Coloured is what the British once called us. The British and others once used skin colour as a reason to oppress others. And it is such issues that colour the final episode of the fifth season of Endeavour, a British crime drama set in the late sixties.
Such a pity that we’ll probably not see the show ever, here in India. It would be good inspiration for our dramas and films. There is much that is similar between how people of colour were once treated in parts of the world and how we Indians treat some other Indians.
One takeaway is how to speak of things political without lapsing into propaganda. Colours takes place in 1968, a time known for riots worldwide.
Detective Chief Inspector Fred Thursday is dancing with his wife. Fred is not the main character in the drama but he and his family loom over the series.
DCI Thursday is mentor/father figure to Detective Sergeant Morse, the Endeavour after whom the show is named. But Thursday already has family. A wife, a daughter and a son.
The wife, Win, is a slightly pitiful gentle character and we mainly interface with her via her sandwiches. She packs husband Fred a different kind of sandwich for each day of the week but they never seem to impress him. As Colours opens, she refers to Thursday’s upcoming retirement – something to which he does not look forwards. He’s married to his job.
Daughter, Joan, serves as romantic interest for Endeavour. But it’s one sided – Joan, with a policeman father, can’t think of life with one. And, since Endeavour is prequel to another famous show, Inspector Morse, we know that Endeavour remains single.
The son only comes into prominence in this episode. He last appeared in Coda, episode four of series three. There, we see Sam leave to join the army. Early in Colours, we see him at an army base where a fashion shoot is about to take place.
Lance Corporal Sam Thursday and mates, Privates Oswald and Collier, will soon sail for Germany. But, in the meantime, Sam and his mates are asked to escort the models for the photo shoot. They gladly do so. Oswald is black.
We also see Morse and a girl, at the Oxford Debating Society, attending a talk on sending immigrants home. Rings a bell for us in India today.
Endeavour met the girl, Claudine, at a housewarming party thrown by Joan. Later, we see him leave Claudine’s flat and we hear:
Meanwhile, at the military base, as the models are getting photographed:
One of the models, pretty Jean Ward, flirts with Sam only to tell him she’s ‘taken’ already. After the shoot, as she changes:
In the meantime, Claudine and Endeavour have a picnic in a garden with a bottle of wine as the radio plays:
As the couple relax on a lawn, a hair salon practicing segregation becomes a target for protesters. Many protests, in those days, were sparked by segregation or not allowing coloured people and others to share the same spaces.
The police guard the salon. We see Woman Police Constable, Trewlove, another usual of the show – a bright and beautiful young woman. And Morse’s latest lady, Claudine, is busy taking photos. Joan Thursday and a student, Kit Hutchens, are protesters, with a Marcus X.
In those days, there was a black leader called Malcolm X – is the show referring to him?
In any case, there’s a small riot and Trewlove gets a black eye. Joan is arrested. But Detective Sergeant Strange, another regular on the show, releases her. Will something develop between the two? There’s already tension between him and Morse which is not so strange given professional rivalry.
But then Sam, Thursday’s son, becomes a suspect in a murder case as the model who kissed him is found dead on the army base. However, it appears that she kisses every Tom, Dick and Oswald and it is the black who is dragged off to the police station. Everything points to him.
And then there’s another corpse! So, who can have done the murders?
We are offered a fine choice of suspects. There’s the girl’s stepmother, a Nazi sympathizer, Lady Bayswater. She will inherit a lot with Jean out of the way.
But there’s also Marcus X and Thursday and Endeavour go to meet him. The murdered Jean, we know, kissed a lot of men. And it pleased her to chose those whom her parents despised – Marcus is black like Oswald.
However, on the army base, there’s a huge McDuff who seems to get easily excited and attacks Endeavour. He is treated with great gentleness by the regiment’s leaders. And, though we can see that he might be a murderer, he is not arrested and is only led to bed like a child by Major Coward. The Major then sings him to sleep:
Desperate as each clue leads nowhere, Morse also visits the salon during the investigation:
And it’s there that things finally fall into place in Endeavour’s excellent brain! The pace is peppy and there’s plenty of action in the showdown.
Colours has all the regular features of an Endeavour episode. The show is inspired by the novels of Colin Dexter and, while the author was alive, he’d appear in every episode. After his death, he shows up as pictures. Here, he’s in uniform in a photo on a wall.
With the finale of the season, I plan to diverge for a time as I do feel dejected that Endeavour may never be aired in India.