse’s fellow policeman DCS Jim Strange (played by Sean Rigby) has arrived on the scene.
“It’s always fascinated Shaun and I. We have spoken about it a lot – about whether we all ever get together”
So what’s going on? “It always feels like it’s just within reach doesn’t it,” she laughs, “but that’s largely the skill of the script that they have managed to keep that going for so long.”
“I am so desperate for it to happen for our characters, but in the last series Joan and Morse only seemed to get more distant from each other so I don’t know. I can’t help but feel it’s a passing of ways. Russell always likes to keep things open-ended but we are fast approaching the end, so things will have to come to a conclusion soon, whatever that will be.”
How does she feel about that? “It’s always fascinated Shaun and I. We have spoken about it a lot – about whether we all ever get together. I mean Joan and Morse haven’t even kissed or held hands. There has been minimum physical contact but all those little moments add up. I like to think Joan keeps people on their toes,” Sara adds.
“But the more I think about it, I think that maybe the reason they haven’t got together is because Morse is not able to commit. Look who he does commit too – it’s always intense and ends badly. He wants the drama and is that fair on Joan, to project this perfect romance on her? We joke about whether Morse and Joan could ever go grocery shopping together and we think not. He doesn’t want the mundane. And I think that’s why he stays a bachelor.
“So Shaun and I have this ongoing debate about who’s fault that is when we read the script. I always think its Morse’s and he thinks it’s Joan’s.”
“jim Strange is kind, he looks after joan, and thinks about her. He lays his cards on the table. He is there when she needs him – everything that Morse isn’t”
Except that now DCS Jim Strange is sniffing around and taking Joan out. “Yes but why not?” Sara asks. “He’s kind, he looks after her, and thinks about her. He lays his cards on the table. He is there when she needs him, everything that Morse isn’t.
“She knows where she stands and Jim has no agenda. It’s about dependability – he will always be there, he pays her attention and that can be quite nice. He makes her laugh and yes there is a wee bit of a spark there, so who knows what will happen next and whether Morse and Joan will get their moment?
“Part of me would like Joan to cast her net wider though – away from her father’s work colleagues,” she laughs.
There was one whole series that Joan didn’t appear “for family reasons”, because she was having her son in real life, but now she just juggles filming and childcare with her acting husband.
“I sat next to a massive Endeavour fan AT A DINNER PARTY WHO refused to believe I was Joan because of my accent”
Does Endeavour’s fame ever get in the way then? “No not really,” she laughs. “Actually I sat next to a massive Endeavour fan at a dinner party recently who refused to believe I was Joan because of my accent,” she squeals. “And yet when I was in a car park in Atlanta, a woman rushed up to me and said “you’re Joan”.
Of course there is more to Sara’s career than Endeavour. She is playing a lead role in new BBC series Guilt which starts on Thursday night, starred in Watchman, Netflix’s The Crown and Shetland, amongst many others.
However, Joan is already apprehensive about when the Endeavour series finally ends: “I will be so sad because I love the cast and the crew. We have the best time together and get on like a house on fire, so when it finishes I will be bereft. I’ve been in Endeavour pretty much since I left drama school so it will be like saying goodbye to my family.
“But there are no complaints from me. It’s all been wonderful.”
Endeavour Series 8 and 1–8 DVD Box Sets are now available from Amazon c/o ITV Studios.
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