Kevin Whateley: ‘Lewis is morphing into Morse’

Kevin Whately tells What’s On TV how the fifth series of Lewis starts with a bit of romance for the widowed cop…

Lewis is back for four new films – can you tell us about this week’s first episode?

“Well, there are multiple murders – just for a change! It’s set in Oxford’s last surviving all-female college and, at a reunion to say goodbye to one of its most prominent professors, one of the former students is murdered. Lewis is convinced the death is connected to an attack 10 years before and gets in touch with his former DS, Ali McLennan, who investigated the case. She’s played by Saskia Reeves.”

And something happens between them?

“There is a little screen kiss with Saskia, which is very nice! But I don’t want Lewis to get too cosy…”

As the star, do you get a say in the direction Lewis goes in?

“Sort of. When we started about six years ago we said what we wanted and, when the scripts arrive, we have a talk about them. But, on the whole, I like to let the writers and directors make the film they want, without interfering too much.”

Has Lewis’s character changed over the years?

“He’s pretty much the same, but he’s quite grumpy this year. He’s morphing into Morse a bit. He was such a happy-go-lucky, everyman character originally, but that’s the way it’s going!”

Would you play Lewis for ever?

“I like the character, but this series brings us to 20 films and I certainly wouldn’t do it as long as we did Morse – Morse was 33 or something. And I’m coming up to police retirement age anyway fairly soon. This could quite possibly be the penultimate series, although it’s very successful and sells all over the world.”

Oxford would be heartbroken if you stopped!

“Yes, although they’d never be short of film crews, it’s such a fabulous place. We meet a lot of tourists who’ve come specifically because they like Morse and Lewis, lots of Americans and this year there were thousands of Chinese tourists!”

Would you like Lewis to be killed off like Morse?

“No, he’s not that sort of character. He should just putter off into the sunset.”

*Lewis premieres on Sunday April 3, at 8.00pm on ITV1

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