The career prospects of Chief Superintendent Reginald Bright in ITV’s Morse prequel Endeavour are not looking healthy.

He has been reduced to monitoring traffic and his personal life has also taken a blow, as he discovers that his wife has been diagnosed with cancer.

But experienced actor Anton Lesser, returning as authoritative police chief CS Bright, for a sixth series on Sunday, is absolutely delighted.

Speaking to the Oxford Times during filming on location at St Edmund Hall, Mr Lesser, also well known for his appearances in Games of Thrones, The Crown and Wolf Hall, said he hoped the reversal of fortune for the strict superintendent would give him new opportunities as an actor.

He said: “Bright has been reduced to watching traffic and his wife is diagnosed with cancer. Everything in his world is reversing and collapsing and we get to see a bit more of the man behind the uniform - I think audiences love that.

“He doesn’t cope very well - and yet he copes as we all do when life hits us with huge things - it’s all about identity when the floor has been taken away from you.

“Right from the beginning I felt there was a rich history there.”

The actor revealed he has never felt the need to watch episodes of Inspector Morse, which starred John Thaw and Kevin Whately and ran from 1987-2000, for research purposes.

“Maybe I will watch Morse one

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day but that’s not something I have ever felt the need to do,” he said. “My job is to play what has made this man who he is.”

The four new episodes of the Inspector Morse prequel return to the 1960s, focusing on Shaun Evans as DS Morse alongside Roger Allam as DI Fred Thursday.

Scenes were shot at locations in and around Oxford, following the dissolution of Oxford City Police. The latest instalment is set in 1969 and picks up with the team as they find their feet in various new roles.

Endeavour creator Russell Lewis, who has penned each of the 27 screenplays, has once again based the new series on the character created by Oxford author Colin Dexter, who died in 2017.

Mr Lewis said: “All of us involved in making Endeavour have always wanted to keep the show fresh, moving forward, and pushing the boundaries of what a cosy whodunnit might encompass.”

The second episode about the moon landing is directed by Shaun Evans himself: “It’s great acting and it’s great directing, then you can mix the two where you know the team and you have shorthand with everyone - also you know the sort of the timbre of the stories as well,” the star of the show said.

“It was actually a joyous experience, to be honest, and it was great as an actor and as a director in separate ways.”

Mr Evans dropped a heavy hint that Endeavour would be back for a seventh series, adding: “ITV has asked us to do another series, but they only asked us on Friday.

“I think it’s important for us to get together and have a chat about it, just to see what the story is, see where the story goes.

“By the end of this one, I move into the flat that Morse ends up living in. By the end of it I certainly put down roots, so I wonder what that means?”, although ITV bosses have yet to confirm the seventh series will go ahead.

But back to the present series: Producer Deanne Cunningham said Morse finds himself back in uniform as his team are drawn ‘like magnets, back together again’.

She added that a new ‘Flying Squad-style of policing was anathema to Morse and Fred’.

Ms Cunningham added that everyone working on set enjoys the warm reception from film fans in Oxford. “It can be challenging when you are filming and you get big crowds gathering, but we always get a fantastic welcome.”

Mr Allam confirmed his character was also in a difficult place at the start of series six. “Things are not good at home,” he said.

“There is empty nest syndrome and he has been bumped down in rank.” He added that when not on set he can sometimes be found dining at the Old Parsonage or at Branca in Jericho.

Viewers can also be assured that Endeavour’s portrayal of Oxford, as the 1960s moves into the 1970s, will be an authentic one, thanks to set designer Paul Cripps, a former pupil at The Marlborough School in Woodstock, who has shown great determination to ensure nothing looks out of place - or too modern.

“A ridiculous amount of work goes into it,” he said.

Rest assured such attention to detail by cast and crew will be rewarded when millions of viewers tune in again from around the world.