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THE ENDEAVOUR INTERVIEWS 2019: Matthew Slater

For me, as an aficionado of Horror and German Expressionist Cinema, I know that some of the most potent screen images come from those early silent films such as Cesare abducting and dragging his prey across the oblique cityscape in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), the shadow of Count Orlok slowly ascending the staircase in Nosferatu (1922) and the thrillingly iconic creation of Maria in Metropolis (1927). These films, along with many others directed by cinematic pioneers like FW Murnau and Fritz Lang, inspired and influenced the Hollywood Horror Film and paved the way for the Universal Monster Cycle of the thirties and forties among other masterpieces of the genre.

And yet, when Universal first resurrected a host of classic gothic literary monsters for the sound era, they were reluctant to fully embrace the transition from silent film to talkies and the art of the music score. Many films frequently had music over the opening and closing title cards but anything more was usually restricted to diegetic (source) music such as if a character was at a concert, playing a record or listening to the radio. Indeed, their defining productions of Dracula and Frankenstein (both 1931) scream out for a full orchestral soundtrack. However, when James Whale was persuaded to direct a sequel, The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), this time the monster demanded a music score and it remains one of the greatest examples of the art of scoring a horror picture ever composed.

Given my affection for classic monster movies and their music, I was most intrigued to hear that the second episode of series five of Endeavour would feature a Mummy! I’d already met and later interviewed composer Matthew Slater and so I was obviously aware of the virtuoso and genius inventiveness that has immeasurably enhanced the mystery, the thrills and the romance of Endeavour. But how would Matt approach scoring an episode about an aged horror icon visiting Oxford to promote his latest cinematic tale of terror? I’m very pleased to have the opportunity of interviewing Matt again to talk about the making of CARTOUCHE and the horror film scores that have inspired him…

The monster demands a mate! And a music score…

The monster demands a music score!
– An exclusive interview with composer Matthew Slater

Interview copyright © Damian Michael Barcroft 2019

Header image © Anne Miller

Black and white photography © Geraint Morgan Photography

DAMIAN: Matt, I’m thinking back to the first truly great and influential Horror/Fantasy film scores and two obvious examples immediately spring to mind that I’d like to discuss, Max Steiner’s King Kong (1933) and Franz Waxman’s The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), unless you can think of anything that predates these?

MATT: Considering that just a little bit before those dates we were still in the land of silent movies, I think you’re probably right.  I’m sure there were some fantastic scores improvised by the musicians playing along at the time, but yes, I’d agree with you over Steiner and Waxman being the big boys.  Or, in films like Dracula in 1931, no bespoke score was recorded, and classics were used instead, which could also bring equal power and emotion to a movie. A concept not foreign to Kubrick.

DAMIAN: Let’s deal with Max Steiner first who, I think, composed over a hundred and fifty scores including music for Gone With the Wind (1939) Casablanca (1942), The Big Sleep (1946), The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) and The Searchers (1956) to name but a few. However, would you say that it was King Kong that established him as one of early Hollywood’s most important composers?

MATT:  I think King Kong certainly had a significant impact on Steiner’s career by its sheer Wagnerian size, much like Kong’s stature in fact.  His use of themes and leitmotifs which have become commonplace these days would also play an extensive part in the success of the film. Bernard Hermann and Eric Korngold were also around at the same time and writing some fantastic scores.  The list could go on, but depends on whether we’re just talking about the horror and fantasy genres at that time.

DAMIAN: As a composer, can you explain the impact that the score had on audiences back then and why it continues to be so influential today in terms of elevating the status and respectability of the monster and fantasy genres?

MATT: If I knew that, I’d be John Williams!!  I think therein lies the answer though.  It’s not always the tune that bears the most importance in a film, its what it is designed to accompany on screen and how to emote the audience at that point.  That’s the genius of people like Rozsa, Steiner, Waxman, Hermann, Goldsmith and Williams. Matching the tune to that moment in time.

DAMIAN: Can you highlight some its defining musical features so that a layman such as myself without any musical knowledge or training can go back to the score and understand its monumental achievements?

MATT: Simply put, it’s the operatic feel, nature and enormity of the score which often gets that Wagnerian label.   A nod to Tristan und Isolde probably goes a little way to help that association with Steiner’s King Kong. Perhaps his use of unconventional harmony might also go to make that bond between the two composers.  Again, it’s not necessarily the notes or harmony themselves that particularly define a composer but more their application and placement in film, opera or ballet. Hermann’s Cape Fear and those descending intervals for instance. Inseparable. John William’s three-note Jaws motif, inexorably linked to the fish with the big teeth.

DAMIAN: And Franz Waxman, another prolific and groundbreaking Hollywood composer with credits such as Rebecca, The Philadelphia Story (both 1940), Suspicion (1941), Sunset Boulevard (1950), and Rear Window (1954), to what extent did he advance the parameters for the potential of horror film music even further than Steiner with his sophisticated and multifaceted score for Bride?

MATT:  I think all composers draw upon each other for the development of their respective genres, it’s almost impossible not to.  Much like score styles go in and out of fashion all the time. Look at the recent moves we’ve had towards scores become a more sound design element to films rather than having distinctive musical context and harmonic structure.  I’m not saying they are lesser scores by any means at all, just a fashion, as were electronic scores in the 70’s and 80’s. Even orchestral scores have gone in and out of appeal over the life of cinema and TV. I think the question might require a somewhat lengthy essay on the matter, so I’ll thin it down a little if you don’t object.

When it comes to comedy and horror the music plays an enormously important role.  Take the score away and see how well defined those moments become. As I’ve mentioned before, for me, it’s the application of the music rather than the specifics of thematic, harmonic and textual content.  As important as those facets are, the genius is also in the placement.

DAMIAN: Personally, I’d go as far as to say that the music to the final scenes with the creation of the Bride, with the constant thumping heartbeat-like repetition and the chimes evoking wedding bells, is the single most thrilling and exhilarating moment in the history of horror scores. Again, can you highlight some of the tricks the composer uses here to create both the horror and pathos of the scene?

MATT:  Waxman’s use of low ostinati, low woods, timpani and brass give that feeling of doom and impending horror giving way to the full slush and pathos of high string chord portomenti patterns.  Tubular bells and harp give that bridal feel all within those moments after “she’s alive!!”. A hint of Wagner’s Bridal Chorus perhaps in some perverse way?

DAMIAN: I don’t know if anyone else has ever thought of this but Frankenstein’s monster meets the blind man who is playing Schubert’s Ave Maria, do you think given James Whale’s celebrated dark sense of humour, that this was a joke because the little girl drowned by the monster in the first Frankenstein was called Maria?

MATT: I’ll pop along to my next local pub quiz, put that on the list of questions and get back to you.

DAMIAN: Endeavour’s ears may well be pricking up right about now because both the music of Steiner and Waxman have elements of Wagner as you’ve mentioned which might also be viewed as an extension of the German Romantic tradition and also the fact that so much opera has embraced elements of the supernatural such as scenes incorporating gods, monsters and magic. To what extent do you think operatic terms like Ombra and Sturm und Drang can be applied to the scores for Kong and Bride?

MATT: Take the picture away from Kong and Bride, add a few lyrics, a stage, singers – arguably not then operas and therefore applicable?  Joking aside, I think you’re probably right; they could well apply. Demons and misunderstood creatures feature in score in terms of horror, pathos and misconstrued perceptions.

DAMIAN: In addition to Kong and Bride, I’ve come up with a list of what I consider to be some of the greatest or influential music scores in either the horror, thriller or monster film genre: Dracula (1958, James Bernard), Vertigo (1958, Bernard Herrmann), Psycho (1960, Herrmann), Cape Fear (1962, Herrmann), Jaws (1975, John Williams), The Omen (1976, Jerry Goldsmith), The Silence of the Lambs (1991, Howard Shore) and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992, Wojciech Kilar). What would you add to this list?

MATT: You’ve left me some thinking to do as we have a very similar list – although with my last choice it’s a combo between score and use of songs that works so well.  The Thing (1982, John Carpenter), Clash Of The Titans (1981, Laurence Rosenthal), Alien (1979, Jerry Goldsmith), Arrival (2016, Johann Johannsson), Poltergeist (1982, Jerry Goldsmith),  Presumed Innocent (1990, John Williams) and Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 (2017, Michael Giacchino).

DAMIAN: I suppose after the Universal Horror Cycle, the other most significant series of classic monster reinventions arrived on the screen courtesy of Hammer and although they employed various other great composers such as Tristram Cary, Don Ellis, Christopher Gunning, Laurie Johnson, Carlo Martelli, Mario Nascimbene, Franz Reizenstein, Harry Robinson, David Whitaker and Malcolm Williamson, to what extent do you think James Bernard was responsible for the sound we now associate with the studio and did you watch or listen to the soundtracks of any of their Mummy series as research for CARTOUCHE?

MATT:  Subconsciously, who knows.  But no, I didn’t listen to anything before scoring CARTOUCHE.

DAMIAN: I think your music for Endeavour far exceeds the expectations of any recent television drama series, but I was completely blown away by the music for CARTOUCHE – especially the ‘March of the Mummy’ theme. It was simply stunning and completely indistinguishable from a big-budget Hollywood score. Tell me about some of your first ideas in response to Russ’ script, the retro sound, the orchestration and choice of instruments… Matt, just bloody tell me everything please?

MATT:  Thank you so much!   There was so very little time to score those moments as I initially thought we were going to clear something original for use.  I think I wrote those moments the day before the recording session. I’ve always been a big believer of putting the music budget on the screen, so since I’ve been scoring Endeavour, we’re using the size of the orchestra not uncommon in feature films.   Mammoth Screen’s excellent appreciation of the importance of music in Endeavour has been a significant factor in what we can now achieve. Russ’ characters always seem to conjure their themes almost instantly. The strength of screenwriting helps enormously with music.

DAMIAN: Was there a guide music score for this film?

MATT: Some, but with the more recent films we’ve been using far less guide music than ever before which allows for a much broader scope of music context, remit and creativity.

DAMIAN: I know Russ is obviously a huge enthusiast but was the director, Andy Wilson, also a fan of the horror genre and can you tell us a little bit about working with him during the spotting session?

MATT:  You’d have to ask Andy about that; however, he was an excellent director with which to collaborate.  Allowing me to do what I needed to do, told me what he liked and didn’t, I revised then we achieved completion — all in a matter of hours at the review process in my studio.    A joy.

DAMIAN: During our first interview, we discussed the influence of working with Barrington for over twenty years and the extent to which you balance honouring and respecting the musical heritage of Morse, Lewis and Endeavour, while also enjoying the freedom to creatively pursue your own or new styles and tastes. Do you agree, particularly with series six, that you seem to be increasingly experimental (APOLLO is perhaps a good example of this?) in extending this soundscape while still remaining consistent with music universe of Endeavour?

MATT:  The path of now scoring the majority of Endeavour has been laden with many challenges.  I’d rather not go into details over the whys and wherefores. However, what I will say is that I’ve slowly been able to make Endeavour more my style while still hopefully keeping the viewers feeling like they aren’t suddenly watching a complete different series; but we have moved on and are developing the sound of Endeavour while still nodding to the Oxford history.

Absolutely.  Endeavour is a robust set of stories and characters and constantly evolving plots. Score wise we need to reflect that; otherwise, the music becomes static. What I try to do is add a score personality to each episode, so if you heard the score in isolation, you could probably guess the film from which it came. Thank you for noticing!

DAMIAN: You also told me that working on each film presents its own excitement and challenges as every film is so different in terms of the musical demands. Which film of series six have you found to be the most challenging or demanding this year?

MATT: Having far less guide score this year has made the whole process more comfortable and more creative.   I’m very fortunate to be trusted to that extent, and it’s a huge honour to work with Damien, Deanne, Russ, Helen, Shaun in his capacity as director, Johnny and Jamie plus and all the cast and crew.  It’s a dream to be part of such a family. I have to mention Abbey Road, Air Studios, The London Metropolitan Orchestra, Accorder/Peer, Paul Golding and everyone that’s part of making the music work.  It’s a massive team effort.

DAMIAN: Finally, as I think I’ve mentioned to you before, I own all the Morse albums that have ever been released in addition to the ones for Lewis and Endeavour but I’ve played these in rotation every time I start work on new interviews with the cast and crew which I began in 2013 – I need something new! I’m sure like myself, there are many fans who would like to buy the COMPLETE scores from EVERY series of Endeavour. What are the chances of this, or at least a highlights album, actually happening?

MATT:  I’m always overwhelmed about people asking for the music, and it’s something I’d love to be able to provide.    We’ll do our best to make something happen. Watch this space.

DAMIAN: Matt, thank you very much indeed.

MATT:  It’s always a pleasure, thank you for such challenging questions!!!

THE ENDEAVOUR INTERVIEWS 2019: Damien Timmer

An exclusive interview with the executive producer of Endeavour and managing director of Mammoth Screen.

Rise of the Mammuthus primigenius

Interview copyright © Damian Michael Barcroft 2019

DAMIAN: I’d like to start by going back to what, in many respects, might be retrospectively viewed as the beginning with your work as a script editor on THE WAY THROUGH THE WOODS. I find it absolutely remarkable and also somewhat affecting to think both you and Russell Lewis began a friendship and professional working relationship on the original Inspector Morse series and continued your shared journey together through the Colin Dexter Universe with Lewis and now, of course, six series of Endeavour which is arguably even better than either of its prestigious predecessors. Can you tell me a little bit about meeting Russ for the first time and your initial impressions of him?

DAMIEN: It would have been just before I worked on THE WAY THROUGH THE WOODS twenty-five years ago. I was at Central Films in the mid-nineties, which was a real drama power-house in its day. Ted Childs had hit after hit, and Russell created and worked on so many of these shows – Kavanagh QC, Cadfael, Sharpe. He had the Midas Touch, and Ted turned to him for everything. I was a very junior script editor, and I would see him in the corridor – ‘that’s Russell Lewis!’. There was always a stir when he came in because he was this powerhouse of ideas and everyone adored him. You could feel the energy pick up in the office. I watched him from afar, and read his scripts whenever I was able to. Nothing else reads like a Russell script – the hugely evocative stage directions, the hinterland he gives all his characters, the way he combines real erudition with great populist story instincts, and his genius for plotting. So I was a very starstruck fan. And I got to know him a little bit doing THE WAY THROUGH THE WOODS, which was a seminal experience for me, working with Russell and John Madden, the director. First impressions – that he was very bright eyed and bushy tailed, one of the cleverest people I had ever met, and also one of the kindest.

DAMIAN: And what were you like back then?

DAMIEN: Hmmm. Well, I had always wanted to be a script editor, and there I was, at Central Films, working on these big shows. I couldn’t believe my luck! And I was DULL. I took it all VERY seriously. Earnest.

DAMIAN: Funny, we met briefly before at New College during the location shooting of the opening dance number for CANTICLE but it was only later that I actually realised you had read history there at Oxford. I wonder what your career aspirations were during this period as a student and how did you find yourself becoming a script editor?

DAMIEN: Twenty-year-old Damien wanted to be a script editor – in the old days the Radio Times used to credit script editors in the listings, and I knew their names and followed their careers. I knew I couldn’t write, and I wanted to be a career script editor. I left Oxford at a time of terrible recession, couldn’t get any work, did various admin jobs, bar work, and eventually got a job on an Australian soap opera (another story). And then I got script reading work and eventually the job at Central Films.

DAMIAN: Is there still a certain amount of nostalgia regarding your association to both Oxford as a student, and professionally, the world that Colin created?

DAMIEN: Yes, for me. I went to New College, and there’s always a little frisson for me when we go back to film there. The opening of CANTICLE was filmed in one of the quads – drones, singing and dancing and umbrellas on the lawn – that made me happy. We were never allowed to walk on the lawn, so that was a transgressive thrill. Hollywell Street – which we film in a lot – was the centre of my life for three years, and I always get a little Proustian thrill when we film there.

DAMIAN: Specialising in producing original television drama for some of the major broadcasters including the BBC, ITV and Sky, Mammoth Screen was founded by Michele Buck and yourself in 2007. Was it difficult setting up your own production company and what was your initial vision for it?

DAMIEN: The vision was just to try and make shows we liked. I try not to overthink it and just see where our taste and luck takes one!

DAMIAN: Why the name Mammoth?

DAMIEN: Well, I was knitting a lot at the time, and I liked the fact that mammoths were woollen. And we also thought it was funny to call a fledgling production company after an extinct creature. Tongue was very much in cheek…

DAMIAN: In addition to Endeavour, Poldark, Victoria and the Agatha Christie adaptations for BBC One to name just a few – how the hell do you manage to juggle so many celebrated and esteemed productions?

DAMIEN: Well, I guess it goes back to Central Films, and enjoying working across a big slate of shows. You get used to a certain workload. I genuinely find that working across lots of shows gives me energy. And obviously it’s only possible to do lots of things because I have very clever colleagues and we all help each other!

DAMIAN: As a huge fan of The War of the Worlds and H. G. Wells in general, I can’t begin to tell you how much I’m looking forward to seeing your version, particularly as it’s the first period screen adaptation. What attracted you to this particular project?

DAMIEN: Going back to when I started in television I had always wanted to do a period adaptation of The War Of The Worlds, but there were rights issues. I’d been waiting twenty-five years!

DAMIAN: What do you believe are the essential ingredients for a successful TV drama or what do you look for in a script that lands on your desk?

DAMIEN: Obviously brilliant writing. But brilliant writing comes in so many forms. Every writer is different. I love some scripts that are wonderfully optimistic and full of joy, I love some scripts that are utterly harrowing and bleak. I think that’s true of audience too. I love writers who have a unique voice, and then obviously one tries to cast each show with the most memorable group of actors, and try to not be daunted by the budgetary limitations and achieve as much production value as is humanly possible.

DAMIAN: Would it be fair to say you have a propensity for period dramas and detective mysteries?

DAMIEN: I accept that it does seem to skew that way, but you can’t legislate for what is going to get commissioned from your development slate. Over the years we seem to do a lot of adaptations, but I think that is possibly part of a general trend. I do love history, and I love a period drama…

DAMIAN: Indeed, illuminated only by a solitary and flickering light, I like to imagine a long corridor beneath the offices of Mammoth Screen where you keep Russ typing away in one room with a set of Colin Dexter’s novels and Sarah Phelps in another with a library of Agatha Christie! Who might be found in the next cell?

DAMIEN: Well, we have optioned some interesting titles recently. But of course I can’t disclose what they are!

DAMIAN: Difficult, and also possibly unwise, to pick a favourite among your various productions over the years but given your aforementioned history with the character and the various artists who helped bring him to the screen, Endeavour must surely hold a very special place in your heart?

DAMIEN: Oh yes. Russell’s achievement is extraordinary. By the end of series six he has written fifty-four hours of television. That’s highly unusual! I think of Russell as a Savile Row tailor – he’s made twenty-seven bespoke suits! Clearly it starts with Colin Dexter, but Russell’s brain powers that show. Everyone who works on it has a special spring in their step because of Russell. I can’t think of another writer who has done this – he’s written every word of the show. David Renwick and Jonathan Creek comes close I think – but Russell has written more. Anthony Horowitz created Foyle’s War, but many other writers wrote on the show. It gives Endeavour a very unique identity. And it’s the seamless way in which Russell has developed Colin Dexter’s fictional universe with characters like Strange and Max, but also created the Thursday family, Bright, Jakes, Box etc. I worked on Lewis for many years and it was written by many writers – including some great writers – but the process was entirely different because there was no one author. It made it much much much less rewarding than Endeavour.

DAMIAN: I believe there were lengthy discussions between Russ, Michele Buck and yourself about the idea of an origin film to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Inspector Morse, but who actually came up with the concept – one of you must have been the first to mention it?

DAMIEN: It must have been about eleven or twelve years ago, I reckon? And I honestly can’t remember how it came up. I remember how Lewis came up; I was sitting having a cup of tea with Julie Gardner at LWT, and we were talking about detective series, and she said ‘we should develop something for Kevin Whately’, and I said ‘he’s already played an iconic detective. Hmmm. Surely we would never be allowed to give Lewis his own show?’. And after much wrangling Lewis was born. The idea of a Morse prequel story was just always there, I think. We spent a long time biding our time! Colin Dexter wrote a short story for the Daily Mail about the young Morse, and that gave us the courage to approach him. He took some persuading…

DAMIAN: Throughout my interviews with Russ over the years, he’s always maintained that the film that would eventually become First Bus to Woodstock was only ever intended as a one-off special to celebrate the anniversary and not a pilot as such. However, I find hard to believe that someone with as much business savvy as yourself never suspected that there was the potential for a long-running series?

DAMIEN: Our conscious minds were just making an anniversary film. Honestly. A similar thing happened with Lewis – we’d made a one off film which we persuaded ourselves was just a special one off. It seemed such hallowed ground, revisiting the world of Morse, and we honestly didn’t know if the audience would approve. They did engage with Lewis, but then we had Kevin Whately. The Lewis one-off was a success, and then we made a first series. Endeavour seemed like a much bigger gamble. The idea of a new actor stepping into John Thaw’s shoes seemed a massively high risk thing to do. So our conscious minds were telling us ‘do Colin Dexter proud, this is only a one off’.

DAMIAN: While looking back at the daily rushes of an evening, was there ever a particular scene that made you think First Bus would be a success with both critics and fans alike?

DAMIEN: That first two-hander between Endeavour and Thursday in the police office at night – those rushes were wonderful. The scene with Flora Montgomery where Endeavour almost kisses her – goose bumps.

DAMIAN: Why did First Bus work so well and what was the initial reaction from ITV pre and post-broadcast?

DAMIEN: It’s such a beautiful script. And Shaun and Roger are terrific in it. Colm [McCarthy, director] did such great work, Pat Campbell designed it so beautifully – it just all cohered. But Russell. That was the key to it. Russell honoured the original with such cleverness but he also gave the thing life. Young Endeavour just lived.

ITV were very keen on it, but no one knew if anyone would watch it. TV prequels rarely work. There might be an initial curiosity from viewers but this soon fades. What have we had over the years? An Only Fools and Horses prequel, a Dallas prequel, an Eastenders prequel, a show about the young James Herriot, First of the Summer Rain – none of them worked. And then the recent Prime Suspect show. So even though ITV liked the show I don’t think they necessarily thought it would be anything other than a footnote to Morse.

It went out on a Monday, I think – the 2nd January – and it was greenlit by the Friday. Peter Fincham – who was then in charge at ITV – took perhaps a day longer than we would have liked!

DAMIAN: Can you describe the moment when Russ was told that ITV wanted a full series?

DAMIEN: To be honest the ratings were so huge, and the response from the audience was so extraordinary that we just assumed there would be a series. We went into that first transmission thinking ‘we’ve made a tribute film to Morse, kind viewers please don’t be offended, we only mean well’. And then on transmission something unusual happened. People just LOVED it. I was staying in our cottage in the country and the TV broke about five minutes before it started. This seemed to be BAD OMEN. We have very bad phone reception, but I was able to get a signal by hanging out of a window. In my mind there was a gale, but I might have invented that. And I was expecting a very lukewarm response on twitter – because most things do get a lukewarm response – and there was this tsunami of twitter love for it. And for Shaun. And I think we just knew that Endeavour had legs. Russell and Dan McCulloch Producer] and I spoke a lot that night – you could just feel how much the audience loved it. Very rare feeling!

DAMIAN: One of the reasons that I believe Endeavour works so well and is so distinctive among other detective shows is the fact that Russ is the auteur and has an unrivalled talent for balancing the mystery-thriller aspects of the crime genre with ongoing narrative arcs populated with characters we care about and even love deeply. However, was there ever a concern from either ITV, or even yourself, that he’d be able to write every film?

DAMIEN: No! Generally speaking it’s very unusual for one person to write all of a detective series, but we took baby steps, and just hoped that Russell would want to write all of the first series, and then all of the second series. And it quickly became clear that the thing that really made the show work was Russell’s brain, and that the magic would stop if he wasn’t at the helm.

DAMIAN: Previously, both Russ and I wondered if 1969 would be a good year to end Endeavour’s adventures but you apparently believe that the show could still work just as well into the seventies?

DAMIEN: I think there’s something thrilling about leaving the 1960s. TV loves the 60s, doesn’t it? And it sometimes feels like the decade is hermetically sealed – ‘X show is about the 1960s’ etc. Endeavour is chronicling one man’s life, and I love the way we’ve seen Endeavour grow up as the 1960s unfold, and I think it’s thrilling to see how the 70s can challenge him – and Thursday too. The world continues beyond December 31st, 1969!

DAMIAN: Despite all the interviews in which I’ve tried to dissect a mind so full of obscure, unlikely, and possibly best forgotten cultural references, Russ is a mystery to me. However, it would seem he’s not the only one with strange fancies! – why does an Oxford-educated, executive producer and managing director of a hugely successful production company have such a fondness for a ramshackle and antiquated soap opera like Crossroads?

DAMIEN: Ha! Funnily enough I came across a youtube channel yesterday with lots of old episodes and I lost a very happy chunk of time watching some eps from 1975. As a kid I watched a lot of TV. Only child, busy parents – the TV really was my friend. I have affection for all TV of the 70s and 80s. Russell and I were both tickled by the notion that Kings Oak wasn’t so far from Oxford. The show isn’t the defining love of my life, honest! I have lots and lots of other guilty pleasures!

DAMIAN: And finally, as I’ve been curious about this for a number of years now, what exactly do you mean by the term ‘fragrant ladies’?

DAMIEN: Oh dear God, did Russell mention that? Well, Inspector Morse was riddled with fragrant ladies – right up to Judy Lowe’s character at the very end. It’s not just Colin Dexter’s world, good detective fiction with male protagonists – Sherlock Holmes, Philip Marlowe etc. – needs female characters to beguile and sometimes lead the hero astray. And Endeavour carries on this tradition, starting with Rosalind Stromming in FIRST BUS.

Because its set in the 1960s the worlds of the show can be quite male dominated – the world of academia, the rural and industrial spaces we sometimes visit – and I have occasionally been known to ask if we can have a ‘fragrant lady’ in a story, meaning ‘an ostensibly sympathetic female character who is connected to the crime and might even be responsible for the crime’. Russell has written many great female characters over the years, riffing on a particular kind of British woman of the era – a little bit Terence Rattigan heroine, a little bit Celia Johnson colliding with the counter culture of the 1960s. In one early story I politely enquired if there was room for a ‘fragrant lady’ after Russell had delivered a brilliant but very male dominated first draft. She became the killer and the phrase stuck!

DAMIAN: Damien, thank you very much indeed.

DAMIEN: Pleasure!

~~~

POSTSCRIPT: Damien contacted me after this interview was posted with the following information which is quite interesting:

‘The other thing that amused me about Crossroads and the world of Colin Dexter is this: it has been suggested that Crossroads was axed to release money to the central TV drama budget to allow Ted Childs to make more high quality drama shot on film – and the original series of Inspector Morse was one of the lucky recipients of this additional funding. So Crossroads had to die for Inspector Morse to live. The circle of TV life! So it seemed fun to tip our hat to it, and locate both shows in the same fictional universe!’.


THE ENDEAVOUR INTERVIEWS 2019: Paul Cripps

Interview and original photography copyright © Damian Michael Barcroft 2019

All other images provided by Paul Cripps courtesy of Mammoth Screen

DAMIAN: You were the production designer on series five of Endeavour and asked back again this year. Given the fact that you got to design the new CID set, I wonder if series six was even more exciting and challenging to work on?

PAUL: Series six was just as challenging as Series five except that it was two films shorter! That made a huge difference in terms of crew fatigue (and my own).

DAMIAN: In terms of the look and feel of the CID set, I know Russ (Lewis, writer and deviser of Endeavour) wanted to evoke Alan J Pakula’s paranoia trilogy of Klute (1971), The Parallax View (1974) and All the President’s Men (1976) with a particular emphasis on the Washington Post newsroom in the latter and also the one featured in Zodiac (2007). Why do you think he referenced these and to what extent did they influence your designs?

PAUL: I pretty much came up with the same references as Russ when I heard the basic tenets of the first script apart from the The Offence. I think both Russ and myself were interested in the idea of seeding the series with alienation. The team have been split up, Endeavour is alienated from Joan, Thursday from Win, Bright from his former high position. We wanted to show the alienation associated through the brutalist architecture of the police station. Thursday has problems with this unfamiliar landscape and we also nod to the approaching world of modern policing and the move closer to the world of the first Morse series. I loved the office in Zodiac and that’s where the influence for the fake wood and metal office dividers came from.

Paul Cripps

DAMIAN: And wasn’t there also something about the light featured in The Offence (1972) that Russ wanted for the ceiling in the interview room?

PAUL: Yes I watched the The Offence a couple of times. It’s a very odd but great movie and the film was a really important reference for many things in the new station. There is a huge strange overhead light fitting in the main interview scene. It’s a little over the top and although I know Russ was keen to put similar in the station I tried to do this but keep with a slightly more believable light fitting. It think it works well but you’ll have to ask what Russ thinks.

Paul Cripps
Paul Cripps

DAMIAN: Obviously one of the most striking differences between the old CID set and your new one is the addition of the lift in the lobby area. Was this something that was required in the scripts or an idea of your own?

PAUL: I can’t remember if it was mentioned but I knew I wanted a lobby and lift to make it seem really modern compared to the old Cowley office. What we’ve done is create a lobby that can represent different  floors in a big police station. With a few additions of walls and doors the first floor lobby and CID becomes the basement lobby with the vending machines and the entrance to Endeavour’s store room office. The set was supposed to last for quite a few episodes as per the old Cowley set so I wanted to be able to create different floors by redressing if required. Redressed and repurposed Endeavour’s office also becomes the interview room so it’s a very versatile set.

Damian Michael Barcroft
Paul Cripps
Damian Michael Barcroft
Paul Cripps
Damian Michael Barcroft
Paul Cripps
Damian Michael Barcroft

DAMIAN: I’ve found standing in both the old and new CID sets that they are much smaller than they appear on screen. To what extent is this camera trickery or are certain walls able to removed to accommodate camera and lighting equipment if necessary?

PAUL: The set itself is a lot bigger than Cowley but it uses a number of tricks to create space and depth. The set is longer in one axis  and connects to the lobby using perspective and visual lines and then frames within frames to create depth for the camera. The wood effect office dividers are all glass with venetian blinds to create further frames within frames and to help blur background or foreground which again adds depth. The addition of a low ceiling with lights makes the space feel long like the  All The President’s Men Washington Post office. I did create camera traps behind the notice boards on the walls but I don’t believe they were actually used.

Paul Cripps
Paul Cripps
Paul Cripps

DAMIAN: Technically speaking, what do you think some of the advantages were to the new sets?

PAUL: Well I think the set provides more depth and a bit more playing/blocking areas for the directors and actors. One of the walls hinges away to allow quicker crew access. I think the main change is the aesthetic with the idea of concrete panelled walls, glass and fake wood panels, browns, brown leather; the 70’s are almost upon us.

Damian Michael Barcroft
Damian Michael Barcroft
Damian Michael Barcroft
Damian Michael Barcroft
Damian Michael Barcroft

DAMIAN: I visited the set during the shooting of PYLON and noticed from the call sheet that the art department/prop requirements for that day were as follows: Thursday’s pipe, Tobacco, Matches, Drinks, Shoulder bag, Photos of Emily, Stanley’s mugshot, Typewriter, Pony books, Drug paraphernalia, Heroin wrap with scripted heading, Snuff boxes and Photo of Baby Stanley & Mum. Is this about the usual amount and how far in advance of shooting do you have either locate, make or buy these?

PAUL: That is an average kind of day. The time we have to source it all is the day number versus when that version of the script arrives to us, so there is considerably less time for day 1 as opposed to day 24. There is a combination of buying, hiring an making all these things. If it’s a big deal and we’ve had it flagged up beforehand, we may get something made before the finalised script which can always be nerve wracking.

Damian Michael Barcroft
Damian Michael Barcroft
Damian Michael Barcroft

DAMIAN: The list also mentioned Thursday’s props, is it actually someone’s job to take items like his hat and pipe from Roger at the end of the day and store them away until the next?

PAUL: Yes we have two standby prop men and a standby art director on the standby crew every day. The prop men have a character box of props for each character. The standby team represent me on set and work with the director and DOP [Director of Photography] and other departments, sorting and placing props, redressing the set if required and fulfilling last minute requests or errors. They are vital to us. But come on Damian, Molly looks after the famous hat, not us. That’s costume!

Damian Michael Barcroft

DAMIAN: I can’t imagine how long the props list was for APOLLO but it must have been enormous fun to work on the Gerry Anderson-themed props and sets?

PAUL: Yes it was good fun. Most of the supermarionation props came from Stephen at Century 21 but we designed and built the puppet sets and he worked his magic with the puppets. I thought it worked pretty well with Stephen recreating the 35mm style of filming on his original camera, and as a reconstruction of Gerry Anderson’s studio. We had quite a bit of photo reference of his studio from that period. Sadly his original industrial studio building has gone now.

Paul Cripps
Paul Cripps
Paul Cripps

DAMIAN: Was this the most challenging film to design of series six?

PAUL: I think Film 4 was the most challenging to design as Russ kept his toughest scenario for us to create till that last film.

DAMIAN: I imagine the old building opposite the hangar where the main sets are housed has been dressed and undressed more times than Holly Golightly?

PAUL: Yes it’s appeared in a lot of shows and films in the last few years but we didn’t use it that much as it was used exterior wise in a couple of the earlier Endeavour films before my time.

DAMIAN: Lets say, purely for the sake of argument, that you were required to design a set that had appeared in the original Morse series, would you recreate it faithfully or put your own spin on it?

PAUL: We have actually started to do this as you’ll see in film 4. I think it should recreate the original as much as possible but that in itself allows you to put your own creativity into it. Although I have to say the Kidlington police station in Morse is not that inspiring if I ever had to recreate that. I think I prefer my Castle Gate!

DAMIAN: Finally, is there any visual evidence in the sets this year that Strange is still an Oxford United fan?

PAUL: Well I don’t think we saw it in Strange’s flat when he was looking at his Fancy murder board in Film 1 Pylon,  but he had a little reading matter next to his chair where he sips his whiskey. 1968/9 Oxford United programmes!!  

DAMIAN: Paul, thank you very much indeed.

PAUL: Mind how you go.

THE ENDEAVOUR INTERVIEWS 2019: Russell Lewis Part III

EXT. OXFORD – DAY 1 (18.55)

The long late light of a cool summer’s evening. Oxford – a half-remembered dream. Drowned streets. Subtle and aquatint.

Young lovers kiss in doorways, heedless of the murmuring world…


MURDER ON THE DANCEFLOOR

An exclusive interview with Russell Lewis

Interview copyright © Damian Michael Barcroft 2019

INT. BALLROOM – DAY 1 (19.20)

Caught in the beam of a Follow Spot, A PAIR of FAMILIAR SILHOUETTES come onto the floor.

M.C.: Would you please welcome onto the floor, couple Number Seven, Frederick and Winifred Thursday.

The No. ‘07’ stretched across a familiar set of shoulders. FRED and WIN. The Astaire and Rogers of East Cowley.

A moment between them. It’s been a while. WIN gives him a nervous smile. THURSDAY shoots her an encouraging wink.

THURSDAY: Here’s looking at you.

Music begins. And they are away — gliding effortlessly across the floor. Bobbing and dipping. It’s a beautiful thing.

DAMIAN: And so it was. Russ, I’ve seen Roger a few times either on set or location and he’s never particularly struck me as the ballroom dancing type. Do you ever think it might be an idea to check if an actor is happy or comfortable learning to dance -or grow a mustache for that matter- before typing this stuff?

RUSS:  They tend to let you know pretty quickly if they’re not.

DAMIAN: What are you like on the dancefloor?

RUSS:  I would refer you to Mx.Ellis Bextor.  

DAMIAN: You write in COLOURS ‘It’s been a while’ but how long exactly and was dancing something that Mr and Mrs Thursday started back in London before the family moved to Oxford?

RUSS:  It’s something that fell by the wayside with bringing up the kids — but now, more or less alone again, it’s something to which they’ve returned.  An ‘interest.’

DAMIAN: Of all the quotes, in all the movies, why did you have Thursday say Bogie’s most famous line?

RUSS:  Even heroes have heroes.  I could see it being a film they liked.

DAMIAN: Well, what with the Thursdays dancing and Strange playing the trombone, it was quite a year for revelations and, potentially at least, we could have had another! A scene set in the hair salon in the first draft reads ‘Hazel comes to her appointments book — leafs through, and finds an appointment for MRS.BRIGHT…’. Might this suggest that you do actually have plans to introduce Reginald’s other half one day, but if not, can’t you at least tell us if she’s blonde or brunette?

RUSS:  Well… funny you should ask… We may meet her yet.

DAMIAN: We see the welcome return of Jack Bannon as Sam Thursday who says to Endeavour, ‘You’ve been around Dad too long. It’s rubbing off’, followed by a line of description that reads: ‘Something about SAM’s tone suggests this isn’t the compliment it might once have been – but rather a rebuke’. I wouldn’t say that Thursday has rubbed off on Endeavour in any negative way but let’s look at the following exchange which follows the possibility of Sam as a murder suspect and see if it helps put this issue into some sort of context:

STRANGE looks at ENDEAVOUR as if seeing him for the first time.

STRANGE: Christ, you’re some piece of work. Listen to yourself. What d’you think the old man’d say he heard you talking about his boy like that?

ENDEAVOUR: He’d say I was doing my job.

STRANGE: Your job.

ENDEAVOUR: Think the unthinkable. Follow the evidence. Without fear or favour.

STRANGE: Wherever it leads?

ENDEAVOUR: Wherever it leads.

STRANGE: I’m senior.

ENDEAVOUR: Yes.

STRANGE: So long as that’s straight.

ENDEAVOURS: Always.

STRANGE: You start off down that road, you’re on your own. Deal me out.

ENDEAVOUR: I already did.

DAMIAN: Unlike Thursday’s actions in the next episode with the battered wife and Strange turning a blind eye in this one where the old man’s kids are concerned (not charging Joan for example for her part in the protest), Endeavour is right to play things by the book isn’t he?

RUSS:  Caesar’s wife.  Even more important to play it by the book, when Sam is potentially involved.

DAMIAN: Since they left on good terms when Thursday saw Sam off at the bus station when he joined the army, is there anything in particular that has happened offscreen that would explain why there was tension between father and son?

RUSS: Distance lends perspective.  Sam’s older – a man, now. Some of those father/son scales have fallen from his eyes.

DAMIAN: Is it possible that Sam might, like his father before him, leave the army and join the police?

RUSS: Thursday & Thursday. It’s possible.

DAMIAN: Strange observes, ‘Just a girl? Might want to leave some for the rest of us. Claudine? That blondie one? Way you’ve been filling your dance-card lately, you think rationing was coming in.’ My thoughts exactly Jim, and this brings us to the subject of Endeavour’s Casanova phase again. However, let’s take a look at the following scene which is longer than the broadcast version:

INT. CLAUDINE’S BEDSIT – NIGHT 3 (23.59)

A deafening clap of thunder. Lit by streetlamp and lightning… ENDEAVOUR and CLAUDINE post-coital – lie in a tangle of bedclothes that has become a makeshift nest, teaspooned together — listening to the night rain. He’s smoking her cigarette. A moment — then:

ENDEAVOUR: Love and rain.

She retrieves her cigarette from his lips — and takes a drag.

CLAUDINE: How English.

ENDEAVOUR: I don’t think we can claim  it all for ourselves. People have been doing this for as long as there’s been people. Before even. Right back to… whatever we were –

CLAUDINE: Quel philosophe!

ENDEAVOUR: They probably lay on a branch, just like this. Looking out at thunderheads breaking over the Savannah. Rain coming down on the leaves. Safe in that one brief moment from the vast unknowable careless awfulness of it all.

CLAUDINE: If he was as gloomy as you, I hope she kicked him out of the tree.

ENDEAVOUR: Gloomy?

CLAUDINE: Yes! Oui! My God! Some men. So gloomy after.

ENDEAVOUR: Some men?

CLAUDINE: Of course — that’s the part you hear. (a moment) Seriously — why do you do that? Like someone died.

ENDEAVOUR: In my case – someone usually has. I don’t know. Intimations of mortality, I suppose. They say you’re never so alive as when you’re close to death. Maybe the reverse is also true.

CLAUDINE: Jesus. It’s just sex. (a moment) It’s not love.

ENDEAVOUR: I know.

CLAUDINE: It’s good to be clear.

ENDEAVOUR: I’m under no illusions. A day. A week. A month. I’ll take how ever long we’ve got. Just one morning you won’t be there. I suppose I’ll miss you when you’ve gone. That’s all.

CLAUDINE: We said. No regrets.

ENDEAVOUR: How French.

CLAUDINE: Enculé.

She reaches behind her head to mock rake his cheek with her nails. A long moment. Some ember of desire sparks into flame.

CLAUDINE (cont’d): Again?

ENDEAVOUR: God, yes.

Her mouth finds his. Still falls the rain.

DAMIAN: There was also another revealing scene with Joan and Strange which we won’t discuss because much of the content was included in series six and hopefully won’t be cut again. However, do you think the juxtaposition of these two scenes might have put to rest any qualms I’ve had regarding Endeavour smoking and his uncharacteristic libidinous behaviour?

RUSS: Uncharacteristic libidinous behaviour?  If ever a character – as evinced by Colin’s novels – had sex on his mind…

Endeavour – perish the thought – managing to squeeze in a one night stand with Charlie’s daughter, and something more substantial with Claudine, hardly makes him Casanova, does it? It grew out of a conversation with Andy [Wilson, director] when we were making CARTOUCHE. A remark he made about ‘68 definitely being a bit of lively year romantically. Generally – he meant – not specifically.

Don’t you think that it grounds the longing of the older Chief Inspector for romance – and I use the word in both its pure and euphemistic sense – in something real?  In his late 40s through to the end, what he’s missing is something he remembers, something he knew. Physical intimacy – as the boys in blue might put it.

The cigarettes…  You’re really overthinking this…  It’s her cigarette. Just strikes me as something Gallic.  C’est tout! When I was young, French cigarettes was about as cool as it got.  Jacques Brel – literally made of cigarettes. Can you imagine Rififi without smoking?  Ditto the mood of the scene. Ooh – as they say – la la!


Rififi (1955)

But, yes. Maybe. It’s a long time ago now, and I think there’s perhaps a bit of Endeavour trying to live la vie normale.  However, I suspect that it always feels for him – to some small degree – as if he’s wearing someone else’s clothes. You can track much of his state of mind back to CODA. And then HARVEST and later. So — all of these things feed into his emotional condition.

DAMIAN: And editing can sometimes create almost a different meaning or context from what was originally written can’t it?

RUSS:  You will not find me disagreeing with you on that point.

DAMIAN: Where are we on the idea that I proposed a while back regarding giving the fans a DVD release of a writer’s cut of episodes such as this one with all the deleted scenes restored?

RUSS:  Oh – I think that’s highly unlikely, now.  But you never know…

~~~

INTERVAL

~~~

Now entertain conjecture of a time When creeping murmur and the poring dark / Fills the wide vessel of the universe…

DAMIAN: QUARTET then, given that series five was loaded with allusions to contemporary politics  such as issues on immigration, was the inclusion of quotes from Henry V, arguably Shakespeare’s most patriotically British play, an audacious attempt to mock the establishment?

RUSS: No, not really.  It was mostly about selling the dummy of the medieval opening. And it’s one of the great ‘eve of battle’ scene setters.

DAMIAN: Certainly less subtle, of course, were the references to the Berserkers and the business with the pig’s head in MUSE, not to mention the following quote from this episode spoken by Millie Bagshot: ‘our friends on the continent are taking it seriously enough. Why else do you imagine De Gaulle is doing all he can to keep us out of the European Community? Buy British – Get Boris.’ Well, you’re certainly not pulling your punches where the other boys in blue are concerned are you?

RUSS:  Well, Oxford’s a long tradition of wankers in waistcoats – so such sentiments are pretty timeless.  What’s that great line from Belloq about John Vavassour de Quentin Jones who was given to throwing stones?  ‘Like many of the Upper Class, he liked the sound of Breaking Glass.’ In much the same way as John Bull is a sort of British, well, let’s be honest, English archetype, Boris was often used as a collective identifier for citizens of Redland.  That it also happened to be the name by which a former Secretary of State is best known to the public was just serendipity. I find all of this a great deal less funny than may appear. Damien Timmer [Executive producer and co-managing director of the production company, Mammoth Screen] said he thought ‘68 had the angriest tone of any of the series up to that point – and I suspect he may have been right.  Much then – and much now to be angry about.

DAMIAN: Is there ever any concern from either the production company or network regarding how political Endeavour should or shouldn’t get or it is regarded as no more than the sort of political satire one would expect from something like Have I Got News For You?

RUSS:  If there is a concern, it has not yet been confided to me.

DAMIAN: Wouldn’t the backdrop of racial tension in Oxford have been even more dramatic had Monica with the moped made an appearance as I can’t imagine Endeavour didn’t think of his ex girlfriend while all this was going on?

RUSS:  It might have been dramatically convenient, but we try to resist such urges.

DAMIAN: Although clearly reluctant to replace Fancy, wasn’t it still a bit unconvincing that Endeavour would take part in any It’s a Knockout tomfoolery?

RUSS:  You clearly think so.

DAMIAN: As with the lovely scene from NOCTURNE in which Max was touched by the death of a young school girl, he seems equally distraught in his attempts of saving Steven and it’s wonderful to see James given something else to play other than the typically sanguine and unflappable aspects (I also appreciated the fact that he later mentions his time at Bart’s). I think the character development for Bright, Strange and Joan has really done justice to the superb actors who play them in the last couple of series, and yes, I know it’s terribly difficult, but do think that along with Dorothea, Max now deserves a little more screen time in order to blossom?

RUSS:  Find me the screen time.

DAMIAN: Of course, scenes that do offer a glimpse into supporting characters’ personal lives and backstory are often the first to get cut. Let’s take a look at the following scene that sadly didn’t appear in the episode:

INT. AMBER LODGE/LOBBY – DAY 1 [12.03]

DOROTHEA waiting as THURSDAY enters with STRANGE.

DOROTHEA: Chief Inspector…

THURSDAY: Not right now, Miss Frazil.

DOROTHEA: Is this anything to do with the shooting at Christ Church Meadow?

THURSDAY: As I said – a statement will be made in the fullness.

THURSDAY and STRANGE start up the stairs — and we find:

CLAUDINE at the RECEPTION desk. She comes across to DOROTHEA…

CLAUDINE: Miss Frazil? Claudine Darc. I’m a photo-journalist.

DOROTHEA: Bad luck.

CLAUDINE: And a friend of Morse. Would you sign something for me?

CLAUDINE pulls out a well-thumbed book — ‘TRAVELS WITH MYSELF – THE WAR IN KOREA – BY DOROTHEA FRAZIL.’

DOROTHEA: Good heavens. Where did you find that?

CLAUDINE: A book-seller on the Seine by Pont-Neuf. It’s a classic. It means a lot to me. (as DOROTHEA SIGNS) What was it like? For a woman on the Front Line.

DOROTHEA: Are you squeamish?

CLAUDINE: No.

DOROTHEA: Then you’ll be alright. Why?

CLAUDINE: Why didn’t you do more?

DOROTHEA: Ask me when you come back.

DAMIAN: Was this scene scrapped in pre-production or actually filmed and then cut in the final edit?

RUSS:  Do you know, I honestly can’t recall.  I suspect it didn’t get shot.

DAMIAN: So presumably it was too traumatising but couldn’t Dorothea have written books on other subjects?

RUSS:  I don’t think trauma came into it.  And Dorothea’s ouvres may well extend into other areas which have not yet been written about.

DAMIAN: What was it then?

RUSS:  Fatigue.  Revulsion for the slaughter and suffering.  The absolute pointlessness of it all. Frazil is as tough as nails – but I think a sense of ‘Say they gave a war and nobody came.’ could have been part of it.  On the one hand journalists bear witness, on the other the notion that by sending back reports to be consumed along of the kippers and kedgeree that the reporter is somehow complicit and by some means enabling the suffering and carnage.  I’m not saying that’s right – but it’s how she may have felt.

DAMIAN: Endeavour asks, ‘No sandwich today?’, to which Thursday replies ‘Sunday? We’ll get a roast down the Lamb and Flag.’ After four years, wouldn’t he know that Thursday doesn’t have sandwiches either on a Saturday or Sunday, or has Endeavour bumped his noggin so many times on the headboard lately that he’s starting to lose his memory?

RUSS:  In the heat of the hunt, the days run one into another.

Monday, cheese and pickle…

DAMIAN: And what does Thursday have on his Wed… oh, nevermind. Taking into account the ‘love and rain’ scene, when Endeavour says to Claudine that ‘Sun’s going already. The year’s turned. Bonfires and hoar-frost. Mist’ll be up soon. The breath of winter’, is he not only accepting her imminent departure but also trying to tell her it’s OK or is it the case, as when she takes a photo of him, he remarks, ‘I wasn’t ready’?

RUSS:  “When you knew that it was over, you were suddenly aware that the autumn leaves were turning to the colour of her hair.”  The stages of grief. Denial. He’s aware that something is off – that she may be slipping away – but not how close it is to the end.  ‘I wasn’t ready’ is a genuine throwaway – to be freighted with meaning in hindsight. But no – for all his fine talk – when the moment finally comes, he wasn’t ready for her to go.

DAMIAN: Endeavour goes to the pub to drown his sorrows after Claudine leaves for Vietnam and then we cut to the scene in the script, which is slightly longer from the broadcast version and contains dialogue cut from a previous episode, where Joan asks him in for coffee. Had he gone in, would they have…

RUSS:  But he didn’t go in.  He’s not an absolute cad.  He’s enough emotional intelligence to know that to go to Joan on the rebound would be to use her – and that he would never do.

EXT. JOAN’S FLAT – NIGHT 4 (23.30)

ENDEAVOUR and JOAN come down the street to her front door. The walk has sobered ENDEAVOUR somewhat.

JOAN: How’s it going with you and Jim?

ENDEAVOUR: It’s not exactly the Yellow House. But it means we can both put something away. I should have enough for a deposit on somewhere by next year.

JOAN: A man of property.

ENDEAVOUR: I suppose.

JOAN: Didn’t Jane Austen have something to say about a single man in possession of a good fortune?

ENDEAVOUR: It’ll hardly be Netherfield Park. (the thought strikes him) Since when do you throw around Austen quotations?

JOAN: You didn’t need to walk me back, you know.

ENDEAVOUR: Old habits.

And here it is. Joan’s flat. No Fred to tap on the window. Nothing to stop them.

JOAN: Do you want to come in?

In the space between the question and the answer – stars are born and die.

ENDEAVOUR: Coffee?

Of course not ‘coffee’!

JOAN: Yeh.

And all he wants is there before him.

ENDEAVOUR: I don’t go much for coffee.

As the moment slips by…

ENDEAVOUR (cont’d): Besides…

JOAN: Besides?

Another moment, and he would be lost forever. What he wants to say is, I don’t trust myself.’ What he says is:-

ENDEAVOUR: Things to do.

JOAN: Okay. Goodnight, then.

She gives him a peck. ENDEAVOUR reacts.

JOAN (cont’d): What?

ENDEAVOUR leans in to her hair, to breathe her in…

JOAN: Morse…

ENDEAVOUR: Vespertine.

DAMIAN: Vespertine! There’s more references to James Bond and various other Cold War/Spy films and television than you could shake a loaded umbrella at but it would probably prove very dull if I kept asking if such and such is from so and so and you kept simply replying ‘yes’ so instead, can I just ask what some of the most potent screen images related to the genre were running through your head as you wrote QUARTET?

RUSS:  I think for a while the film was called ‘VESPERTINE’ – but it wasn’t particularly a nod to Miss Lynd.  Well — this was our out and out salute to the 60s spy genre, and we only get to do these things once… so the Len Deighton/Harry Palmer trilogy loomed large, as it always does.

Things like The Quiller Memorandum. A Dandy in Aspic. Of the Bonds – Goldfinger.  The pre-credit sequence and Auric’s factory. That’s what I was reaching for with Endeavour prowling around the perfume factory after dark. Alas. It was fun to take him up to that London. Albert Hall and the tube station.

DAMIAN: If we could end on quite a serious matter which relates to a lot of the themes of the episode, the terribly sad and shocking Salisbury poisoning happened only shortly after QUARTET was broadcast, now, would you have had to rewrite the script or postpone broadcast if the appalling event had occurred earlier?

RUSS:  It’s quite possible.  Dark days.

DAMIAN: Finally, what can you say about FILM 3, CONFECTION?

RUSS:  Hard and soft centres abound.  Um… ‘69 marked the final entry in Gordon Murray’s ‘Three Colours Primary’ Trilogy, and with The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society landing in Nov.’68 – this sort of felt like a chance to bring things together over the final summer of the 60s.  Village Green is v.nostalgic – a harkening back to some supposed halcyon age. ‘Preserving the old ways…’ Well — I’m not sure all the old ways are worthy or deserving of being preserved. Nostalgia’s a bit of a slow poison. Seductive and comforting, but lethal in its way. Like too much sugar.

THE ENDEAVOUR INTERVIEWS 2019: Caroline O’Neill

Interview copyright © Damian Michael Barcroft 2019

DAMIAN: Given all the stars who appeared there during the sixties such as The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Dusty Springfield, Jimmy Clitheroe, Sid James and Arthur Askey for example, Blackpool must have been an exciting place to grow up?

CAROLINE: Our house was FULL of Marvin Gaye, Dianna Ross and The Four Tops, soul music. I was lucky enough to see Dianna Ross at the Opera House in 1976 when I was 15, amazing! Blackpool was a fabulous place to be and I was lucky to see many artist as a teenager: The Sex Pistols, The Clash, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Kate Bush as well as Genesis and Led Zeppelin – the 70s were amazing and I was going to concerts all the time.

DAMIAN: Do you think this influenced your decision to work in show business?

CAROLINE: I don’t think so. I sort of ended up doing drama by default. I had been pretty lax at studying for my O Levels and my mum said I had to get some qualifications. So I went along to St Anne’s College and, among other subjects, I did Drama. Life changing. It was an incredible Drama Course and my head was turned. No looking back, that was what I wanted to do. Some fabulous actors have been through that course – David Thewlis and John Simm to name a couple.

DAMIAN: In addition to your work in theatre, you’ve had a prolific career in television appearing in Coronation Street, A Touch of Frost, Waking the Dead, EastEnders, Whitechapel, Happy Valley, Doc Martin and Last Tango in Halifax to name but a few. As you look back on all these productions, I wonder which you feel most proud of or have especially fond memories working on?

CAROLINE: I have to say Coronation Street, not so much for my work on it, but for the fact that growing up we watched it all the time, it was huge. The feeling of walking into the Granada building in Manchester, and being on such an iconic show was amazing. Doc Martin was a dream as everyone, particularly Martin, was a joy. Getting to play an addict, like Lynn Dewhurst in Happy Valley, is a really exciting challenge for any actor, and I loved getting my teeth into such an extreme character. The York Realist at the Royal Court Theatre, London, was maybe my proudest theatre moment. It was a hugely successful production and I made a life long friend in Anne Reid – who’s a huge Endeavour fan!

DAMIAN: I’m curious about your first appearance in the world of Colin Dexter with Lewis. Russell Lewis wrote some of the episodes including that all important first one, how do you think his vision of contemporary Oxford compares to the period Endeavour?

CAROLINE: Russell manages to recreate a whole new world in Endeavour through the tone and language of his scripts. He writes the period like no one else could. And it’s the harmonious relationship between the writing and the fantastic costume and set designs that bring 60s Oxford to life in the show.

And the Moonbeams Kiss the Sea

DAMIAN: Since the introduction of Win, Joan and Sam during the first series, to what extent do you think that the Thursdays were a surrogate for Endeavour in the absence of a loving family of his own?

CAROLINE: In the early seasons when everyone was at home, and we had all those lovely bustling breakfasts and dinners, Endeavour would arrive to pick up Fred… oh yes I do feel he had a little yearning for that. Win is such a warm and maternal character, I think she felt Endeavour needed looking after at times. She was also always aware that Fred had an almost paternal, protective relationship with Endeavour, and wanted to help nurture that.

I also think that from the first visit, Endeavour enjoyed coming round because there was that immediate chemistry between Joan and himself – I think Win picked up on that straight away.

DAMIAN: For the first few years at least, until Sam joined the army and Joan went AWOL, I suspect that, like Endeavour, Sunday-night viewers savoured the respite from grisly murders for just a few minutes to enjoy the comfort and cosiness of the Thursday family enjoying a meal round the table or sharing a box of chocolates while watching TV together on the sofa. Given the lovely chemistry between Roger, Sara, Jack and yourself, did you as an actor also feel a certain sense of loss?

CAROLINE: I always feel how lucky I am to be in this show and a part of the Thursday family, they’re all such lovely actors, and it did just work so well on set. I certainly miss having them around. Their leaving home also coincided with both my daughters leaving home, one off to University and the other to Boarding School, and you do grieve the change, the quiet… the sense of loss as your role as a parent changes, so playing Win became quite poignant. It would be fabulous to have all the Thursdays back for some celebration together before the final episode… Russell?

DAMIAN: And of course even you left, leaving poor old Fred alone at the end of last series because he loaned (and lost) a large portion of their retirement money to his brother, Charlie. I can understand that Win would have liked to have had a say in the matter but wouldn’t she have said no anyway?

CAROLINE: Truly, I believe Win would go with what Fred had wanted to do in the end. Though she does hold her own – she would have put up a fight and tried to talk him out of it, definitely! I imagine they might have negotiated how much to give him too. I think her disappointment in this awful situation was the secrecy and deceit – family means everything to Win – which is why I do think she would have ultimately wanted to help Charlie. But at the centre of the Thursday family is trust and honesty, both of which were tested in that situation.

DAMIAN: And was it selfish of Win to want Fred to give up coppering so they can compete dance competitions?

CAROLINE: Win has stood by Fred through twenty-seven years of coppering and I think she felt it was time to have something else in their lives. Not just for her, for both of them. It was something he enjoyed too. I think if things had turned out differently with Charlie, who knows…

DAMIAN: Given the fact that many of your scenes are set in the Thursday kitchen or dining room, was it something of a lovely surprise to read the script and see you would be ballroom dancing?

CAROLINE: My goodness yes! I don’t think Win had been out of the house for five films! -I may be slightly exaggerating there- but it was fabulous to have the opportunity to explore another side to their characters. And Roger is a wonderful dance partner. It was a really fun little project.

DAMIAN: What was Roger’s reaction and can you tell me a little bit about the two of you rehearsing the choreography?

CAROLINE: I think Roger was as surprised and delighted as I was! Particularly at the level of competition we had reached. It was great fun to film, but important it looked good – a bit of a challenge as neither of us had ballroom danced before! So we went off to a studio for a few hours and the marvellous, patient, Sally and friend, they were both brilliant in making us look good, took us through the routines and filmed them so we could practice in our kitchens

THURSDAY: (soaking in the view) God, I love this place. You should’ve seen their faces – Win and the kids – [when] I brought ‘em here for the first time. We’d been two-up, back to back in the Smoke. Outside lav. One cold tap. Mind – Win kept it spotless. Spotless. (a moment) ‘Is this Heaven, Dad?’ Joan. You know. Little face looking up. Those blue eyes. Couldn’t believe somewhere like this existed. Not after bomb-sites and soot. Was like we’d stepped out of black and white and into colour.

-SERIES 5, FILM 6: ICARUS

DAMIAN: I remember discussing the relationship between Endeavour and Joan a few years ago with Russ when I asked him at what point he decided that they’d fall for each other and he replied, ‘From the moment I had her open the door to him for the first time’. Not only beautiful, but it also shows what foresight and understanding he has for the characters. Did you ever discuss Fred and Win’s history with Russ prior to their move to Oxford?

CAROLINE: I think Russel has an extraordinary ability to write for individual characters, little idiosyncrasies and mannerism in their speech and behaviour carry so much story. And coming back to Win each series has always felt like putting on comfortable shoes. I think he had a clear idea of where he was taking Fred and Win and it was always exciting to see the journey. Moving to the house in Oxford is quite symbolic of what it means to be a Thursday family member really, they worked hard to achieve what they did and have that to show for it. It’s the simple things in life that matter most to Win – her family, her home.

THURSDAY: A policeman’s lot is not a happy one, I’m told. But the lot of a policeman’s wife hardly gets a mention. But while I’ve been out running around, nabbing villains and generally playing silly buggers… the real brains of the outfit has made a house a home, raised two children, our children. Seen ‘em off to school each morning, clean and smart. And somehow, even with all that to do, there’s always been a hot meal for me when I get home. Twenty-five years ago I got the best bit of luck any man ever had. The toast is… my Win.

-SERIES 2, FILM 4: SWAY

DAMIAN: One of my favourite storylines is from SWAY in which Thursday is reunited with his old war sweetheart, Luisa Armstrong. Do you think he would have continued to see her in secret had she not committed suicide?

CAROLINE: Mine too Damian, I loved working with Andy Wilson on that episode and the anniversary scene was so great. You’re aware that some scenes get cut from the final episode, and this is a case in point. Russell had written a wonderful scene where you saw Win’s strength and tenacity. Win actually spoke to Luisa and made it clear she was not going anywhere and neither was her and Fred’s relationship.

I don’t believe he would have continued to see her, Win is his one true love. We can all see the past through rose tinted glasses, and first loves will always hold a special place in one’s heart, but I don’t think he would risk losing Win.

THURSDAY: We were friends once.

LUISA: That’s the last thing we were. Friendship takes time. What did we have? Two months? Three? If that. There wasn’t room for friendship too.

THURSDAY: Don’t tell me. I was there. I remember everything. Everything. Every moment like nothing before or since. It’s here. Still. Forever. The scent of the pines. The sun on the water. So vivid. And you. All above everything, I remember you.

LUISA: Don’t.

THURSDAY: Your eyes.

LUISA: You can’t say these things. You can’t, not to me.

THURSDAY: I’ve no-one else to say them to.

DAMIAN: Do you think Fred betrayed Win with words such as these?

CAROLINE: The relationship Fred had with Luisa was something extremely special at a time when the whole world was being torn apart in the war. He obviously felt deeply for Luisa, and he reminisces here about it. But I think he truly loves Win and, free of the pressures of fleeting, war-torn romance, their love is completely different. Those memories are real, but so are the many memories he has with Win: having children buying a home, sharing the last piece of cake on a Sunday afternoon – that’s real Thursday love!  

DAMIAN: And in Luisa’s words, ‘Every life holds one great love. One name to hold onto at the end. One face to take into the dark’. No marriage is easy, but despite their ups and downs, it’ll still be Win’s face that Fred takes into the dark with him won’t it?

CAROLINE: Oh yes, they’re soul mates and have gone through thick and thin together.

DAMIAN: One last question because Russ won’t tell me, so I’m hoping you can finally reveal what Fred has on his Wednesday sandwich?

CAROLINE: I will keep you guessing…

DAMIAN: Caroline, thank you very much indeed.

CAROLINE: Thanks so much Damian!