Fans of the nostalgic detective series are in for a treat this month as an approaching new decade is marked by 1970s moustaches and more aggressive policing.
Buckle up as Endeavour returns! The popular prequel to Inspector Morse is back on ITV Choice (DStv 123) for a sixth season, starting on Wednesday, February 13, at 8pm – within days of its UK première.
There’s something going down in the heart of Oxford. Around the corner comes Police Chief Superintendent Reginald Bright, hugging the limestone wall. He’s followed by a menacing-looking man in a trench coat, who withdraws a bladed weapon. At the other end of the street is another thug with a bulbous nose and peaked cap…
For fans of Endeavour, things are about to get very real.
“It’s like a cowboy shoot-out,” says Anton Lesser, the actor who plays Bright, as passers-by on bicycles weave around the crew.
To say more about his fate would approach spoiler territory but, suffice to say, the sixth season of Endeavour offers a major sea-change for the law-enforcers of Oxford City Police CID (Criminal Investigation Department). The year is 1969 and a new decade is fast approaching.
“At the end of last season, we all go our separate ways,” explains a suited-and-booted Shaun Evans, the actor who has effortlessly slipped into John Thaw’s brogues to become our hero – the younger Endeavour Morse.
For those in need of a recap, the final episode of season five saw the announcement that Cowley Police Station was closing, with the dissolution of the Oxford City Police and merger with Thames Valley Constabulary.
“The idea was to ring the changes with a creative refresh,” admits producer Deanne Cunningham. “Certainly, in episode one, viewers will find it’s quite different from where we left them.”
With all left reeling after the death of DC George Fancy, DS Morse is back in uniform (now complete with a ‘70s moustache) overseeing a country police station in the “one-horse town”, as Evans puts it, of Woodstock.
Bright, meanwhile, has been reduced to organising traffic: “It’s a comedown for him. His authority is undermined,” says Lesser. He also has changes in his personal life, with viewers introduced to Mrs Bright (Carol Royle) after years of veiled references to her.
“Everything in his world is reversing and collapsing and, therefore, becoming much more interesting and complex. It’s what I’ve been wanting for years! I’ve been saying, ‘Let’s see a bit more of the man behind the uniform.’ I think audiences love that: to see into the characters they’ve become familiar with.”
Then there’s Morse’s boss DCI Fred Thursday (Roger Allam), who has been moved to the new police station, a brutal concrete structure. “He’s been bumped down a rank,” says Allam, “Things are not good in Thursday-land.”
The old-school copper must adjust to working with new boss DI Ronnie Box (Simon Harrison), “an aggressive Sweeneytype,” says Allam, in what feels like an oblique nod to John Thaw, who made his name in the 1970s show, The Sweeney.
There’s no question, this four-episode season of Endeavour is straying into darker territory. Technology is also rushing headlong into its world.
Does this gradual move into the ‘70s mean there will be a seventh season in the offing, with the Endeavour team joining the dots ever closer towards the Inspector Morse of the ‘80s?
“When you’re coming towards the end of a project, you need to have a period of peace away from it to allow the experience to settle,” says Evans coyly. “Who knows?” In the meantime, there’s a wonderful sixth season to relish.