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.

1 thought on “THE ENDEAVOUR INTERVIEWS 2019: Russell Lewis Part IV

  1. Ian Baker

    I think this was your most insightful interview yet. Really enjoyed reading it. It is such a shame to have lost those extended moments to the cutting room floor.

    Reply

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