Fresh life for mur­der

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Eguide Television - MARIA NOAKES MID­SOMER MUR­DERS, ABC1, Sun­days, 8.30pm

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.’’

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