Endeavour series 8 episode 1 recap: Who was trying to kill Jack Swift?

Endeavour is finally back with its eighth series – here's a full recap of the first episode. **WARNING: SPOILERS**

Endeavour series 8

ITV’s Endeavour finally returned to our screens this evening, with detectives Morse and Thursday back to crime-solving with two brand new cases.


Series eight’s first episode Striker begins in 1971 and, while Morse has barely recovered from the tragic events of the last year, the CID are back in the thick of it when a small bomb explodes in an Oxford college, killing a professor’s secretary.

Meanwhile, Morse is tasked with being a bodyguard to Oxford Wanderers’ star player Jack Swift after he receives a death threat from the IRA.

If you missed tonight’s episode or just need reminding of what exactly happened, read on for our recap of Endeavour series eight’s first episode.

Endeavour season 8 episode 1 recap

Morse and Thursday are sent to an Oxford college after a package, addressed to the college’s master, Professor Lucius Stamfield, is opened by his secretary Maggie Widdowson and revealed to contain a small bomb. Maggie is killed in the explosion and the detective duo begin investigating who was behind the attack.

Shortly afterwards, Morse is asked to become a bodyguard for Jack Swift, the Oxford Wanderers’ star striker, after he receives a death threat from the IRA. He’s chosen for the job due to his lack of interest in football and, while he’s initially frustrated by the task, Morse sets about escorting Jack to his various events, including a fashion show at which Jack is a guest. At the rehearsal, Morse meets Robert Fenner, a fashion designer and the chairman on Oxford Wanderers.

Afterwards, Morse accompanies Jack to a press event, where he’s endorsing a bike alongside John Paul Martinelli, a footballer playing for the opposite team who is dubbed ‘the next Jack Swift’. Morse meets Ray Jubber, Swift’s agent, who it turns out is also the agent of John Paul Martinelli.

In the meantime, Jim Strange starts looking into Maggie Widdowson’s death and visits a halfway house where her sister Frida works. It’s there that he bumps into Joan Thursday, who is working for the children’s home. As he leaves, Strange asks Joan if she’d be his date to a fundraiser he’s been invited to and Joan says yes.

At the launch of Fenner Fashion, Endeavour is convinced that Swift is due to be attacked when on stage after overhearing someone say, “Don’t worry, I’ll get him at the end of the show.” Just as he’s about to run towards Swift, it’s actually the host of This is Your Life who surprises the footballer and tells him that he’s due to be the focus of an episode.

While the episode is filmed, the show’s host brings out a number of people from Swift’s past, including his best from back in Ireland, George Sellers, George’s wife Sarah and Marmaduke Ward, the scouter who discovered Jack. John Paul Martinelli is also brought on stage to talk about Jack.

At a football game the next day, Morse is on high alert as Swift is on the pitch. However, when fans rush the pitch and the footballers head back into the changing rooms, Morse struggles to find Swift and fears the worst. Suddenly a scream is heard from Jack’s girlfriend – a body is found floating in the changing room bath wearing Jack’s football shirt but it’s not Jack. It’s John Paul Martinelli.

The players switched shirts when on the pitch as a football tradition and the police figure that whoever attacked Martinelli hit him with a champagne bottle from behind, thinking they had killed Swift.

After finding Marmaduke Ward’s fingerprints on the champagne bottle, Morse arrests him. Ward reveals that while he did hold the champagne bottle, it was because he’d taken it off Martinelli shortly before his death. He was warning the player about indulging too much in the glamorous side of football and later discovered that his agent had asked him to throw the match if he wanted a place at Oxford Wanderers.

Whilst examining evidence from the Oxford college explosion, police find a Valentine’s Card addressed to Maggie. They trace it back to John Sarson, an academic at the college who was secretly in love with Maggie. He reveals that he left the card on Maggie’s desk late at night, at which point the bomb parcel wasn’t there. However, as he was leaving, he saw a figure who looked like Professor Stamfield leaving the building.

Who planted the bomb in Professor Stamfield’s office?

Andrew Havill

After finding a cassette tape in Maggie’s belongings, Morse and Thursday visit the Professor, confronting him with the new knowledge that he’d accidentally recorded a chat between him and fashion designer Fenner in which they discuss the Wanderers’ home turf. The field is owned by Stamfield’s college and while the team were granted a 75-year lease, it expires the following year. Fenner asks Stamfield to deny the club’s request to renew the lease so that he can redevelop it, offering a small fortune in return.

Maggie transcribed the tape, as she usually does with Stamfield’s cassettes, and discovered their plan, asking for £5,000 to keep quiet. While Stamfield says that he agreed to pay it, Morse and Thursday deduce that it was Fenner who planted the bomb so that he and Stamfield could keep as much money for themselves as possible.

He dressed as Stamfield to leave the parcel on Maggie’s desk, knowing that she would open it as Stamfield’s secretary. After discovering that the bomb was made from materials found in Fenner’s workshop, Morse and Thursday realise they have enough evidence to arrest Fenner for Maggie’s death.

Who was trying to kill Jack Swift?


Morse and Thursday learn that Marmaduke Ward wasn’t in town when the original death threat was made to Swift, but realise that George and Sarah Sellers were. When Morse visits their hotel room, he finds Sarah, who reveals that she and Swift were childhood sweethearts back in Ireland but split up when Swift moved to England to play football. She married George, who became abusive.

She also reveals that George packed a gun and that he was in Oxford last week. He’s an incredibly jealous husband, having beaten Sarah after she kissed John Paul Martinelli, and she adds that he’s a member of a loyalist militia.

They rush to Swift’s house, where George has killed Swift’s bodyguard and is now trying to kill the footballer. He reveals that Swift played in a charity football match and that some of those proceeds went to the IRA and so he’s been ordered to kill Swift by the brigade. Morse and Thursday manage to get the gun off of George and arrest him for killing Martinelli.


Endeavour continues on Sunday at 8pm on ITV. Visit our TV Guide to discover what else you can watch tonight, or find all the latest news on our Drama hub.