LEWIS, the Oxford-based television detective series, may have survived cuts in ITV’s budget but the end could be in sight for the Inspector Morse spin-off.

Kevin Whately, who is currently filming the fifth series of Lewis in the city, has admitted to the Oxford Mail that he is considering his future as the detective after more than two decades in the role.

The star, who shot to fame in Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, believes it may be time to pension off Lewis after a sixth series.

He said: “We will have done 20 films at the end of this series and I said we would not do it for as long as Morse, which ran for 33 episodes.

“This could be the penultimate series, and I am coming up to police retirement age.

“Lewis is a very successful series but two-hour plots are difficult to come by.

“In the end it could be up to me, but that’s a big decision, because lots of people’s jobs depend on it.

“I know I have been doing this role for about 25 years but as an actor I do like variation.”

When asked if he thought Det Insp Lewis should be killed off, Mr Whately said: “No, I think I should putter off into the sunset.”

The film crew began shooting the four episodes for the fifth series in July and are now completing filming for the last episode, Old, Far Off Unhappy Things, by Russell Lewis. The drama stars Juliet Stevenson alongside Mr Whately and Laurence Fox, who plays Det Sgt James Hathaway.

Locations include Lady Margaret Hall, the River Thames near Folly Bridge and the former US air force base at Upper Heyford.

Mr Fox bought a fishing rod from Fat Phil’s angling centre, in Abingdon Road, so that he could fish in the Thames during breaks in filming He said: “During the past few months we have been filming in lots of locations in the centre of Oxford, including Turl Street and Broad Street, and we love the way people come along and take an interest.

“People are proud of Lewis in Oxford, so they don’t give us grief when we’re filming,” he added.

Producer Chris Burt said: “We have had a very good welcome from people in Oxford and will be here for a few more days.

Colin Dexter, the Inspector Morse author, will be doing his usual cameo. This time he will appear in a fancy dress shop.”

In March last year, Mr Whately hinted that the Lewis series could come to a premature end because of cutbacks at ITV but the axe never came and the series went from strength to strength.

Mr Dexter said: “It would be a shame if Lewis came to an end because it has become more popular as it has gone on.

“We have had a couple of very long innings already and all good things come to an end.”

Colin Cook, the city council’s executive member for development and tourism, added: “The Morse/Lewis franchise has been an absolute boon for Oxfordshire’s economy and must have generated hundreds of thousands of pounds for the area over the years.”

  • Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox will switch on Oxford’s Christmas lights in Broad Street at 6.45pm tonight.