The star of hit TV drama Lewis has hinted ITV cutbacks have put question marks over the popular drama.

Kevin Whately, who plays the title role, cast doubt over the future of the Inspector Morse spin-off during an interview with BBC radio presenter Simon Mayo.

ITV said no decision had been made on its future – but businesses which rely on tourists said it would be a blow.

The DJ quizzed the TV star in light of the “parlous state of finances at ITV”.

Mr Whately, 58, said it cost an enormous amount to film the drama.

He said: “It’s hugely expensive.

“One of the things I stipulated when they asked me to come back and do some more after (Morse star) John (Thaw) died was that they kept the same production values, and they have.

“It’s something I am very proud of.

“They look great, the films, but they are in trouble.”

He said other ITV dramas had already been told to expect “double digit” cuts to budgets.

When Mr Mayo suggested fans of Lewis should “treasure” the third series — which will be back on TV screens from March 22 — because it might be the last, Mr Whately replied: “Yup.”

Mr Mayo said: “It’s not the end of Lewis, is it?”

Mr Whately said any decision would depend on audience figures for the third series from this month. The series was filmed in Oxford last year.

Scenes from the four episodes were shot around the city centre, including Broad Street, High Street, the King’s Arms pub, the Randolph Hotel and at University College.

Morse author Colin Dexter said he believed the drama would be recommissioned.

He said: “I don’t think there’s any possibility of it packing up, provided we get good scripts.

“People enjoy the show and it’s one of ITV’s most popular dramas.”

ITV spokesman Peter Mares added: “We are waiting to hear about new commissions for dramas.

“At the moment there are no plans to decommission Lewis.

“We are not in pre-production in terms of having a crew ready to film the next series, but it’s only March.

“Last year we filmed from June to November.”

Oliver O’Dell, spokesman for Oxford city centre management company OX1, said the drama was “worth millions” to Oxford, because of the visitors it attracted.

He said: “It maintains the profile of the city in the public eye and it would be very sad if there wasn’t a fourth series.”

Ali Dunn, landlord of the King’s Arms pub, agreed.

He said: “It would definitely be a shame.

“There’s no doubt it brings a lot of tourists to the city.”

Anne Gallagher, of Oxford’s Tourist Information Centre, added: “Visitors want to follow in the footsteps of Morse and Lewis.

“We offer a tour on Saturdays which is always over-subscribed.”