Endeavour: DS Arthur Lott’s Corrupt History

Endeavour came full circle in its final episode with the return of a character not seen since its 2012 pilot episode. Spoilers.

Endeavour Pilot Danny Webb as DS Arthur Lott screengrab
Photo: Mammoth Screen/ITV

Warning: contains spoilers for Endeavour Series 9 Episode 3 ‘Exeunt’.

That was one for the Morse faithful. The last time fans had seen Arthur Lott was in Endeavour’s 2012 pilot episode. Then a detective sergeant, Lott had been run out of Oxford by Fred Thursday for having corrupt connections to local criminals. His departure left Thursday short of a bagman, which opened up a position for a certain bright young constable from Carshall Newtown, and the rest, as they say, is history. 

In the Endeavour finale, Lott (Danny Webb) returned to Oxford and stepped out from the shadows to reveal himself as the string-pulling enforcer behind the Blenheim Vale cover-up. Lott and a cabal of corrupt London officers were the ones issuing threats, bullets and hotshots to keep the child abuse scandal quiet. Lott was even behind the Series 5 loss of Fred Thursday’s life savings. Here’s his story on the show.

Judges, Churchmen, Councillors, Peers

Morse and Thursday’s first case together was the disappearance of 15-year-old schoolgirl Mary Tremlett. In June 1965, their investigation into her murder uncovered a child abuse ring operating out of a stately home in Wolvercote. Mary’s murderer turned out to not to have been one of her abusers, but the case nonetheless established links between procurer of underage abuse victims Teddy Samuels, a knighted member of parliament, and corrupt police officers including ACC Bright’s predecessor DCS Crisp and Fred Thursday’s bagman DS Lott. 

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DS Lott and Constable Morse had taken an immediate dislike to one another. Lott mocked Morse’s Oxford university background and erudite theories, giving him the nickname “College” and wrongly supposing that he came from privilege. Lott tried to undermine Morse at every opportunity, especially when his superior detective skills led him closer to the truth about Teddy Samuels and the underage abuse Lott was taking bribes to help cover up.

While Lott was being bribed by Samuels to destroy evidence and turn a blind eye, DCS Crisp was being blackmailed to do it. Samuels groomed underage girls from Cowley Park School including Crisp’s teenage daughter Jenny, of whom Samuels had nude photographs, and who was a classmate of Mary Tremlett.

At Samuels’ “parties”, the schoolgirls were sexually abused by much older men, including the MP for Oxford North. Incriminating photographs of the abusers were held by Samuels as blackmail leverage over powerful men who included “judges, churchmen, councillors and peers” according to DS Lott, who crowed that Fred would never succeed if he went up against people of their rank.

ACC Clive Deare, Blenheim Vale and “the Square”

The powerful child abusers who attended Samuels’ “parties” were also connected through Morse’s perennial enemy – the Freemasons. When Samuels boasted to Fred and Morse of his powerful close circle, he corrected himself, “or should I say, square” in an allusion to Freemasonry. Fred’s response? To send Morse out of the room, give Samuels a bloody nose and take the incriminating photographs of Crisp’s daughter to give to his boss, who later resigned.

The MP for North Oxford was also forced to resign (at gunpoint) by a shady official employed by the government to clean up scandals affecting HMG, which was still suffering in the eyes of the public from 1961’s Profumo Affair. Presumably it was that same arm of the law who slapped the official seal on Morse and Thursday’s Series 2 investigation into the Blenheim Vale child abuse scandal. 

DS Lott, it was revealed in the Series 9 finale, was part of the same police intake as ACC Clive Deare, and once acted as his bagman. In Series 2, Deare was revealed to have been one of a ring of child abusers who brutalised vulnerable boys at Blenheim Vale and used his position in the police to cover up the scandal. Deare attempted to kill Thursday and Morse, was shot dead by an abuse survivor at the end of Series 2, and the official story was that he had gone mad. 

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Lionel Godfrey Chambers, Brenda Lewis, & Josiah Landesman

Whether or not Lott was personally guilty of child sexual abuse, or arranged the abuse for financial gain, he and Deare were accomplices in Blenheim Vale. After Deare was killed, Lott and his men attempted to cover their tracks by murdering child abuser Josiah Landesman and his personal secretary Brenda Lewis, who had learned about what went on there, and burying their bodies in the grounds. 

Lott then created a false identity using the name Lionel Godfrey Chambers – that of a dead child buried in the same churchyard as his family plot. Under this identity, he bought Blenheim Vale through a front company supposedly based in Bermuda to ensure that the land would not be developed and the bodies of Lewis and Landesman never discovered. 

Charlie Thursday, Len Drury, The Ostrich Fanciers’ Club & Mickey Flood 

After Lott was run out of Oxford by Fred, he moved to London to join the Vice Squad where he presumably joined forces with another corrupt officer we met in Series 8 Episode 2, ‘Scherzo’. Commander Len Drury was head of Vice and was running an illegal blue film network known as ‘The Ostrich Fanciers’ Club’, which reached as far as Oxford. When Fred got wind of it, he confronted Drury and both parties issued threats. 

Drury and Lott were evidently in cahoots, and it was their men who murdered Andrew Lewis (in a very nice Easter Egg, a relative of the Lewis) with a ‘hotshot’ and dumped his body on the college lawn. 

It was also Lott and his bent copper cabal who were behind the loss of Fred Thursday’s life savings. In Series 5, Fred agreed to help his brother Charlie with a hefty loan, which was never repaid. Charlie, whose wife and daughter were threatened by Lott and co., had been forced to get the loan from Fred, making him financially vulnerable and thus controllable. When Fred ignored repeated threats to stop the Blenheim Vale business, Lott dangled the return of the money in front of him as a bribe, but clearly had no intention of actually returning it, as seen in his attack on Endeavour at Blenheim Vale. 

Mickey Flood – the small-time London crook murdered in Oxford before he could sell information to Fred – was going to tell Fred that DI Arthur Lott was behind it all, but Lott’s heavies got to Flood first.

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Peter Williams, Tomohawk and The Death Head Motorcycle Gang

Fred was right about there having been some justice in Lott getting killed by the Death Head Motorcycle Gang, because he was not only responsible for the murder of one of their member, but had also seriously wronged one of their own. Lott moved from Vice to Drugs, where he ran the operation London-wide. When the Death Head gang tried to muscle in on his territory in Camden, Lott ordered the death of one of their brothers.

In revenge, the gang attacked Lott and killed him, enabling Morse to escape with Fred’s life savings. The gang’s revenge was even more apt, because it turned out that Tomohawk – the member Fred killed to defend his son Sam – had started life as Peter Williams, a young resident and abuse survivor at Blenheim Vale. When Williams torched one of his abusers’ cars, he disappeared and his friends presumed he’d been killed. Really, he’d been sold to a couple in Lincoln (“who wanted a kiddie of their own” said Lott, and presumably not to treat as a beloved son) and renamed Raymond Kennett. The grown-up Raymond became a violent offender and drug dealer who joined the Death Head gang, but his own death took him back to Oxford. 

Endeavour Series 9 is available to stream on ITVX in the UK. It will air on PBS Masterpiece in the US at a later date.