“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 every year from the audience.
“To not leave anybody feeling short changed. To leave people feeling emotionally satisfied.
“It’s also 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.”
Shaun Evans talking to me about the return of Endeavour to ITV1 (also on ITVX) for three final films starting at 8pm this Sunday (February 26).
My farewell Endeavour interviews for ITV with Shaun Evans (Det Sgt Endeavour Morse) and Roger Allam (Det Chief Insp Fred Thursday) took place on separate days just before Christmas.
Having watched all three final films – ‘Prelude’, ‘Uniform’ and ‘Exeunt’ – in preparation for the conversations about the end of an era for them…and for us.
Regular readers will know I interviewed John Thaw throughout the Inspector Morse years from the very first film, screened in 1987, across eight series of 33 episodes ending with the character’s death in 2000.
Then doing the same with Shaun Evans ahead of the first ‘Morse prequel’ Endeavour pilot film broadcast in 2012 and through now nine series totalling 36 episodes.
So I’m very happy to report that writer Russell Lewis and the entire Endeavour team have produced a truly magnificent finale.
With the final film, beautifully directed by Kate Saxon, leaving us with one of the finest and most satisfying last episodes I have ever seen on screen.
With an ending to live long in the memory.
There were tinges of melancholy in both interviews in those dying days of the old year. But also huge pride at a job well done. And a story told.
Roger said filming his last ever scene as Fred Thursday didn’t have the effect on him that he had expected.
“The thing that really had the impact for me emotionally was strangely doing the last bit of ADR – re-recording dialogue – in the studio, some weeks after filming had finished.
“I had to do one of those big emotional scenes as part of that.
“I realised it was the last time I will ever speak with Fred’s voice. That had more impact than anything.”
There is a great deal to enjoy in these last films set in the summer of 1972. Not least for those of us who have followed Morse’s entire screen journey.
That includes a proper farewell to all of the other characters who helped make Endeavour what is was.
“That’s been one of the brilliant things about Endeavour,” said Shaun.
“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.”
Virtually every scene in this trilogy is a photographic masterpiece with Russell’s scripts at their most dazzling.
As clever as the most puzzling of Morse’s beloved crosswords…laced with humour, emotion and love plus some terrific lines.
Not least those delivered by Fred Thursday and Reginald Bright, two totally distinctive and noble ‘old school’ characters in the Morse universe. Their police careers now approaching an end.
Much in? Days of change are upon us at the end of the beginning.
With thanks to everyone involved in creating and realising this screen goodbye.
You can read my interviews for ITV with Shaun Evans and Roger Allam at the link below.
Also scroll down for a gallery of ITV photos by Jonathan Ford who has photographed every Endeavour series.
Click / tap on any individual image to open the gallery in full.
Updated: Now also including images from the documentary Morse & The Last Endeavour which will follow the final film (with a break for the national news) on ITV1 at 10:20pm.
It includes poignant interviews with cast members and behind the scenes footage from filming of the last episode.