With Endeavor Series Eight recently wrapped up on ITV and the show is now available as an Eight Series boxed set, now is the time for a preview with Sara Vickers, a mainstay of the show since its inception.
She’s part of a shrewd operation that consistently draws seven million viewers with her twisty mysteries and absorbing character dynamics, having played Joan Thursday (DCI’s daughter Fred Thursday) for eight years, and has appeared in all seasons but one. .
We saw her character evolve from a bank worker in the mid-1960s to an established social service activist in 1971, so RadioTimes.com asked her if she liked working on the show? “Yes, and what I love about Joan is that we had such an adventure with her.
“With the first series it was a little more domestic, she was just home and with her family, but we’ve been on such a trip since then. There are a lot of different avenues that I have to explore with her and it’s just a joy because it’s varied, and always so stimulating.
Many fans felt that Joan was somehow destined to end up with DS drama hero Endeavor Morse, played by Shaun Evans, but series eight tossed a ball in effect creating a love triangle for Morse, Joan and now. DS Jim Strange (Sean Rigby), which triggered a sort of collapse on social media …
“I know there has been a mixed response to the Joan / Jim situation. Endeavor has had a lot of banter along the way and Joan has had a difficult relationship with a married man so you knew it would never end well … but it’s funny the first time we ventured into the possibility that she can go elsewhere and there is a bit of noise! [laughs]”
Having said that, Joan and Jim are very sweet together …
“They are. Actually, he’s such a down to earth and reliable guy, he’s funny, he makes her laugh and he’s kind and caring. With these scenes that we had together, I was like, ‘ Is this going to work? Are people going to buy into that? “But as soon as we did the reading, I was like,” Oh my God! “Sean does it so well that you totally buy into it.
“There’s this weird game that Joan and Endeavor have been playing for a long time – with it sort of being closed and not quite putting its cards on the table. When Shaun Evans and I talk about it he always says to me, ‘It’s clearly Joan’s fault’ and I’m like ‘No, no, no, that’s it. your fault!'”
While Morse is platonically protective of Joan, perhaps torn by the fact that she is her boss’s daughter, and turns to alcohol when it seems she is interested in another man, the writer Russell Lewis turned the screw by also creating a professional conflict between them.
“Exactly and it’s funny because you think to yourself, they both have pretty shrewd moral compass and yet they see it differently.” Morse respects her rulebook a lot, coming from the police, and she is able to be a little more liberated because she is not a member of the police force.
“Although she works for welfare, she also does these different times on the side where she can be more attached to the women she cares for and the children. So, she and Morse sometimes disagree with how things should be done. But it’s adorable because it brings out a different side of the relationship between the two and they challenge each other.
Joan turned glamorous in a ball gown for her date with Jim, but how does Sara find period costumes in general? “We played it from the mid ’60s until the’ 70s, so I would say the costumes are getting more and more comfortable.
“There were a lot of uncomfortable pieces that were pretty rough and they looked great, but a lot of the shoes are real vintage shoes, they really don’t have any support, and if you’re out on the street in the cold, that’s like you’re just standing on a piece of paper! I’ve had the opportunity to wear jeans in the last few episodes, which I was pretty excited about…
“But the outfits are fantastic and we have a range of different costume designers throughout the show. It’s just a wonderful time to come in and with some of the pieces, I think, ‘I would wear that now!’ ”
Joan is part of a formidable trio – along with her mother Winifred and the editor of the newspaper Dorothea – who all have important stories to reflect the female experience of yesterday and today. “It’s wonderful that their stories are told and what I love about them is that they cover a different part of a woman’s life and a particular era.
“For women at the time – and it doesn’t even go back very far – things were different, and Russell isn’t afraid that women had to play a certain role, but then you see the younger character, which is myself, come forward and become more independent.
“Obviously, I wish the ladies had more history, but these crime dramas are tough in the sense that they have to set up crime – but I’m really glad we have three really strong female characters.”
The only series of episodes that Joan was missing was last year’s “Venice Trilogy” – but for a very special reason. “By the time they started filming I was very pregnant. They thought about putting me in and I thought, ‘You’re going to shoot around the bump and I want some really flattering lighting. [laughs]. ‘ I had swelled by this point, then when they were filming the next episodes, I had my baby boy and things were a little… tight for the time!
Born in Strathaven, Scotland, in 1985, Sara grew up in Edinburgh and worked in theater after graduating in 2010 from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. She has appeared on television in The Book Group, Taggart, Bert & Dickie, Man Down, Shetland and The Crown, as well as in the film Sunshine on Leith.
Her first Endeavor was the episode Fugue, which aired in April 2013: “I was told when I first got the job that Joan was only going to be in the first series for two episodes. I remember getting the call and I was like, “Oh, they’re going to bring me back! “
“Russell said the moment Joan first opened the door to Endeavor, ‘There’s something out there and I think I’m going to run with this story,’ so that’s lovely. It’s the gift that keeps on giving, that’s for sure!
In 2019, she played a regular role in HBO DC Comics’ superhero series Watchmen – how does that compare to a UK production? “Well, I’ve been to America a few times… ‘You’re going to Atlanta’… I was like ‘Woo-hoo!’ and then they said, ‘Oh no, it’s actually a lot of Wales! But it’s just a little more extensive there: the food service is nuts, there are so many food trucks and food options and things like that.
“At the same time, there are shooting days where you are knee deep in mud and you ride down the road in a little buggy to a portaloo [laughs], so it’s definitely not all glamorous. But the scale… and the cars that come looking for you, it’s crazy, you know?
And television really stretched her into a variety of roles – there was certainly more to her character in Shetland than it seemed in 2016, and now she can be seen in a surprising twist as Erin in the second series of Neil Forsyth’s dark comedy thriller Guilt.
So what attracted her to this project? “It’s unique in the sense that it’s a crime thriller, but there’s that dark humor running through it. It makes you smile and laugh strangely and it’s a wonderful sight, specifically Scottish, but it’s also universal. There are no clichés in there. It’s just beautifully nuanced and I thought, “I have to take this chance” because [the first series] went down so well.
“When I read the part it scared me – don’t get me wrong – because it’s a departure, certainly, but I often think it’s a reason to do something. People say it’s the Scottish Fargo, so we’re happy to run with that!
The guilt is over and dusted off, so does Sara have any other irons in the fire? “My husband left for work – he is also an actor [Kerr Logan, who played Matthew Cunliffe in Strike and is soon to be seen in BBC One’s Showtrial]. So I’m on call. It keeps me busy! We take turns deciding who goes and does the job. Hope I find something when he comes back in the new year. It’s funny, when you’re super busy, everything comes suddenly, and then vamoose!
But back to Endeavor, and after eight years, does Sara have a sense of belonging to the character or does she have discussions with the writer about her development? “I really trust Russell in his writing and his journey for Joan. He says he takes a lot of what I do, and he has some ideas from watching previous series. So it’s a kind of unsaid that just happens.
Favorite episode? “I think it’s called Home [Series one, episode five]: it’s the one where Joan goes out with DS Jakes, and Morse walks her home. I don’t know why, it’s pretty classic, and they did that kind of gangster thing in Oxford… It was just a nice episode and I felt like I was finding my feet, so I think that maybe that’s why I have such a strong feeling about it.
“I would probably say the bank episode too [Coda, series three, episode four]. We were really in the middle of the action, we were filming for a whole week at the bank and I got to know everyone.
And how does Sara get along with her mom and dad onscreen? “So good. Caroline is just lovely and we chat and catch up on each other’s lives and she gave me a little baby gift when I gave birth. I have a lot of love for Caroline… and then Roger makes me crack, he’s so funny. He’s dry and he’s like the joker. He really likes to laugh and he brings a lightness and a fun side to it, which I really appreciate.
“I’ll be so sad when I have to say goodbye because Joan is a part of my life. Watching the shows, I see myself getting old and it’s pretty amazing to change and grow alongside your character. It’s a rare gift, really.
Endeavor Series Eight and the Complete Series One to Eight are now available on DVD from ITV Studios.