Endeavour is finally back for its much-anticipated ninth series and while we cannot wait to see what else is in store for our favourite TV detective, its return is bittersweet since it marks the end of the brilliant ITV drama.
As fans of the show know, the series, which stars the wonderful Shaun Evans as a young Endeavour Morse, first aired in 2012 and has only grown in popularity over the last decade. But did you know the series has a royal connection - and almost didn't make it past the pilot? Not only that, Roger Allam and Shaun Evans have in fact played detective colleagues before!
Keep reading for nine of the most interesting facts about Endeavour you might not know...
WATCH: Endeavour is returning for the ninth and final series
The Thaw family have close connections to the show
Fans of the Morse universe will know that it was the late, great John Thaw who first portrayed the role of Inspector Endeavour Morse in the hit crime drama in 1987. But did you know the Thaw family have other close connections to the show?
In the pilot episode, John's daughter Abigail appeared as Dorothea Frazil. In a brilliant Easter egg moment, she asks Shaun's Endeavour if they've met before. He says no, and she replies: "Maybe in another life."
Not only that, some years later in another epic full circle moment, Abigail's daughter (John's granddaughter) also starred in Endeavour – and she played a young version of her real-life grandmother! Molly Shaw appeared in series seven as Sally Alexander, who was a historian and feminist activist. Sally was married to John between 1964 and 1968.
MORE: Shaun Evans reveals Endeavour's heartbreaking backstory
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Season nine will mark the end of Endeavour
Roger Allam has a Fred Thursday Easter egg under his belt
Roger Allam is adored as Detective Chief Inspector Fred Thursday in the show, but he's also known and loved for his role as Peter Mannion in the brilliant satirical comedy, The Thick of It. In series four of the Armando Iannuci-created show, which aired in 2005, Roger as Peter says: "He's Lewis, I'm Morse." Little did he know he'd go on to become Fred instead!
Roger Allam and Shaun Evans have played detective colleagues before
The dynamic duo of Fred and Endeavour is what makes the show so brilliant and the chemistry between actors Roger and Shaun is the key to their bond. But did you know the pair of actors have played detective colleagues before?
In the first episode of Ashes to Ashes series two, which aired in 2008, Roger played the role of DSU Charlie Mackintosh, while Shaun plays PC Kevin Hales.
Roger Allam as Fred Thursday
It was originally meant to be a one-off TV film
It's hard to believe, but Endeavour began as a one-off tribute to the long-running Inspector Morse series, which originally ran from 1987 to 1993.
More than eight million viewers tuned in to watch the 90-minute film when it aired on ITV in the UK, and it was just as popular with PBS viewers in the US, leading the talented team behind it to develop it into a full series. Nearly ten years later, the show has built up quite a fanbase and is loved all over the world.
A member of the royal family once appeared on the show
Yes, really! During the sixth series, which was released in 2019, Lady Frederick Windsor, also known as Sophie Winkleman, joined the cast for a two-episode story. She played the role of Isobel Humbolt, the volatile wife of an Oxford professor.
Sophie appeared in Endeavour for series six
The actress, who tied the knot with Prince and Princess Michael of Kent's son Lord Frederick Windsor in 2009, has also starred in a number of other big TV programmes and films, including Sanditon and The Chronicles of Narnia.
Shaun Evans has directed several episodes
The star of the show worked both in front of and behind the camera for the series six episode Apollo and again for the series seven opener Oracle.
Discussing why he wanted to try his hand at directing, he told PBS: "You do not want to become complacent as an actor. And this is is an amazing job in many, many ways. But there is also a danger that you become lazy with your work so I always try to push myself. You have to engage with it," he said, adding that he's "dying to do it again".
Shaun first appeared in the show in 2012
The show's creator made several cameos
Colin Dexter, the author of the Inspector Morse novels that inspired the series, made numerous blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance in Endeavour before his death just as he did with the original series Inspector Morse and spin-off Lewis.
Due to his declining health, he didn't manage to make it on set for series four but can still be spotted in every episode, creatively placed in photographs in the background or in newspaper clippings.
Fans can take part in an Endeavour walking tour in Oxford
As well as its brilliant characters and well-crafted whodunnits, the ITV drama is loved by viewers for its scenic backdrop. Like its predecessors Inspector Morse and Lewis, Endeavour is filmed in the gorgeous and historic city of Oxford.
Fans can tread the beat of the great detective himself in Oxford
Viewers visiting the city will be able to recognise many locations favoured by the show, and there is even a special Endeavour walking tour where fans of the show can tread the beat of the great detective himself.
Shaun Evans has never watched Inspector Morse for a very good reason
Back in 2020, the actor admitted that he had never watched John Thaw's version of the character as he didn't want it to influence his portrayal of the great detective.
He instead read the original book series, telling PBS: "The great thing about starting with books is that it's all in your imagination so there's a freedom there rather than replicating what another actor has done, with a huge amount of respect." He continued: "We agreed to do a carbon copy would be dissatisfying... then I began to see the benefit of having never seen them."
Shaun admitted he has never seen the original series
The Morse story will end with Endeavour
It's sad to think about, but when Shaun Evan hangs up his hat, that will be the last we'll see of the legendary Endeavour Morse as the creator has written a clause into his will banning anyone else from playing the role.
"Shaun will be the last person to play Morse," he said before his death in 2017. "That was made clear from the word go." It is expected that Colin's wishes will be enforced by his estate for as long as they retain the rights – 70 years after his death. In short, Shaun will be the last we'll see of Morse on screen in our lifetime.
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