Endeavour Review: An Inspector Calls Back

ENDEAVOUR: Monday 2nd January, ITV1, 9pm

It took seven series to find out his first name (and with a name like Endeavour it is fairly easy to see why) but Morse fans need no longer sit around drinking ale, listening to Puccini and feverishly filling in crosswords in a bid to understand their favourite TV detective.

Last night’s screening of Endeavour, a one-off prequel to the hugely popular Morse series, bundled viewers into the back of a Jag Mark II and gave them a guided tour of the late great Inspector’s early days.

Shaun Evans starred as the young Morse, who had not yet become the single grumpiest bobby in Oxford. Though this Morse may have been a fresh-faced twenty-something but he was far from ‘youthful’. Evans heaved enough world-weary sighs and brandished enough smouldering looks to keep the fledgling Morse true to his latter self. John Thaw may have got the art of furrowing his brow to perfection but his unfailing dedication to seeking out the truth and delivering justice was what made his character so treasured by the Brits. Evans never failed to keep his perfromance laced with the same starry-eyed faith.

The response to last night’s special has already been phenomenal with many begging for more Morse tales to follow. The only slight problem with a series emerging is that this initial episode managed to reveal all Morse’s quirky penchants in one big primetime hit. Crosswords – check. The Jag – check. Ale – check. Opera – double check. Perhaps it is just a shame that things could not have been unveiled at a slightly more realistic pace.

It all seems rather likely that this is not the end for Morse’s TV adventures. Written by Russell Lewis, who also penned the popular Morse spin-off, Lewis, the hour and a half special stood up as an engrossing (if a little bizarre) detective story in its own right; A murdered schoolgirl, a car salesman who acts as part-time pimp, the seedy behaviour of Oxford old boys, a mistaken suicide, a misunderstood housewife and a couple of crowbars to craniums. Add to that the reason that a young and previously teetotal Morse turned to ale and the extent of his obsession with opera and you have yourself a pretty special way to spend an evening…failing the absence of an Inspector Morse box set, of course.