Mid­somer rocked

Townsville Bulletin - - Life Entertainment -

T HE E n g l i s h c o u n t y o f Mid­somer is ru­ral, as­ton­ish­ingly mur­der-prone, pic­turesque and com­pletely white.

It’s also fic­tional, the set­ting for Mid­somer Mur­ders, a TV se­ries that has run for 14 years, of­fer­ing a steady diet of vi­o­lent crimes in leafy l a n e s a n d v i l l a g e s , a l l r e a s s u r i n g l y s o l v e d b y avun­cu­lar De­tec­tive Chief In­spec­tor Tom Barn­aby.

N o w M i d s o m e r ’ s c o z y world has been rocked, and its pro­ducer sus­pended on Tues­day, af­ter he said that the show ‘‘ wouldn’t work’’ if there were any non-white peo­ple in the cast.

‘‘ We are a cos­mopoli­tan so­ci­ety in this coun­try, but if you watch Mid­somer you wouldn’t think so,’’ ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Brian TrueMay told Ra­dio Times mag­a­zine, adding t hat ‘ ‘ quite hon­estly I wouldn’t want to change it’’.

‘‘ We just don’t have eth­nic mi­nori­ties in­volved. Be­cause it wouldn’t be the English vil­lage with them. It just wouldn’t work,’’ he was quoted as say­ing.

‘‘ We’re the last bas­tion of English­ness and I want to keep it that way.’’

I TV, t he net work t hat broad­casts the show, said in a state­ment t hat i t was ‘‘ shocked and ap­palled’’ by True-May’s com­ments. I t said True-May, one of the show’s co-founders, has been s us p e nded b y p r o d uci ng com­pany Al­l3Me­dia pend­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

True-May’s equa­tion of ‘‘ English’’ with ‘‘ white’’ was s t r o n g l y c o n d e mn e d b y s o me , b u t d e f e n d e d b y

COZY NO MORE: Ac­tors John Net­tles and Daniel Casey in a scene from TV show oth­ers, who say he is sim­ply telling it like it is: the vast m a j o r i t y o f n o n - w h i t e Bri­tons – who make up about 8 per cent of the to­tal pop­u­la­tion – live in cities or sub­urbs.

Daily Tele­graph colum­nist Christina Odone ac­cused a ‘‘ metropoli­tan cre­ative elite’’ of try­ing to re­write re­al­ity by foist­ing ‘‘ mul­ti­cul­tural fan­tasy worlds on view­ers and lis­ten­ers.’’

His­to­rian and thriller writ- er Guy Wal­ters – him­self a res­i­dent of a ‘‘ typ­i­cal, ex­clu­sively white’’ English vil­lage – said that while True-May’s de­scrip­tion of mono­cul­ture vil­lages was not in­ac­cu­rate, ‘‘ the prob­lem with his words is it looks like he is say­ing that is a de­sir­able state of af­fairs’’.

Ash Atalla, a tele­vi­sion pro­ducer who helped cre­ate hit com­edy The Of­fice, com­pared True-May’s com­ments t o ‘‘ when you have a mad old un­cle round for Christ­mas lunch, and they say some­thing rather ex­treme about ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity or about colour’’.

‘‘ This t hing,’’ ra­dio.

‘‘ There are peo­ple of a cer­tain age that like to view English­ness as all white. I don’t think that’s the case any more.’’ And some say the a p p e a l o f s h o w s l i k e Mid­somer Mur­ders is less is a gen­er­a­tional Atalla t ol d BBC a b o u t r e f l e c t i n g r e a l English­ness – tra­di­tional or mod­ern – than about a po­tent mix of co­zi­ness and men­ace, bloody mur­der in pic­ture­post­card set­tings.

It’s a recipe fol­lowed time and again, f r om Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, solv­ing mur­ders in the fic­tional vil­lage of St Mary Mead, to Col i n Dex­ter ’ s I ns p e c t o r Morse se­ries, set amid the spires and quad­ran­gles of aca­demic Ox­ford.

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