Interview copyright © Damian Michael Barcroft 2019
DAMIAN: Given all the stars who appeared there during the sixties such as The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Dusty Springfield, Jimmy Clitheroe, Sid James and Arthur Askey for example, Blackpool must have been an exciting place to grow up?
CAROLINE: Our house was FULL of Marvin Gaye, Dianna Ross and The Four Tops, soul music. I was lucky enough to see Dianna Ross at the Opera House in 1976 when I was 15, amazing! Blackpool was a fabulous place to be and I was lucky to see many artist as a teenager: The Sex Pistols, The Clash, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Kate Bush as well as Genesis and Led Zeppelin – the 70s were amazing and I was going to concerts all the time.
DAMIAN: Do you think this influenced your decision to work in show business?
CAROLINE: I don’t think so. I sort of ended up doing drama by default. I had been pretty lax at studying for my O Levels and my mum said I had to get some qualifications. So I went along to St Anne’s College and, among other subjects, I did Drama. Life changing. It was an incredible Drama Course and my head was turned. No looking back, that was what I wanted to do. Some fabulous actors have been through that course – David Thewlis and John Simm to name a couple.
DAMIAN: In addition to your work in theatre, you’ve had a prolific career in television appearing in Coronation Street, A Touch of Frost, Waking the Dead, EastEnders, Whitechapel, Happy Valley, Doc Martin and Last Tango in Halifax to name but a few. As you look back on all these productions, I wonder which you feel most proud of or have especially fond memories working on?
CAROLINE: I have to say Coronation Street, not so much for my work on it, but for the fact that growing up we watched it all the time, it was huge. The feeling of walking into the Granada building in Manchester, and being on such an iconic show was amazing. Doc Martin was a dream as everyone, particularly Martin, was a joy. Getting to play an addict, like Lynn Dewhurst in Happy Valley, is a really exciting challenge for any actor, and I loved getting my teeth into such an extreme character. The York Realist at the Royal Court Theatre, London, was maybe my proudest theatre moment. It was a hugely successful production and I made a life long friend in Anne Reid – who’s a huge Endeavour fan!
DAMIAN: I’m curious about your first appearance in the world of Colin Dexter with Lewis. Russell Lewis wrote some of the episodes including that all important first one, how do you think his vision of contemporary Oxford compares to the period Endeavour?
CAROLINE: Russell manages to recreate a whole new world in Endeavour through the tone and language of his scripts. He writes the period like no one else could. And it’s the harmonious relationship between the writing and the fantastic costume and set designs that bring 60s Oxford to life in the show.
DAMIAN: Since the introduction of Win, Joan and Sam during the first series, to what extent do you think that the Thursdays were a surrogate for Endeavour in the absence of a loving family of his own?
CAROLINE: In the early seasons when everyone was at home, and we had all those lovely bustling breakfasts and dinners, Endeavour would arrive to pick up Fred… oh yes I do feel he had a little yearning for that. Win is such a warm and maternal character, I think she felt Endeavour needed looking after at times. She was also always aware that Fred had an almost paternal, protective relationship with Endeavour, and wanted to help nurture that.
I also think that from the first visit, Endeavour enjoyed coming round because there was that immediate chemistry between Joan and himself – I think Win picked up on that straight away.
DAMIAN: For the first few years at least, until Sam joined the army and Joan went AWOL, I suspect that, like Endeavour, Sunday-night viewers savoured the respite from grisly murders for just a few minutes to enjoy the comfort and cosiness of the Thursday family enjoying a meal round the table or sharing a box of chocolates while watching TV together on the sofa. Given the lovely chemistry between Roger, Sara, Jack and yourself, did you as an actor also feel a certain sense of loss?
CAROLINE: I always feel how lucky I am to be in this show and a part of the Thursday family, they’re all such lovely actors, and it did just work so well on set. I certainly miss having them around. Their leaving home also coincided with both my daughters leaving home, one off to University and the other to Boarding School, and you do grieve the change, the quiet… the sense of loss as your role as a parent changes, so playing Win became quite poignant. It would be fabulous to have all the Thursdays back for some celebration together before the final episode… Russell?
DAMIAN: And of course even you left, leaving poor old Fred alone at the end of last series because he loaned (and lost) a large portion of their retirement money to his brother, Charlie. I can understand that Win would have liked to have had a say in the matter but wouldn’t she have said no anyway?
CAROLINE: Truly, I believe Win would go with what Fred had wanted to do in the end. Though she does hold her own – she would have put up a fight and tried to talk him out of it, definitely! I imagine they might have negotiated how much to give him too. I think her disappointment in this awful situation was the secrecy and deceit – family means everything to Win – which is why I do think she would have ultimately wanted to help Charlie. But at the centre of the Thursday family is trust and honesty, both of which were tested in that situation.
DAMIAN: And was it selfish of Win to want Fred to give up coppering so they can compete dance competitions?
CAROLINE: Win has stood by Fred through twenty-seven years of coppering and I think she felt it was time to have something else in their lives. Not just for her, for both of them. It was something he enjoyed too. I think if things had turned out differently with Charlie, who knows…
DAMIAN: Given the fact that many of your scenes are set in the Thursday kitchen or dining room, was it something of a lovely surprise to read the script and see you would be ballroom dancing?
CAROLINE: My goodness yes! I don’t think Win had been out of the house for five films! -I may be slightly exaggerating there- but it was fabulous to have the opportunity to explore another side to their characters. And Roger is a wonderful dance partner. It was a really fun little project.
DAMIAN: What was Roger’s reaction and can you tell me a little bit about the two of you rehearsing the choreography?
CAROLINE: I think Roger was as surprised and delighted as I was! Particularly at the level of competition we had reached. It was great fun to film, but important it looked good – a bit of a challenge as neither of us had ballroom danced before! So we went off to a studio for a few hours and the marvellous, patient, Sally and friend, they were both brilliant in making us look good, took us through the routines and filmed them so we could practice in our kitchens
THURSDAY: (soaking in the view) God, I love this place. You should’ve seen their faces – Win and the kids – [when] I brought ‘em here for the first time. We’d been two-up, back to back in the Smoke. Outside lav. One cold tap. Mind – Win kept it spotless. Spotless. (a moment) ‘Is this Heaven, Dad?’ Joan. You know. Little face looking up. Those blue eyes. Couldn’t believe somewhere like this existed. Not after bomb-sites and soot. Was like we’d stepped out of black and white and into colour.
-SERIES 5, FILM 6: ICARUS
DAMIAN: I remember discussing the relationship between Endeavour and Joan a few years ago with Russ when I asked him at what point he decided that they’d fall for each other and he replied, ‘From the moment I had her open the door to him for the first time’. Not only beautiful, but it also shows what foresight and understanding he has for the characters. Did you ever discuss Fred and Win’s history with Russ prior to their move to Oxford?
CAROLINE: I think Russel has an extraordinary ability to write for individual characters, little idiosyncrasies and mannerism in their speech and behaviour carry so much story. And coming back to Win each series has always felt like putting on comfortable shoes. I think he had a clear idea of where he was taking Fred and Win and it was always exciting to see the journey. Moving to the house in Oxford is quite symbolic of what it means to be a Thursday family member really, they worked hard to achieve what they did and have that to show for it. It’s the simple things in life that matter most to Win – her family, her home.
THURSDAY: A policeman’s lot is not a happy one, I’m told. But the lot of a policeman’s wife hardly gets a mention. But while I’ve been out running around, nabbing villains and generally playing silly buggers… the real brains of the outfit has made a house a home, raised two children, our children. Seen ‘em off to school each morning, clean and smart. And somehow, even with all that to do, there’s always been a hot meal for me when I get home. Twenty-five years ago I got the best bit of luck any man ever had. The toast is… my Win.
-SERIES 2, FILM 4: SWAY
DAMIAN: One of my favourite storylines is from SWAY in which Thursday is reunited with his old war sweetheart, Luisa Armstrong. Do you think he would have continued to see her in secret had she not committed suicide?
CAROLINE: Mine too Damian, I loved working with Andy Wilson on that episode and the anniversary scene was so great. You’re aware that some scenes get cut from the final episode, and this is a case in point. Russell had written a wonderful scene where you saw Win’s strength and tenacity. Win actually spoke to Luisa and made it clear she was not going anywhere and neither was her and Fred’s relationship.
I don’t believe he would have continued to see her, Win is his one true love. We can all see the past through rose tinted glasses, and first loves will always hold a special place in one’s heart, but I don’t think he would risk losing Win.
THURSDAY: We were friends once.
LUISA: That’s the last thing we were. Friendship takes time. What did we have? Two months? Three? If that. There wasn’t room for friendship too.
THURSDAY: Don’t tell me. I was there. I remember everything. Everything. Every moment like nothing before or since. It’s here. Still. Forever. The scent of the pines. The sun on the water. So vivid. And you. All above everything, I remember you.
THURSDAY: Your eyes.
LUISA: You can’t say these things. You can’t, not to me.
THURSDAY: I’ve no-one else to say them to.
DAMIAN: Do you think Fred betrayed Win with words such as these?
CAROLINE: The relationship Fred had with Luisa was something extremely special at a time when the whole world was being torn apart in the war. He obviously felt deeply for Luisa, and he reminisces here about it. But I think he truly loves Win and, free of the pressures of fleeting, war-torn romance, their love is completely different. Those memories are real, but so are the many memories he has with Win: having children buying a home, sharing the last piece of cake on a Sunday afternoon – that’s real Thursday love!
DAMIAN: And in Luisa’s words, ‘Every life holds one great love. One name to hold onto at the end. One face to take into the dark’. No marriage is easy, but despite their ups and downs, it’ll still be Win’s face that Fred takes into the dark with him won’t it?
CAROLINE: Oh yes, they’re soul mates and have gone through thick and thin together.
DAMIAN: One last question because Russ won’t tell me, so I’m hoping you can finally reveal what Fred has on his Wednesday sandwich?
CAROLINE: I will keep you guessing…
DAMIAN: Caroline, thank you very much indeed.
CAROLINE: Thanks so much Damian!