Russell Lewis has revealed that it won't be long before he closes Endeavour's casebook for good. Speaking to RadioTimes.com, the show's writer admitted he has a final mystery planned for the younger incarnation of Morse (played by Shaun Evans) and that it could be airing in the not-too-distant future.
Asked whether the end was in sight for the hit ITV drama, which returns on Sunday for a series set in 1969, Lewis said: "Yes, it is for all of us. I have it planned out to the end. There is a terminus, our own Remorseful Day [a reference to the title of the final Inspector Morse]. Put it this way – I don't think we're going to be doing Endeavour '79. But we've got a way to go yet."
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The series' lead Evans is reunited with co-star Roger Allam (DCI Fred Thursday) in the drama's return after the murder of a schoolgirl brings a now-uniformed Endeavour back to Oxford from his current outpost in the countryside. It's a darker-than-normal outing, with child death and a subplot about drug use giving the start to series six a grittier feel. Asked whether adopting a bleak tone was a deliberate move, Lewis answered:
"Yes. It feels like we've really hit the end of the 1960s and all the hope and promise felt at the start of the decade has come up short. The 1970s are making themselves felt. This is the era of Draylon three-piece suites reeking of tobacco smoke. We're moving into Get Carter territory. But it allows me to refresh the series. It gives everyone fresh impetus because the world keeps changing."
News that the finale of Endeavour could be approaching will no doubt agitate long-time fans hoping that some famous aspects of Inspector Morse mythology would feature in the prequel series before it ended. Top of the list for some would be an appearance by the detective's mentor Inspector McNutt, who featured later in life during the 1990 episode Masonic Mysteries. But there is news for those wanting to fill in the blanks of Morse's backstory.
"McNutt was very nearly in this new series," admitted Lewis. "We've talked about him before, but we didn't want to deploy him just as a walk-on. If we're going to have McNutt, we'd like it to be in a story that utilises him. However, we've probably now got more stories than we have time to tell them."
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The writer also admitted that Inspector Morse creator Colin Dexter is still mourned on set nearly two years on from his death in March 2017: "Colin was our magnetic north and we all miss him hugely. But there is a Dexter presence in all the new episodes and that will always continue."
Endeavour returns this Sunday on ITV at 8.00pm.