Kevin Whately – “I think Lewis has gone on long enough”

"Everything has a life span," adds the actor in the new issue of Radio Times

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Kevin Whately has revealed to Radio Times that the days are numbered for DI Robbie Lewis.

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Asked in the new issue whether he would make another series of the Inspector Morse spin-off, the actor replies: “I would probably do one more. But everything has a life span and I think it’s gone on long enough. There were 33 Inspector Morse stories and we’ve now done 30 Lewis. I suppose it’s a sentimental thing but I wouldn’t want to do more Lewis than we did Morse because I do still think of it as an offshoot.

“There’s the age thing as well – I’m older than John Thaw was when he died, bless him [Whately is 63; Thaw was 60 when he died in 2002]. It’s a long time to play one character, but sometimes it only feels like yesterday that we started.

“And then I catch an old Morse on ITV3. I’ve never thought I looked particularly like my son. He’s taller than me and blond. But when I see Lewis walk into a room with John Thaw, it’s like my son has just come onto the screen. That’s very strange indeed!”

Whately, who has played the Oxford-based detective on and off for three decades, also reveals that wasn’t impressed by the concept of Lewis when the idea was originally put to him:

“I initially thought Lewis was a terrible idea. The character had very much been Morse’s work donkey and sounding board. But I was persuaded to do it, thinking if it was a flop, at least ITV would stop asking me. But the pilot took off, so we got back on this moving train and we’ve never looked back.”

The new run of Lewis, which begins on Friday 10 October at 9pm on ITV, sees both Whately and Laurence Fox return for more crime-solving, despite both their characters having seemingly left the police force at the climax to the previous series.

The series attracts a regular viewership of over six million, but if Whately had had his way, then fans would have seen a very different detective duo on screen:

“When this whole thing was being set up, I said I wanted a young female Muslim sidekick,” he says. “I just thought it would be more interesting. These cop shows can be pretty samey and it was one variation that I didn’t think had been done. It still hasn’t, I don’t think. Bu they sort of pooh-poohed the idea, and I ended up with Laurence instead, which wasn’t quite the same!”

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Read the new interview with Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox in the new issue of Radio Times (out today)