Shaun Evans & Roger Allam, EndeavourMarch 20, 2014
The second series of Inspector Morse prequel Endeavour returns with four new two-hour long films that show the iconic detective as a young man making his mark on Oxford’s police force. This time the smart and stylish series is set in 1966, and just as the year has moved on, so has our rookie copper, played by Shaun Evans, who displays more and more personality traits of the much-loved Morse that John Thaw portrayed. Reprising his role as Morse’s mentor DI Fred Thursday is Roger Allam, and TV Choice went on set to find out more about the series from the two men themselves…
How will Endeavour’s relationship with Thursday change this series?
Shaun Evans I think towards the end of the last series they got closer, but I think it's more interesting to continue to play with that. What we are trying to play with this time is that, if you imagine the time frames between when the last world ended and the new one begins, we haven’t been hanging out or seeing each other so there is that sort of strangeness and irritation on Endeavour’s part that he’s been left out in the cold — that’s where it's going at this stage. In the stories we are telling, Endeavour and Thursday, they came along together, so they are linked. I think for the audience and myself and Roger, it's more interesting if it continues to evolve like normal relationships. They couldn’t really function without each other but we should always continue to play with how they relate to each other.
Roger Allam I don’t know yet. In the first episode there is some worry for Thursday that after the injury Endeavour isn’t back up to speed. In the first film their relationship is sort of him getting his faculties back.
In the last series Endeavour was stabbed and shot… are there any more scrapes in store?
Shaun Evans He gets beat up by a couple of policemen in episode one. It’s good — constantly evolving and punishing!
What’s it like working with The Killing director Kristoffer Nyholm, who directs the first episode, Trove?
Shaun Evans Great, really great. That’s one of the fantastic things about this job, with the directors this time we have four different European film-makers on board and it's really exciting. I think it’s a really smart move because they bring something to it, having not really known about it, not coming with the same baggage or view of the character that the English might do. They’ve come at this with a fresh eye and I think that’s the only way we can make this evolve and move forward. Kristoffer’s great, I think he’s brilliant and we are very fortunate. But it’s great for Kristoffer as well as he has never worked in the UK before.
Roger Allam Terrific, he’s terrific, and lovely — very relaxed, supportive and encouraging — which is always good. He gives you very clear and simple notes and instructions. I don’t know, maybe it's because it's not his first language, that he has to find a very clear way of saying things, or maybe that’s just the way he works. It’s a very relaxed set and it's easy to just do your work, it’s good.
You are keen to put your own stamp on the iconic character — do you feel now that you’ve succeeded in doing that?
Shaun Evans People always mention it, but that’s fine. They give me the scripts and I try to do my best with it — as I do with every job. What we’ve discovered is an open mindedness with the audience that they are willing to embrace it and go with it, but I don’t think that’s down to me, it’s down to Roger as well, that they are open to being entertained. It’s as basic as that. Good stories well told — I’m happy. I think the fact we are making more is testimony to that.
Will you change anything for the second series?
Shaun Evans I’m going to do it completely in drag! Or knitwear! There’s always stuff that when you look back you do you think, ’Oh, that could have been better’. They are tiny little things. I want to get better — it's an amazing job being an actor and then to have something like this where you are in every day… There is a responsibility to the audience, people who are putting money in to make it and the other actors to be the best you can be at it. Sometimes trying to be the best you can be stops you being the best you can be. I think there should always be room for improvement. By the same token the nature of this work lends itself to be judged by the audience and journalists. I want it to be the best it can be.
What is it about your character DI Fred Thursday that you like so much?
Roger Allam I do like him, I like wearing a hat, I like smoking a pipe. I don’t really like smoking a pipe, but I do in the films. I like the period and I like the fact that he would have been very much of my parents age, my aunts and uncles, who came from very ordinary backgrounds. It’s sort of like, some sort of version or tribute or homage to them, who were all very ordinary and decent people. It’s nice to play someone like that, I think, who is decent and good but who is prepared to bend the rules as well.
Your character goes on a bit of a journey, which we saw a bit of in the last series, what can you tell us about what’s in store?
Roger Allam Oooh well I don’t really know. What came back to haunt him in the last series was his past in the East End and in this one, this series, I think there’s going to be a sort of through story about where you stand with the police. Whether you stand on the right side of them or not and what’s morally right.
Lots of fans like the idea of Fred Thursday’s daughter and Endeavour having a relationship, do you think he’d ever approve of that?
Roger Allam Well he might. I think he might want her to do better than a policeman, that’s what they wanted their children to do, that generation, do better. I don’t know… there’s a lot worse around than Endeavour.
What reaction have you had from the public since the first series transmitted?
Roger Allam Generally people have said nice things. I have a surviving aunt who is 90 who loves it and much younger people, teenagers, love it. It’s great to be in something that appeals across so many ages. The period helps it appeal to so many as you see stories re-fractured that make you think back to what life was like back then, if you are old enough to remember, or if not, then to imagine what life was like back then. It makes you see people in different ways.
What is it that people like about Endeavor and Thursday’s relationship?
Roger Allam I think everyone would like a Fred Thursday in their lives wouldn’t they? Someone older and reliable — who is like a father figure, a teacher and a friend. And also everyone who is like that would like someone who is rather brilliant who they can be the friend to — maybe that’s what people like, I don’t know…