Endeavour - a lesson from history

After the President's Club, and grid girls, and Harvey Weinstein, and equal pay at the BBC, it seems there is anational debate under way about male privilege, the abuse of power and the rights of women.

Friday, 9th February 2018, 3:54 pm
Updated Friday, 9th February 2018, 4:00 pm
Shaun Evans and Roger Allam star in Endeavour
Shaun Evans and Roger Allam star in Endeavour

So it’s seems right that one of the nation’s favourite dramas had something to say on the issue. The odd thing, however, is that it wasn’t Coronation Street, or Holby City, or EastEnders, it was ‘60s nostalgia fest Endeavour (ITV, Sundays, 8pm).

It’s get everything you would expect from a classy drama set in the swinging ’60s – chrome-bumpered cars, miniskirts, psychedelic happenings – but this week’s episode also had trenchant things to say about the sexual revolution and casual misogyny.

All of this was built around a finely-tooled whodunnit involving Faberge eggs, secret societies, and those staples of British drama, wealth, class and snobbery.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

As a prequel to much-loved Inspector Morse, you can see how Shaun Evans’ grumpy young sergeant could develop into John Thaw’s grumpy old inspector, but it has a quicker pace than the earlier series, it’s sharper and more pointed. Roger Allam’s Inspector Thursday tells a suspect, one of the member of the secret society: “A bunch of middle-aged academics prancing around in pretty waistcoats calling each other daft names? I’ve got more time for the Tufty Club.”

So yes, you could enjoy Endeavour as a you might enjoy a mug of hot chocolate – a soothing balm for the troubled soul. But for me – and this is the first time I watched it – Endeavour is much more than that. It’s a con act, smuggling in important modern themes under a sheen of history.

Requiem (BBC1, Fridays, 9pm) got off to a very promising start. The first five minutes were very good before it tailed off, but I think this attempt at Hammer showed enough to stick with it.

Having promised quite a lot over it’s first, slow-burning episodes, Next of Kin (ITV, Mondays, 9pm) smouldered but never caught fire, and it finished not with a bang, but a whimper.