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As the final season of Endeavour airs on PBS, what is next for fans of British detective shows?

Audrey Kupferberg analyzing some old film in her home in 2021.
Jackie Orchard

As the ninth and final season of Endeavour airs on PBS stations, British detective show enthusiasts are engrossed in the details of the wind-up and, at the same time, looking around to find the next great genre entertainment.

First, without spoilers, a few points about the entire Inspector Morse franchise… The original Morse dramas cover the years 1987 through Morse’s “remorseful day’ in 2000. Recognizing a continuing demand, the creators regathered their thoughts and came up with the highly-regarded Inspector Lewis series which ran from 2006 to 2015. Fans could have told the producers of Lewis they had an almost sure success because the title role was kept by Kevin Whately, the original Sergeant to the late John Thaw’s Detective Chief Inspector Morse.

Then in 2012 came Endeavour, the prequel to Inspector Morse. Obviously, a new actor would be playing Morse.

Colin Dexter, who died in 2017, was the author of the Morse books and he actively participated in the Inspector Morse series. A few years before he died, Dexter publicly announced he would never agree to another actor playing Morse. He felt Thaw’s performance was incomparable. He changed his mind in 2011 when Evans, aged 34, was suggested as a much younger Morse. The age disparity would make comparisons improbable, he reckoned.

And, as the saying goes, the rest is history. Of course, now there remains a fifteen year gap in the Morse story. What happens to Endeavour Morse between 1972, when Endeavour ends, and 1987, when Inspector Morse begins? Will Shaun Evans return to yet another arm of the franchise? Will yet another actor sign on to play Morse?

Meanwhile, fans of British detective shows have a variety of high quality entertainments to explore now and in the next season. Dalgliesh, Grace, The Chelsea Detective, McDonald & Dodds, an upcoming adaptation of Rebus, the latest episodes of Unforgotten with Sanjeev Bhaskar but sans Nicola Walker – and the same Bhaskar in Inspector Singh Investigates. I particularly am looking forward to seeing Mrs. Sidhu Investigates starring Meera Syal, who is Bhaskar’s real-life wife and a remarkably talented writer and star of TV comedy and drama. For those who mourned the departure of Kris Marshall from Death in Paradise, the new season includes a spin-off of that series called Beyond Paradise featuring Marshall’s return as Humphrey Goodman.

In 2021, an entertaining crime drama series premiered titled Whitstable Pearl. In its first two seasons, set in scenic Kent, a sullen police detective, Mike, and a private eye named Pearl who has spent many years avoiding romance, match wits to solve crimes and, at the same time, try to unlock the potential of their relationship. Howard Charles and Kerri Godliman star. Frances Barber adds spice as the private eye’s colorful mom.

What makes Whitstable Pearl a winner is the complicated relationship between Mike and Pearl. Mike has lost his wife and is grieving. He has found a new love too soon -- before he feels he can move forward from his loss.

If you work your way through so many crime dramas that you can’t find any new shows, then travel back to a series first broadcast in 1993, Cracker, starring Robbie Coltrane as a criminal psychologist with a talent for solving crimes but no ability to solve his gambling and smoking addictions, nor his troubled marriage. Cracker is mesmerizing and hasn’t dated a bit.

Audrey Kupferberg is a film and video archivist and retired appraiser. She is lecturer emeritus and the former director of Film Studies at the University at Albany and co-authored several entertainment biographies with her late husband and creative partner, Rob Edelman.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

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