It’s never been plain sailing for Shaun Evans‘ character Endeavour and the final series is no different! Read about it here
“Endeavour’s aloneness and isolation is cemented in this series. He has felt that way throughout but there has always been a tantalising option dangled right in front of him. If he only could reach out and grab it. What we discover in these final three films is that, for one reason or another, he cannot reach out. And so his isolation and lonesomeness is completely cemented,” Shaun says. Read about his final scenes filmed at Blenheim Palace here
And while Endeavour fans are gutted that Series 9 is the last and final airing of their favourite TV programme, they are in for a treat.
“It’s important to never be complacent with your work. It galvanises people when you think, ‘We have to improve on what we have done last time’.”
Because not only are the three films, penned again by Russell Lewis, as dramatic and thrilling as ever, but the complicated domestic backdrop of Endeavour and his famous sidekick DCI Fred Thursday continue unabated.
“Things were getting on top of Morse at the end of the last series, burning the candle at both ends and not managing his relationship with alcohol. So he has taken some time off and been away for a number of months in what is said to be the West Country to get his act together,” Shaun explains.
“At the start of this series he is back with a more balanced perspective. It’s dealt with in a very subtle and interesting way. And he will now only take a drink during moments of emotional turmoil. Whenever things are getting difficult this, in a way, is his refuge. Likewise with the crossword puzzles and the opera. It’s a safe space for him.”
What we do know is that the final series ties up a lot of loose ends. So how do he and DCI Fred Thursday fare, their relationship an extreme and complex one over the years?
“In this series Sam, Thursday’s real son, comes back. He is not in a great place and needs all of Thursday’s attention. That further isolates and pushes Endeavour outside of that particular family circle. Thursday is not his father and Morse is not Thursday’s son. He is on his own. That all offers something interesting and new,” Shaun adds.
“That’s not to say it’s not emotional to not be working with Roger any more. It certainly is. But we’re going to be friends for life”
As for the eternal question about him and Joan will they finally get together? “Joan and Endeavour…there is a hopefulness and optimism to Endeavour when he returns to Oxford at the start of this final series. It’s that thing in life, which I hope we’ve captured across the series, of you think things are going to go on forever. But they don’t.
“So when we come back and meet Endeavour at the beginning of this series there’s a scene where he reaches out to Joan. And as he is reaching out in what is new territory for him he realises it is too late. That ship has sailed.”
Shaun Evans is partly responsible, having directed the first episode Prelude, so what was he aiming for? “The first episode features the Oxford Concert Orchestra and also the return of ‘London business’ to Oxford.
“As a director I wanted it to be a real juxtaposition between the very decadent, rich, dark wood panelling around the orchestra against the dirty, empty, gnarly warehouse where a man is tortured and killed. Along with all of the things that are happening with Thursday in his life. I wanted those worlds to be at odds. The universe is expanding and contracting at the same time for these characters.
“It’s important to never be complacent with your work. It galvanises people when you think, ‘We have to improve on what we have done last time.’ It gets the best work out of everyone. So there is that aspect to it.
“In terms of the story there needed to be a full stop between Endeavour and the Thursday family. All parts of the Thursday family. I felt that needed to be a very definite full stop.”
“And that’s where I wanted to leave it. Because then it’s a good place to be picked up again 15 years later in 1987 when the Inspector Morse series with John Thaw started.”
So how does he feel about bowing out of such a seismic detective show? “Final episodes are always very difficult. You can’t please all of the people all of the time.
“It’s a thank you, in a way. To say, ‘Thank you so much for sticking with this over the past number of years”
“What we wanted to do was to end Endeavour in a way that was fitting to all of the enormous work we had put into it over the last 10 years and also to all of the huge support we have had. To not leave anybody feeling short changed. To leave people feeling emotionally satisfied.
“It’s a thank you, in a way. To say, ‘Thank you so much for sticking with this over the past number of years.’ To honour and respect that. So it’s all of those things. Also for it to feel irreconcilable. For it to feel closed. Our story is at its end.
“So it was important that all of the main characters get their farewell moments. It reflects the democratic way we have worked. We have all been together from the beginning and everyone’s work is valid and equal. It’s important for everyone.
“That’s been one of the brilliant things about Endeavour. Yes, we have focused on the cases and the story between Endeavour and Thursday. But all of the actors – Anton Lesser (Chief Supt Reginald Bright), Sean Rigby (Det Sgt Jim Strange), James Bradshaw (Dr Max DeBryn), Sara Vickers (Joan Thursday), Caroline O’Neill (Win Thursday), Jack Bannon (Sam Thursday), Abigail Thaw (Dorethea Frazil) – have brought with them a very specific life outside of the stories we tell. Their character’s lives are just as full and rich. So it’s important to acknowledge that. To wrap them up in a pleasing way. Which is no mean feat.”
And what about Endeavour and Thursday? Saying goodbye to such famous characters must have been emotional? “Myself and Roger Allam were both incredibly clear about where the characters are emotionally at that point. And the push and pull of it. It was all about the work.
“That’s not to say it’s not emotional to not be working with Roger any more. It certainly is. But we’re going to be friends for life. And the reason that we will be friends for life is because the work is so important to both of us.”
And on a personal level? “I feel incredibly proud of Endeavour. Grateful for the experience and proud of the work. Not only my own work but also the work of all of the other actors. I’m proud that we’ve all been with it from the start and that everyone has brought their best work repeatedly to it. I just felt very grateful. But also that it was time to move on.
“Of course there is a degree of melancholy when you say goodbye to any experience. But it’s a great feeling to be able to walk away and say, ‘I couldn’t have done more. There’s nothing more that I could have given. That’s it.’ That’s a nice feeling.”
“I don’t want to overestimate it but these Endeavour years have been a hugely formative part of my life. And the amount of people that mention Endeavour to me, no matter where I am, is very gratifying.
“So I know I will always be connected with the Inspector Morse series as well. And that’s a very happy connection for me. Part of this magnificent universe I’ve been fortunate to be a part of these past 10 years.”
Following the transmission of the final Endeavour film, ITV1 will broadcast a special one-off documentary, Morse & the Final Endeavour, featuring behind the scenes interviews with all the main cast members who discuss the huge global appeal of this iconic Oxford detective who is celebrated the world over. (Watch this space. More to follow later).
Endeavour, Sunday February 26 at 8pm, ITV1.