One of the problems of highly successful TV shows is what to do when they've run their course. When Colin Dexter killed off Inspector Morse in 'The Remorseful Day' it brought a natural end to the series based on his novels, but also spawned 'Lewis', an almost as successful follow-on series. I am, and have been for many years, a great fan of both programmes.
But what about exploring what happened before we were introduced to Morse & Lewis in 'The Dead of Jericho'? Last night ITV1 gave us their take on the early days of Morse, in the one-off drama, 'Endeavour'. Set in 1965 it caught the mood of the time very well (or so it seemed - I was only 4 at the time!), and contained echoes - hints - of what was to come (or had already been) in Morse's career and life: Morse's disastrous relationships with women; his liking for real ale and single malt (though he began the show strictly TT, which was striking); the importance of crossword puzzles; his independent streak and occasional disregard for authority if it helped move the case on; his abortive student days at Oxford; the tensions between town and gown, and the influence of the Masons.
What was great to see also was the red Jaguar, 248 RPA, which appeared on a car lot and was being eyed keenly by the young Morse, and the ubiquitous cameo by Morse's creator, Colin Dexter. There was also a small part as editor of the Oxford Mail for John Thaw's daughter, Abigail. But for me The Moment of the programme came at the end, as Morse and his DI stopped at a set of lights and chatted about the case and the future. "Where do you see yourself in 20 years?" asked DI Thursday: as he asked, Morse adjusted his rear-view mirror, and in the mirror was the face of John Thaw. Sheer genius!
The part of the young Morse was ably taken by Shaun Evans, and there may be plans to produce a series if the one-off show is well-received. From the reaction I've seen from friends on Facebook, and from my own delight at this experiment, I hope that we will see more of young Morse, and see more insights into the development of this complex and enjoyable character.