Fresh life for murder
SET against the backdrop of England’s most beautiful countryside, Midsomer Murders is as much about the stunning scenery as it is about chilling storylines.
Filmed across counties including Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, the English murder mystery series is in its 14th series and just as popular as the day it began in 1997 – although there have been changes.
When DCI Tom Barnaby ( John Nettles) left Causton CID last year, his cousin DCI John Barnaby ( Neil Dudgeon) stepped into his shoes.
The change, says Jason Hughes ( aka DS Ben Jones), has breathed fresh life into the show.
‘‘ With John leaving, we thought it would be really interesting to see what happens – is it the show or is it the actor that people love? Obviously it’s the show,’’ the Welshman says from his seaside home in Brighton, where he lives with his Australian- born wife and two children.
‘‘ Because it’s so new to him [ Dudgeon] and because he had the task of creating his own kind of character and just because of the kind of person that he is, he’s very enthusiastic and hard working. It was great to have somebody come into the show who really wanted to make it work.’’
This season, weird and obscure murders continue to plague Midsomer.
‘‘ There’s a very high murder rate there, let’s be honest,’’ Hughes laughs.
But far from being a gritty, grotesque CSI- style crime drama, Midsomer is a gently- paced whodunnit.
‘‘ I don’t think it’s trying to be shocking or gritty in any way. It’s designed for people to be able to sit down and curl up in front of. What the show does very cleverly is tell stories,’’ he says.
‘‘ I think the writers are all in competition with each other to come up with the most outrageous death. You can watch an episode filmed in an enormous manor house which is inhabited by some crazy eccentric family who are fighting and killing each other and then you can have a much smaller story about two guys trying to put together a case and solve a murder.
‘‘ When you turn it on, you don’t know if you’re going to get the crazy, mad, big eccentric characters or the small more naturalistic darker tale and I think people like that.’’