THE Inspector Morse prequel Endeavour could become a TV series if it gets the viewing figures, according to the screen detective’s creator Colin Dexter.

Endeavour, starring Liverpudlian actor Shaun Evans as the young Morse, is screened tonight on ITV.

The drama has been made as a one-off, but Mr Dexter said there could be more episodes if the young version of the famous detective gets the right reception from viewers.

Mr Dexter, pictured below, who met writer Russell Lewis to discuss the script, and worked as a consultant on the programme, also helped to cast Shaun Evans in the role.

He said: “Shaun gives an excellent performance and the script is good.

“I think the episode will be successful because it’s a good story with very good acting.

“There could be further episodes but that will depend very much on the figures.

“If Endeavour gets the blessing of most critics then ITV could say ‘we have been fairly successful with the first one, so let’s make another one’.

“You also have to remember there’s a lot of competition from other TV dramas these days including Sherlock Holmes and James Herriot.

“Endeavour works well as a 1960s period piece and my only reservation is I’d prefer it to be shown between 8pm and 10pm instead of 9pm and 11pm.

“But I’m pleased. They have turned this around quickly – they only finished filming in Oxford two months ago.”

Colin Cook, executive member for city development, said: “Inspector Morse is the series that likes to keep giving and brings lots of visitors to Oxford.

REVIEW: Endeavour is gripping

AS the opening credits for Endeavour roll, writes Andrew Ffrench, Barrington Pheloung’s music provides an instant reminder of the happy hours I spent watching John Thaw as dour Inspector Morse.

Seconds later, we see a young woman standing at a bus-stop, perhaps a reminder to fans of Colin Dexter’s first Morse novel Last Bus to Woodstock.

Endeavour, set in 1965, when Morse was starting out as Detective Constable Morse of Oxford City Police, could easily have ended up as a naff police period piece — remember Heartbeat?

But all the right ingredients are in place to ensure viewers spend an enthralling couple of hours with young Morse, played by Shaun Evans, who gives an intense performance as a clever but slightly naive detective investigating the murder of a teenage schoolgirl.

With Mammoth Screen, the production company making Lewis in charge, an ingenious Russell Lewis script, and Colin Dexter’s guiding hand, Endeavour was bound to succeed.

In Dexter’s novel Death Is Now My Neighbour, an Oxford Mail reporter has a central role, and the newspaper once again has a crucial part to play, with Morse discovering that his murder suspects are leaving messages in the Saturday edition crossword.

Produced by Dan McCulloch, with an excellent supporting cast, Endeavour sheds light on the early life of one of our most famous fictional detectives, but it’s also a cracking whodunnit, which had me baffled until near the end.

Morse, clearly a ladies’ man from a young age, starts to fall for an attractive woman he should instead be interviewing, a habit he found hard to break in later life.

As with Morse and Lewis, Oxford locations provide a stunning backdrop.

Roger Allam gives a delightfully understated performance as DI Fred Thursday and I hope this is not the last we see of a young Morse and Thursday in their classic Jaguar.