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THE ENDEAVOUR INTERVIEWS 2019: Russell Lewis Part IV

Library of a lunatic

Interview copyright © Damian Michael Barcroft 2019

INT. POLICE STATION/CORRIDOR/CID – DAY X (FLASHBACK)

BRIGHT alone in the corridor. He steels himself, comes along the corridor – and enters CID at the THURSDAY OFFICE end.

BRIGHT: If I might have everyone’s attention.

THURSDAY emerges from his office. UNIFORMS arrive.

BRIGHT (cont’d): As you know, since the merging of City and County – together with our sister constabularies to create Thames Valley, the future of Cowley Police station has been in the balance. I have this day received news from Division. The station is to be reduced to a skeleton staff by the 24th of the month and will close – permanently – at midnight on the 31st. Details of future placements will be sent to each of you in due course.

Looks amongst the troops… ENDEAVOUR, STRANGE, FANCY and TREWLOVE — thunderstruck.

BRIGHT (cont’d): Meantime, I know I can rely on each of you to discharge your duty with the same professionalism I have come to so admire these past years. That is all. Carry on.

DAMIAN: And so with ICARUS, it was the end of Bright as we have come to know and love him?

RUSS: Indeed. Again, I think, in the earliest drafts, I was going for a Christmas/December film. Hence the 24th. And… again, this was shot down.

DAMIAN: You know, you had a good thing going here: the CID set, in a similar way to the Rovers Return or the bridge of the Enterprise perhaps, felt almost like a second home for both the characters and the audience – we felt comfortable and liked meeting there with the characters and the actors who play them, and had an almost unprecedented -for a detective mystery TV show at least-  magical chemistry. And yet, in name of progress, you take away our comfortable place and split up the family, casting them to the four winds. It’s certainly brave creatively but was it also a little risky?

RUSS: Five series. We could have kept it going unchanged indefinitely, I suppose.  But it felt with the historical end of City Police and our move from the base we’d occupied for Series 3, 4 & 5, that it was time to burn everything to the ground.  And Fancy – of course. That was key. And that arose from Dakota’s decision to leave. So… All of these things felt like major changes. And they reflected the year – 1968 – turbulence at home and abroad.  Closing the station and breaking up the band felt the right thing to do.

DAMIAN: ‘Don’t run boy!’. You’ve told me in the past that you were in and out of education as a child, and also there was a kind teacher who was supportive of your writing. Looking back at your education, or lack thereof, how do you think it shaped the bespoke writer and purveyor of fine manuscripts we have all come to so admire these past years?

RUSS: Lack of formal education. It just wasn’t something on the cards for someone of my socio-economic background – or, as we used to call it in old money, class.  My family were of a generation that thought you only went to University if you were going to be a Doctor or a Lawyer. College – we didn’t really have a notion of at all.  And attending ‘The Academy of Eyes and Teeth, Love’ from 3 to 16, er… its own grasp of higher education was pretty non-existent. I had an on-set tutor for a couple of years, and that was quite intensive and useful — but under employment/educational law you were only obliged to do three hours of proper schooling a day.  No science. Dreadful really. Appalling. But you play the cards you’re dealt, don’t you? I was a very early reader – and I suspect that made up a lot of the shortfall. But it was for the most part reading without structure or design. The library, the library, the library. The library was a palace of wonders.

So – yeh…  No proper education to speak of. Just the natural low cunning native to my class. That may sound facetious, but it’s not entirely. I suppose the way it shaped the writing – to return to your original question – is that nobody in a position of academic authority ever told me that such and such was not the way to do something.  Equally, the flipside is that nobody ever said that such and such was the way to do something.  I suppose it’s why I’m skeptical about the “You Too Can Have a Screenplay Like Mine” snake-oil salesmen.  You have to find your own way to it.

But I digress. Look — I’m not proud of a lack of formal education, but I’m not ashamed of it either.  Hard to be proud or ashamed about something over which one had no control. It’s just a thing. It made me hungry to know stuff — maybe more hungry than if it had all just been laid out before me.  There’s something thrilling about knowing how things work. Whatever it might be. Oh – so this bit of the world fits together with that bit of the world, &c. I just find that beguiling. A puzzle without end.  You’re never going to solve it, but each new bit of information deepens your understanding. We have such a short time in existence. So much to know — so little time. And so much of the stuff I’ve picked up along the way has been through work.  You know — you do Sharpe or Hornblower or Cadfael and you want to make a good job of it, you’d better start reading around the subject, bone up on it as if preparing for an exam, try to get a handle on the minds and manners of the period. Do your homework.  Always. That’s the great joy. My library looks like the library of a lunatic. Things that have no business sitting beside one another – a history of the Delta Blues beside the mechanics of an 18th century sailing ship, and surmounted by a book on poisons. Looks like we got ourselves a reader.

DAMIAN: I take it you’re familiar with the 1968 film, if ?

RUSS:  Yes, indeed.  Huge admirer of all things Lindsay Anderson.  The spirit of Mick Travis has infused quite a bit of Endeavourland along the way.  Sam Costin [script editor] and me had some fun with Lindsay Anderson stuff across the first three series.  Little nods here and there. Funnily enough – only this week I’ve caught up with an old grognard, the great muso Jeremy Stacey, and we got to talking about when we did Giles Cooper’s play  Unman, Wittering and Zigo for Radio 4 in the late 70s, with Gawn Grainger playing Mr.Ebony – we were about 15 or something. There’s a fabulous film of it with David Hemmings and the late and lovely Tony Haygarth – who I was blessed to work with on Between the Lines.  And Carolyn (Survivors) Seymour too, before she left for the States, plays Hemmings wife.

Answering this – I realise that I worked with both Hemmings and Carolyn. I did a TV play with Carolyn in the early 70s – written by my hero John Hopkins whose The Offence – directed by Sidney Lument – had a major influence on the vibe of Endeavour ‘69.  Only Connect! My Round Britain Quiz/Panini Sticker life. The ‘boys’ though are a hoot. You’ve got Michael Kitchen in there – Lord is it now? Lord Cashman? Fabulous atmos. And great sleight of hand with the school. Like ours, it’s a Frankenstein’s monster. The exteriors here – the interiors there. So – that got drawn on a bit, as did The History Boys; Jennings; Dead Poets Society…  anything with that boys’ school thing going on. Having done the girls’ side with NOCTURNE, it felt like it might be fun to do the boys.

if…. (1968)
ICARUS

DAMIAN: The headmaster at Coldwater asks if he plays sport and Endeavour replies with the lie, cricket. I wondered if this was your own personal preference in sport or a nod to the other Lewis?

RUSS: Cricket would always be my personal preference — but I went for Cricket because we were shooting in the winter, and the story was set in the winter, and Endeavour would think it a good wheeze to offer up a proficiency in a summer sport, in the hope of avoiding any physical exertion whatsoever.

DAMIAN: And isn’t it funny to see Endeavour finally at the chalkface because I asked if you thought he’d make a good teacher in one of first interviews and later, of course, he confides in Monica with a moped that he’s considering leaving the police to teach?

RUSS:  Yes — that certainly played back to his conversation with Ms.Hicks.

DAMIAN: Bright has a line of dialogue ‘The local Detective Inspector and his bagman lost their lives last weekend in a road traffic accident with an articulated lorry’. Knowing the extent to which you plan your future stories and character subplots ahead, I was worried this might be a sly foreshadowing of events yet to come or am I reading too much into things again?

RUSS:  Not every question gets an answer.  There are things you might infer.

TREWLOVE: Just the one bed, I’m afraid.

ENDEAVOUR: I can take the couch.

TREWLOVE: Don’t be ridiculous. How’s that going to look if anyone comes knocking?

Off ENDEAVOUR: What can Trewlove be suggesting…?

DAMIAN: What was Trewlove suggesting?

RUSS:  One would imagine a bolster being involved.

INT. ROSE COTTAGE/LIVING ROOM – NIGHT 4

ENDEAVOUR listening to one of IVORY’s LPs. TREWLOVE paints her toenails.

TREWLOVE: They say – that – when you die, your whole life flashes before your eyes. Do you think that’s true?

ENDEAVOUR: Grim topic for someone painting their toenails, isn’t it?

TREWLOVE: I told you. I like grim. What should a girl talk about, Morse? Ponies? Kittens? Boys?

ENDEAVOUR: I saw your boy this afternoon. He’s got it into his head that us being shacked up here is the perfect opportunity for a torrid affair.

TREWLOVE: But you’re not my type. Oh, Lord. I told him not to get too serious.

ENDEAVOUR: I thought you liked him.

TREWLOVE: I do. He’s desperately sweet. But, we’re both young. We’ve got to put career first right now. Haven’t we?

ENDEAVOUR: A career’s not going to hold you at three in the morning when the wolves come circling.

TREWLOVE: Do they come circling? Morse?

ENDEAVOUR: It’s late. I’ve got to make my bath. I think, if I found someone… All this wouldn’t matter a damn.

DAMIAN: I can’t quite believe I’m actually going to ask this in light of our Casanova debate, but one of the things I regretted about Trewlove’s departure was the fact that we would never get to find if they would or wouldn’t. I’d argue that there was a mutual attraction from the very beginning but had she stayed another year or two, would they have ever got together do you think?

RUSS:  It was something we were keen to avoid.

DAMIAN: Despite protests to the contrary, isn’t Endeavour exactly her type?

RUSS:  Opposites attract.

DAMIAN: I think they would have made a very fine couple but I was less convinced by her attraction to Fancy. Lovely as he was, would a girl like Trewlove really have had much interest in such a dope?

RUSS:  Because the people who should  be together always end up together, don’t they?  

DAMIAN: Was Endeavour jealous of their relationship or did it simply remind him of his own loneliness?

RUSS:  I don’t think he was jealous of them at all.  Your latter point – possibly.

DAMIAN: Did Endeavour like Fancy or not?

RUSS:  I think Fancy grew on him.  But perhaps more important than whether he liked him or not — he felt responsible for him.  And Endeavour would blame himself for not having protected him.  Also, I suspect that deep down he fears Fancy was in some way trying to impress him. After their last unhappy conversation… Of course Endeavour is going to take all the sins of the world, and the loss of Fancy onto his shoulders – for all his protestations to the contrary.

EXT. SNOOKER HALL – NIGHT 5

Police vehicles. In the lee of the entrance, ENDEAVOUR — shocked to his core – he struggles a smoke to his lips, but his hands are trembling too hard to light it. DOROTHEA…

DOROTHEA: Here.

She lights his smoke. Their eyes meet over the flame.

DOROTHEA (CONT’D): Is it true?

The answer in ENDEAVOUR’s – wounded, thousand yard stare.

DAMIAN: Again, I’ll understand any frustration you might have in my asking the following question given our last interview in which I was complaining about him smoking but why doesn’t Endeavour smoke in the filmed version of this scene?

RUSS:  You’d have to ask Shaun and Gordon [Anderson, director].  I’ve no idea. They thought better of it on the floor, presumably.

THURSDAY: I can’t have you pair shooting up the town like it’s the Wild West. Somebody’s going to get hurt…

DAMIAN: Since I know you’re a fan of Westerns, so you will have undoubtedly seen the famous cinematic versions of the Wyatt Earp story such as My Darling Clementine and Gunfight at the O.K. Corral?

RUSS:  Yes, indeed.

DAMIAN: And the audience are all waiting with bated breath for the big shoot out?

RUSS:  Uh huh.

DAMIAN: So, while I appreciate Endeavour is not a western and Fancy is certainly no cowboy, you sustained a tension throughout six episodes regarding Eddie Nero and other violent rival gangs, and then the anticipated resolution to this which happened to be a bloody shootout occurs offscreen!!! Surely Fancy, and indeed Lewis Peek deserved a better send off than this?

RUSS:  Well — you have a choice, don’t you?  You either experience the discovery with Endeavour, Thursday and Strange — or you show it, and put the audience ahead of our heroes. Finding out what has happened to Fancy at the same time as his comrades felt the more shocking, brutal and cruel option. I would contend that if you’d known Fancy was in the thick of it, then the moment wouldn’t have had such an impact.  I’m more drawn to subverting expectations anyway, and would likely have gone for the least obvious, and most awkward, crunchy option.

DAMIAN: I did like that when Bright asked if Fancy’s family had been notified, Strange replies ‘Devon, Sir. Local boys’re dealing.’ That was an especially nice touch wasn’t it?

RUSS:  One for Lewis.  We loved and do love him.  It’s never easy coming in to something knowing that you’re going to be put to the sword at the end of the run.  It was very hard for him, and I did feel for him – but one had to see it through.

A Devonshire Lad

INT. POLICE STATION/BRIGHT’S OFFICE – DAY 6

BRIGHT and TREWLOVE. The end of all things…

BRIGHT: I had hoped to see you as the first female officer in Cowley CID, but our loss is the Yard’s gain. You will do great things there, I’m sure. Great things.

TREWLOVE: Thank you, sir.

BRIGHT: We shall all miss you. I don’t suppose there’s anything one can say..? I’m so frightfully sorry.

TREWLOVE: George was happy here, sir. He particularly admired you.

BRIGHT: His regard was poorly placed, I fear – and woefully served.

TREWLOVE: It wasn’t your fault, sir.

BRIGHT: No, well… The investigation will decide where any blame must fall. (he offers his hand) Good luck, Constable.

TREWLOVE: Thank you for always looking out for me.

BRIGHT: It has been… a privilege.

Trewlove exits.

DAMIAN: It’s typically quite proper for Bright to express his affection for her with a simple handshake but Trewlove could have given him a hug goodbye surely?

RUSS:  She could.  If they’d wanted to go that way on the floor they would have done.  As the cigarette moment outside the snooker hall shows, Director and cast will sometimes take things their own way.

DAMIAN: Well, back to the noble question of whether to hug or not to hug again I’m afraid, after the touching scene where Joan cooks dinner for Thursday because Win has left…

THURSDAY: Whatever went on with you last year… It’s none of my business. I shouldn’t’ve interfered. But it’s what fathers do.

JOAN: It’s what you do.

THURSDAY: I can’t help that. You’re my little girl. Apple of my eye. Always have been. Since the moment you came into the world. Always will be. But it’s your life. I just miss you being in mine. This past twelve months…

JOAN: Oh, Dad.

…the script, albeit not in the filmed version, ends the scene with ‘Hugs’. I remember chastising you for not having Thursday hug Sam as he left for the army and you said something about men of the period being more reserved in the way they show affection, so is it only OK for Thursday to hug his daughter or does he love Joan more than Sam?

RUSS:  I’m not quite sure how you get to that conclusion – but no, he doesn’t love Joan more than Sam.  But I’d probably contend that fathers and daughters in the period are marginally more likely to hug than fathers and sons.

DAMIAN: I appreciate that Endeavour is obviously the main character but wouldn’t Trewlove have wanted to say goodbye to Bright last and wouldn’t it have been better for her to have her final scene with him in a kind of Wizard of Oz/’I’ll miss you most of all’ sort of way?

RUSS:  As Adam West was purportedly fond of telling Burt Ward, ‘The show is called – Batman.’

DAMIAN: The farewell between Endeavour and Trewlove appears as scripted but the following really lovely scene was sadly trimmed due to running time:

THURSDAY waiting. TREWLOVE enters. A moment between them.

THURSDAY: If there was anything I could’ve done. If I could take it back. Me for him.

TREWLOVE: He wouldn’t’ve wanted that. They’ll need you now more than ever. Someone’s got to see them through.

STRANGE comes through.

STRANGE: Off, then, Shirl? Look after yourself, love.

TREWLOVE: You too, Jim.

STRANGE: (off TREWLOVE’S hug) Now, then. You’ll set me off. (a moment) He was a good lad.

TREWLOVE: I know. Look out for Mister Bright. Be kind to him — if he’ll let you. Well…

With a backwards wiggle of her fingers in parting, she exits into the corridor.

DAMIAN: Time, it’s your old archenemy I know, and you’ll undoubtedly find this a vexing question, but Trewlove really did come into her own during series five and I wonder if Dakota would have wanted to leave at all if she was given the material she had last year?

RUSS:  Yes — we shot it, but it didn’t make the cut.  Regrettably. Broke our hearts to see her go, but we were never going to hold on to DB.  Sail on, Silver Girl.

EXT. BRIGHT’S HOUSE – DAY 6

30s Mock Tudor. BRIGHT – in civvies – trimming his privets. He sees: ENDEAVOUR.

BRIGHT: Morse. Good heavens.

CUT TO:

INT. BRIGHT’S HOUSE – DAY 6

Decorated in Late English Desperate vernacular. Oh, chintzy-chintzy cheeriness, half-dead, and half-alive… Between the wars. Punkah-Poona-on-the-Hill. BRIGHT ushers ENDEAVOUR in.

BRIGHT: Mrs. Bright is out, I’m afraid. Bridge circle. I think. May I offer you a drink? I generally have a lime-juice and gin about now.

ENDEAVOUR: Thank you, sir.

BRIGHT: Yes. Well, I’ll just go and, er… wash my hands.

BRIGHT exits. ENDEAVOUR takes in his surroundings. BRIGHT’s life arranged in photographs around the walls. The young subaltern in India before the war. Wedding pictures. Simla…

On a side-board a few framed photographs of a young girl. Babe in arms – toddler – scowling Prince Valiant haired tomboy in khaki shorts. A smiling HOUSE SERVANT looking on. And then… nothing. A sepia promise of beauty; unrealised.

BRIGHT: Dulcie. Our daughter. Sweet little thing.

Behind BRIGHT’s eyes, a world of painful memory. The sudden descent into fever. Tubercular meningitis. The Doctor ‘Up-Country’. A terrible week-long suffering. Nothing to be done. A woman, deranged by grief, howling in the night. All of it contained in the one simple phrase.

BRIGHT (CONT’D): The Tropics.

As well to argue with God. BRIGHT falls to fixing drinks.

BRIGHT (CONT’D): So what’s this all about?

ENDEAVOUR: Ballistics prove George Fancy was shot by someone who got away from the Snooker Hall. His killer is still at large.

BRIGHT: Well — presumably that will be passed to the investigating officer.

ENDEAVOUR: He was our colleague.

BRIGHT: And we will mourn him. I’m on indefinite leave. It’s out of my hands. Nothing to be done. Not what one would wish, but there we are. (brings DRINKS across) Your very good health. Fresh lime, you see. That’s the trick of it.

ENDEAVOUR frustrated. BRIGHT in some private hell.

DAMIAN: Private hell. A world of painful memory. All bloody good meat and potato stuff that actors love to play with and explore. And yet, it’s been a long time coming and I know that the confines of screen time has been a source of frustration for Anton Lesser. While I understand the reasons for this, what I don’t understand is why, apart from a initial letter you wrote to him outlining Bright’s past (the Viscount Montgomery of Alamein inspiration and Betjeman’s A Subaltern’s Love Song: ‘Six o’clock news… lime juice and gin’ to name but a few examples), why you haven’t shared information on Bright’s future. In fact, Anton was completely unaware of many of the character developments for Bright over series five and six until he read them in the scripts. Rather than risk key players losing interest in their parts and possibly leaving the show, why don’t you share all your extremely detailed and insightful plans for the characters with the actors who play them?

RUSS:  Because plans change.  Having marched Anton up the hill only to march him back down it a couple of times now — I’m reluctant to tell anyone anything that’s in my design just in case it doesn’t happen.  But believe me – every line, every scene an actor loses in production or in the cut… it’s tough – because you feel for them, and you wouldn’t have written the scene if you didn’t feel it warranted inclusion.

Look – here’s how it works.  You write a thing. People ask for additional material for a multiplicity of reasons.  You write the requested material. And as often as not, the stuff you care most deeply about – the stuff that made you want to tell that story that way in the first place gets squeezed out by the new material.  That’s just how it is. There’s a lot of moving parts. A lot of people asking for changes to plot or character beats. It’s your job to square the circle. You hold on to what you can – salvage the rest. If you can’t take a creative punishment beating every day…  then you’re in the wrong business.

INT. POLICE STATION/CID – DAY 9

CID stripped bare. THURSDAY in his office, boxing his last bits. ENDEAVOUR and STRANGE watch removal men cart off the last FILING CABINETS. BRIGHT enters. ENDEAVOUR – reacts.

ENDEAVOUR: Sir?

THURSDAY emerges from his office.

BRIGHT: That’s the last of it, is it?

THURSDAY: Yes, sir.

BRIGHT: Well. I just stopped by to wish you all good luck.

A MURMUR of ‘Thanks’ from ENDEAVOUR, THURSDAY and STRANGE.

BRIGHT (CONT’D): When I arrived here three years ago, I had such high hopes. What an ignominious end I have led you to. I shall resign, of course.

THURSDAY: Sir…

BRIGHT: I failed him. I failed my men. The station gone. My brightest and best cast to the four winds. And all is brought to ruin.

Cometh the hour. The one true friend…

STRANGE: Bollocks to that.

THURSDAY: Sergeant…

STRANGE: No, sir. I won’t hear it. We might be down, but we’re not out. Not yet. Not by a long chalk. I’ll be damned if this is how it ends. We’ll have justice for him, sir. Whatever it takes.

THURSDAY: Jim’s right, sir. They can call us Thames Valley till the cows come home, but wherever we wash up, we’re City men – each one of us. To our boots. To the last.

BRIGHT: So few.

ENDEAVOUR: Enough to give him justice.

THURSDAY: We’ll find the bastard, sir.

BRIGHT: Your word on it.

THURSDAY: My oath.

STRANGE: And mine.

They look to ENDEAVOUR.

ENDEAVOUR: For George.

DAMIAN: Honestly, if I could have only risen from my sofa, stood up and joined the four musketeers there and then… Rousing stuff indeed. I was a little confused though, why is Strange ‘the one true friend’?

RUSS:  George Fancy’s.  Jim Strange was fond of the lad.  There is something very straight about Jim Strange.  He might not have the book learning, but when the chips are down, he’s the one man you want to see coming round the corner.

DAMIAN: Will all the mystery surrounding George’s death be resolved by the last film of series six and what can you say about Degüello?

RUSS:  Yeh – I’d hope so.  I can say almost nothing about Degüello.  

DAMIAN: You say almost nothing. Any fragrant ladies? Plot vertigo perhaps? Nothing, really?

RUSS:  There was something that we thought about for ‘68 – but for reasons which will become clear, we didn’t do it.  But it is an ending.  For good or ill.

INT. POLICE STATION/CID – DAY 9

ENDEAVOUR alone. He looks to FANCY’S desk.

FANCY (VOICE OVER): Your desk. Sorry. I was told to wait. Fancy…

TREWLOVE (V.O.) There is a woman under the uniform, Morse. Just not a stupid one.

JAKES (V.O.): Wotcher!

Ghosts fled. ENDEAVOUR empties his drawer. A the bottom — his PHOTOFIT of JOAN from (Series 4). A moment on ENDEAVOUR. He exits CID.

DAMIAN: I liked this very much. Why was the scene changed to Endeavour instead simply taking a moment and then turning the light switch off and leaving CID in darkness?

RUSS:  I’d refer you to the answer I gave some questions ago.   My original ending for S5 was very different, and among the greatest regrets is that I could not carry the day.

DAMIAN: You’re not going to elaborate further on this very different ending that was among your greatest regrets?

RUSS:  An Endeavour Joan moment.  More I cannot say. But it was a beautiful thing.  At least, I thought so.

DAMIAN: You mentioned in our first interview this year that there was no danger of running out of stories and that Damien Timmer feels that the show could move into the early seventies quite happily. And, if the network want another series -they will have almost certainly made up their mind  by the time this interview is posted- you won’t be hanging the Winchester over the fireplace or turning in your tin star just yet?

RUSS:  As you know, I’m bound to silence by fearful oaths.

DAMIAN: When we do say goodbye to Oxford’s brightest and best for the final time though, and regardless to other shows you write -you will do great things, I’m sure- would you be happy to be known and remembered as the chap who wrote Endeavour?

RUSS: Don’t imagine I’ll be remembered at all – by any apart from those who know me.  And quite happy to be forgot.

DAMIAN: Russ, thank you very much indeed. See you down the road?

RUSS:  See you down the road.

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: Russell Lewis Part II

LATE NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE

CARTOUCHE & PASSENGER

Interview copyright © Damian Michael Barcroft 2019

DAMIAN: You were surprised I liked CARTOUCHE. Why exactly?

RUSS: I thought you might find it too frivolous – too knowing.

DAMIAN: I’ve tried a couple of times in the past to get you to tell me what your favourite episodes are but without much success. Since you’re unlikely to budge on this, perhaps you might instead at least acknowledge that some episodes are more important than others?

RUSS:  I don’t know if I’d agree with you over importance.  To borrow from Marge Gundersson, ‘People always need the little stamps.’

DAMIAN: Let’s look at it from a different perspective then; would you agree that it is unlikely that ITV, Mammoth Screen or yourself would wish to open or close a series of a highly respected Sunday-night detective drama with an episode featuring a mummy on the rampage in Oxford?

RUSS: I would. But while we probably wouldn’t open or close a run with a CARTOUCHE like number, if the entirety of the series followed suit then things might get a little samey.

INT. ROXY/CINEMA SCREEN – DAY 1

In darkness. A crackly, repeating MORSE CODE signal.

— .–. …

Onscreen: Black and white art-deco 1930s FILM LOGO — ‘MAMMOTH PICTURES STUDIOS’ wrapped around a spinning globe topped with a radio antenna sending ‘lightning bolts’ into the ether. An airship circumnavigates the sphere, against the rotation of the planet.

MUSIC of a distinctly Egyptian theme BEGINS… Black and White — TITLES against shifting desert sands. “MERIAM C. DENHAM presents EMIL VALDEMAR in THE PHARAOH’S CURSE” “Screenplay by W.P. Mayhew” “Directed by Von Mayerling.” &c.

DAMIAN: The original description for the Mammoth Pictures Studio logo was more reminiscent of the old RKO and Universal Pictures from the late twenties and early thirties and significantly different from the screen version. At what point did you have the ingenious idea of actually using a mammoth?

RUSS:  When we couldn’t clear the original homage.  I think I’ve mentioned before the legal minefield of clearance.

DAMIAN: It’s not actually Cavendish though is it?

RUSS:  Doubtless an antecedent.


Production designer Paul Cripps designed and built the Mammoth Pictures Studio logo; basically carving an iceberg from poly, bought a Mammoth which he then painted and sprayed. The background was also painted and then he simply stuck both the iceberg and mammoth on a turntable.

DAMIAN: This treasure must surely be proudly housed safely behind glass at Mammoth Screen?

RUSS:  Like the Anglia knight?  Alas. I haven’t seen it around the office.  

Brings back memories.

DAMIAN: I think I get that W.P. Mayhew was the drunken writer in Barton Fink, (Max) Von Mayerling was the silent movie director turned butler from Sunset Boulevard but is Meriam C. Denham a composite of King Kong director and producer Merian C. Cooper and the Carl Denham character from the same film?

RUSS:  Full marks.

DAMIAN: And accompanying those opening film credits, we hear Matthew Slater’s music score. Now, Matt has been doing a fantastic job as composer for most of the last couple of years or so -I think PREY was his first full score?- but CARTOUCHE was simply stunning wasn’t it and almost indistinguishable from a big Hollywood film soundtrack?

RUSS:  Matt’s an extraordinary talent, and his scores are a joy.  His work has spared our blushes on many an occasion.

DAMIAN: There’s been some great scores for horror and fantasy films such as Max Steiner’s work on King Kong, music for the Universal Monster Cycle of the 30s and 40s by composers like Paul Dessau, Hans J. Salter, Frank Skinner and Franz Waxman, in addition to the various artists, perhaps most notably James Bernard, who scored the Hammer films. I’m wondering if you listened to any of these while writing CARTOUCHE or discussed them with Matt as reference points because there’s definitely a Hammer influence in his score isn’t there?

RUSS:  Yeh, we talked about Waxman, and James Bernard.

DAMIAN: It’s perhaps no coincidence that amongst Valdemar’s credits, Buddy and Louie Meet the Pharaoh is mentioned because of all the various costumes and makeup designs for the character over the years, the one in CARTOUCHE most resembles the one in (Budd) Abbott and (Lou) Costello Meet the Mummy. Was this slightly low budget design the look you were going for?

RUSS:  Kind of.  The Hammers also started to look a bit ragged – no pun intended – very quickly. It was meant to invoke something of a B-picture, knocked out very quickly, and on a limited budget.  But Andy – our director – had a lot of fun with it.

DAMIAN: Despite having the most iconic makeup design, I’ve always found Karloff’s The Mummy to be a little slow and stagey much like Dracula as opposed to more cinematic masterpieces from Universal such Bride of Frankenstein, and actually much prefer Hammer’s The Mummy. Do you have a favourite?

RUSS:  A favourite Universal or a favourite Hammer – or a favourite Mummy?  I’m with you on Bride all the way.

DAMIAN: I meant a favourite Mummy. In comparison to other gothic literary characters such as Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, Jekyll and Hyde etc., the Mummy is possibly the least interesting and I just wondered from a writers perspective, which film you thought provided the most engaging characterisation?

RUSS:  Bubba Ho Tep.  I suppose the first two Brendan Fraser/Rachel Weisz Mummy pictures. And of those two, the second probably gives you the biggest window on Imhotep’s history, doesn’t it?  But – let’s be frank – as a franchise, it’s never been particularly deep, has it? I don’t think I mind the Karloff as much as you do.  It is pretty slow, but it does set down all the key lore. Probably the least said about the latest incarnation the better.

Boris Karloff in The Mummy (1932)
Christopher Lee in The Mummy (1959)

DAMIAN: After the success of individual horror character franchises such as Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolf Man, Universal created a shared universe for these classic monsters. Now, considering that these films are meant to follow on from each other, it’s rather bizarre that Lionel Atwill is cast in so many and yet plays completely different characters including Inspector Krogh (Son of Frankenstein), Doctor Theodore Bohmer (The Ghost of Frankenstein), the Mayor (Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man), Inspector Arnz (House of Frankenstein) and Inspector Holtz (House of Dracula). Regardless, with the nod to his name in the script and the character with the one arm, why has the memory of Atwill endured perhaps more than other supporting Universal character players such as my personal favourite, Dwight Frye?

RUSS:  I think – as you say – it was probably Atwill’s presence in so many different incarnations that guaranteed his immortality.  Ah – Dwight Frye. Will Dwight Frye make you Frye of Dwight?!

Lionel Atwill
Dwight Frye in this magnificent publicity still for Dracula (1931)

DAMIAN: I suppose in a similar vein to the Carry On films and other beloved institutes, Universal and Hammer had a repertoire of supporting roles players which we don’t quite see to the same extent in contemporary productions. Do you think that, in always striving to prove their versatility and avoid typecasting, it’s a pity we no longer enjoy character actors in the same way anymore?

RUSS:  Well, a Hammer never really felt like a Hammer without the appropriately named Michael Ripper, did it?  I just don’t think we make things the same way. The world changes. But I’m very grateful we’ve still got all those wonderful films, and those regular faces to enjoy.  

Michael Ripper who possibly appeared in more Hammer films than any other actor.

DAMIAN: And the Hammer Horrors featured many glamourous scream queens such as Valerie Leon and Ingrid Pitt but Veronica Carlson must still be a favourite who you mentioned in one of our early interviews and gets a nod in CARTOUCHE as Veronique Carlton. In your opinion, why is she the epitome of the 60s Hammer and British Horror scream queen?

RUSS:  I think it’s that she pulled off that extraordinary back to back double in ‘68 and ‘69 with the Count and then the Baron.  Dracula Has Risen from the Gravy — and Frankenstein Must be Dismayed.

Veronica Carlson
Veronique Carlton

DAMIAN: Apart from Bela Lugosi who died in 1956, which of the iconic horror actors would you have liked to have cast as Emil Valdemar if CARTOUCHE was actually made in the year in which it was set?

RUSS:  Well — we were thinking about Bogdanovich’s Targets a lot – which was a big jumping off point for the story.  So – it was Karloff the Uncanny, all the way. It would have had to be someone British and old enough to have served in the Great War.

Targets (1968) Boris Karloff is so scary he even makes himself jump.

DAMIAN: As always, there’s so many references in the episode such as Fu Manchu, the Corman/Price cycle and Poe more generally, that we can’t possibly discuss them all, although I thought the nod to Lauren Bacall (Betty Perske/Persky) was particularly lovely because she was actually a theatre usher in real life wasn’t she?

RUSS: Exactly that.

An early photo of Betty

DAMIAN: It was wonderful to see Thursday in such a (rare) good mood reminiscing about the cinema of his childhood although I was less impressed with Endeavour’s response – is he only interested in watching Ingmar Bergman films and -much later in life- Last Tango in Paris?

RUSS: Colin didn’t really give us much of a steer on his cinematic interests.  But Endeavour’s recollection of Saturday Morning Pictures are mine. I’m not sure if it made the cut – but his invocation of Dante made Damien Timmer chuckle, which always pleases me.

DAMIAN: Yes it did, something about all that screaming in the dark. However, for someone who consistently shows such a reverence in their writing for classic cinema, I’m somewhat surprised and confused by such negative recollections of Saturday Morning Pictures. I would have thought you would have more in common with Thursday than Endeavour in this regard?

RUSS:  Endeavour’s recollections are perhaps not unsurprisingly my recollection of the one and only trip I made to the Granada, St.John’s Hill for Saturday Morning Pictures. I can still hear the screaming.

DAMIAN: Starting with Carol this series, Endeavour begins his Casanova phase which I had a few problems with and hope to debate in a future interview, however, can you not think of a nice young lady to introduce to Strange for a change?

RUSS:  Well — we have seen him out on a double-date with Endeavour – to a Horror Double Bill appropriately enough.  Well — I look forward to discussing Endeavour’s Casanova phase. A one night stand with the least appropriate young woman imaginable – and a meaningful few months with Claudine, of whom he had hopes.  Some Casanova phase. Surely such Homework would warrant, ‘Must try harder!’ in the margin?

DAMIAN: And speaking of other halves, Bright is eating alone in the restaurant because his wife is otherwise engaged yet again! Come on now Russ, this is getting quite ridiculous unless Reginald has perhaps buried her under the patio or keeping her well-preserved mummified corpse in the fruit cellar?

RUSS:  It’s been quite fun keeping people guessing about Mrs.Bright.  We shall see.

DAMIAN: Towards the end of the episode, Charlie says ‘You’re the best of us, Fred’, to which Thursday replies, ‘The best of us never came home’. Earlier, when reminiscing about Saturday morning matinees as a child, Thursday mentions to Endeavour that he’d go in first and then ‘spring the window in the Gents for Chas and Billy’. Can you tell us more about Billy, presumably the youngest of the three Thursday brothers, or is this perhaps something you might elaborate on in a future story?

RUSS:  There is a story that tells us more about Billy – but whether we will get to make it is doubtful.  The exchange rate has taken a bit of a hit since I first had it in mind — and probably rules it out.

DAMIAN: You make the parallels between ex-Detective Sergeant Ronald Beavis and Endeavour quite explicit with similar characters traits and shared interests including a passion for opera; the two even have the same Rosalind Calloway performance of La Traviata LP – oh, just out of curiosity, why were you so specific in the script that the record not have her image on the sleeve?

RUSS:  Was I? I think I just wanted to avoid the LP Endeavour had signed in the very first film also being owned by Beavis. As if it were the ONLY Rosalind Calloway recording in existence.

DAMIAN: Anyway, after leaving the museum at the end of the episode, there’s a discussion of the parallels between Beavis and Endeavour and Thursday says ‘he’d no family to keep him on the straight. Lot to be said for family’, to which Endeavour replies, ‘What if you don’t have one? Is that how you finish your days? Alone in some two-bob kip with nothing but a bottle for company?’. Thursday ends the discussion with, ‘That was his future. Not yours. You’ll make better choices’. First of all, does Thursday really believe this, and secondly, would he, if not really approve, then reluctantly give his consent -at this particular moment in time at least- if such choices included Joan?

RUSS:  I don’t think there’s any reason for Fred to think Endeavour won’t make better choices.  His first thought would be of Joan’s happiness. If being with Endeavour made her happy, then I’m sure Thursday would be behind her all the way.  

DAMIAN: Of course, we know how it ends for Endeavour, but the way the scene is written suggests that he does too. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that loneliness is a subjective experience. For someone like Endeavour with all his emotional baggage and psychological damage, his loneliness and estrangement might foster a self-defeating attitude in that the more he marginalises himself, the more his protracted loneliness intensifies, and becomes increasingly difficult to break free from such a mindset that negatively influences his perception of relationships making him more pessimistic as to their outcome (as might be the case with Joan or Susan Fallon for that matter). To what extent would you agree with all this and has Endeavour -again, at this point in the story- accepted his fate or is he simply just a miserable sod?

RUSS:  No – I don’t think he’s accepted his fate at all at this point.  Did he ever? He always seemed optimistic when pursuing romance. In this instance, I think Endeavour was rattled by finding some similarities with Beavis – primarily, the music – and beyond that, the want of family.  And, of course, he was an ex-copper.

DAMIAN: And so without further delay or cancellation, we arrive at possibly one of the most beautifully shot films of this or any other series of Endeavour. You’ve often found inspiration from poetry during the conception and development of characters such as Thursday (Henry Reed’s Lessons of the WarNaming of Parts in particular) and Bright (Betjeman’s Subaltern’s Love Song), so I’m wondering if there’s any deeper significance to your inclusion of WH Auden’s Night Mail in PASSENGER beyond the theme of trains?

RUSS:  Well – all credit to Jim Field Smith and DoP Jamie Cairney.  For my part, it was just an early memory of a re-run of the 1936 documentary that ends with the verse.  The British Documentary Film Movement is an endless source of wonder and inspiration. But ‘Night Mail’… probably melts a bit into the train journey in ‘I Know Where I’m Going’. Trains – particularly the old steamers – have an innate air of romance, mystery and – for our purposes – danger.  That ‘The sigh of midnight trains in empty stations’ makes the list of ‘These Foolish Things’ is no accident. The Orient Express. The Blue Train. The 4:50 From Paddington. All aboard!

DAMIAN: Interestingly, Auden was addicted to the crime genre and had some very particular opinions about it which shaped the poem, Detective Story, and an essay on the subject, The Guilty Vicarage, in which he makes a series of observations while deconstructing the Whodunit formula including the discourse between good and evil, the ethical and eristic conflict between Us and Them and the dialectics of innocence and guilt, while also identifying its five essential elements: milieu, victim, murderer, suspects and detectives. Perhaps even more than Sherlock Holmes’ more cosmopolitan and diverse Victorian London for example, I wonder if it’s milieu that’s particularly applicable to the Morse Universe if we view Oxford as a kind of garden of Eden in which the various sins don’t necessarily attract evil to the city, but instead reveal the evil that already inhabits the dreaming spires hiding under the gown of piousness and respectability?

RUSS:  ‘As the milieu told its tale…’  I think much of Auden’s take on the Whodunit applies particularly to the Golden Age and the notion of Mayhem Parva.  It probably starts to break down when applied to Bay City. Oxford as a Garden of Eden? I guess I’m with you about the frailties of human nature residing there already – rather than something that arrives with an interloper.  (Though that may change…) But no more or less than any other town of a like size. Don’t be fooled for a moment by the architecture. Or by the trappings of academe. The pursuit of knowledge for its own sake. A juicy and coveted Chair is just as likely to be pursued, as is the wife or daughter of another don. Clixby Bream come on down! That’s one of the many things Colin did so well in the novels. And he knew that world better than most. Where abideth man, there abideth sin.  

Richard Briers as Sir Clixby Bream in the original Morse: Death is Now My Neighbour

DAMIAN: And perhaps Endeavour represents this loss of innocence more acutely than either Inspector Morse or Lewis ever did?

RUSS:  Yes, I think that’s fair to say. We have a much younger protagonist. And a romantic to boot. He was always going to have much further to fall. But I think that one of the things about his older incarnation is some part of that hope still remains. That’s what lends it its melancholy. And, of course, it’s what redeems him.

DAMIAN: One aspect of Auden’s musings on the detective story that certainly can’t be applied to Endeavour is that the characters are not changed in or by their actions. Indeed, reflecting on the heartbreak and misery frequently bestowed upon Endeavour and Joan for example, how far are you willing to go in putting your loyal and loving audience on a downer?

RUSS:  Does it bring the audience down, do you think?  One of the great, unlooked for delights of writing this thing has been charting the push and pull of those binary stars. Who knew?

I don’t know about putting the audience on a downer, but how far am I willing to go with telling that story?  All the way. Always.

EXT. JOAN’S FLAT/ROOF – DAY

JOAN clambers up through a skylight onto the roof. ENDEAVOUR follows. By the time he’s out and into the daylight, with the resultant queasiness of realisation that he’s up high. JOAN is at the edge, looking out over OXFORD.

JOAN: It was the view I fell in love with.

ENDEAVOUR’S POV: JOAN against a backdrop of magic hour Oxford – a sky of pink and pearl.

ENDEAVOUR: Yes.

A world contained in a single word. If his heart were to stop now, it would be enough. To die in the moment of perfection. Like…

ENDEAVOUR (cont’d): Cherry blossom.

His whisper lost on the breeze.

JOAN: You can’t see from there. Come closer.

ENDEAVOUR: This is as close as I get.

And it is. And ever will be.

ENDEAVOUR (cont’d): Come back now.

And it is. And ever will be.

JOAN: Scared of heights?

ENDEAVOUR: Not heights. Just falling…

DAMIAN: Fans may occasionally debate the merits of certain plot points and the motivation of various suspects or perpetrators but there can be little doubt that scenes such as this clearly demonstrate your transcendent and unrivalled talent for consistently writing characters in a detective drama that we all care about so very deeply. Knowing that you will almost certainly deflect the compliment in your now familiar self-effacing and reticent maner, I challenge you to give me an example of just one other detective drama written for TV that consistently delivers both the mystery and emotion of Endeavour.

RUSS:  I don’t watch enough to have a representative sample upon which to draw. But, I think if all we were doing was constructing a puzzle for the audience to solve, it would be a very dreary exercise.  A much bigger conversation probably, but, ‘Why write at all?’ Why tell stories? It’s about making a connection, isn’t it? One heart speaking to another. I think if you’re going to do it at all, then you have to be prepared to go all in.  The audience can sniff out fakery at 500 yards. You might be dressing something up in slightly different clothes, or presenting it at one or more remove — but the initial impulse – the thing you’re having these characters saying – has to come from something real.

The plot and the whodunit are hugely important – but it’s the emotional beats that I suspect will outlast the conundrum. “All the feels”, as I believe the young people have it.  Like the man said, “Nobody goes home whistling the scenery”.

DAMIAN: And then you almost go and spoil it all by following such a beautiful scene by having Claudine appear and Endeavour lighting a cigarette for her which I have two problems with: firstly, although I understand that one of the functions of the scene was Joan wanting to introduce Endeavour to someone who might look after him, doesn’t the smile he gives Claudine show his instant attraction to her despite having literally just walked away from Joan only seconds earlier and somewhat undermine his passion and love for Joan and all the pink, pearl and cherry blossom?

RUSS:  C’est la vie, mon vieux.

DAMIAN: The second aspect was Endeavour lighting her cigarette; why would he even be carrying a lighter when he doesn’t smoke? – yet!

RUSS:  You will recall Thursday’s advice to Trewlove concerning cigarettes.  We forget now – in these more health conscious times – the social connection and conviviality that was part of the theatre of nicotine.  “Cigarette?” was a great ice-breaker. An instant connection. For a detective dealing with those who have witnessed terrible things – to be able to offer a cigarette to someone ‘in shock’ was considered at the very least an act of kindness.  Likewise – in interview, with a suspect or indeed the guilty party – the bestowal or withholding of tobacco – is a tool in the box. For Endeavour to be tootling about without a box of smokes would be a bit of a shortcoming.

DAMIAN: In response to my question in our last interview regarding how much longer the show could continue, you said that there’s a little way to go yet, but, you are starting to say goodbye. Therefore, given there’s a few other characters from the original series yet to make an appearance, I wonder if there’s still time to see Endeavour and Susan Fallon reunited and if so, is there even enough room for yet another doomed relationship – I mean how many great, ill-fated loves can one man have?

RUSS:  I think it unlikely we’ll see Susan Fallon.  The Prime Directive is all. Yet another doomed relationship?  Well — given where we found him in ‘87 and left him at the end of century, one might argue that ALL his relationships were doomed.  How many great, ill-fated loves can one man have? I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

Enter — DI RONNIE BOX, (30s), a young thief-taker, and DS PATRICK DAWSON, (30s), a mordant, humourless, career copper – a young Kenneth Colley.

BRIGHT: Ah. Perfect timing.

DAMIAN: Why now in this particular episode and what does Dawson’s relationship with Box say about his character here and in his future incarnation?

RUSS:  There is perhaps more to tell on that score.  We shall see if room is available.

DAMIAN: Unlike the antagonist DS Peter Jakes who audiences eventually began to warm to, there can’t be any such redemption for a character as despicable as DI Ronnie Box can there?

RUSS:  Well, that’s the question, isn’t it?  

DAMIAN: Was his introduction here planned to set up the character (and storylines) as a regular for the sixth series?

RUSS:  Box certainly played into the evolution of the Sixth Series.

DAMIAN: I think we may have spoke about the use of clichéd and stereotypical archetypes before and how they can be both useful -especially in detective stories in terms of misdirecting the audience- but also dangerous for a writer. In retrospect, do you think that a stuttering trainspotter who still lives with his mother was a bit much?

RUSS:  Clearly not.  One might as well be hung for a sheep.  The major story here concerned… well – it’s not possible to set down what it concerned without spoilers.  But, one thing that did horrify me was a suggestion that one was presenting a character on the autistic spectrum.  I’d grant ‘English eccentric’ and ‘flawed and malignant personality’- but when it comes to autism nothing could have been further from our intentions.  A moment’s thought about that – given some of the things we’ve done elsewhere in the show – and I’d hope anyone would realise that, if such was indeed our intent, then we’d never engineer such a crass depiction.

DAMIAN: Did you ever have a train set?

RUSS:  I did. Hornby.  But like South West Trains, I could never get it to run properly.

DAMIAN: Some lovely cultural references again in this episode such as Norborough Station (60s Avengers) but I would have put money on nods to The Signal-man or Brief Encounter – did I miss them?

RUSS:  We are ever constrained by what can be delivered.  I had wanted to use the original location for The Signalman – but it lay far beyond our reach.  ‘Hallo! Below there!’ Brief Encounter… I don’t know if it made the cut – but I’m pretty sure we’ve nodded to ‘taking books back to Boots’ elsewhere.

DAMIAN: I could have understood Bates Motel (indeed, there’s a slight reference: ‘Twenty-four chalets, twenty-four vacancies’) but bloody Crossroads Motel! You’ve given us countless tales that witness your fanaticism for Tony Hancock, Carry On films and The Beatles but why on earth would you even think of paying homage to such a decrepit piece of soap opera history?

RUSS:  Damien Timmer is very fond of Crossroads, and was very keen to honour it. Lest we forget, when Miss Diane left Kings Oak, she tipped up in… of all places…  a certain city of dreaming spires. Easy to knock, of course — but it once commanded huge audiences, and the viewing nation hung spellbound on the fate of Meg and Sandy and Jill, and all the rest

But as always with Endeavour, one might imagine it to be A Crossroads, rather than necessarily THE Crossroads.  We rationalised it – kind of – thus, that once, perhaps, Hazel Adair and Peter Ling had taken a wrong turn on a lonely highway and ended up at our Crossroads, which had in turn inspired them to create their Crossroads.

You are right about Bates Motel, of course.  In fact, I think in the original iteration of the script there was an extended night driving sequence for Endeavour before he arrived.  Alas, time and budget, and poor man’s process, wait for no man. But I clearly thought it would have been funnier if we’d laid in a longer build-up to the reveal of his destination.

DAMIAN: And a certain Mrs. Turtle is referenced in the script and briefly seen on screen at the reception desk who looked remarkably similar to Ann George. Like Veronica Carlson, please tell me she wasn’t another one of your boyhood crushes?

RUSS:  I worked at ATV in Brum for some time in the early 70s — and we would often see the stars from Crossroad in the canteen, or heading into studio.  Ann George was quite glamorous in a furs and bling way – but, no, she never caught my imagination in quite the same way as Miss Carlson.

DAMIAN: What can you tell us about the second film of series 6, APOLLO?

RUSS:  Er, well — Shaun’s directed it.  And a very fine job he’s done, too.  William Goldman’s advice was ‘Give the star everything.’  So – I hope the moon will suffice. Seriously – it’s quite spooky the way it worked out.  Of all the films in all the series in all the world that he could have directed…

I’m sure I’ll have much more to say about it at a later date, but we were blessed to be joined on this film by Stephen La Riviere and his wonderfully talented team at Century 21.  He brought with him some absolute pioneers of British film and television. So, for a couple of days, our pretend past reached out across half a century and joined hands with those who had lived the real thing.  It also marks (and will remain) my only onscreen appearance in Endeavour, and proves that sometimes one’s childhood dreams really can come true.

Damian and Russ meet for their very first interview at a Japanese Monster Convention

THE ENDEAVOUR INTERVIEWS 2019: Russell Lewis Part I

Cavendish, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Cowley anymore…

THE PROLOGUE

1969: It is a new year; a new era for Oxford’s finest. A new unit base houses the set of the new police station where both old and new characters have been gathering since just before 8am in readiness to shoot scenes for Film 1 of the sixth series of Endeavour. Oh, and of course, Endeavour is sporting a new moustache.

It’s the 21st day of shooting for this film although it’s the 44th in total thus far as Film 2 was shot beforehand. Unlike my previous visit to unit base which was in Beaconsfield last year and its location safe to disclose as it would be used for the final time to make way for the redevelopment of the property, I’d better not reveal where we are this time. However, I can tell you that filming today at the impressive Thames Valley Police Station set are interior scenes in various individual offices as well as CID and the lobby with an equally impressive roll call including Shaun Evans, Roger Allam, Anton Lesser, Simon Harrison, Richard Riddell and Colin Tierney who plays a character called ACC Bottoms.

Bottoms! Despite various attempts, Anton gets the giggles every time he has to say the name ‘Bottoms’ and after one particular take, Shaun and the rest of the cast and crew are treated to him doing impressions of Frankie Howerd. Now, if you’ve never heard Anton Lesser, the great RADA-trained actor and former associate artist of the RSC, do Frankie Howerd while in costume as Reginald Bright, then you’d better hope and pray that ITV/Mammoth Screen include the outtakes on a DVD release one day as evidence of this most momentous of moments in television history.

Putting such titters aside, in many ways ‘69 is a new beginning for the series and yet, one can’t help but feel -my glass eternally half empty- that this might just be the beginning of the end. Shaun Evans seems to be increasingly interested in directing while Roger Allam is in constant demand across film, television and theatre. Besides which, would Endeavour really be the same show that we have come to know and love if it were set during the seventies?

I can think of no one better to ask than the man who devised the show and has written every one of its 27 episodes, please join me in paying attention to the man behind the curtain – the wonderful wizard of Oxon – Mr. Russell Lewis…

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY SLAUGHTERHOUSE

An exclusive ENDEAVOUR interview with Russell Lewis

Interview copyright © Damian Michael Barcroft 2019

DAMIAN: Russ, I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that Endeavour has millions of worldwide fans who would be absolutely devastated if the show were to end any time soon. However, realistically, how much longer can it go on for?

RUSS:  I don’t think there’s a danger of running out of stories — but for various reasons it’s probably safe to say that we’re closer to the end than the beginning.  There’s a little way to go yet, but, for better or worse, we are starting to say goodbye.

DAMIAN: Could the show still work if set during the seventies?

RUSS:  I don’t see why not.  I’d always thought ‘69 was a natural terminus – but my long term partner in crime Damien Timmer [executive producer and co-managing director of Mammoth Screen] has always felt that we could move into the early 70s quite happily.  He’s usually right about such things. So we shall see. There’s something that appeals to me in leaving things a little ragged at the edges.

DAMIAN: Why was Film 2 shot before Film 1, don’t you usually shoot in chronological order?

RUSS:  Well — it’s no great secret, now – but Shaun Evans directed FILM 2, and that needed to shoot first so he had time to prep the film.  He couldn’t have prepped his film if he was busy shooting FILM 1.

DAMIAN: And why has Endeavour grown a moustache this year?

RUSS:  Mmm. I hope this will become clear in the watching. I’d seen Shaun do Miss Julie/Black Comedy at Chichester a few years ago — he sported a tache and, I think, a little soul patch, goatee number — and that look stuck in my head.  There may also – subconsciously – have been some wish to reflect the change from the lovable mop-tops of the early part of the decade to the altogether hairier gentlemen striding across the zebra crossing outside Abbey Road.

People change hair styles – hair colour – try a beard for a while – all the time. You might keep it a month or two – or a year or so, and then change your mind, and move on to something else.  It didn’t seem beyond the realms of possibility that it’s something he might have tried. It seems odd to me that – when it comes to their look — all fictional characters should have to be set in aspic.  That’s their look in Series 1, and that’s what they look like through to Series whatever. Particularly as Endeavour’s always been about a young man becoming an older man. We change – we evolve. So should characters.  It shouldn’t just be confined to the clothes somebody wears. Endeavour’s wardrobe – Thursday’s Wardrobe – Strange, Joan, Dorothea, Win — their clothes are subtly updated as each year rolls by.

But as I say — there’s a deeper reason for it too.

DAMIAN: I thought that last year’s scripts were arguably the best example so far of you structuring the various story and character arcs across the series. Do you think this might be because you knew that all the events had to lead up to the end of Oxford City Police and Cowley station, you had to write out two of the main characters, you had an extra two films to work with than usual, or simply that you’re becoming a more skilled screenwriter?

RUSS: Thanks – that’s very good of you to say – I think.  It was nice to have a larger canvas – so one could let things breathe a bit more.  We always know where we’re going to end up each Series – but the changes at the end of 1968 were perhaps seismic.

DAMIAN: Let’s focus on MUSE, the first episode from series 5 which in addition to the usual abundance of assorted cultural references, showcases an impressive knowledge of art including works by Caravaggio and Rembrandt. Now, I hope we know each other well enough by now that you won’t be offended when I mention that you didn’t receive the best education. Indeed, your days at school were rather sporadic (transcendental apex predators and suchlike) and I don’t think you ever went to college or university. However, it’s immediately obvious to anyone speaking to you in person or reading your scripts that you are undoubtedly an extremely knowledgeable and cultured man. I’m sure the internet has proved invaluable for research but you have to know what to put in the search engine in the first place (for example you wouldn’t just come across Weibermacht/Power of Women or something relevant to the theme of sexual hierarchy by chance) so where does all this knowledge and culture come from?

RUSS:  The only thing of which I’m acutely aware are the vast gaps in that which passes for the things of which I have a rudimentary grasp.  I always read a lot. One book begets another. Something catches one’s interest – and one reads around the subject. But like most con-men, frauds, bluffers and lawyers, I have a nose for knowing how to find things that are useful to my purposes.  And across 5 & 6 I’ve been aided and abetted by Amy Thurgood – who has a very fine story mind, and is very good at chivvying things out that we can press into service.

DAMIAN: You originally wrote a beautifully detailed and wonderfully epic opening for MUSE set in Russia featuring the Romanovs and Bolshevik soldiers. Did you not anticipate that all this information could be more economically conveyed to the audience in a slideshow lecture as it appears in the broadcast version?

RUSS:  Ha! Sometimes things are not realised to quite the degree one would wish.  The lecture was a late additional pick-up. But in intention at least there seemed to be a interesting parallel between 1918/1968 and knowing it would transmit in 2018.  Revolution, political upheaval, extremism of one sort or another in the air. A sense of some sort of history repeating. Prague, &c.

DAMIAN: As most Endeavour films do, MUSE begins with scenes intercut with the opening title cards which often serve to set up the story, its various subplots and characters but I was particularly intrigued with two juxtaposing scenes of the aforementioned lecture on the Fabergé egg (called ‘Innocence’ also known as ‘Nastya’s Egg’) and the demise of Oxford City Police. In addition to the more obvious parallels with the call girls and exotic dancers, was the egg also a deliberate way of symbolising the end of innocence for Endeavour and his colleagues at Cowley or a foreshadowing of new life and rebirth into Thames Valley?

RUSS:  The egg arose from wanting to include the fate of the Romanovs.  I had a dig around some of the missing eggs – and those commissioned and undelivered at the time of the Revolution — and it felt like we had the wriggle room to arrive at something meant for Anastasia.  The parallel between what had happened to her, the issue at the heart of the matter, and Artemisia Gentileschi. All of these things felt complementary – connected in some way. The Me Too Movement. Where we’d left Joan at the end of 1968.  All of that was in my mind. I wanted to do a collect the set serial killer type number — but I didn’t want to add to the long catalogue of dead women as entertainment. I think with the exception of SWAY, where it was germane to what we were about, we’ve always tried to be an equal opportunity slaughterhouse.

DAMIAN: Given that we’ve touched on the subject of James Bond so many times in our previous interviews (indeed, there’s another reference in MUSE with the Maurice Binder style of projected images onto the women at the party), might I be forgiven for thinking of Roger Moore in Octopussy every time the Fabergé egg is mentioned?

RUSS:  Yeh — it was absolutely Maurice Binder, and specifically From Russia With Love I’d had in mind.

But the idea of these images projected onto a woman’s body seemed in keeping with the general theme of the piece.

The Thomas Crown Affair
The Thomas Crown Affair

The Male Gaze, etc. We were playing around also with The Thomas Crown Affair.

MUSE
The Thomas Crown Affair
MUSE
The Thomas Crown Affair
MUSE
The Thomas Crown Affair

INT. GYMNASIUM – NIGHT 1

Boxing match. Two AMATEURS knock seven bells out of each other for the entertainment of a roaring crowd. Blood and resin.

RINGSIDE — EDDIE NERO (50s), a small town big cheese who saw too many George Raft movies. Flanked by ICE CREAM BLONDE brasses, and a COHORT of arm-twisters and jaw-breakers, EDDIE seems to live every punch; ducking and weaving in his seat, regretful that he’s not the one in the ring dishing it out.

With his bared teeth, and goading, ‘Have him!’, EDDIE’s relish of the violence borders on the edge of something carnal.

DAMIAN: We’ve often seen rather polite and cultivated villains across Inspector Morse, Lewis and Endeavour, so I’m wondering if the creation of a character like Eddie Nero, combined with the following description early in the script for MUSE: ‘The decade has turned. The promise of the Summer of Love withered upon the vine. Comedown faces. Sour. Sallow. Tired.’, is evidence of you attempting to paint a more bleak and gritty portrait of Oxford than we are usually accustomed to?

RUSS:  I think we’ve always tried balance the ivory tower/college side of things – which is Endeavour’s world – with Thursday’s slightly more grounded world of cops and villains.  But, yes – looking at period material – newsreels, cultural material – I certainly picked up on a sense of comedown after ‘67. Hope deferred. Paradise indefinitely postponed. The Garden of Eden become rank with sedge and weeds.  The aspiration was a beautiful thing, though it took one hell of a beating – Vietnam; Doctor King; Bobby Kennedy. For a long time it’s felt as if – to borrow a phrase – ‘John Doe has the upper hand.’ The Man. The Establishment. Lately, the gangster states.  Call it what you will. But the dream endures. The reverses are painful, but temporary. ‘All you fascists bound to lose.’

DAMIAN: Didn’t Emperor Nero also have a gym?

RUSS: Up at the Golden Palace?  I don’t think he used it much.

DAMIAN: Personally, one of the highlights of series 5 were the scenes between Endeavour and Strange sharing a flat together. A beautiful example from this film would be Endeavour trying his best to focus on his Times crossword while Strange is reading a tabloid newspaper and slurping tea from the other side of the breakfast table. All a bit Morecambe and Wise wasn’t it?

RUSS:  We were going for Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple (1968) throughout.

DAMIAN: How did you come up with the wonderful idea of Strange playing the trombone?

RUSS:  It seemed his natural instrument.  

DAMIAN: Thursday was shot at the end of the second series and the third picks up months later after all the drama of his recovery and the reaction of his family happens off-screen, similarly and also off-screen, Endeavour discovers Joan is pregnant and asks her to marry him at the end of series 4 but months later, we learn in MUSE that she ‘slipped’. Would it be fair to say that you’re better at creating dramatic and emotional cliffhangers than you are at resolving them in an equally dramatic and emotional way?

RUSS:  Mmm. Well — that would be one way of looking at it.  My feeling is that a lie agreed upon – that Joan ‘slipped’ – says a deal more than a plonky, ‘well – this happened, then that happened.’  There are months of story between series — things to which we’re not privy. I find it more interesting to offer glimpses and clues, and give the audience room to draw their own conclusions.  Back to Thursday’s ‘not every question gets an answer.’ Life more often messy than coming with pat answers and tied up with a bow. Things like that… life experiences are an ongoing thing. Part of us.  There isn’t a moment where a line is drawn. Things fade – but it’s a slow, soft fade. But each to their own.

EXT. LONSDALE/QUAD/CLOISTERS – NIGHT 1

Quiet and still. Nothing stirs. Moonlight over the chimney stacks and towers. A shape takes substance. THE SHADOW.

A FIGURE IN BLACK — night’s dark agent, in balaclava and rope soled shoes, moves with feline stealth across the cloister…

Dr.ROBIN GREY, (40s), crosses the quad with the MASTER. He glances upwards, and reacts to something o.s. [off screen]

ROBIN: Good Lord. Master…

MASTER: Ho, there! You! Up on the roof!

THE SHADOW — spotted, turns and melts into the darkness.

DAMIAN: ‘Night’s dark agent’ and ‘melts into the darkness’. I think the more I do these interviews, the more elusive your intentions and motivations become. Are you being genuine or is there a certain sense of irony when you write stuff like this or simply trying to evoke pulp fiction, spy novels and other genres such as your references to the Pink Panther movies elsewhere in the script?

RUSS:  It’s important to convey to everyone what I’m trying to invoke – an atmosphere; a vibe – to spark their imagination, and to do it with a certain economy.  So – I guess that’s where such things come from. It’s not the job of the writer to fill the screenplay out with Camera Directions or block the scene on the page — and to do so is looked on pretty dimly by those wearing the Von Stroheim pants and hunting boots.  But what one can do is suggest mood and describe the action as elegantly as possible. The golden age of Pulp writers were brilliantly economical, so maybe the pulp thing comes from that. You know, real estate on the page is at a premium. We’re not describing every location or character in minute detail — so we have to present thumbnail sketches of whatever it might be.  And hopefully that gets across to the director what one’s about – and the Heads of Department – and will set their motors running. Then, as we get closer to the first day of principal photography, we get together for a tone meeting or two, and everyone presents what they’ve drawn from the text – costume, design, hair and makeup.

You have to be prepared to be flexible – I’ve probably said it before — a location falls through, or actors’ availability changes due to unforeseen circumstances, or the schedule means you can’t get a scene – so you might have to conflate a couple of things.  What I’m saying is unless it’s specific to the plot, you might not be able to realise everything that’s on the page, but so long as what is substituted is true to the intent and the tone of the original design… Which is why those little florid, mauve passages of stage direction can be useful.

It’s as much To Catch a Thief as anything else – but, yes, the shadow of the Lugash Diamond looms large.  I think something we’ve done across the various series – and something that I find an interesting and enjoyable process – is recasting something conceived elsewhere as light or comedic in intention into something darker.

DAMIAN: It’s interesting that Endeavour mentions Simon Templar in reference to the Shadow. Do you happen to know the title of the book in which Templar made his debut?

RUSS:  Not offhand.  But having googled it, I can see why it would amuse you.

DAMIAN: Small things Russ, small things. In addition to perhaps foreshadowing the relationship between Morse and Lewis, was the creation and one of the primary functions of George Fancy to die and thus set up a chain of events that will be followed up in series 6?

RUSS:  George Fancy served a number of purposes – but you’re correct about an early incarnation of the Morse/Lewis dynamic.  We thought it would be interesting to see how Endeavour took to the role of mentor that came with his slightly more senior rank.  There was also a wish to give Dakota Blue Richards/Trewlove something to play beyond her more familiar role, and a fitting departure. We only got the word that Dakota didn’t want to do any more on the day we wrapped Series 4.  It seemed a shame that Trewlove wouldn’t get to say goodbye properly — so Damien Timmer and self had tea with Dakota and outlined what we had in mind. Thankfully, she was agreeable. Series 5 was very much about saying so long to Shirley.

DAMIAN: I loved the editing in the scene between shots of Endeavour reaching to unveil the bedsheet under which is the decapitated body of Simon Lake and Thursday reaching for the silver platter covering the severed head. Was it a dramatic or financial decision not to show any graphic detail or simply a matter of taste?

RUSS:  A matter of the Watershed.  Though we run from 8pm to 10pm — we are bound by the strictures of Ofcom for the whole running time as we start before 9pm.  The mind of the viewer can always be relied upon to come up with something more horrific than we would be able to present to them on screen.

DAMIAN: Can you describe the reaction at the readthrough to The Berserkers and what they did to the pig’s head centrepiece at the Shiplake Chase Hotel?

RUSS:  There may have been a certain amount of laughter.  Likely of the hollow variety.

DAMIAN: What can you tell us about the first film of series 6, PYLON ?

RUSS:  Things have changed.  The death of one of their number, the end of Cowley, the decade guttering to a close…  it all seems to mark a certain end of innocence. For us, too. ‘68 was the end of the Second Act.  Endeavour was notionally mid-twenties when we began – knocked about a bit, but still with something of the puppy about him.  Eager. Optimistic. Hopeful. For all his protestations to the contrary, the murder of George Fancy affected him deeply. We have, I think, said goodbye to the boy.   

Exclusive ENDEAVOUR Series 5 Set Report: Part II

PREVIOUSLY…

We meet at the train station where the tannoy system blasts out its arrivals and departures but, as I notice his car parked and waiting for me outside the booking office, all I hear is Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2…

DAMIAN: Morning Lewis, much in? Oh, before I forget, Dolly Messiter sends her regards. Now then, tell me a little bit about Endeavour HQ and how long you’ve been based there.

RUSS: We’ve been at a place called Wilton Park – a former Tri-Services Language School in Beaconsfield – since Series 3 — so… three years, more or less.  Our standing sets – Cowley nick; Strange and Endeavour’s flat; the Thursday house; mortuary, &c. — are housed in a couple of buildings.  The gymnasium – having the most floor space – taking the lion’s share. However, our current home is now being redeveloped so – should we return – we’ll be looking for a new base to house those sets…

If you the missed the first part of this set report you can catch up with it here: Set Report Part I

~

195: PART II

An Exclusive ENDEAVOUR Set Report

Article, interviews & photographs copyright © Damian Michael Barcroft 2018

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Walking into the main building, we soon find ourselves standing in what was a large gymnasium and there are various clues providing evidence of its previous purpose including a retractable basketball goal suspended from above, a climbing wall to the left, some wooden gym benches scattered about and a sad, solitary pommel horse looking rather lost and out of place among all the camera and lighting equipment that has been set up for today’s shooting of the final episode of series 5 on this penultimate day of filming.

In the centre stands what looks similar to, at least in its approximate dimensions, a mobile home but one made of wood and propped up by various coulisses or flats. The entrance is fitted with two wooden doors with aquatex or minister-type glass windows but as we open them to walk inside, this almost surreal scene soon becomes much more familiar upon seeing the corridor complete with noticeboard warning, quite poignantly and with a sense of foreboding considering a certain future remorseful day, excessive drinking can cause serious illness.

Taking a few steps further along the corridor and then turning right, there’s a locker marked “evidence” and a crime board behind with various mugshots. I am, of course, now standing in CID, Cowley Police Station, the home and heart of Endeavour with its writer and executive producer, Russell Lewis.

Strange’s desk

You might want to pay particular attention to the names listed here.

DAMIAN: That’s Strange’s desk in front of us, Endeavour’s to the left of his and Thursday’s office behind that. Although I now realise that Bright’s office is in a completely separate building in real life, where do you imagine it to be in your head and in relation to where we are now?

RUSS:  Around the corner.

DAMIAN: When you’re writing a scene at home, and let’s use Thursday’s office as an example, do you see a computer screen splashed with courier font or do you actually see Roger Allam, his fedora hanging on the hatstand next to him and all the little details such as the pipe stand, lighter and ashtray?

RUSS: That’s the devil of a question. Because it’s really ‘how do you write a scene?’  It’s difficult to describe something instinctive. And also tricky to describe a process one doesn’t analyse in the moment without sounding absolutely crackers. You’re in the Twilight Zone. A sort of disassociated mental state. The physical act of moving fingers over keys is more or less unconscious. I can hear Rog being Thursday, or Shaun being Endeavour in my mind’s ear. There’s probably two or three points of visual focus — the screen; a space about a foot in front of one’s head – midway between the eyes and the screen; and maybe off to the side. One of the things said about lying is that people look to the right when constructing a falsehood, or look to the left when recalling an actual event. Writing a scene – you’re creating something fundamentally untrue, but you have to believe in it to make it credible.  So… I said it was hard to describe — you’re working in an arena of feeling, rather than something you see in your mind’s eye. You feel the scene – from each character’s point of view. Slipping between one and the other or however many of them there are in the room. You’re all of them at the same time — and still in control of directing what they say and do.  So – as I’m writing a Thursday line, I’m already aware of what Endeavour will say in reply – and back to Thursday, and so forth. But the process is a kind of conscious and focussed dreaming. A performance – of sorts. Private – mercifully – and it would be very boring to watch. But a performance all the same. You just attack it line by line. Get it down. Some scenes write themselves — others…  it’s pulling teeth.

I’ll let the characters run on. Find out what they’ve got to say. You might write a speech of half a dozen lines until you find the thing that character’s really trying to say. Often it’s the thing you’ve been fighting against letting them say. Because – in the end, they’re all extensions of one’s personality – aspects of it at least. And that’s what you’re resisting. Exposing yourself – emotionally. All those places one would sooner not go. You have to dredge them up and put them on the page.

As I’ve said before, most of the time it’s the other guy that slips behind the wheel. The dark passenger. He’s the real brains of the outfit. I just do the typing. None of which is helpful, I’m sure.  So – apologies if this isn’t a particularly illuminating answer to your question, but it’s not something I think about overmuch.

The closest comparison I can make is to a jazz solo. It’s an extended improvisation that happens in the moment. There’s technique and experience behind it — but one has to transcend all that, forget it almost, not reach for the riffs that live in muscle memory and fall easily under the fingers — you have to reach for something new, and make it truthful. Speak from the heart, not the head.

You probably won’t find this stuff in McKee.

DAMIAN: It sounds like I’m taking the Michael but I’m genuinely not, do you ever explore or experiment with a line, perhaps particularly some of Thursday’s magical idioms, by saying them aloud to yourself before writing them?

RUSS: Rarely. You develop an ear, I suppose. It helps perhaps that I came to it from the other side of the camera. You know by experience and instinct whether a line will play or not. It’s in your bones. But you don’t need to say it aloud — you can hear the intonation and phrasing – the beats and stresses – the music of the line – in your head. It’s something I remember doing as a kid – I think all kids do it. Play acting. Who wants to play Lost In Space? Or Land of the Giants. I’ll say this — and then you say that. I certainly remember that being part of the playground. Those breaktime visits to Bucks Fizz’s ‘Land of Make Believe.’

Elementary writing and direction, perhaps. You see them do it with toys – playing with dolls and GI Joe or Action Man or whatever — they have them ‘talk’ to each other. That’s either something from life, or something they’ve seen on the box. The toys recreate a scene. This one says this — that one says that.  And the thing being mimicked is expanded upon with a new line or a bit of business. Doubtless that’s an evolutionary mechanism that serves a developmental process – learning and experimenting with language – playing with thoughts and emotions. Now the dolls are fighting, now they’re being friends.

Spielberg was right. If you ever got down to floor level with your toy soldiers, closed one eyed, and look at a battlefield from the perspective of one of those toy soldiers — that is instinctive directing, and probably cinematography too. That impulse. Or perhaps children are just certifiable. The walls between fantasy and reality – magic thinking – seem very thin at that age. Maybe those that work in a creative line hang on to some part of that. At least they keep a key that opens the door to that world.

DAMIAN: I’m presuming that directors don’t just turn up improvising where to put the camera but rather that there is a certain amount of shots that are planned in advance. Therefore, I wonder if directors get to see the set beforehand because the design and setup would exclude certain shots such as a continuous “walk and talk” from here to Bright’s office for example?

RUSS: Oh – absolutely. Directors typically come on with five weeks Prep, across which time — if they’re not already familiar with the show — they’ll acquaint themselves with the topography of the standing sets. I would think 75% of what we do is not at base, though. Which is where the various Recces and Tech Recces are invaluable. You should talk to our directors – get the skinny first hand.

DAMIAN: CID in particular, with all its wonderful props, must be one of the most frequented rooms inside your memory palace. I wonder if, in some peculiar way, it almost feels like home?

RUSS: It’s a fun place to visit – but I wouldn’t want to live here. I guess, a bit — maybe. It’s a performance space. Cast and crew have done wonderful work here. So it’s special for those reasons.

DAMIAN: What it’s like hearing your script back for the first time at a readthrough, do the actors really get into character and is it you who reads the scene headings and action?

RUSS: I love seeing everyone on the day — lots of hellos and how d’you dos — and it’s a privilege to hear them give life to the words. Sometimes if they’re in a puckish mood they’ll have a bit of fun with a line here or there. It’s lovely to hear this or that thing get a laugh in the room – cause you know – you’re playing your stuff to a pro crowd that knows a thing or two. But – there’s always a but – for reasons I’ll spare you, it’s always a very tough day. There’s a lot riding on it. A lot of money has been committed to making it – and a similar investment of time and hard work is resting on whether you’ve done your job properly. You’re usually only a couple of days from shooting – so it’s crunch time.

Either our sainted Casting Director Susie Parriss reads in the action, or the 1st AD for that particular film. You won’t always have a full cast. So some actors will ‘read in’ for other characters — which can be fun.

The seating plan is a bit like that for a Wedding. You’ve got a rectangle of desks around which sit the cast, execs, director, drama heads from the network, &c., and then chairs running around the walls – where the HoDs and their teams are – press department, runners, Production. About fifty to seventy people maybe.

Back in the gym, various members of the crew are now gathered together around a playback monitor to watch the CID scenes about to be shot and also to bask in the glow of a portable heater which has been brought in to combat the November chill. It’s a scene reminiscent of children sitting around a campfire listening to ghost stories and there’s sweets too – courtesy of hair and make-up designer, Irene Napier.

DAMIAN: Irene, is it true that you are one of the very few members of the crew to have worked on every single episode of Endeavour?

IRENE: Yes. Apart from the powers that be.

DAMIAN: That’s quite an achievement and rather something of an honour isn’t it?

IRENE: Yes. Quite often when a new producer takes over they take on a new crew, so I must be doing something right!

DAMIAN: You’ve actually been a fan of Morse since the original show began in 1987?

IRENE: Yes.

DAMIAN: Any favourite episodes that spring to mind?

IRENE: Goodness, I’m not sure. They’re all good.

DAMIAN: And what about Endeavour, do you have any particular favourites?

IRENE: ROCKET, SWAY, RIDE, CANTICLE, and CARTOUCHE.

DAMIAN: You’ve worked on many projects throughout the years including Monarch of the Glen, Rebus, The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, Bad Girls, Jekyll, Wire in the Blood, Garrow’s Law, Holby City, Shetland and One of Us to name but a few. A lot of your CV is made up detective and crime dramas so I’m wondering if you have a particular fondness for the genre?

IRENE: Not really it was just the way the work came in.

DAMIAN: Also, more than a few of these just happen to be set in Scotland! Hardly a coincidence I shouldn’t think?

IRENE: I actually live in Edinburgh!

DAMIAN: Yes, I know. And then you went to India!

IRENE: [Indian Summers] Was actually shot on Penang in Malaysia. We were there for six months. It was an amazing experience, but very hard work.

DAMIAN: Is travelling a significant factor in your decision to take on a project because they can involve working quite long hours can’t they?

IRENE: Sometime it’s a factor. It depends where you go. You don’t always get to see much of the country because of the hours.

DAMIAN: I also notice you worked on the ill-fated sequel to The Wicker Man but it did feature Clive Russell who I’ve interviewed for Ripper Street and Christopher Lee in a cameo role. What were these two great gentlemen like on set?

IRENE: Yes, that was quite a shoot! I didn’t, sadly, get to meet Christopher Lee as they shot that in London much later. But I’ve known, and have worked with, Clive many times over the years. Lovely man.

DAMIAN: And one more project you’ve worked on that I must ask you about before we move onto Endeavour is Rillington Place which I thought was very good indeed. What was the atmosphere like on that particular dark and dank project?

IRENE: It was as dark as the shoot.

DAMIAN: So, Endeavour, tell me how you got the job in the first place?

IRENE: I’d worked with director Colm McCarthy before and he suggested me to producer Dan McCulloch and we met and he gave me the job.

DAMIAN: What do you think it is that makes Endeavour so successful and well loved?

IRENE: I think the writing is wonderful and the cast are amazing.

DAMIAN: I’m always struck by the friendless of the cast and crew whenever I visit the set but there’s also an almost family bond between them as well isn’t there?

IRENE: Yes. That comes from the top and Shaun and Roger go out of their way to make sure everyone is welcomed and looked after.

DAMIAN: To what extent do you collaborate with Russ, the directors and producers, as well as people like the costume designers to get the right look for all the characters?

IRENE: We all work very closely together. Sometimes what’s written isn’t always possible, due to casting so we all collaborate to get it as close to what’s wanted.

DAMIAN: I imagine you’ve had quite a few stunt doubles over the years, are these a particular challenge from your point of view?

IRENE: Yes but they’re usually shot sympathetically to help us out.

DAMIAN: Abigail must be fun to work with, how would you describe Dorothea’s look?

IRENE: She’s a joy. I’d say it’s a casual look as befitting a working woman of the time.

DAMIAN: Can you describe the average day on set including what time you have to be here in the morning?

IRENE: We usually arrive at 6.45am in time to set up for the artists calls at 7.00. Then we sometimes all go on set, depending on how many artists there are, or someone will stay back to get the next wave ready. The day continues like that.

DAMIAN: How does it work then, do you do the make up for the main cast one by one in their individual trailers?

IRENE: We have a large make-up truck, set up with all our kit so that everything is on hand.

DAMIAN: Some of the cast must be a little grumpy first thing in the morning. Who’s often the grumpiest?

IRENE: They’re all a joy.

DAMIAN: Presumably you have to stay on set throughout the day?

IRENE: I go back and forwards to the truck, depending on what we’re shooting.

DAMIAN: I notice your bag full of sweets that you keep sharing with everyone. Given the fact that you’ve worked on Endeavour since the very beginning, do you have a certain motherly quality about you especially towards the younger and less experienced members of the crew?

IRENE: It’s always nice to have a little treat. Probably have a bit of motherly care.

DAMIAN: Irene, thank you very much indeed.

IRENE: You’re welcome.

The actors are now emerging from the green room and I hear that cough again followed by a clearing of the throat. Roger Allam doesn’t simply walk onto a set, he charges like a man on a mission. I’ve seen him before but once again, I’m reminded of a director whose work I’ve admired enormously over the years, the great Elia Kazan, a proponent of Method Acting alongside Lee Strasberg and director of such classics as A Streetcar Named Desire, Viva Zapata!, On the Waterfront and East of Eden. In his acclaimed autobiography, Kazan writes “‘Why are you mad?’ My wife asks me that, seems like every morning. Usually at breakfast, when my face is still wrinkled from sleep. ‘I’m not mad,’ I say. ‘It’s just my face’.

And so it is with the imposing Roger Allam whose face cannot help but emote absolute intensity and a certain level of ferocity – and that’s before the cameras start to roll – it’s just his face. This is a man you can really believe would have your cobblers for a key fob if you did anything to upset him. Of course, and in complete contrast, everyone tells me – cast and crew alike, that he’s an utter joy to work with and has a wicked sense of humour. Maybe he’ll crack a joke or two later but I won’t be banking on it any time soon.

Shaun Evans also walks by with the usual spring in his step. It’s almost jaunty. As though each step or two forward is a prelude to a little dance number. He immediately starts laughing and joking with the crew. This is the third time that I’ve witnessed him filming and he’s always like this. I like to imagine him as something of a Flâneur as he saunters and strolls around saying hello to everyone. Shaun shows a genuine interest in everyone he meets and has a keen ear for accents and dialect. On the occasion of our first meeting, for example, he instantly knew I was from Stoke. Indeed, chip-eaters all of us, Liverpudlian and Stokie accents are not all that dissimilar in some respects.

And good God man, it’s Anton Lesser! I don’t know if, in addition to Endeavour, you’ve seen many of his other great screen performances such as the Archbishop of Canterbury in The Palace, the Duke of Exeter in The Hollow Crown, Prime Minister Attlee in A United Kingdom, Sir Thomas More in Wolf Hall and, of course, another Prime Minister, this time Harold Macmillan in The Crown and Qyburn in Game of Thrones – two of the biggest shows on the planet right now – but he really is every bit as mercurial and enigmatic in person as he is on screen.

As the three of them discuss their next scene in CID with the director, Russ and I chat to Dakota Blue Richards who’s also just arrived on set. She’s wearing a beautiful long camel coat which the costume designer, Mary-Jane Reyner picked up at a vintage shop in Brighton. Also, having decided to go back to her own natural hair colour before shooting began, Dakota’s also wearing a wig. Indeed, the wig and the cut of the long coat combined, she gives off a cool blonde femme fatale vibe as though she’d stepped out of a Film Noir movie from the 1940s or 50s. We talk about a project that I’d better not mention here just yet but you can read my (previously posted) interview with her here.

We join some of the cast and crew round the monitor to watch as the CID scenes are recorded. Producer Neil Duncan (see previously posted interview) tells me, presumably in reference to the way I’m dressed, that I’d make a good CID officer. He doesn’t offer me a part though. Shame, because I’m sure I’ve heard the name DI Barcroft somewhere before. Talk then turns to what’s on today’s menu (I think I told you about the Shepherd’s Pie, Vegetable Burrito and chips!) and Lewis Peek (see previously posted interview) asks Russ what the difference is between Cottage and Shepherd’s Pie. I resist the temptation to add that an easy way to remember Shepherd’s Pie is to recall a line from Dr Lecter: ‘You will let me know when those lambs stop screaming, won’t you?’

After lunch we visit the art and props department which strikes me as something of a cross between Q’s workshop and the North Pole. This is the magical place where the elves make pretty much everything we see on screen that can’t be sourced from an antiques fair or car boot sale. So every time you see a tax disc in the car window, various police photofits or framed photos on someone’s desk, a packet of cigarettes or a bottle of booze, various letters and newspapers (the articles still need to be written even if you can’t make out way they’re about on screen) and even carrier bags, all these props need to be made by someone and this is where you’ll probably find them.

When he’s not driving around in a bus with the heads of department and key crew during what they call a “tech recce”, scouting every single location or joining his team for shopping trips to buy furniture and furnishings, you’ll also sometimes find production designer Paul Cripps here too. (see previously posted interview) Various artists have contributed to the design of the show over the years so while sets including CID, Max’s mortuary and the Thursday house will pretty much remain the same each series, every new set that we haven’t seen before including the Crossroads Motel (I used to love Benny Hawkins), interiors of the Roxy Cinema, Endeavour and Strange’s shared maisonette, these and so many more all need to be designed, actually built from scratch and then furnished.

Although I’m not allowed to try any of them on, we pass through the costume department on our way to somewhere very special indeed. If the art and props department is where all those wonderful artefacts are designed and made, this is their graveyard where they are laid to rest and kept just in case they ever need resurrecting again in the future. It’s either an Aladdin’s cave of interesting and curious delights if you’ve poured over every single detail of the show as I’ve done for the past few years, or a sixties jumble sale if you’re not quite so obsessive.

Once again however, time is of the essence as all these treasures are being packed away into boxes and the scene will soon resemble the closing shot from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Indeed, misquoting Indiana Jones ever so slightly, I say to Russ, as I also did to Paul Cripps, that all this stuff belongs in a museum. He then shows me something that truly does belong in a museum or gallery at least…

Some of you may recall a piece I wrote last March as a tribute to Colin Dexter in which I mentioned that I missed out on meeting him by a mere 24 hours. Well, Russ rifles through a stack of large framed pictures and shows me the portrait of Colin that was on the wall of Dorothea Frazil’s office at the Oxford Mail. I suppose this is as close as I’ll get to the great man. In contrast to the rest of the day’s excitement, this is a reflective and beautiful moment albeit one touched with much poignancy.

DAMIAN: That evening with Colin at the Randolph Hotel where the two of you met to discuss doing a one-off special prequel to celebrate the silver anniversary of Inspector Morse must seem like a very long time ago now?

RUSS: Perhaps – I don’t know. The older one gets, things that happened a decade ago feel like they happened yesterday. So…

DAMIAN: Having Colin’s feedback and input for at least the first couple of series, do you ever stop to wonder what he’d have to say regarding the scripts as you write them now?

RUSS: That way madness lies. We don’t have him beside us any more. I just try to stay true to what we originally set out to do — which was to fill in the blanks.

DAMIAN: When was the last time you saw or spoke to Colin?

RUSS: At Blenheim – appropriately enough. It was where my association with his creation began, as the palace features very heavily in The Way Through the Woods. Me, Shaun and Dan McCulloch did a Q&A with Colin as part of a literary festival held there. And afterwards we spent a very happy hour or so in the cafeteria with him – talking poetry mostly. Passers-by stopped at the table to wish him well. He was in his element. Not in the best of health – but twinkling brightly, as always. And then it was time for him to go. So — the last image I have of Colin is of him taking Shaun’s arm for support as he made his way to a waiting car. It sounds like a movie cliche, but that’s how it was. The creator and the youngest incarnation of his creation, arm in arm for one last time. To the end. Dolly back, and… Fade out.

We’re now outside the main building having a smoke again and there’s another fellow also here wearing a fetching maroon tank top. I walk over to him, shake his hand and say, ‘Hello, matey’. Really rather embarrassing, I know, and yet I find I can’t help myself. He looks at me as though I’ve been let out for the day with Russ acting as my primary caregiver but after a gentle reminder that I’m the chap who did an interview with him a few years ago, he seems to breath (an ever so slight) sigh of relief. The character of Strange has evolved quite a bit since my first interview with Sean Rigby back in April 2014 so we discuss some of the most significant changes.

DAMIAN: In terms of how Strange has developed, the first thing that springs to mind are the events towards the end of NEVERLAND (S2: E4). While I appreciate that he was someone, at that stage of his development at least, who was more of a conformist and rule bound, isn’t it still unforgivable that he hesitated for so long and initially chose to follow ACC Clive Deare’s orders rather than help his friends Endeavour and Thursday at Blenheim Vale?

SEAN: I think unforgivable may be a tad extreme. Strange made the right decision in the end and, hopefully, that is what counts most.

DAMIAN: I think that part of the reason that Strange is such a fascinating character is that he’s often got this deadpan and almost innocently oblivious quality on the one hand (indeed, you described him as having something of the Auguste clown about him in our original interview) and yet, we’ve also seen a more cunning, calculating and complicated side to him with regards to climbing up the ladder in recent years haven’t we?

SEAN: Yes and I think that is all part of Strange becoming a more rounded character as the story progresses. It’s something we’ve seen with all the supporting characters, the duality of their personalities. Bright being impulsive and heroic. DeBryn’s heart and sombreness. Those are the two examples that spring to mind most readily.

DAMIAN: As someone who has been wanting to learn more about the background and personal lives of characters such as Bright, Max and, indeed Strange, I was delighted to see that Russ has finally written some scenes for you that shed some light on this at last. Is this something you’ve also pushed for?

SEAN: I’m not really the pushing sort. “You know what this needs? More of me!” It has been fun exploring how Strange inhabits different spaces, certainly. We all want to know what people get up to behind closed doors and what’s in their shopping trolley.

DAMIAN: Indeed, I was greatly amused and delighted to learn that in the first film of this year’s run that Endeavour has moved in with Strange and although they’re not quite sharing a bed together, isn’t their unlikely partnership beginning to resemble Laurel and Hardy or Morcambe and Wise?

SEAN: We had a great deal of fun filming those scenes. I don’t think their cohabitation will ever reach the harmonious heights of Morcambe and Wise making breakfast together though.

I’m not sure who would be who. I do have short, fat, hairy legs so make of that what you will.

DAMIAN: What’s with the trombone all of a sudden?

SEAN: Ah, the trombone!

DAMIAN: Do you play?

SEAN: Not in the slightest. I used to play the cornet as a kid but I am reliably informed by my parents that I was utterly pants. I had a good whack at the trombone regardless. I produced a sound akin to an asthmatic goose being sat on.

DAMIAN: I absolutely loved the scene in ARCADIA (S3:E2) when Strange, once again, completely genuine but oblivious gives Endeavour the James Last album. Since you’re a young lad, do you even know who James Last is and appreciate how funny it is to give it to someone like Endeavour?

SEAN: I made myself aware after reading the script and I can’t say it lingered on my iPod long afterwards. No offence intended to any James Last fans out there. Shaun is hilarious in that scene, like a young boy unwrapping an itchy jumper from his Gran on Christmas morning.

DAMIAN: And isn’t it fantastic moments like these that economically sum up almost everything we need to know about Strange and his polar opposite relationship with Endeavour?

SEAN: Absolutely. They find each other, for different reasons, quite hard to figure out at times.

DAMIAN: Naturally Endeavour turns his nose up at the gift and in the same episode, when the two are at the pub, he also complains about the pint Strange has got him for being too cloudy and also mocks him for drinking Double Diamond lager. Endeavour is really very unkind towards Strange isn’t he?

SEAN: Yeah, the ungrateful git. It is true to life though, isn’t it? When we feel at odds with the world, or hard done by, we take out our frustrations on those closest to us. Morse’s options are fairly limited in that regard.

DAMIAN: How do you think the relationship between the two has developed since Strange was first introduced in GIRL (S1:E1)?

SEAN: It’s certainly had its ups and downs. There’s more of a shorthand between the two. Not too much, mind.

DAMIAN: And we must mention Strange’s legendary tank tops which he seems to wear regardless to weather conditions as though his mother still dresses him. Is it fair to say he’s a bit drab and frumpish before his time?

SEAN: I think that would be entirely fair to say. The swinging 60’s really passed Strange by where fashion is concerned. Probably where everything else is concerned too!

DAMIAN: Is the maroon tank top his particular favourite?

SEAN: As it’s probably the least flattering of the lot I’m going to say yes.

DAMIAN: In a fantastically tense scene between two men with such loyalty and respect for each other, Endeavour doesn’t approve of Strange punching the informant Bernie Waters in CODA (S3:E4). Do you think that Strange is much closer to, and influenced by the methods of Thursday than Endeavour could ever be?

SEAN: I think by dint of his intellect and abilities, Endeavour stands alone. That’s not to say that there isn’t a great deal Morse can’t learn from Thursday, but he certainly has a few more avenues available to him when it comes to an investigation. Strange is going to take all the help he can get.

DAMIAN: Finally, and I’m not sure who told me this although it was probably Russ, is it true that you regard performing in scenes with Roger Allam and Anton Lesser as masterclasses in acting?

SEAN: I think that was in reference to one particular scene, series 3 if memory serves, where they’re both having a bit of a hoo-ha in Thursday’s office. I had to come in towards the end of the scene and deliver a bit of news of some sort. From rehearsals to the last take I had my nose pressed against the glass in total awe of the pair of them. Not just the acting but the way they communicated with each other, from one actor to another. They both had the goal of making the scene the best it could be, playing together in the purest sense. Ask any actor worth a sniff and they’ll tell you that there is nothing more thrilling than that.

Obviously, apart from that one particular scene, they’re both normally crap.

DAMIAN: Sean, thank you matey!

SEAN: A pleasure!

It’s late now. It’s getting dark and Russ reminds me that I have a train to catch so I’d better shake a leg. There’s been a last-minute alteration to the shooting schedule and so the order in which some of the scenes are shot have changed which means everything will run slightly later than planned and I won’t get to speak to some of the other cast now. However, there might just be time for one more hello and it’s funny because you’d think that with all the questions I’ve asked various members of the Endeavour cast and crew over the years, that I would be more than capable of answering a very simple question myself. Not so.

Russ has arranged for me to have a photo with a hero of mine; a gentleman who asks in that rich and aristocratic voice of his, ‘With or without glasses? – Do you want me as Bright or as Anton?’ I’m flummoxed! Perplexed! Discombobulated! They say never meet your heroes and they’re probably right. Not because there’s anything wrong with them, rather the chances are, if you’re anything like me at least, that you’ll make a complete arse of yourself. After the longest pause in Anton’s lengthy career, I finally make my decision. Without the glasses because, of course, Lesser is always more.

I bid farewell to this wonderful and magical place. Indeed, throughout the day, people have asked if I’m enjoying myself and I’ve given the same response each and every time: it’s like Disneyland to me. Walking back to the car, I consider that must make my host Uncle Russ – grand master and architect of all this beautiful madness.

DAMIAN: Executive producer and managing director of Mammoth Screen, Damien Timmer, isn’t with us this time (perhaps another bout of plot vertigo) but to what extent do the two of you keep in touch throughout the shoot when he has so many other hit shows to oversee including Victoria and Poldark?

RUSS: He is a man of seemingly inexhaustible energy — so, yes — he is across every second of Endeavour. Every story choice. Every creative decision. His level of care for all his creative offspring never ceases to amaze.

DAMIAN: I’m sure it will prove fruitless to ask you about 1969 and the possibility of a sixth series. So instead, can you take me through the process of what usually happens with Mammoth Screen and ITV immediately after a series ends and their decision to commission another?

RUSS: In the beginning, at least after the pilot, which got a green light for going to series the day after transmission, it was a case of see what the figures were. The same as any other show, pretty much. As ever – our future is in the hands of the network, and it’s for them to make any announcement on 1969.

DAMIAN: Have you made plans beyond Endeavour and thought about what you’d like to write when the show does end?

RUSS: KBO as Churchill used to say. Turn the ‘FOR HIRE’ light back on the taxi. There are a number of things in development. Who knows? I’ve been enormously fortunate and had a decent run — far more than a bear of very little brain could have hoped to dream.

But I’m certainly eyeing the light. There’s only so much play left in the day. Whether one’s innings ends in a declaration or the umpire calling stumps remains to be seen. Either way, the pavilion awaits. Quite right too. Get out of the way of the up and comers. Can’t wait to see what they’re going to do.

DAMIAN: What can audiences expect from this final film of series 5?

RUSS: We’re going back to school. Having looked at a Girls’ school in NOCTURNE — this time we’re having a look at a Boys’ public school.  Endeavour gets to walk in someone else’s shoes for a while. A window onto another possible life that’s been half in his mind for a while.

There’s a sense of change in the air — and with half a century since the end of the Great War, we’re bringing some of the underlying themes of 1968 to a close.  Fifty years further on, I think it struck all of us just how much we’re still asking the same questions about ourselves. Questions of national identity, and our place in the wider world. Post-imperial – post-colonial – post-industrial – post early for Christmas. Much in which to take pride. Much of which to be ashamed. But one post survives. The post war dream.

When the chips are down, and backs are to the wall, I think you’ll always see us at our best, and catch some glimpse of Thursday’s Generation – a generation that gave so much, and asked for so little. I believe that still lives on in the inhabitants of these islands. Though it’s sometimes hard to see, there is – and will ever be – more that unites us than divides us. Like the denizens of Cowley nick, we stand or fall together.

DAMIAN: Since Endeavour HQ has been based here for the last few years, to what extent are you nostalgic or sentimental considering they’ve already started packing things away and Team Endeavour will never be based here again?

RUSS: It’s just a ramshackle, rather eccentric, collection of buildings. The people make it what it is. It’s been a tremendously useful space – in terms of production – and has saved our bacon more times than I can remember. Pick-ups; sleight of hand; poor-man’s process; reshoots. There’s very little of it we haven’t disguised, repurposed, or otherwise pressed into service.

But – working in this industry – as I think anyone would tell you – farewells are hard-wired into the process. There is always something of the rag-tag-and-bobtail army of vagabonds and strolling players to it. You come together for short periods of time and operate at a madly high level of intensity and concentration. And then it’s over. You fold up the tents and move on. But it’s like that every day – wherever we are. We use every second of available time — right down to the wire. As cut off time looms into view – there’s a lot of looking at watches to make sure we don’t go over and incur huge costs. So when we do wrap – it’s straight into striking sets, and organising the breakdown and loadout of kit.

Across the last days of a series — as each of our principal characters finishes their filming, there’ll be an announcement of “that’s a series wrap for Caroline, or Sara, or Abigail or Anton” – and the tradition is that cast and crew will give them a round. Of applause, obviously. Not the full metal jacket variety. Just to show appreciation for their hard work.

I don’t come out a lot — though I think on this run, I’ve probably been out more than on any other; usually as chaperone to interested parties. But I always try to find a moment – usually at lunch or before we’ve turned over – to stand alone on the set and just absorb some of the atmosphere. That ‘early morning madness’ of the ‘magic in the making’. ‘Whispered conversations in overcrowded hallways’ I’m all too familiar with.

At the end of a run, when the 1st AD announces – ‘That’s a Series Wrap’ – you hug your comrades hard – and maybe you’ll see them again, maybe you won’t, but you carry them in your heart and mind always. It’s interesting – circus and fairground folk never say ‘Goodbye’ — it’s always ‘See you down the road.’

A ramshackle, rather eccentric, collection of buildings or not, I still find it sad to think that this place will soon be demolished and turned into an housing estate. Time and tide wait for no man but I’d like to think that a plaque will be installed here one day and perhaps this love letter to the show will suffice until then. Despite the melancholy however, I don’t get over emotional, it’s just that I have something in my eye – bit of coal dust I expect. And, as Russ drops me back at the train station, I hear Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 once more.

See you down the road…

Article, interviews & photographs copyright © Damian Michael Barcroft 2018

Exclusive ENDEAVOUR Series 5 Set Report

We meet at the train station where the tannoy system blasts out its arrivals and departures but, as I notice his car parked and waiting for me outside the booking office, all I hear is Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2…

DAMIAN: Morning Lewis, much in? Oh, before I forget, Dolly Messiter sends her regards. Now then, tell me a little bit about Endeavour HQ and how long you’ve been based there.

RUSS: We’ve been at a place called Wilton Park – a former Tri-Services Language School in Beaconsfield – since Series 3 — so… three years, more or less.  Series 1…  the name of place escapes me, because I’m getting old – but series 2 we were in a derelict paper mill at Taplow in Bucks that had a substantial Victorian house attached, that was lived in by the owners when the place was in operation — and was built for a survivor of the Charge of the Light Brigade.

At Wilton Park our standing sets – Cowley nick; Strange and Endeavour’s flat; the Thursday house; mortuary, &c. — are housed in a couple of buildings.  The gymnasium – having the most floor space – taking the lion’s share.

However, our current home is now being redeveloped so – should we return – we’ll be looking for a new base to house those sets.

Up until 1968, oddly enough, an impressively grand house used to stand on the site before it was sadly knocked down and replaced by a rather unattractive fifteen-storey accommodation block which was then the tallest building in Buckinghamshire and not entirely dissimilar to the one we found Joan hiding in last year.

Although it’s quite a short drive from the station, it’s long enough for me to find great amusement in the fact that I’m about to arrive armed with my usual laundry list load of questions when it was here that the War Office also used the place as an interrogation centre for Nazi prisoners of war. Indeed, some of its notable “guests”  have included Deputy Führer to Adolf Hitler, Rudolf Hess, no less. Russ may well sympathise after all my frequent interrogations of him over the years – I mean the interview techniques and not the Nazis obviously! No, like a certain famous archaeologist, he hates those guys.

The car stops next to the security guard at the gate who looks exactly how you probably imagine them to appear, or at least that’s how they always seem to look in movies. Surprisingly, and perhaps also a little disappointingly, there’s no secret password like “swordfish”, or “vesper”, and instead, Russ merely says… well, I’d better not say but it really wouldn’t be too difficult to guess. And so, as simple as that, the chap raises the barrier and we drive through.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Wilton Park – or as I like to call it, Endeavourland…

~

195: PART I

An Exclusive ENDEAVOUR Set Report

Article, interviews & photographs copyright © Damian Michael Barcroft 2018

~~~

It all looks ordinary enough to begin with although it does remind me of the sort of place you’d expect to find Jon Pertwee during his largely earthbound adventures back in the early seventies when he’d reverse the polarity of the neutron flow every other week or so. Indeed, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart can’t be far away. However, as we walk closer to what I’ll refer to as the main building which houses Cowley CID, those vans and lorries start to appear everywhere rammed full of wires, lighting and a multitude of machines with lots of twiddly bits.

Filming is already well underway by the time we arrive and so writer and executive producer, Russell Lewis, makes me a coffee and we grab a quick smoke while waiting outside. Quick being the operative word because no sooner have we managed a mere few drags, than two bells dramatically sound and the red light above us is switched off heradling ‘CUT’ (all access points onto the studio floor are lit and alarmed. Just one bell rings and a red light goes on for ‘ROLLING’).

Walking over and into another building opposite the main one, we are greeted with a rapturous round of applause which is really rather lovely. Maybe it isn’t just Kirstie who reads these interviews and articles after all. But, alas, it doesn’t take me long to realise the clapping isn’t for me or even Russ for that matter. No, James Bradshaw has filmed his last scene of the series as Dr. Max DeBryn and so we quickly go over to him before he leaves.

Now, back in April of 2014, I did an interview with Jimmy in which he told me that he celebrated getting the part of the much-loved pathologist by going straight to Marks and Spencer to treat himself to a nice pudding. Well, of course, it’s only natural that I’ve been wondering what the pudding actually was during these intervening years, and so, in an utterly delightful moment that I’ll cherish forever, no sooner do we say hello and shake hands than he instantly remembers and tells me what it was. And so, I can finally reveal that the pudding was in fact a rather large Raspberry Royale!

Taking our leave of Jimmy, who I like to imagine is about to retire for the day with a gin and campari at the Gardeners, we explore his mortuary where the attention to detail is utterly astonishing with various medical equipment everywhere including microscopes, test tubes, jars and bottles containing all sort of wonders, various labels on cabinets and draws such as “Laryngoscope anterior commissure” (no, me neither), books like The Concise Home Doctor, Minutes From the General Medical Council and Grant’s Method Of Anatomy – By Regions Descriptive And Deductive (originally published in 1965). Additionally, of course, we have Max’s famous brown medical bag which you’ll always see him carrying when examining bodies at the scene of a crime.

I would have very much liked to introduce you to Shelly Acton who, according to the label, died 30th March 1968 at 09:45 from a catastrophic cervical fracture, but, when I open the door to one of the refrigerated boxes in the mortuary, there’s literally no body there and you just see what’s on the other side of the wall. It’s all smoke and mirrors as Russ often tells me.

Moving onto the next part of the building takes you to the interior of the Thursday household but Win’s not home. Unfortunately, Caroline O’Neil finished filming her scenes yesterday which is a shame because I really wanted to ask her what she makes for Fred’s sandwich on a Wednesday. I desperately try to find some clues in the kitchen but, since the crew are in the process of packing everything away in boxes, the only evidence that remains is a lonely half a loaf of bread left behind on the cutting board.

I have a quick look round the dining and living room which are adorned with the various family photos we’ve seen throughout the years and finally walk up the stairs to have a look at the bedrooms. Except there aren’t any bedrooms and the staircase just leads to nowhere. Smoke and mirrors again but small wonder Fred and Win look so tired sometimes.

Walking around the place it’s obvious that everyone is tremendously busy and visibly tired. After all, at 195 days and counting, this has been the longest shoot of any of the series thus far. And yet, talk to any of the cast and crew of Endeavour and their unreserved passion and enthusiasm for the show soon becomes apparent. One such person is the thoroughly good script editor, Amy Thurgood.

DAMIAN: Amy, can you tell me a little bit about your background, your interests in film and television and how you got into the industry?

AMY: Of course! Well, I’ve always been an avid reader and TV watcher – much to my parents’ concern, I’m sure! – so when the time came to work out what to do with my life, storytelling was always going to be a big part of it. While I was doing my English degree I produced a lot of theatre, so when the opportunity came up to do an MA in film and TV producing, I jumped at the chance. It was only then that I realised that the job I wanted to do – working with writers and creating stories, script editing! – actually existed. From that MA I got my first job as a runner at a TV production company. I worked for an actors’ agent for a while, then moved into drama development, learning the ropes of working with writers and scripts – and rose through the ranks from there!

DAMIAN: Why script editing though?

AMY: I think that’s a question most script editors ask themselves everyday! It’s essentially as close as you can get to writing and creating stories, without being an actual writer. I mean, there’s also a million other things you’re dealing with everyday, but that’s the best part.

DAMIAN: What qualities do you think a good script editor must possess?

AMY: I think the biggest misconception about script editing is that it’s just about making changes to the script. Phil Gladwin captures it best I think – you’re a “conciliatory diplomat, evil politician, surgeon, best-friend, appointed heavy, hit-man, administrative genius”; and that’s on top of having to be acutely aware of how story works, how scripts translate to the screen and how any changes affect everyone else on set. So people skills, problem-solving, attention to detail and stamina – you’ll be working long hours on production – are essential.

DAMIAN: Can you tell me more about what a script editor does by using examples from your work on the fifth series of Endeavour and working with Russ?

AMY:  Well, every show you work on will have different demands – depending on your writer, your genre, your format. In terms of Endeavour, after creating script schedules and initial research, my job properly kicks in when Russ is planning the stories for each film. We talk a lot about interesting motives, contexts, cultural and historical references, and then developing into plot.

In QUARTET (Film 5), we talked about the state of Britain in 1968, its politics and it’s relationship with Europe, and it’s culture at that time, which informed the story. In COLOURS (Film 4) we found a news article about a real-life protest at a hairdressing salon, which inspired the themes that permeate the episode. Then once Russ has written a first draft, we (Russ, myself, producers Neil and John and execs Damien and Tom) talk about how to move it forward – Russ and I will jump on the phone and bash through their thoughts to work out how to best translate them into the story.

We’ll do that with all the drafts until we get to the readthrough, where I’ll sit nervously hoping I haven’t missed any typos (that’s right, proofreading too!).  Repeat until we get to shooting script (the version used while filming) – when any changes we make will usually be informed by more practical things – changes in location, actor availability, weather. In ICARUS (Film 6) we tweaked some action based on the locations we were shooting in. It’s those changes that we issue on different colour paper which you might have seen in people’s scripts. Then as well as working with Russ, I’ll be liaising with the other departments and the actors to make sure they’re kept informed of changes, and answering any script-related queries they might have! Repeat for 6 films, then sleep.

DAMIAN: And what’s Russ like to work with?

AMY: Wow, such a diva! No, actually nothing could be further from the truth. Russ is an absolute gem, a total gentleman and incredibly generous with his time and talent. His brain works in such brilliant ways, and the stories and solutions he comes up with are always a joy to watch unfold.

DAMIAN: When those dreadlines loom, Russ has told me all about his “Dark Passenger” taking over during extended periods of sleep deprivation which can sometimes last for forty-eight or even seventy-two hours until he writes ‘ROLL END CREDITS’! During such dark times, does this also result in your head hardly touching the pillow?

AMY: Well I get significantly more sleep than Russ does! But yes, if I know he’s pulling one of his long stints I’ll be constantly on email and phone – just available in case he needs anything. To be honest though, that’s my choice – he would never expect me to do that, but I think if he’s emailing a question at 3am, better to respond sooner than later and help him move forward with things!

DAMIAN: The shoot for this series lasted over nine months! Is it a really tough job at times?

AMY:  In all honesty – yes, but every show I’ve worked on is tough! Endeavour is one of the most fun and rewarding shows I’ve been involved in – everyone is genuinely lovely and we all get on brilliantly – but making TV isn’t glamorous. It’s long hours, usually in cold places, drinking instant coffee out of recyclable cups! It’s those times when you really do become one big family – we all want to make it the absolute best it can be, so we all help each other with lots of laughter and on-set chat. It’s the old childbirth analogy I guess – you forget the hard bits when it’s over, and then you just want to do it all again!

DAMIAN: Do you have to travel a lot or do you stay in Oxford while shooting on location and near Beaconsfield when filming at headquarters?

AMY: To quote Ariel, I like to be where the people are, so I’ll be with the crew on set whenever I can. It means I can anticipate issues before they arise and make sure we’re ahead of the game on any script changes we might need to make. That involves a fair amount of travelling about; I live in London so – aside from when we stay in Oxford for the city-based days we have – I spend a lot of time in my little car! To be honest though, that’s a personal choice – not every script editor does it, and sometimes the lure of a warm office over a cold set can be quite tempting!

DAMIAN: One of your early credits in the industry was working on Primeval.  Did you ever cross paths with Jimmy Bradshaw back then?

AMY:  Sadly not! We were shooting that series in Dublin, and I was based in the London HQ, so unfortunately we never got to meet in person. Jimmy is absolutely brilliant – a consummate professional and a lovely man – and we never had him eaten by a dinosaur, which is quite an achievement! (in Primeval obviously, not Endeavour!)

DAMIAN: Could have been eaten by a tiger though. Anyway, another more recent TV show you worked on just before Endeavour was in fact Call the Midwife and the two have been known to be in direct competition with each other on Sunday nights. Where would your loyalty lie regarding the remote control?

AMY: Endeavour, of course! I’m still friends with a few people at Midwife though, and we did have a little joke about being in competition last time we met up! Midwife is hugely successful and rightfully so; it’s similar to Endeavour in the scale and ambition it has, but I think – despite the similar period – they are two very different shows. We can both exist in the same world!

DAMIAN: Were you a fan of Endeavour before you started working on the show?

AMY: I actually was – a huge fan! I grew up watching Inspector Morse, so there was always that appeal. I love shows that you can really dig into – and Endeavour is so multi-layered, you could watch it 4 or 5 times over and still be picking up things you’ve never noticed before. And – as you’ve noted from my time on Midwife – I do seem to have quite a thing for the 1960s! I’m waiting for someone to write a show about a fireman in the 1960s, just so I can complete the emergency services trilogy.  Russ and I had also worked together many years ago (when I was a development coordinator) so I’d always kept an eye out for his work.

DAMIAN: Was there any particular research you needed to do either about the history of the show and its characters or regarding Oxford in the sixties?

AMY: As I came to Endeavour from Midwife, I already had a good steer on the history and atmosphere of the 60s, which was a massive help. And already being a fan, I felt pretty confident in the backstories of the characters. The big bits of research on Endeavour mainly centre around the worlds we find ourselves in – for example, when we visit the army barracks in COLOURS, that’s a world we haven’t seen before, so we did a huge amount of research into the environment, the uniforms, the protocol. We found a brilliant military advisor who had actually been in an army barracks in 1968, which was incredibly helpful! In terms of Oxford, searching through newspaper archives are an absolute goldmine – as I mentioned, it was there that we found references to the hair salon protest that inspired events in COLOURS.

DAMIAN: Because everyone has been so busy for so very long on the show, do you think that sometimes people forget to enjoy it and are there ever moments when you think, hey, I’m working on Endeavour!?

AMY:  It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day business of making the show, but it’s always when we’re in Oxford that it really hits you. There’s always such massive support from the public when we’re shooting there, people who are genuinely excited that they’re watching Endeavour being filmed; and it does remind you that there’s a big audience out there who are really looking forward to the finished series!  And then of course, when it goes out on ITV, and I get text messages from people watching it. That’s always nice too!

DAMIAN: Why do you think Endeavour continues to be such a success and so well loved around the world?

AMY:  I think it goes back to what we were saying about it being multi-layered – there’s so much satisfaction to get out of watching every episode – from the Morse nods, to the cultural references, and then the joy of watching an investigation unfold and trying to spot the culprit. Endeavour Morse has always been a wonderful character, and seeing what Shaun brings to it – it feels fresh and new but still the character we love – is a massive draw for the audience. Russ’s (and Roger’s!) creation of Fred Thursday just makes a perfect pairing – and I now can’t imagine a Morse universe without him in it!

DAMIAN: What’s been your favourite episode or at least the one you’re most proud to have worked on?

AMY:  I love every film equally! But if you’re pushing me to choose – I love PASSENGER (Film 3) because I love the world; I loved it from the very first draft. That quintessential English summertime, mashed up with the dark world of greed and murder. And I thought Jim Field Smith and Jamie Cairney did an amazing job of bringing it to life. I also love COLOURS –because Russ and I worked so hard on the story, characters and the research – so it’s hugely satisfying to see it come to life! But then QUARTET was so interesting to film; I’ve legitimately never laughed as hard as the day we filmed the Jeux Sans Frontieres sequence!

DAMIAN: The aforementioned producers on this series of Endeavour, Neil and John, told me in my interview with them that they both previously worked as script editors with the plan to move onto producing one day. Is this something that you’re also interested in?

AMY: It’s definitely an area I’m interested in. Many script editors do move on to become producers, and I think it’s due in part to the skills you need to successfully script edit – there’s a lot of crossover. And working with Neil and John was a brilliant experience which enabled me to learn so much more about producing. So hopefully one day – but I’m not quite ready to let go of the scripts just yet….!

Before we leave this section of the complex, and rather confusingly since the main CID set is housed in the opposite building, we come to the office of a horse of quite a different colour – one Chief Superintendent Bright. Some people find excitement in exotic holidays while others get their kicks from adventure sports but, for me at least, this is about as thrilling as it gets as I have a go at sitting in Bright’s chair behind his great desk and rifle through the various accessories and nic nacs – and look, the famous horse head ornament in the window…

Having a look through Bright’s book collection, I find an edition of Los Premios Nobel de Literatura which dates from 1964 and contains works by Saint John Perse, Andre Gilde, Karl Gjellerup, Gerhart Hauptmann, Ivo Andric and John Steinbeck. This seems more to Endeavour’s taste than Bright’s, but again, it’s the astonishing period detail that impresses most. Oh, and quite appropriately given some of Anton Lesser’s impressive previous credits, there’s one or two books by Dickens.

DAMIAN: Russ, all these sets, props, costumes, the various sound and lighting equipment – not to mention the vast army of cast and crew, are all here because you sit at home writing words like ‘INT. COWLEY GENERAL. MORTUARY’, ‘INT. THURSDAY HOUSE’ or ‘INT. POLICE STATION. BRIGHT’S OFFICE’, and then all these talented artists and craftsmen work tirelessly to create your vision. Five years in and everyone seems to take it all in their stride but do you ever just pause and appreciate what a tremendous gift this is – a gift that you’ve shared with millions of fans around the world?

RUSS: If there’s a gift – it’s the one that we’ve been given as programme makers. The opportunity to continue to explore a world created by Colin Dexter, and brought so memorably to life by the original production team – cast and crew.

DAMIAN: There’s a scene heading from your script to HARVEST that simply reads ‘EXT. OXFORD – DAY 1’ and then, ‘Skyline. A vision that never fails to thrill…’. When you visit the sets like today or take a trip to Oxford to see filming on location as I know you do from time to time, do you feel a special connection to the great city of dreaming spires and do its vistas indeed never fail to thrill?

RUSS:  It’s hard not to fall in love with the place. We’re terribly spoiled as we get to shoot in lots of areas that in the normal course of events would be out of bounds to many.  So – that’s lovely, and – again – a ridiculous privilege.  

And the people of Oxford have been enormously kind to us.  Very generous, understanding, and patient to a fault, as we return each year to make life difficult for them by closing roads, and otherwise making a general nuisance of ourselves.  

Happily, we’ve made some truly wonderful friends here, who come out and see us when we’re shooting. Amongst whom, I must mention Julia at Happy Cakes – a local baker – to whom cast and crew are deeply indebted. It’s as close as I’ll get to being a member of the TMS team. The days are long – the weather often grim – and the restorative powers of Julia’s extraordinary creations have always been a miraculous boost to morale on many a wet and bitterly cold shoot. I’d go so far as to say that they’ve helped get us over the line on more than occasion.

DAMIAN: Isn’t Oxford and all of this something of a magical playground for you?

RUSS: It’s a tremendous sandbox. Oxford is madly photogenic. I love it in all its moods. But it occupies a relatively contained number of days out of the shooting schedule on each film. One to four days – with two or three being about the average. We probably do a week – sometimes a little over at base — and all points of the compass for the rest of it.

DAMIAN: You have the power to decide who lives or dies, who will experience great joy or deep sorrow. For far less modest and humble screenwriters (and I bet there are a few out there!), wouldn’t they see it as an almost God-like power of creation?

RUSS: It’s my name on the byline, but there’s a lot of moving parts. From each according to their gifts. I don’t refer to it as Team Endeavour for no good reason.

Things will be kicked around until everyone is happy with them. Compromise and reciprocity. Win some, lose many. Stay limber.

DAMIAN: I’ve only really known two screenwriters and both are vastly different in their personalities and styles of writing. It’s undoubtedly hard for you to be objective on the subject but would you say there are certain characteristics or personality traits that many scriptwriters have in common?

RUSS:  Raging egomania and a propensity for violence.  The latter – usually unexpressed. In all seriousness, anyone who ever went the distance has my affection. What do we have in common? A haunted, thousand yard stare, probably. And ‘War Stories’. Get a bunch of writers together — decades ago, we used to organise our own non-corporate annual get together – “The Usual Suspects’ Christmas Jamboree” – and talk very quickly turns to War Stories. What happened on this or that show. Who got fired from what and how. The laughter born of recognition. Because we all know that sooner or later the joke’s on us. The old gag about the Actress who was so dumb that she slept with the Writer to get on in the business still stands.  

We’re hired guns is the bottom line. Sellswords. I always come back to that line at the end of The Magnificent Seven — ‘Only the farmers won. We lost. We always lose.’

DAMIAN: When I think of screenwriters, I’m often reminded of those as portrayed in some of the classic Film Noirs such as Humphrey Bogart as Dix Steele from In a Lonely Place or William Holden as Joe Gillis in Sunset Boulevard. Are you ever amused by how the media depicts its own screenwriters?

RUSS:  The truth is much closer to Barton Fink.

DAMIAN: Have you been in the business that long that you’ve lost the ability to appreciate the romantic notion of a screenwriter?

RUSS:  I don’t think I had any romantic notion to lose.

DAMIAN: Filming today is for the last film of the series but this piece will be posted on the day that FILM 5 will be broadcast. Tell us what we can expect from the penultimate episode, QUARTET?

RUSS: Thrills and spills. Games without frontiers. Hard to describe without giving the game away, but Endeavour finds himself in very murky waters. Geoff Sax – who directed NEVERLAND – returns to the flight roster. I think he had fun with it.

We head back over to the main building to have a look around CID before the main cast are called to the set. I hear familiar voices from behind the door of what I now realise is used as a green room. One such voice in particular with a cough or two followed by a frequent clearing of the throat is especially unmistakable…

Article, interviews & photographs copyright © Damian Michael Barcroft 2018

Coming up in part two of this exclusive set report, and in addition to exploring CID, we’ll also visit the costume, production and props department as well as chatting to some more of the crew, and, perhaps we’ll say hello to one or two of the cast.

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