Lewis star Kevin Whately has told Radio Times that he originally thought the Inspector Morse spin-off was "a nonsense idea".
With four series behind him and a fifth starting on Sunday (8:00pm, ITV1) Whately can't deny Lewis is a success, yet he confesses he spent three years ignoring ITV's pleas for him to do the show.
"It didn't seem to me a good enough basis to try to hang a series on," he tells Benji Wilson in the latest issue of Radio Times.
"Morse was the interesting character… [Lewis] would be fairly dull on his own. As far as I was concerned I just used to stand in the background and pull faces on Morse."
Whately attributes the success of the current show to its continuity with the original, and to Lewis's sidekick, DS James Hathaway, played by Laurence Fox, whom he dubs "a prototype Morse."
If Fox decided it was time to move on, says Whately, he would follow - that would be the end for Lewis.
"I tell Laurence…think of your own career and where you want it to go. If this doesn't fit then we'll stop it… [And] if Laurence left I wouldn't do it."
Read the full interview with Kevin Whately - and see our rundown of the ten TV detectives too good to kill off - in the latest issue of Radio Times, on sale now.