The sixth series of ITV’s Endeavour is full of change, with the former Cowley CID split up between different police stations, Shaun Evans’ Morse back in uniform and the 1970s approaching fast – but perhaps the most notable change of all lies on Evans’ upper lip.
Yes, this year DS Morse has grown a moustache (or Morse-tache) after series creator Russell Lewis encouraged Evans that it was time for a bit of a shake-up.
“It warms your top lip, if nothing else,” Evans told RadioTimes.com on the set of series six, where he also confirmed that the moustache was all of his own making.
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“I had a beard so it was just a case of shaving it down to a handlebar...no I'm joking!” he laughed. “It’s not too bad. I’ve had it for nearly six months now.”
However the germ of the idea for Morse’s new look apparently came much earlier in 2014, when Evans grew a moustache for a part in a play and sparked an idea in Lewis.
“I was in a play in Chichester, called Miss Julie,” Evans recalled. “And as we're all friends, Russ came to see the play. Had a chat afterwards, la la la, forgot about it.
“When it did all wrap up last year, myself, Russell and [executive producer] Damien Timmer got together as we do at the end of every season, and had a chat about what we felt was good and what we felt could be improved upon.”
Lewis’ idea, according to Evans, was that following the death of young officer George Fancy (Lewis Peek) in the previous series there should be a visual shift for Morse’s character to signify his inner change – and a simple way to show that to audiences was to have Evans grow another moustache.
“Russ said to me, 'I'm thinking to really hit home after Fancy dies, and you're out in the sticks on your own, that maybe there is a transition that takes place and you are trying to be something different,'” Evans told RadioTimes.com.
"'Or you can't look at yourself in the mirror and you're trying to style it out in a new way'. I thought it was a good idea so I said 'Yeah OK, let's do it.'
“It was Russ's idea, not mine, and I was more than happy to oblige,” Evans concluded.
When Evans’ Endeavour Morse is reintroduced in episode one, his new uniformed look combined with the moustache makes for quite the change – but while it doesn’t take too long for the detective to find his way back out of uniform and into CID, fans might have to wait a while longer before they see him clean-shaven again.
RadioTimes.com can confirm that Evans keeps the moustache until at least the fourth and final episode of the new series, which he was filming at the time of our visit. Whether he’d retain the look in another series is less clear, though it’s worth noting that original Morse actor John Thaw always played the part clean-shaven, suggesting that it’s not a style the character remains fond of for long.
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For now, though, you’d best get used to the Morse-tache – because for the next few weeks, it’s not going anywhere.
Endeavour airs on ITV on Sundays at 8.00pm