Over the past four weeks fans of Inspector Morse prequel Endeavour have been teased by the hands of a mysterious tarot card reader, turning over ominous cards at the end of each episode.
And tonight viewers will see that the tarot reader in question is played by none other than Sheila Hancock, who was married to original Inspector Morse star John Thaw until his death in 2002 and joined Endeavour in a one-off guest role for the series finale.
“It was to do with it being the [Inspector Morse] 30th anniversary,” Hancock told RadioTimes.com of her casting. “I thought, if I was gonna do a Morse ever, that might be a good one.
“I said ‘I dunno, let’s read it’…and then I read it, and I thought ‘Oh yeah that’s fun, yeah, I could do that.’ And I know Roger [Allam] very well, and my daughter’s obviously in it very well.”
However, despite appearances Hancock says she never intended her appearance to be a tribute to Thaw – rather, it was supposed to be a show of support for the team behind the series.
“Tribute is a bit strong a word really,” she told us. “I suppose what I wanted to do was say to the team who, you know, Lewis has come out of it, and Endeavour – well done for all of you, including my husband, for creating a character that has such an amazing strong life.”
Hancock with lead actor Shaun Evans in the series four finale of Endeavour
“I actually hadn’t thought of those connotations. I hadn’t thought of it in a sort of ‘me and John’ context. It was more the team as a whole I was thinking of. I did think, what a hell of an achievement, and I wouldn’t mind at all being in that particular one.
“I think Endeavour is really good, and I just think it’s incredible that they’ve kept up that standard that John fought so hard to have in the originals, and all of them.”
She concluded: “It wasn’t anything as elevated, or honourable, or important as paying tribute. It was just saying well done, really. Paying tribute sounds kind of important and solemn and all that. But it was just admiration for my fellow workers, to have kept a piece of work and a character going.
“Spin-offs, you think ‘Oh, god a spin-off.’ But actually, both have been so good! You know? Lewis and Endeavour. And they’ve grown, they haven’t just replicated Morse. The Endeavour thing, with the relationship between Roger and Shaun, is a whole new departure but it springs from that character, and that’s wonderful. Wonderful.”
Endeavour airs on ITV1 tonight (Sunday 29th January) at 8.00pm