Irene Napier has been the make up designer on all episodes of the Endeavour series. However, as you will read below there is more to Irene’s job than meets the eye.
Irene is second from the right.
A huge thank you to Irene for taking the time to answer my questions.
Thank you so much for taking the time to complete this Q&A. I hope you enjoy the questions and don’t find them too obvious or boring.
Irene, could you please tell us what your job entails on a series like Endeavour.
My job on Endeavour involves reading scripts, doing research, meeting with producers, writers and production. Then discussions with the artists once the look has been decided and casting is complete.
Do you have to be on the set during each day of filming?
I don’t have to be on set all the time when they’re filming, it depends on how many artists are on set and how many have still to be made up back on the truck.
How do you prepare as a makeup designer for a series like Endeavour? Is the preparation more gruelling than on the day of filming?
For preparation it’s basically research and making sure you have all the wigs, prosthetics and make up you need for a particular episode. Prep is easier than shooting.
How many other people do you work alongside on the Endeavour series? Do you all work for the same company or are you all self-employed or freelance?
In my department I have me, a supervisor, make up artist and a trainee. We’re all freelance.
I noticed that on some series you worked on, like Indian Summers and Shetland, you were also the hair designer as well as the make up designer. Was it a conscious choice to not be the hair designer on the Endeavour series?
I’m make up and hair designer on all the jobs I do. It’s just that some companies do the credits differently.
I believe that a make-up designer is also responsible for applying prosthetics. Have you had to use prosthetics in any of the productions of Endeavour?
I only do small prosthetics, small wounds and scars. Anything bigger and we’d get specialist help. We’ve never had anything major to do.
Does Russell Lewis ever give you instructions on what kind of look he wants for each character?
Russell sometimes will give specifics but it comes down to who they cast in the end. I always try and get the look for him if I can.
Is it easy to find the right kind of make up for a period in history like the 1960s?
Yes it’s quite easy to get make up that resembles 1960s make up.
How much preparation time do you have from being told you have been hired for a TV show to the first day of shooting?
That depends on when we’re hired. Sometimes i’m booked months in advance and sometime weeks. Actual prep time is between two and three weeks.
Does part of your job include taking care of the extras look as well? If yes, I imagine that must be a huge task as there can be at times a large number of extras.
I’m in charge of the whole look and the staffing, so when we have a lot of extras we hire in extra help. We do a mood board which gives the general look of the period that I want.
Has there been anything in the Endeavour series that has been very different from your work on other TV series?
There’s never really been anything different or particularly unusual. Every job brings their challenges.
Did it feel any different on the set of the second episode of the sixth series, Apollo, having to work on Shaun Evans as both director and actor? Did it throw up any particular problems?
It was slightly different working with Shaun as an actor and a director in that when you want to do checks on him he was busy doing ten other things that were more important. Thankfully he’s such an easy going actor it wasn’t difficult.
Is it easier to work on a long running TV series like Endeavour than on a one-off production?
I’d say, yes much easier, as you know all the characters and understand where the script is coming from.
I believe you have been in the business for around thirty years. Do you learn anything new about your work?
I’ve actually been in the business for 45 years! And yes you learn something new on every job. You also have to keep up with modern hair and make up trends.
Were you made aware that Shaun Evans would be sporting a moustache this series and did that create any problems for the make up department?
Yes, I knew about Shaun’s moustache. It was no problem.
Do you have to collaborate with other crew members, such as lighting or cinematographers, costume designers before you begin working on the makeup and hair?
We collaborate with lighting and costume. It’s good to know what styles and colours the actors are going to wearing so we can match it, as one would do in real life. We have a lot of help sometimes from the D.O.P (Director of Photography) and lighting especially when we we’ve got a wig or hairpiece that, due to late casting isn’t quite as good as we’d like it.
What is a typical day, (If there is such a thing), working on the set of Endeavour?
On a typical day we arrive on location at 06:45am and set up for the day. The first call is usually 07:00am. If there are women they come in then and get rollers put in, make up on then go to costume and come back for the hair styling having grabbed breakfast in between. Depending on how busy we are, we get breakfast either during the call or just after 08:00am when they all go on set. We then go to the set. Sometimes we have a bit of finishing off to do. Sometime people stay behind to get the next wave ready to prep for the next episode. The day continues like that with an hours break for lunch.
Does working on the streets of Oxford during filming throw up any particular problems for you?
The only problem with Oxford is that it’s madly busy with tourists all year round but it’s always our highlight each block.
Have you ever been star struck on any of the shows you worked on?
I was slightly star struck when we had Patrick Malahide in the pilot. I’ve always loved him as an actor and when we had James Laurenson in Game in series four. Again i’d always been a huge fan.
Patrick Malahide in the pilot episode.
James Laurenson in the Endeavour episode ‘Game’.
I ask this of everyone who has worked on Endeavour. Is Shaun Evans as nice and sweet as he appears to be?
Shaun Evans is the most delightful actor I’ve ever worked with. He’s polite, kind, always looks after visiting artists and is extremely conscientious. And never complains.
Thank you, Irene, for taking the time to do this. Thank you.