Midsomer Murders

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Midsomer Murders
Midsomer murders logo.jpg
GenreCrime drama, mystery fiction
Based onChief Inspector Barnaby
by Caroline Graham
Directed byLuke Watson
Andy Hay
Renny Rye
Nick Laughland
Simon Langton
Alex Pillai
Vivaan Salvi
Peter Smith
Sarah Hellings
Jeremy Silberston
Richard Holthouse
StarringJohn Nettles
Daniel Casey
Barry Jackson
Jane Wymark
Laura Howard
Toby Jones
John Hopkins
Jason Hughes
Kirsty Dillon
Neil Dudgeon
Fiona Dolman
Tamzin Malleson
Gwilym Lee
Manjinder Virk
Nick Hendrix
Annette Badland
Composer(s)Jim Parker
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series20
No. of episodes122 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)Brian True-May (1–89)
Jo Wright (90–115)
Jonathan Fisher (116–)
Michele Buck (116–)
Producer(s)Betty Willingale
CinematographyColin Munn
Graham Frake
Editor(s)Derek Bain
Running time89–102 minutes
Production company(s)Bentley Productions
DistributorAll3Media
Release
Original networkITV
Picture format16 mm film:
576i 4:3 (SDTV)
(1997–2004)
Super 16 mm film:
576i 16:9 (SDTV)
(2004–09)
High Definition Digital:
1080i 16:9 (HDTV)
(2009–present)
Audio formatStereo
(1997–2004)
Dolby Digital 5.1
(2004–present)
Original release23 March 1997 –
present
External links
Website

Midsomer Murders is a British television detective drama that has aired on ITV since 1997. The show is based on Caroline Graham's Chief Inspector Barnaby book series, as originally adapted for television by Anthony Horowitz. A major success in viewership since its first episode, the series has been marketed worldwide in numerous countries.

Set within small English country villages, the show has an unusual identity as a crime drama peppered with both lighthearted whimsy and dark humour. The first 13 series starred John Nettles as Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Tom Barnaby. The character's younger cousin, DCI John Barnaby (played by Neil Dudgeon), took over his position when Nettles retired from the show in 2011. Despite the change of lead character (and numerous changes among secondary players), the show has retained its popularity and began airing its 20th series in March 2019. In June 2019, US streaming service Acorn TV began streaming a 20th Anniversary Special presented by John Nettles.[1] The one-hour documentary brings together former and current actors on the show as well as producers and others working behind the scene to discuss memorable moments from the past 20 series and the peculiar quirks that have made the show a success.[2]

Summary[edit]

Midsomer Murders is a detective drama[3] set in modern-day England. The stories revolve around the efforts of Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby (and later his successor, John Barnaby) to solve numerous murders that take place in the picturesque but deadly villages of the fictional county of Midsomer. The Barnabys have worked with several different sergeants throughout the run of the show: Detective Sergeant (DS) Gavin Troy (Daniel Casey), DS Dan Scott (John Hopkins), DS Ben Jones (Jason Hughes), DS Charlie Nelson (Gwilym Lee) and DS Jamie Winter (Nick Hendrix).

Production[edit]

Filming of Midsomer Murders began in Autumn 1996, and the first episode, "The Killings at Badger's Drift", was broadcast in the United Kingdom on 23 March 1997. This inaugural episode was the highest-rated single drama programme of 1997, watched by 13.5 million viewers.[4] Throughout its run, the feature-length drama has attracted many well-known accomplished actors from the stage and screen in guest-starring roles.

Anthony Horowitz and the original producers, Betty Willingale and Brian True-May, created the series. Horowitz adapted the majority of the early episodes from the original works by Caroline Graham. Current writers include Paul Logue, Chris Murray, Lisa Holdsworth, Rachel Cuperman and Sally Griffiths.

Actor John Nettles originated the role of Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby. Nettles' character retired at the end of 2010, after the 13th series of eight episodes; his last episode was "Fit for Murder". Neil Dudgeon replaced him in the 14th series, playing Tom Barnaby's cousin, DCI John Barnaby,[5] who was first seen in a series 12 episode, "The Sword of Guillaume".[6]

Series 20 began in the UK on ITV on 10 March 2019, with episode 1, "The Ghosts of Causton Abbey".[7] In the US, the entire six-episode series was immediately released on the streaming services Acorn TV and BritBox,[8] and became available on Netflix after the UK broadcast schedule had finished.

British newspaper Metro reported that Nick Hendrix has said filming for a 21st series will commence in 2019.[8][9]

Setting[edit]

Midsomer is an English fictional county. The county town is Causton, a middle-sized town where Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby lives with his wife, and where the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) is located. Much of the popularity of the series arises from the incongruity of sudden violence in a picturesque and peaceful rural setting. Individual episodes focus on institutions, rituals, and customs popularly seen as characteristic of rural English counties. Various clues in several episodes hint that Midsomer might actually cover the areas of Berkshire and part of northern Hampshire.

Many of the villages and small towns of the county have the word "Midsomer" in their name; this is inspired in part by the real county of Somerset, and specifically the town of Midsomer Norton, and became a naming convention within the show. Midsomer Wellow and Causton are derived from the names of real Somerset villages Wellow and Corston. When Mrs. Barnaby proposed they move out of Causton and suggested various villages, her husband countered with recollections of particularly grisly murders that occurred in each community. Likewise, in "The Fisher King" (series 7, episode 3) DS Dan Scott asked if the body count was "always this high around here, sir?"; Barnaby replied, "It has been remarked upon."

Humour is a main feature of the series. There is often dark comedy, such as a woman being murdered with a wheel of cheese,[10] and many scenes are examples of "dramedy" (comic drama or dramatic comedy); according to RadioTimes when describing the episode "Death and the Divas" (series 15, episode 4): "Midsomer Murders never takes itself too seriously but here it’s got its tongue so far into its cheek, it hurts."[11]

Nostalgia has also been a feature of the show, especially in its Nettles era. Most episodes have been set in hermetic rural villages of a kind that were already changing rapidly by the time the series began, Nettles opined in a 2003 interview.[12] The old-fashioned settings are true to the Graham novels: "Although the books are set in the present," wrote one reviewer, Graham's country villages "seem to come from another time".[13] "The spirit is obviously of the '50s", Nettles remarked, and the less crowded, less complicated village/world was clearly part of the books' appeal.[13]

Filming locations[edit]

Causton is represented by a number of Towns including Thame and Wallingford, in Oxfordshire.[14][15] Causton police station is represented by the former RAF Staff College, Bracknell.[15] Causton Town Hall is represented by Thame Town Hall. Most episodes have been filmed in villages around the counties of Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.[15]

The Six Bells, a pub in Warborough, Oxfordshire,[16] repeatedly features as the Black Swan in the Midsomer village of Badger's Drift.[17]

The Bull & Butcher, the village pub in Turville near Henley, featured in both "Murder on St. Malley's Day" (renamed as The Spotted Cow) and "Schooled in Murder".[18]

Filming took place on Sunday 11 August 2013 at White Waltham Airfield, southwest of Maidenhead, for episode 4 of Series 16, "The Flying Club".[19]

In "The Killings of Copenhagen" — number five in the sixteenth series and the 100th episode overall[20] — several scenes are filmed on location in central Copenhagen, like Rådhuspladsen ("the City Hall Square"), Nyhavn ("New Port") with its canal and old colourful houses, a Danish countryside church, and at the circular courtyard inside the Copenhagen Police Headquarters building.[21] The murder in Copenhagen is one of two within the entire series (until episode 114, at least) that take place outside the fictional County of Midsomer, the other being in Brighton where Inspector John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon) is introduced.

Characters[edit]

Characters and the series where they appeared
Character Actor
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
DCI Tom Barnaby John Nettles Main
DCI John Barnaby Neil Dudgeon Recurring Main
DS Gavin Troy Daniel Casey Main Guest
DS Daniel Scott John Hopkins Main
DS Benjamin Jones Jason Hughes Main Guest
DS Charlie Nelson Gwilym Lee Main
DS Jamie Winter Nick Hendrix Main
DC Gail Stephens Kirsty Dillon Recurring Main
Dr George Bullard Barry Jackson Main Main Recurring Main
Dr Dan Peterson Toby Jones Recurring Main
Dr Kate Wilding Tamzin Malleson Recurring Main
Dr Kam Karimore Manjinder Virk Main
Dr. Fleur Perkins Annette Badland Main
Joyce Barnaby Jane Wymark Main
Sarah Barnaby Fiona Dolman Main

Episodes[edit]

The pilot episode of Midsomer Murders was shown on 23 March 1997. As of 19 May 2019, 119 episodes have been broadcast in the UK, comprising 20 series.

SeriesEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
Pilot23 March 1997 (1997-03-23)
1422 March 1998 (1998-03-22)6 May 1998 (1998-05-06)
2420 January 1999 (1999-01-20)5 February 2000 (2000-02-05)
3412 September 1999 (1999-09-12)29 January 2000 (2000-01-29)
4510 September 2000 (2000-09-10)16 September 2001 (2001-09-16)
5523 September 2001 (2001-09-23)22 September 2002 (2002-09-22)
653 January 2003 (2003-01-03)31 January 2003 (2003-01-31)
772 November 2003 (2003-11-02)25 December 2004 (2004-12-25)
8810 October 2004 (2004-10-10)2 October 2005 (2005-10-02)
989 October 2005 (2005-10-09)17 September 2006 (2006-09-17)
10812 November 2006 (2006-11-12)11 May 2008 (2008-05-11)
1171 January 2008 (2008-01-01)5 May 2009 (2009-05-05)
12722 July 2009 (2009-07-22)14 April 2010 (2010-04-14)
13810 February 2010 (2010-02-10)2 February 2011 (2011-02-02)
14823 March 2011 (2011-03-23)11 January 2012 (2012-01-11)
1561 February 2012 (2012-02-01)30 January 2013 (2013-01-30)
16524 December 2013 (2013-12-24)12 February 2014 (2014-02-12)
17428 January 2015 (2015-01-28)18 February 2015 (2015-02-18)
1866 January 2016 (2016-01-06)17 February 2016 (2016-02-17)
19618 December 2016 (2016-12-18)20 May 2018 (2018-05-20)
20610 March 2019 (2019-03-10)2019 (2019)


Controversy[edit]

In March 2011, the series' producer, Brian True-May, was suspended by All3Media after telling the TV listings magazine Radio Times that the programme did not have any non-white characters because the series was a "bastion of Englishness." When challenged about the term "Englishness" and whether that would exclude ethnic minorities, True-May responded: "Well, it should do, and maybe I'm not politically correct." He later went on to say that he wanted to make a programme "that appeals to a certain audience, which seems to succeed." True-May's comments were investigated by the production company.[22] He was reinstated, having apologised "if his remarks gave unintended offence to any viewers," but he has since stepped down as producer.[23][24]

The following year in series 15, Asian actors played central characters on the show for the first time, in the episode "Written in the Stars".[25] Beginning with series 18, the show gained an Asian member for its main cast: pathologist Kam Karimore, played by Manjinder Virk.[26]

Broadcast[edit]

As of 2016, Midsomer Murders has been sold to more than 200 countries around the world.[4] In 2004, it was among the three most-sold British TV shows worldwide, whether as TV Programming or DVD.[27]

In Australia, first-run episodes and repeats are screened on national free-to-air network ABC with repeats also shown on the Nine Network channel, 9Gem. The series was originally only aired on the Nine Network. Repeat screenings are also aired on the subscription channels UKTV and 13th Street. A measure of the success of the series in Australia is that repeats of the series still rate highly and often feature in the nation's top twenty shows in national surveys.[28][29]

In Canada, the series is broadcast on TVOntario and Book Television in Ontario, on Knowledge in British Columbia, and via American PBS channels available throughout southern parts of Canada. As of May 2019, the first thirteen seasons are currently available in Canada on Prime Video, while all seasons are available on Britbox.

In Ireland, the series is aired on Virgin Media Three every Monday night at 8pm. It is one of the channel's highest rated shows.

In New Zealand, the series was broadcast on TVNZ until it's been broadcast for a number of years on the free-to-air channel Prime.

In the United States, the series was first aired by A&E, which broadcast "The Killings at Badger's Drift" on 28 June 1998 and followed with the next four episodes over the 1998–99 series.[13] The show remained on A&E for many years until it was syndicated by American Public Television for broadcast on public television stations. As of December 2017, episodes through series 19 are available for streaming through Netflix, and all series are available from the ITV/BBC collaboration streaming service Britbox.

Soundtracks[edit]

Composed by Jim Parker, the main theme is a moderate-tempo waltz, performed (primarily though not exclusively) on an unusual electronic musical instrument, the theremin, which has a sound not unlike a low whistle or a human voice. The theremin part was played by Celia Sheen (1940–2011). From the 14th series onwards the soundtrack was altered so that during the closing titles a standardised version of the theme is played on a solo violin in place of the theremin. Occasionally a version with a longer introduction opens the show, using a flute rather than a theremin as the lead instrument.

Multiple soundtrack CDs have been released so far, containing versions of the theme and musical cues from various series.

DVD releases[edit]

All 114 episodes that have aired so far have been released in the UK (Region 2) including three Christmas specials. The first 18 series and "Part 1" of series 19 of Midsomer Murders have been released in Australia[30] and New Zealand (Region 4). Note that episodes 1 to 100 were originally released as 25 "sets", which are now discontinued, and have been rereleased as "series" 1 to 16 in redesigned packages.

In January 2006, Midsomer Murders started a DVD and Magazine Collection, available at newsagents in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the UK.[citation needed]

Acorn Media UK has released 24 DVD sets of Midsomer Murders in North America as well as several collections, which are:

  • The Early Cases 10 disc collection of 18 episodes includes the pilot episode and those of series one, two, three, and four (except the last episode), as well as a bonus disc featuring a behind-the-scenes documentary.
  • Acorn's "Barnaby's Casebook" 10 disc collection has 17 episodes, including the last episode of series four, followed by those of series five, six, and seven.
  • Acorn's "Village Case Files" 8 disc collection includes the 16 episodes of series eight, and nine; and a 4 minute bonus clip from series one.
  • Acorn's "Mayhem & Mystery" 15 disc collection includes the 17 episodes of series ten and eleven.
  • Acorn's "Tom Barnaby's Last Cases" 15 disc collection includes the 17 episodes of series twelve and thirteen.

Books[edit]

  • Graham, Caroline (1987). The Killings at Badger's Drift. ISBN 978-0-917561-41-2.
  • Graham, Caroline (1989). Death of a Hollow Man. ISBN 978-0-7126-2911-9.
  • Graham, Caroline (1993). Death in Disguise. ISBN 978-0-7472-0608-8.
  • Graham, Caroline (1994). Written in Blood. ISBN 978-0-7472-4664-0.
  • Graham, Caroline (1996). Faithful unto Death. ISBN 978-0-7472-1665-0.
  • Graham, Caroline (1999). A Place of Safety. ISBN 978-0312244194.
  • Graham, Caroline (2004). A Ghost in the Machine. ISBN 978-0755307722.
  • Evans, Jeff (2003). Midsomer Murders: The Making of An English Crime Classic. Batsford. ISBN 9780713487688.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Acorn TV – Midsomer Murders 20th Anniversary Special". Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  2. ^ "Midsomer Murders 20th Anniversary Special". Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  3. ^ The Guardian (2 January 2008). "Midsomer shines for ITV". London. Retrieved 9 April 2008.
  4. ^ a b Morgan, Clive (6 January 2016). "Midsomer Murders: 15 mysterious facts". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  5. ^ "Midsomer Murders – The New Barnaby Joins John Nettles on Exclusive Acorn Media DVD Release". Prlog.org. 9 February 2010. Retrieved 26 March 2011.
  6. ^ Hughes, Heather (9 February 2010). "Neil Dudgeon Replaces John Nettles on Midsomer Murders". TV.com. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  7. ^ Griffiths, Eleanor Bley (10 March 2019). "When is Midsomer Murders back on ITV?". Radio Times. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  8. ^ a b Mitchell, Molli (1 February 2019). "Midsomer Murders 2019 ITV air date, cast, trailer, plot: When does the new series start?". Express.co.uk. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  9. ^ Dosani, Rishma (19 May 2018). "Nick Hendrix would love Ricky Gervais and Tom Hardy to pop up on Midsomer Murders". Metro.co.uk. Archived from the original on 14 January 2019.
  10. ^ "'Midsomer Murders' Schooled in Murder (TV Episode 2013)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  11. ^ Rackham, Jane. "Midsomer Murders". RadioTimes. Retrieved 1 January 2016.
  12. ^ Prescott, Jean (10 February 2003). "Series success no mystery". The Cincinnati Enquirer. Cincinnati, Ohio. Knight Ridder News Service. p. 29. Archived from the original on 12 November 2018. Retrieved 6 October 2018 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  13. ^ a b c O'Hare, Kate (28 June 1998). "'Tis the season for 'Midsomer Murders' on A&E". Quad-City Times. Davenport, Iowa. Tribune Media Services. p. 131. Archived from the original on 12 November 2018. Retrieved 5 October 2018 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  14. ^ "Midsomer Murders Locations". Midsomermurders.org. Retrieved 26 March 2011.
  15. ^ a b c Hellicar, Michael (27 June 2008). "Midsomer marriage: Daughter's wedding promises toughest case yet for Detective Barnaby". The Daily Mail. London. Retrieved 1 October 2016.
  16. ^ Falconer, Kieran (19 July 2008). "Midsomer Murders: A very English setting". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 26 March 2011.
  17. ^ "Midsomer Murders – The Six Bells Warborough". The Six Bells Warborough. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  18. ^ "Brakspear's Midsomer Pubs". Brakspear. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  19. ^ "New Midsomer Murders filmed at White Waltham Airfield". Maidenhead Advertiser News. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  20. ^ "Midsomer Murders – Episode Guide". www.midsomermurders.org.
  21. ^ Picture of the round "police square" and some of the episode's main actors at midsomermurders.org.
  22. ^ Easton, Mark (15 March 2011). "Midsomer Murders producer suspended over race row". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 26 March 2011.
  23. ^ Plunkett, John (23 March 2011). "Midsomer Murders co-creator to step down at end of current series". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 June 2012.
  24. ^ "Midsomer producer to 'step down' after current series". BBC News. 23 March 2011.
  25. ^ Singh, Anita (14 September 2012). "Midsomer Murders gets two Asian characters". Telegraph. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  26. ^ "How Manjinder Virk is shaking up Midsomer Murders". Radio Times. 6 January 2016. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  27. ^ "Strong DVD Market Boosts UK TV Export Revenues". Culture.gov.uk. May 2005. Archived from the original on 28 March 2009. Retrieved 26 March 2011.
  28. ^ Knox, David (29 December 2013). "Ratings". TV Tonight. TV Tonight. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  29. ^ Knox, David (22 December 2013). "Ratings". TV Tonight. TV Tonight. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  30. ^ "Midsomer Murders DVD sales". ABC Shop. ABC Online. 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2013.

External links[edit]