Endeavour Series 2, Episode 1: Screening and Q & A

All-Allam.com was fortunate enough to be invited to the press screening of Trove, the first episode of the much anticipated second series of Endeavour. Our correspondent Margaux reports…

(11 March 2014) After the huge success of its first series, Endeavour is back with four brand new episodes: TroveNocturneSway and Neverland. Shaun Evans returns as the young Endeavour Morse and Roger Allam reprises his role as Morse’s superior, Detective Inspector Fred Thursday. They are joined by a wonderful ensemble cast of characters who each deserve a spinoff series in their own right.

The year is now 1966 (or “1966…and all that” as this run is called by cast and crew). Writer and Executive Producer Russell Lewis describes 1966 as “a very good year, the last hurrah of an order.” There’s the sense of something ending, he says; for his titular character, however, this series hails a new beginning (for better or worse) as he tries to come to terms with the traumas of 1965 and find his feet once more.

The Episode

end2x01_06I was lucky enough to attend the press screening of Trove which was possibly the best episode so far. With its excellent character development, intriguing plot and dark undertones, if this first episode is reflective of series two as a whole we’re in for quite the treat. Starting with the opening bars of the second movement of Ein deutsches Requiem, the mood of the episode is immediately clear: “Denn alles Fleisch, es ist wie Gras”, sings the choir, “for all flesh, it is as grass.” It has been four months since Endeavour was shot by Millicent Coke Norris, and, having spent much of this time stagnating on menial ‘light duties’ he is forced to question whether he is really cut out for a job at Cowley Police Station.

"Not back off light duties five minutes and already it's foul play; just like old times."
“Not back off light duties five minutes and already it’s foul play; just like old times.”

He is soon reunited with Inspector Thursday, who is eager to see how his protégé is faring. Endeavour’s first day back is immediately a rough one: while a beauty queen is assaulted by a student during a Broad Street parade, an unknown man plummets to his death from the roof of a nearby council building. Endeavour, as is his usual modus operandi, suspects something more than a tragic suicide when a clutch of business cards bearing multiple identities is found at the scene; “not back off light duties five minutes and already it’s foul play; just like old times,” colleague Sergeant Jakes (Jack Laskey) is quick to quip.

end2x01_05The young detective soon links two more unsolved stories to the case: a father looking for his missing daughter and the theft of medieval artefacts from Beaufort College. While it looks like Endeavour’s intuitions are confirmed by a scribbled message on a notepad, Thursday is increasingly worried about the young man’s behaviour and state of mind. Revelations about Endeavour’s psychological state and particular details from the case will prove particularly alluring to fans of Morse and Lewis, foreshadowing as they do later developments in the personal and professional life of the man who will one day become ‘Chief Inspector.’

Endeavour and Thursday’s presence clashes pleasingly with the bright colours of the fashion world and politics of the 60s.

end2x01_03In true Morse tradition, the scenery and staging play an important role in the drama. Beautiful though Oxford’s university buildings are, in this episode there was a refreshing departure from the usual college-scapes, with scenes being set in the city’s equally atmospheric Natural History Museum as well as in a series of particularly murky underground streams. Endeavour and Thursday’s presence clashes pleasingly with the bright colours of the fashion world and politics of the 60s, lending them (and pipe smoking, hat wearing Thursday in particular) an extra impression of stability as fixed points in what the writer, as mentioned previously, sees as a changing age. With enough intrigue, riddle and spirit to please the diehard Morse fan, as well as some fisticuffs for the new generation, Trove was a real pleasure to watch.

Question and Answer Session

When the episode had finished we were treated to tantalising trailers for all the upcoming episodes; it looks like we’re in for some excellent drama and more than a little suspense. After a short interval, Roger Allam, Shaun Evans and Russell Lewis arrived for the Q & A. The questions and answers revealed the overarching theme of this second series, that of the growing relationship between Endeavour and Thursday who, Shaun Evans observes, come to need each other in order to move forward.

Thursday was a service commander in the war: his experiences … of being injured mean that he understands the physical toll a gunshot wound can take on a person.

From the outset, Trove shows how keen Thursday is to have Endeavour back in the force, but also his concern about his bagman’s recovery. Roger Allam explained that Thursday was a service commander in the war: his experiences of that time and of being injured mean that he understands the physical toll a gunshot wound can take on a person. While Endeavour is a robust character, there is a rupture in the norm which takes a while to be reconciled. There is an air of tension building throughout the police station when it appears that Morse might no longer be up to the job, but no one worries as much as Thursday does. It was the young man’s unusual sharp wit, intelligence and imagination that made Thursday take him under his wing, noted Allam, and it looks like these might be in jeopardy.

Thursday genuinely enjoys working with the detective and … he misses their companionship and jokes, such as Endeavour knowing what’s on his superior’s sandwiches.

Just as important as (and, indeed, to) Endeavour’s police work is the growing friendship between the two men. Thursday genuinely enjoys working with the detective and, for a large part of the episode as well as in the months preceding it, he misses their companionship and jokes (such as Endeavour knowing what’s on his superior’s sandwiches). Moreover, Thursday has become a surrogate parent to Endeavour, who had a turbulent relationship with his own father. Roger Allam observed that someone who lacks a warm father figure in their lives might perhaps seek another, and that Thursday will benefit from this development as well: “It is not something either of them do consciously,” he mused, “it’s a nurturing relationship and they offer support for each other.”

When Roger Allam was asked if he had a favourite line, he immediately apologised for being unable to remember anything specific. After all, Thursday has a lot of great lines! His charm, Allam suggested, comes from Russell Lewis’s way of writing the character. The Detective Inspector has a slightly older generation way of speaking, which the actor enjoys playing and finds “deeply charming.” He himself has great fondness for how the people of Thursday’s class and region (lower working class London) spoke in that period, and the wisdom that came with their manner. Thursday would have been roughly the age of Allam’s own father, he noted: “Or maybe my uncle – his younger brother – who was also, curiously, called Fred,” he joked.

When Shaun Evans was asked to explain what a perfect date for the detective would be, he replied that Endeavour is a romantic but one who does things by the book.

The actors were asked when exactly they realised they found the key to playing their respective roles, and whether it helped to have props. Roger Allam (having always expressed himself to be rather a fan of the hat, pipe and car in particular) smiled broadly before giving an enthusiastic answer. For him, putting on the hat and coat and smoking the pipe creates “a habit.” These props, though small things, for Allam “act like a portal into the role,” allowing him to inhabit it more thoroughly as he wears the clothes of the man he portrays. Also, he noted, “they’re fun to play with.” He also had something to say about Endeavour’s love life. When Shaun Evans was asked to explain what a perfect date for the detective would be, he replied that Endeavour is a romantic but one who does things by the book. Roger Allam voiced his own thoughts on the matter: “It’s obvious though, isn’t it? I’ll explain it: they read Henry James out loud, whilst listening to Tannhäuser. It’s an absurdly romantic evening!”

Endeavour certainly wouldn’t be the same without Thursday, and thankfully Roger Allam was happy to return to the set. He is fond of the characters, and likes to have an on-going role. While he had Peter Mannion in The Thick of It, this is the first time he’s ever been involved in anything like Endeavour and playing someone that is as well-grounded in characterisation as Thursday. The actor is pleased that the audience seem to enjoy the series so much. There was some fear that people who remembered Inspector Morse would be critical of the prequel. However, Endeavour was accepted enthusiastically by fans of the original and new viewers alike. A small reminder of Endeavour‘s success: it debuted in 2012 as a feature length story to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Inspector Morse, but it became the highest performing new drama to air on ITV that year. The first full series was launched a year later, with each of the four episodes averaging 7.0 million viewers, a 25% share.

And Finally…

As the Q & A was quite brief, it was over by the time I got my nerves up to ask a question. Luckily I got a second chance. We were offered a small lunch, and I found myself next to none other than Russell Lewis himself! Not only did I get a chance to tell him how much I loved the episode, I also had the opportunity to find out a little more about Thursday, an original character who does not exist in Inspector Morse. The writer explained that he had imagined Roger Allam as Thursday from the off, having seen and loved his performance as Sir John Falstaff in Henry IV at the Globe (a revelation that was particularly apt for this occasion given Jamie Parker’s appearance in the episode we had just watched) and that he loved his performance. Lewis confided that he considered himself very lucky that Allam was interested in the role.

“There is a lot of Thursday going on in this series!”

I tried my luck and pressed a little further: does the fact that Thursday is never mentioned bode ill for the character? Russell Lewis laughed, but kept his cards close to his chest: “We’ll cross that bridge when we get there,” he assured me. “There is a lot of Thursday going on in this series!”

And finally, I asked, how is life on the set? Are the actors having fun? “Yeah! I mean, they are all so professional and get the job done. But, you know, there are some laughs. We don’t get yards and yards of outtakes though!” I tentatively suggested that it would be lovely to have a few extras on the DVDs and he agreed, adding that it might be nice to get the actors together again for an interview / commentary or add a few scenes that didn’t make the edits.

I did not have the chance to talk to Mr Allam himself, except to briefly mention how much I enjoyed Trove. That is, until he strolled over to say hello!

To me, it was a great episode wrapped in a wonderful day. The only downside was that I desperately want to re-watch it now and discuss it will you all, but having to wait is a cross I will bear gladly. One last huge word of thanks goes out to Mammoth Screen, the production company responsible for Endeavour, for inviting All-Allam.com to the screening. It was very greatly appreciated!

Further information: Inspector Morse Fact File

ENDEAVOUR SERIES 2 TRAILER!

ITV has released a trailer for the first episode of the new series of Endeavour.Air date: 30th March, 8pm

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