Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox return for Lewis series nine… but could it be their last?

The pair reprise their roles as detectives Robbie Lewis and James Hathaway for another run of the ITV detective drama

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Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox will return for a ninth series of Lewis.

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The pair will shortly begin filming six new episodes of the drama alongside Angela Griffin (Mount Pleasant, Waterloo Road, Coronation Street) as Detective Sergeant Lizzie Maddox.

But in an interview with Radio Times last September, Whately suggested that that the days are numbered for his character.

Asked whether he would make another series of the Inspector Morse spin-off, the actor replied: “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!”

In the same interview, Fox admitted that he is baffled by the success of the hit TV crime drama which sees the duo investigate Oxford’s most complex murders.

“I don’t really understand why people like it,” he said. “I mean, I’m really grateful that they do, but I’ve never quite worked it out. But I think that if you’ve had a bad day, then there’s a soothing quality to Lewis. It’s quite a salve. There’s the lovely music, this beautiful city and these two men who are just gently walking around…”

ITV bosses will be hoping that the new series is invigorated by the arrival of a new Chief Superintendent replacing Rebecca Front’s boss character, Superintendent Jean Innocent, who is leaving the drama.

The network has not announced the identity of the person playing the replacement, but a statement described the character as a “high flyer [who] soon clashes with Robbie Lewis over the latter’s more traditional approach to detective work”.

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A spokeswoman said that the identity of the replacement will be announced shortly. The new series will go into production next month.