Endeavour: New Case, New Character

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Related to: Endeavour, Season 3

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DC Morse and the Oxford City Police are back to business as they investigate a whole new spate of crimes: poisonings, kidnappings, and explosions. But beyond being chock-full of crime-drama goodness, this season’s second episode also introduces us to a new character and the show’s first female police officer, WPC Shirley Trewlove.

WPC Trewlove joins the Endeavour cast just as actor Dakota Blue Richards joins us here to talk about her character’s “morbid fascination” with crime and murder, and to tease her future on the Cowley team.

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Jace Lacob (Jace): MASTERPIECE Studio is brought to you by Audible. For a free trial, go to Audible.com/Masterpiece.

Morse: Flypaper?
Doc: Infused with arsenic. Illegal these days.

Jace: I’m Jace Lacob and you’re listening to MASTERPIECE Studio.

With Morse back on the team, it’s business as usual for the Oxford City Police as they find themselves investigating a whole new spate of crimes: poisonings, kidnappings, and explosions.

But beyond being chock-full of spectacle, this season’s second episode, “Arcadia,” also highlighted the changing social climate of the 1960s.

Protesters: End the illegal regime!

Jace: “Arcadia” gave us protests and sit-ins, a free-love commune, and the show’s first female police officer.

Bright: And whom do we have here?
Trewlove: WPC 734 Trewlove, sir.

Jace: Though WPC Shirley Trewlove may be green, she makes up for her lack of experience with cunning observation and quiet intellect.

Dakota Blue Richards: I think I tend to play sort of firecrackers more often, and Trewlove is…she’s very grounded.

Jace: Today, Dakota Blue Richards gives us her take on WPC Trewlove, and teases her future at Cowley alongside Thursday, Morse, and Bright.

And this week we are joined by Dakota Blue Richards. Welcome.

Dakota Blue Richards (Dakota): Hi.

Jace: We meet WPC Shirley Trewlove on this week’s episode of Endeavour, and I was instantly struck with just how perceptive and adept she is. What’s your take on her character?

Dakota: I think she’s a great counterpart to Morse. She’s very efficient, and she does a lot more than I think is required of her, and definitely would have been expected of women at the time in the police force. And so it’s nice to play somebody that’s quite proactive and hardworking, and I think she’s set to have, you know, some good relationships with the other characters.

Jace: Now, Trewlove has an exceptional mind in an era when there weren’t many open doors for professional women. Do you see her as a trailblazer of sorts?

Dakota: I think that’s a…It’s an interesting question, but it’s quite difficult one to answer because in many ways, yes: she was incredibly exceptional for the time, but because of where we are now, you know, there are loads of professional women who are just like Trewlove and are incredibly successful, so I don’t know necessarily how inspirational she is for women now, because women are doing that anyway.

And she is really the only female officer that has ever had even a line on Endeavour. So, you know, it’s quite a big step for the show. I don’t know how much of a big step it is for the world in which the show is set.

Jace: How does playing Trewlove differ from, say, your experience working on Skins or in the Golden Compass or even your work on stage with Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia?

Dakota: Trewlove is the first character that I’ve played who has had a job, which is quite a big thing for me. It sort of sounds quite trivial, but for me it’s quite important because it’s…it gives her a calling, and that’s not something that I’ve ever had to portray before. She’s very grown up I think compared to, for example, my character in Skins, who was 16, 17 throughout that series.

And obviously I did a lot of work when I was a child, so that’s always going to be quite different, but she’s…yeah. She’s very mature, and she’s very level headed; I think I tend to play sort of firecrackers (laughs) more often, and maybe that’s where I’m more comfortable, really, but Trewlove is…she’s very grounded. She’s quite relaxing to play, actually. (Laughs). I don’t have to get too emotionally distraught in order to do her justice or at least I hope to do her justice.

Jace: How much of a brief did producers give you ahead of shooting this first episode about the character?

Dakota: Honestly, almost nothing. I went in for the audition, and when I read for it I was given a version of the script in which Trewlove was in four scenes, I believe, and I think had one line in each scene. So the character grew from that draft into the draft that we ended up shooting, but at the point of my taking the role, it was real leap of faith, I guess, for me, and I just had to trust that she was a character that was going to grow and develop.

Morse: Trewlove. This is Detective Inspector Thursday and DS Jakes.
Thursday: Constable.
Morse: Wotcher.
Trewlove: I went by the Turf to ask after your man Hallward. He was in there last night shortly after seven, on his usual Radfords, when he added a gin and bitter lemon to his order.
Thursday: So he had a woman with him.
Trewlove: That was my thought. No description though. He was sat around the corner from the bar. I just thought you’d want to know.

Dakota: I made the decision to take part in the show off the back of having watched the previous series, and just really enjoying Roger and Shaun’s relationship and all the other characters that come in and play a part in every episode. And I think…yeah. It was very much based on the precedent that they had set for the show.

Jace: Now in their first scene in “Arcadia,” Endeavour refers to Trewlove as quote “commendably thorough” after she gives an incredibly detailed rundown of the victim. What did you make of your first scene with Shaun, and between Trewlove and Morse?

Dakota: I think there’s an instant spark of attraction between them: not necessarily romantic attraction, but intellectual attraction. I think they see each other as quite equally minded, and they see a lot of traits in each other that are very similar. So, that was a real nice relationship to start off and to continue to explore.

Morse: Trewlove? I’m Detective Morse. Anything germane?
Trewlove: Not much. The deceased moved in a year ago last February. Nobody saw much of him. Out at his studio in the day, in the Turf most nights.
Morse: Friends? Girlfriend?
Trewlove: One or two models but no names, I’m afraid. Last person to see him from here was a Miss Treadwell. Ground floor flat. She saw him heading out about 7 last night.

Dakota: It’s wordy which is…it’s a blessing and a curse for an actor. Yeah. She, she does manage to get an awful lot of information out of her investigative work, and that’s why she’s such an asset.

Jace: Sadly cut from the finished episode is you saying “matutinal alacrity,”  which might just be my favorite phrase uttered on television ever.

Dakota: You know what I think, actually it’s probably a good thing that that didn’t make it in there, because as smart as she is I don’t think she’s arrogant, and I think that phrase, although it’s wonderful, has a slight arrogance about it. It’s a bit of a, “Look how much I know,” and I don’t think that’s who she is. So, I think actually it’s a good thing that that’s not there anymore.

Jace: Now Trewlove arrives at Oxford City Police just as Jakes is leaving. How does her arrival shift the dynamic at the quote “Happy ship of Cowley”?

Dakota: I don’t think it’s too drastically changed. I think having a female presence, it always throws a bit of a spanner in the works in what was previously a male-dominated environment.

I think Bright, quite clearly, takes a bit of a liking to Trewlove in sort of a quite paternal way, and as I’ve said, there’s that spark between her and Morse, and even Thursday, who can be a bit of a grouch at times, even he seems to quite like her, and I think that’s because he’s very pragmatic and can see that she’s going to be useful.

Jace: You mentioned Bright. I love the dynamic between Trewlove and Chief Superintendent Bright, who does offer her sort of paternal affection in a very different, unexpected way.

Bright: My door is always…well, if not actually open then not infrequently ajar.
Trewlove: Thank you, sir.
Bright: Well, carry on.

Jace: What is it like working with Anton Lesser?

Dakota: Oh, Anton is just the best man I think I’ve ever met. He’s so incredibly lovely. He’s one of those people that is always happy to see everybody, and always has a smile and a joke and can really…He just brightens my day. And I love the fact that we have a great on-screen relationship because it means we get to spend a lot of time together off-screen as well.

Jace: Now, in the episode “Arcadia,” Morse tries to blow up the Teasmaid to prove his theory about the death of Hallward, but it’s only later that Trewlove concludes why his efforts failed.

Trewlove: The only reason you didn’t have any success in the yard is because it’s outside.
Morse: The vapours dispersed.
Trewlove: In Hallward’s flat it would have built up, filled the room. As the liquid boiled away, the exposed element would have become white hot and, well…
Morse: Boom.
Trewlove: Quite.
Morse: Well done.

Jace: How significant is Endeavour’s praise here, and what should we read into Trewlove’s downcast smile?

Dakota: Well, I don’t want to tell anybody how much they should read into anything because the truth is even I don’t really know where the storylines are going, and what’s going to end up happening between characters, so I don’t want to give anybody, I don’t know, false hope or misleading (laughs) information…

But I think Trewlove is very much attracted to Morse’s mind. I think she’s, as I say, a very intelligent person, and I think she really values intelligence in other people. And I think she really appreciates the fact that he’s welcomed her and hasn’t questioned her despite the fact that she’s a woman and she’s significantly lower down in the hierarchy than he is. And that is without even mentioning the fact that he’s got, you know, beautiful blue eyes and great cheekbones and has a wonderful face for the TV, so, you know, he’s a very attractive character.

Jace: Endeavour offers not only the opportunity to see the young Morse, but also to see crime solving before deduction was overtaken by forensics. How much of a role does the time period play in terms of Endeavour’s appeal, do you feel?

Dakota: Oh, I think detective shows are so much more interesting before it became super scientific, because it was really about just the pure amazingness of the human mind, and what an incredible instrument it is. And when you have a very particular mind, as with Endeavour, you can achieve great things with it, and that’s what makes it interesting to watch. I mean, nobody wants to watch a show about computers really, or at least I wouldn’t. But people are always interested in the functioning of a great mind.

Jace: In next week’s episode, “Prey,” Trewlove tells Endeavour, “Maybe I like grim,” when discussing the grimness of their shared calling. Is she attracted to the darkness of the job or the sense of hope that it can offer?

Dakota: It’s a good question. It’s something that I have been trying to think about myself quite a lot. I think she does have a bit of a morbid fascination. I think really, anybody that gets into that sort of work has to find that side of the job quite fascinating, and exciting. I almost get the impression that left to her own devices, she would be sort of clapping her hands with joy whenever a case came in because it’s something to get stuck into.

And I think there are moments when the reality of the job hits her. I think that comes in the last episode of Series 3. I won’t give anything away, but there is a moment that’s quite shocking for her, and that is very sobering and I think, as with all people that have a morbid fascination, sometimes you bite off more than you can chew.

Jace: Where will WPC Trewlove’s “morbid fascination” lead her? And what’s the “shocking” Season 3 moment Dakota Blue Richards refuses to give away?

Tune into the Endeavour broadcast every Sunday from 9 – 10:30 pm ET to find out.

And next week, after an especially beastly episode of Endeavour, catch the MASTERPIECE Studio podcast to hear from accomplished actor Anton Lesser on his equally accomplished character, Chief Superintendent Bright.  

Anton Lesser: I’m not a sort of gun-toting sort of person. So I had to learn to look as if I knew what to do with a rifle. But in a way that was part of the fun of it.

Jace: You can find this podcast at pbs.org/masterpiece, and on iTunes and Stitcher.

Once you’re there, leave us a review! We’ve already heard from many of you, but we’d love to know what all our listeners think about the podcast.

MASTERPIECE Studio is hosted by me, Jace Lacob and produced by Rachel Aronoff.  Kathy Tu is our editor. Special thanks to Barrett Brountas and Nathan Tobey. The executive producer of MASTERPIECE is Rebecca Eaton.

MASTERPIECE Studio is brought to you by Audible.

Sponsors for MASTERPIECE on PBS are Viking River Cruises, Audible, and The MASTERPIECE Trust.



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