‘Masterpiece’ makes another ‘Endeavour’ toward mystery

Star Shaun Evans also plays director on PBS’ ‘Endeavour’

Six seasons in, Shaun Evans is still living by the Morse code.

The British actor is continuing the younger incarnation of novelist Colin Dexter’s character Inspector Morse in “Endeavour on Masterpiece,” which begins its sixth PBS round Sunday, June 16 (check local listings). Evans also directs “Apollo,” the second of the prequel’s four new episodes – which begin with “Pylon,” taking newly mustachioed Endeavour Morse onto a different late-1960s beat and back to the city of Oxford to probe a student’s murder. Others believe they have the likeliest suspect, but Endeavour doesn’t agree.

While he’s comfortable with his approach to the role, Evans maintains he always has been. Expressing respect for the initial “Inspector Morse” tales, he adds, “You go your own way and do your own thing. Also, I think I’m just confident enough as an actor to be like, ‘Well, that’s the job.’ I wasn’t waiting for someone to either accept or not accept it.”

Evans enjoyed being an “Endeavour” director, reasoning that “whilst the characters are constant, each (episode) should feel different from the next. Every time I meet one of the directors coming in, I can get a sense very swiftly of how it’s going to turn out by what’s important to them, what they laugh at, what they think about the story (or) where their head is at with the story. Which, I think, is very telling.”

Shaun Evans returns in Season 6 of “Endeavour on Masterpiece,” starting Sunday on PBS (check local listings).

“Endeavour” also features (as Dorothea Frazil) Abigail Thaw, the daughter of the late John Thaw, who portrayed Morse on PBS’ “Mystery!” before it was folded into “Masterpiece.” Evans reports he still hasn’t seen the Thaw episodes, “and that’s purposeful. And that’s with a huge amount of respect, because I know they will be brilliant when I do get around to watching them.

“If there are any similarities in terms of the character, then that needs to be borne out of the writing. I think you would be shortchanging the audience if you were to come in and do an impression, and to start morphing into something else.” Still, Evans stresses his appreciation of “all of the things that have gone prior to (‘Endeavour’), because my first port of call was the books and the imagination. I still want all of that now as it draws to a close.”

However, the finale isn’t immediately pending, especially since a seventh season of “Endeavour” has been ordered. For now, Evans voices satisfaction with his evolution of the title part: “I would like to think he is less of a loner, and that he knows that he’s got people who have got his back at work … that you can open yourself to rely upon. Perhaps that’s true for me, too.”

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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