An exclusive Endeavour interview with writer/deviser/executive producer Russell Lewis
Interview copyright © Damian Michael Barcroft 2020
‘I’m afraid I see little of anyone in Traffic, but you’re remembered – often. All my old Cowley gang. You, Inspector Thursday, Sergeant. Strange. Constable Trewlove. And young Fancy, of course. Absent friends. Not yet a year, and already our City days seem a lifetime ago. But there we are. A new decade just around the corner. Well, I must get on.’
Bright to Endeavour from the shooting script of CONFECTION (S6:E3)
DAMIAN: Recalling our very first round of interviews back when we were both still in shorts, I remembered you told me that Bright was ‘a man even more out of time than most in the 1960s’. Indeed, the same might also be said of Thursday, so I’m wondering how on earth the two of them are going to survive the 1970s?
RUSS: There is of course nothing to say that they will. But I think you’re asking about cultural and societal changes. Hot pants. Punk. The mind boggles. There was a little bit of Sir Robert Mark, I think, underpinning the creation of Bright. ‘If you drove like that, you’d deserve to be called…’ And one wonders what he might have made of a Day-Glo Mohican (Mohawk – for our friends across the Big Water) and bondage trousers. Gobbing. I think Thursday might wonder if such was what he fought a war for. The answer – of course – is that such is EXACTLY what he fought a war for. Perhaps, in truth, they’d have taken it all in their sagacious stride. From their end of the telescope – I can tell you – that one tends not to sweat the small stuff. And most things are filed under small stuff.
EXT. STREET – DAY 1
A couple of KIDDIES skip home from school. Off: the bingly-boingly tune of an ICE CREAM VAN. Kids stop and react to see:
Across two streets – at right angles — an ICE CREAM VAN parked up. The KIDDIES come to the kerb between parked cars. Traffic races past. As they start to cross — a gentle hand comes down on a shoulder…
BRIGHT: (Off-screen) Stop!
KIDDIES look to find BRIGHT beside them.
BRIGHT: (Cont’d) Wait a minute. Not so fast. That isn’t how you cross the road. If you step out here you could get badly hurt – or worse. Come along. Come with me.
DAMIAN: The first film of the last series, PYLON, opens – unusually – with Bright and your storylines for series 6 offered the opportunity for Anton Lesser to explore his character in many new dramatic ways. Was there a particular motivation on your part to make series 6 the year for Bright to shine?
RUSS: Well, I’d say Bright always shone. My admiration for Anton Lesser – as an artist and as a human being – knows no bounds. You know of old that his history is something I’ve been trying to include for several series. We got a hint of it with Dulcie, I think, at the end of series 5. A lot of people had been asking about the much mentioned Mrs. Bright, and wondered whether she was going to be another Mrs. Mainwaring or ‘Er Indoors. So it was lovely to meet her at last – albeit we were joining them at a moment of crisis.
DAMIAN: Bright’s Public Information Film is rather tame in comparison but do you remember how truly terrifying some of the actual ones made in the late 60s and early 70s were?
RUSS: I have several DVDs of Public Information Films — and half remember shooting one as a kid. But, yes, there were some terrifically sinister ‘Stranger Danger’ ones. Mummy Says – cut out animation pieces. Children’s artwork cut up and animated – with a child’s voice over. A sort of precursor to the much sampled ‘Charley Says…’ series. I think we all went around in the 60s and 70s in more or less a permanent background state of trauma and anxiety lest ‘a man’ offer us sweets or a ride in his car to a private viewing of some puppies. If said viewing took place adjacent to OPEN WATER or… a PYLON!!!!! Well… there you are. The Pelicon/Pelican crossing PIF was also animated. So we added Bright, a pelican and a catchphrase. Speaking of which… ‘Clunk-Click’ I suppose covered all bases, insofar as you had a Road Safety PIF presented by an absolute danger to livestock.
BRIGHT: (Cont’d) There might not be a police officer or lollipop lady to help you cross the road, so always find a safe place to cross at a designated pedestrian crossing. And remember! “If the Pelican can – then so can you!”
BRIGHT salutes. Musical sting – “If the Pelican can, then so can you!”
DIRECTOR: (Off-screen) And… cut.
Off CAMERA – a Public Information Film Crew about its business. A few BYSTANDERS watching the fun. ‘Checking the Gate’ &c. The PELICAN WRANGLER moves in with a bucket of fish. BRIGHT – the star of the show – ignored.
BRIGHT: (to the DIRECTOR) Was that alright? You know, I’m not sure I would salute…
DIRECTOR: (Off-screen) It’s in the script.
DAMIAN: It’s in the script! – if only that was the policy of all directors. This lovely end to the original opening scene with Bright was cut but was there ever a concern as to what extent a character of such dignity and respect should be humiliated by his demotion?
RUSS: No. Not in the slightest. As you say – knowing quite how much dignity and his place in the world meant to Bright – to cast him down from a high place into something quite else was integral to the design. He was hurt and humiliated and it hurt us to see him brought so low.
DAMIAN: Is Shaun Evans a ‘It’s in the script’ kind of director’?
RUSS: Well – it’s funny isn’t it… A scene that ends with ‘It’s in the script’ – having that bit cut out in the edit. If I remember, Damien Timmer [executive producer and joint-managing director of the production company, Mammoth Screen] felt it was too arch and knowing. So — no director was responsible for that particular dropped stitch. We’ve been very well served by our directors, amongst whom I’d number Shaun – and I’m enormously grateful to them for all they bring to the party. I’d also refer you back to the two signs on my office wall — ‘Television is a collaborative medium’ and ‘Collaborators will be shot!’
EXT. ROAD/SERGEANT’S HOUSE/WOODSTOCK POLICE OUTPOST – DAY 2
A high, lonely stretch of road. Summer fields. Distant PYLONS. A BLACK ZEPHYR comes into view. It slows and pulls off the road outside a SERGEANT’S HOUSE – the only building for miles. A PANDA car parked outside.
INT. FRONT OFFICE/WOODSTOCK POLICE OUTPOST
Heat gone from the day. The soft long light of a late summer’s evening falls on a patch of wall spotted with POLICE ‘PUBLIC INFORMATION’ POSTERS – bathing all in gold and lime…
…Double doors give on to a narrow vestibule/hall – a hard bench against a wall. Facing the open doors – a drop-leaf counter beyond which, the suggestion of a back room, from whence OPERATIC MUSIC floods the building.
ANGLE – SERVICE BELL on the counter. Beyond – out of focus – a UNIFORM sits with his back towards us, typing at a desk.
A hand comes down on the Service bell.
VISITOR: (Off-screen) Shop!
UNIFORM rises – comes to the counter, and we recognise – ENDEAVOUR in full Thames Valley blues – three stripes on his sleeve. And sporting a moustache. His visitor – STRANGE – a touch of Brylcreem. Three-piece suit. Chelsea Boots.
STRANGE: This is where you’ve been keeping yourself, is it?
ENDEAVOUR’S not going to make it easy. A distance has fallen between them. Things unsaid, and for too long.
DAMIAN: Alienation, change, guilt and paranoia. These are the words that I would use to describe series 6. We’ll perhaps come to some of the others later, but let’s discuss change for now. It’s 1st July, 1969 and, as scripted, you describe a demolition scene complete with wrecking ball and three new high-rise tower-blocks in various stages of completion beyond. Later, Thursday is about to light his pipe but changes his mind and you end the description of this scene simply with the words ‘Out with the old.’
INT. THURSDAY’S OFFICE/CID/POLICE STATION – DAY 9
THURSDAY in his office — filling his pipe. As he goes to light it… He looks across the way to BOX’s office – wherein; BOX and JAGO laughing it up – clinking drinks.
THURSDAY shakes out the match – lays his pipe aside. Out with the old.
Now, I appreciate the more obvious elements such as the fact that we are in a new police station and find many of the characters in new positions, but I also wondered to what extent series 6 might be seen as the beginning of the final act of Endeavour while also memorialising a bygone age of innocence?
RUSS: Yes, I think that’s right. George Fancy – the death of a young colleague – was to my mind the end of the innocence. They’d all taken their knocks – one way or another – and bore them each alone. One can bear one’s own pain — because whatever the level of personal discomfort – emotional or physical – one knows it’s finite, typically. But something like George… That’s something none of them can fix. That’s with them now. Always.
INT. COACH (TRAVELLING) – DAY…
ENDEAVOUR’s POV: through breaks in the ragged hedgeline, distant glimpses of that city of cupola and aquatint…
ENDEAVOUR stares out of the window. The music swells, soaring cor anglais in excelsis…
EXT. OXFORD – DAY
Towers and spires float above the treeline. An aching, giddying, tremulous beauty. Eden before the fall.
Excerpts from First Bus to Woodstock (Shooting draft)
DAMIAN: Eden before the fall. You have created such a rich and rounded world that I almost find it hard to imagine a time when there was only Inspector Morse and Lewis. However, recalling one beautiful day back in January 2012, when a young and sanguine Morse was first introduced to the world, I have a sense that both he and the show were a lot more optimistic in 1965 than 1969. Given some of the more recent storylines – for example, series 5 which Damien Timmer would call the “angry” year – and the resulting character developments, do you think you were also a lot more optimistic as both a writer and a person in 2012 than you are today?
RUSS: Oh, I’m always optimistic. Always. Take the long view. We’re an extraordinary species. Right now we’re in the middle of a f*ck-awful catastrophe of our own making – but we’ll fix it. It’s what we do. We’re the problem solving ape. And supposedly uniquely the only type with mortality salience. Awareness of Dying (1965) is good on this. So, the remarkable Greta Thunberg gives cause for hope. The Extinction Rebellion. It feels like we are standing upon one of those fulcrums of history that come along every so often. The way we’ve lived is – to coin a phrase – unsustainable. Also – that old saw, we must love one another or die.
INT. CID/POLICE STATION – DAY 3
ENDEAVOUR exits the lift and comes through to CID OFFICE. The place is buzzing. Phones ring. CID scurry hither and yon. The air thick with cigarette smoke. A moment as he takes it all in.
DCI BOX’s OFFICE off the main drag. THURSDAY’S considerably smaller office. He crosses to a MURDER BOARD — O.S. MAP of the area pinned there. PHOTO of ANN KIRBY. ENDEAVOUR sets an evidence bag down. THURSDAY enters – comes across…
ENDEAVOUR: My report. Syringe is in the bag.
THURSDAY: I’ll see the Guv’nor gets it.
THURSDAY: Early days. You know how it is.
Seeing ENDEAVOUR in CID is more ‘yesterday’ than THURSDAY can bear.
DAMIAN: Both as scripted and shot, how significant is it that the audience first see the new police station, Castle Gate, from Endeavour’s perspective?
RUSS: Absolutely key. We wanted the audience to experience it along with him – and share in his sense of alienation. Change is always unsettling.
DAMIAN: I mentioned paranoia earlier and when I interviewed the production designer of series 5 and 6, Paul Cripps, we discussed how Alan J Pakula’s paranoia trilogy of Klute (1971), The Parallax View (1974) and All the President’s Men (1976) influenced the look and feel of the new CID set. Why were these important to you and how do you think the influence manifests itself in the finished films of series 6?
RUSS: Ah, dear Paul — top man. Certainly the intent was to have a chillier milieu, something lacking the warm, woody tones and cosiness of Cowley. Looking at my pictorial history of Oxford City police, we did draw on the real world new station that seemed to come in with the change from City to Thames Valley. We’ve always wanted it to feel like something that’s evolving naturally – rather than something preserved in aspic.
DAMIAN: And are there any films or television that might have served as visual references for the production designer, Madelaine Leech, this year on series 7?
RUSS: Um… Oddly… Don’t Look Now – a little bit.
DAMIAN: From your own experience and perspective of the 1970s, which historical, social or cultural events shaped the decade?
RUSS: Crikey. How long have you got? Heath government. Three Day Week. Blackouts. Joining the EC. Oil crisis. ‘75 Referendum. That summer. Jubilee. Winter of Discontent. And then the great misfortune. But across it all – ‘The Troubles’ – as we euphemistically call them. Like a running sore. Blood and dirty protests and hunger strikes and Long Kesh, and knee-capping, and tarred and feathered, and Guildford and Birmingham, and Balcombe Street, and the Disappeared. All of it seemingly played out against the World in Action theme tune. Beyond that – the ever present threat of nuclear annihilation. But I wouldn’t want you to think it was all fun and laughter. The New Economics Foundation – a think tank that does such things – looked into it, and, having looked into it, came to the conclusion that, based on an index of social, economic and environmental factors, 1976 was the best year on record for the quality of life in Britain. I think that The Good Life and Fawlty Towers landing the year before, and The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin being broadcast in ‘76 (Rising Damp and Porridge were also running) may have had something to do with it. Perhaps it’s all down to Leonard Rossiter.
But there certainly was a sort of confidence in the air. Abigail’s Party was almost upon us. What market-research nodes and New Labour would later distill as an ‘aspirational’ mindset. We touched upon it a bit in APOLLO [S6:E2] with that Lotus Eater swinger set. An internationalism seemed to be in play. The uptake in foreign package holidays was really getting into its stride. Jeux Sans Frontieres – which we also nodded to. A sense that we were part of something different and that different was exciting. Beverly’s penchant for Demis Roussos is on one level wildly funny – but as with putting the red wine in the fridge, we are being invited to laugh at her pretentions towards the cosmopolitan.
You’ll also notice around the middle of the decade that ads for things like Campari – ‘Were you truly wafted here from paradise?’, Martini and Cinzano were suddenly everywhere. The Cointreau Christmas ad. All of this spoke to an exoticism – a world beyond our shores. Britain was on the up.
DAMIAN: And looking back at First Bus to Woodstock right up to the end of series 6, were there any historical, social or cultural events that you would have liked to have squeezed in from 1965 to ‘69 but weren’t able to for some reason or another?
RUSS: The death of Hancock. On one level I’m sorry we didn’t mark it – but on another… in our through a glass darkly world, I like to think The Lad Himself is still out there, the fictional Anthony Aloysious St. John Hancock, sometime actor, and general chiseller. There was a grain of hopeful, canine optimism in Galton & Simpson’s version of Hancock that somehow eluded the real man. Well – there’s booze for you. Don’t do it, kids.
HRH PRINCE CHARLES (Voice over): “I, Charles, do become your liege man of life and limb and of earthly worship, and faith and truth I bear unto you, to live and die against all manner of folks.”
DAMIAN: Why was it important to include the investiture of Prince Charles?
RUSS: It’s a memory. My old man was from the Valleys, and was in Wales for his annual fortnightly family visit/holiday at the time of the Investiture. He brought me back a Welsh flag. We had a commemorative mug, too, that I remember. In terms of the design – it’s a handover, isn’t it — or a least the foreshadowing of one. Though one imagines Endeavour has a lot shorter wait to come into his estate than the Prince of Wales.
DAMIAN: As with many aspects of the country at the moment, opinion seems divided regarding the Royle Family. Do you think a character like Endeavour is less likely to be sympathetic towards the monarchy than, say, Thursday or Bright?
RUSS: Well, I think we’ve seen Bright’s starry-eyed encounter with Princess Margaret [ROCKET, S1:E3]. And there would have been a deference hard-wired into Thursday, I suppose. Endeavour – ambivalent at best.
STRANGE: Back to the day-job, then. That was quite nice while it lasted. Bit like the good old days.
ENDEAVOUR: Which were they? Remind me.
DAMIAN: The delightful little social or cultural references in your scripts often resonate with people who personally remember the 60s or 70s and PYLON has quite a few but what really struck a chord with me was simply ‘Mrs. KIRBY pops three fish-fingers under the grill’. Can you describe the smells coming from your kitchen during the late 60s or early 70s?
RUSS: As you know, my domestic arrangements were singular — so the kitchen was more redolent of the Long Weekend. Another slice of gravy, anyone? Our kitchen was a death trap. Health and Safety… just wasn’t a thing. That I am here at all is pure luck. Smells coming from the kitchen? Boiling lard. Seriously. Boiling lard. I’m not sure we’re quite there yet with Endeavour — but the rise of the DEEP FREEZE, so beloved of serial killers, is on its way. Whole livestock carcasses. WHY? Oh, it was a bargain, was it? Suddenly, a dead sheep is on the premises – dismembered and resembling something reclaimed from the tundra permafrost. Arctic Roll? You’re darn tootin’.
INT. ENDEAVOUR’S FLAT/SERGEANTS HOUSE/WOODSTOCK POLICE OUTPOST – DAY 2
Above the shop. It’s seen better days. Some drinks later.
STRANGE: So, what’s the Blues all about?
ENDEAVOUR: CID closed a month after I got to Woodstock. Budget. It was uniform or nothing.
STRANGE: You could’ve gone elsewhere.
ENDEAVOUR leaves that possibility hanging – unanswered…
DAMIAN: Since Endeavour left that possibility hanging, could you perhaps answer on his behalf please?
RUSS: Of course, he couldn’t. He had unfinished business.
… ENDEAVOUR: What about you?
STRANGE: You know me. I’m doing alright.
ENDEAVOUR: There was a piece in the Gazette about an Inter-Departmental something or other.
STRANGE: The Inter-Departmental Forward Strategy Steering Committee.
ENDEAVOUR: Steering what exactly?
STRANGE: Resources. Man-power. It’s a sort of ‘quasi-managerial anticipatory role.’
The management speaks rolls trippingly off the tongue, as from one to the manner born…
DAMIAN: Sometimes a figure of fun but always a thoroughly decent and dependable chap. The beautifully written transition from the Strange in GIRL (S1:E1) to the one we see in THE DEAD OF JERICHO is happening so gradually and subtlety but to what extent are his advancements attributable to the Lodge or his own good character and hard work?
RUSS: I’m enormously fond of Riggers and of all that he’s brought to Strange. He’s a fearsomely good young actor. I’ve seen him on stage, and I can tell you, with Strange we barely scratch the surface of what he can do. Yet we may, Mister Frodo – yet we may. As with all our company, we’ve been enormously fortunate — and I really do admire and respect young Mister Rigby. He’s an absolute gift. His level of preparedness and professionalism… Anybody out there would be lucky to work with him. We see a lot more of Strange in Endeavour, of course, than we ever saw of Jimmy Grout in Inspector Morse. And that’s given us the opportunity to feather in some history beyond that in the series or in the novels. I think he’s hugely able, and that we’ve barely begun to tap into his talents as a copper and a detective. The Lodge has its part to play — but Strange is no fool trading on a funny handshake and an apron.
STRANGE: (lightly) Seen the old man?
ENDEAVOUR: I called the house a few times. Left messages.
STRANGE: I’d’ve told ‘em where to stick it.
ENDEAVOUR: Would you? (they both know STRANGE wouldn’t) Division doesn’t like losing police officers.
STRANGE: Full Disciplinary, though? Busted down a rank? It wasn’t right. (a moment) And we’re still no nearer to finding who did for George.
ENDEAVOUR: ‘We’? I’m here. You’re there. He’s at Castle Gate. Mister Bright at Traffic. There isn’t a we – not any more – nor likely to be.
STRANGE: We said…
ENDEAVOUR: You said. (beat; off STRANGE) I don’t blame you. Heat of the moment. Like the last day of school. Solemn oaths and giddy declarations. ‘We happy few…’
STRANGE: I meant it.
ENDEAVOUR: I’m sure. (beat) But that’s not how it turned out. It’s never how these things turn out.
WIDE – two old friends, coffee table between them – the width of an ocean.
DAMIAN: You know, I increasingly find myself siding with Strange and other supporting characters rather than Endeavour. Indeed, like Strange, I’m often ‘baffled and appalled’ by his attitude. Another example would be the vicious way he mocks Joan’s attempts to improve herself in APOLLO (S6:E2). Maybe it’s just me, but isn’t this a bit of a problem considering he’s the main character?
RUSS: Well, with Joan, of course — ‘If he can’t have her, he must hurt her.’ It’s a mess. What can I tell you? But, in the example you mention, it’s a man putting off the dread hour. If we’re going to look at it in terms of the wretched paradigm, this is the ‘Refusal of the Call to Adventure.’ Barf! There’s a scene with Max that didn’t make the cut – that you’ll have read [this will be included in another interview], where again, Endeavour is really doing his best not to be dragged back into the fray. He’s bleeding. Fancy’s death is chewing him up. He doesn’t want to be the hero that the universe is demanded he becomes. And so he’s dismissive of Strange’s overt camaraderie. We’re back to Bogart — ‘I stick my neck out for nobody.’
ENDEAVOUR at his ablutions. The face that looks back in the mirror is one he hardly recognises. Emotional permafrost. The only clue that this is still our ENDEAVOUR is a wounded look in his eye, for which there is no balm.
DAMIAN: Does Shaun ever have reservations regarding the likeability of his character or does he relish exploring the deep complexity of Endeavour?
RUSS: I always imagine it to be the latter.
EXT. SERGEANT’S HOUSE/WOODSTOCK POLICE OUTPOST
Dusk. ENDEAVOUR walks STRANGE over to his car.
STRANGE: Well, then, matey.
ENDEAVOUR: Let me know next time. I’ll bake a cake.
STRANGE turns for his car – and then turns back.
STRANGE: Oh, I saw Joanie. Said to say hullo if I ran into you.
ENDEAVOUR lets the conversational ball drop.
STRANGE: (CONT’D) Started in as a trainee with the Welfare. So, I suppose it all works out in the end. (turns at his car) We shouldn’t let it go — what happened to George. (off ENDEAVOUR’s indifference) Don’t you care?
ENDEAVOUR: Would it make a difference?
DAMIAN: Tell me about Joan’s new job and the introduction of Viv?
RUSS: I think I’ve said before that I’m deeply invested in her journey – Joan and Win, actually – representing, as they do, two generations of women – a mother and daughter at a hinge of history. And again with Dorothea Frazil – very much a woman in a man’s world – taking a claw-hammer to the glass ceiling. On one level – with the coppers being coppers there’s a danger that it turns into something very blokey. If you’re going to try to paint in some social history beyond the whodunitry, then why would you exclude the greater half the population?
And – again, as I’ve said before – having put Joan through some difficult experiences, it felt right to have her reclaim agency over her own life. Her life, her rules, her way. She’s had quite enough of blokes for the time being, thank you very much — now it’s about her. Her wants and needs. I’d always seen her as someone with a lot to give to the world — and it seemed right that she would move into Welfare – particularly Children’s Welfare – right at the point that people’s need for that service was expanding. There was a show in the early 70s called Helen, A Woman of Today which had that Aznavour hit, ‘She’ as its theme tune. It starred Alison Fiske and Martin Shaw – and was really ahead of its time in the way it put a woman at the centre of the drama, and explored the story from her point of view. Hugely important show. So, there was that, and then an afternoon show with Stephanie Beacham called Marked Personal about the ‘Personnel’ department (HR nowadays) of a large business. Again – that had, in the phrase du jour, a ‘female-centric’ approach. Within These Walls – the Women’s Prison drama with Googie Withers and Mona Washbourne – was also contemporary with these, and clearly made some kind of impression. I suppose all of this fed into how Joan is developing. It seemed like a rich area for us to explore, and I’m sure will prove so. You know, Sara Vickers is just an amazing talent, and I love to write for her. It’s always a thrill to see her work – so intelligent, so sensitive. Enormously grateful to her.
DAMIAN: I’m sure we’ll talk about Thursday in a lot more detail in another one of our interviews but for now, I was wondering if the Clemence subplot was always a part of his backstory or created specifically for this film?
RUSS: I think it was always something at the back of my mind. That because much of his work would have taken place while we still had capital punishment, he would have helped send people to the gallows. Also, in terms of all that followed, combined with the situation he’d found himself in courtesy of Charlie, it undermined him further still.
EXT/NT. 13 JUBILEE ROW – NIGHT XI (FLASHBACK – 1954)
Night and rain. A trench-coated DETECTIVE SERGEANT THURSDAY crosses from CID CAR parked outside – past UNIFORMS and into a house.
Blood spatter up the walls.
In the back parlour – A WOMAN lies dead in a pool of blood. It’s a pretty squalid environment. UNIFORMS, PHOTOGRAPHER, the usual paraphernalia. A flash gun goes off.
Near the body – a PLAYPEN in which a TODDLER (2) stands in a romper suit – bawling its eyes out. THURSDAY reacts — heartstruck. He sweeps the child up from the PLAYPEN, and carries him out.
INT. THURSDAY’S OFFICE/POLICE STATION – NIGHT 3
ENDEAVOUR: Who killed his mother?
THURSDAY: His father. Philip Clemence. Commercial traveller. Knocked out brushes – door to door.
ENDEAVOUR: He go down for it?
THURSDAY, a moment — darkness here.
DAMIAN: Darkness. You know, I can’t help but think that Thursday’s backstory regarding his younger days in the army and subsequent formative years in the police would make a great film in it’s own right.
RUSS: Only if – as with Sam Vimes and John Keel – Roger could act as mentor (for a while at least!) to his younger self. But yes — when we all turn our warrant cards, I have half an idea to explore Thursday’s London career, but not as a television piece.
INT. GALLOWS – DAY X2 (FLASHBACK – 1954)
PHILIP CLEMENCE’s hands are pinioned by PIERREPOINT. White cloth back goes over his head.
CLEMENCE: I didn’t do it. I’m innocent. Thursday!
PIERREPOINT pulls the handle…
DAMIAN: Pierrepoint was the famous hangman who exectued hundreds including the Acid Bath Murderer and the Rillington Place Strangler as well as more contentious executions such as Timothy Evans and Derek Bentley. Is the latter point the reason you reference him in the script and, if so, why wasn’t this made more explicit in the film?
RUSS: It was there more as a grace note.
EXT. MAX’S HOUSE – DAY 6
ENDEAVOUR on the doorstep. MAX opens the door — wearing a cook’s apron, and with a knife in hand, he looks as if he’s just stepped out of his mortuary.
MAX: (re: the knife) Nothing sinister. I was just getting a seedcake out of the oven.
DAMIAN: Nothing sinister is another Russ-ism – you often say that, you know? Anyway, I loved this scene and was thrilled to finally catch a glimpse of Max’s house and I thought both the baking and his love for gardening was a great insight into how he manages to keep his two worlds at a safe distance.
MAX: Have to give it [the seedcake] half an hour to cool. Well – this is a first. (re: drinks) Splash more?
MAX knocks up a Whisky Mac – scotch and ginger wine over ice.
ENDEAVOUR: Been here long?
MAX: Eight years? Yes. Eight years. Don’t know what I’d do without it, to be honest. How d’you know where I live, by the way?
ENDEAVOUR: You’re in the book. (re: the house and garden) Nice.
MAX: I’m fighting a war of attrition with the greenfly over the tea-roses. Not very successfully, it must be said. But, yes – as a spot I’m rather fond. (a moment) Something has to be lovely, doesn’t it?
DAMIAN: Later in the scene, Max says that ‘I shan’t flatter myself it’s altogether a social call…’ and I was wondering – as is the case in the original Colin Dexter novels – if we will see the point in their relationship where they do actually socialise together?
RUSS: Yes, Jimmy lost out a bit here, insofar as there was an Endeavour taking his leave of Max scene that followed on which I’d thought was quite important [again, this will be included in a later interview]. A spur to Endeavour’s flanks – or at least a prick to his conscience. Perhaps one day we’ll include all the outtakes in the definitive, all our sins remembered, DVD collection. It felt right – Max acting as Jiminy (Jimmy) Cricket to Endeavour’s little wooden boy.
I’m sure we will get to see them socialise more at some point — should we last that long. But in terms of this run of films, it was as much about underlining Endeavour’s own rootlessness at that point. His lack of somewhere to call his own — which would eventually bear fruit at the other end of the run.
DAMIAN: What can you tell us about the first film of series 7, ORACLE?
RUSS: Well, I realised that with all the other things that had to be taken care of in ‘69, I hadn’t gone out of my way to particularly dial up the Scare the Bejesus Meter, and thought those that care for such might have felt left out. So… With that in mind, and as they used to say in the comics, A Happy New Year to All Our Readers.
Interview copyright © Damian Michael Barcroft 2020
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