Midsomer Murders (TV Series 1997– )

TVSeries


Midsomer Murders (TV Series 1997– )

The British detective drama revolves around Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby's efforts to solve numerous murders that take place in the fictional English county of Midsomer. The current lead character is Detective Chief Inspector John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon), who is the younger cousin of former lead character Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby (John Nettles). The Barnabys have worked with several different Sergeants throughout the run of the show, including Sergeant Gavin Troy (Daniel Casey), Sergeant Dan Scott (John Hopkins), Detective Sergeant Ben Jones (Jason Hughes), Detective Sergeant Charlie Nelson (Gwilym Lee), and Sergeant Jamie Winter (Nick Hendrix).
UK
IMDb   7.7 /10
TheMovieDb    7.8 /10
RottenTomatoes
FilmAffinity   6.4 /10
Creators
Creator Caroline Graham
Information
Release Date1997-03-23
Runtime1h 30mins
GenreCrime, Drama, Mystery
Content RatingTV-14 (TV-14)
Awards1 win & 7 nominations.
CompanyBentley Productions, ITV - Independent Television
CountryUK
LanguageEnglish
DCI Tom Barnaby 81 episodes, 1997-2011
Joyce Barnaby 81 episodes, 1997-2011
Dr. George Bullard 76 episodes, 1997-2011
Police Officer / ... 1 episode, 2007-2021
DS Ben Jones / ... 53 episodes, 2005-2017
DCI John Barnaby / ... 52 episodes, 2000-2021
Sarah Barnaby / ... 46 episodes, 1998-2021
Cully Barnaby 43 episodes, 1997-2011

Midsomer Murders

Midsomer Murders is a British crime drama television series, adapted by Anthony Horowitz and Douglas Watkinson from the novels in the Chief Inspector Barnaby book series (created by Caroline Graham), and broadcast on two channels of ITV since its premiere on 23 March 1997. The series focuses on various murder cases that take place within small country villages across the fictional English county of Midsomer, and the efforts of the senior police detective and his partner within the fictional Midsomer Constabulary to solve the crime by determining who the culprit is and the motive for their actions. It identifies itself differently from other detective dramas often by featuring a mixture of lighthearted whimsy and dark humour, as well as a notable soundtrack that includes the use of the theremin instrument for the show's theme tune.

The programme has featured two lead stars—from its premiere in 1997, John Nettles as Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Tom Barnaby, until his retirement from the drama in February 2011; then Neil Dudgeon as DCI John Barnaby, Tom's younger cousin, since March 2011. Both main stars have featured a list of supporting actors who worked alongside them, including Jane Wymark, Barry Jackson, Daniel Casey, John Hopkins, Jason Hughes, and Gwilym Lee, with Nick Hendrix as the current co-star working with Dudgeon. Midsomer Murders remains a popular feature in British television schedules, and has been broadcast internationally in over 200 countries and territories.


Summary

Midsomer Murders is a detective drama set in modern-day England. The stories revolve around the efforts of Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby, and later his successor, cousin 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, DS Dan Scott, DS Ben Jones, DS Charlie Nelson and DS Jamie Winter.


Production

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. 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 Helen Jenkins, Jeff Povey, Nicholas Hicks-Beach, Julia Gilbert and Chris Murray.

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, who was first seen in a series 13 episode, "The Sword of Guillaume". Dudgeon made his first appearance in Midsomer Murders in the episode "The Garden of Death", in which he played the role of a tongue-in-cheek gardener, Daniel Bolt, rather interested in sex.

Series 20 began in the UK on ITV on 10 March 2019, with episode 1, "The Ghosts of Causton Abbey". In the US, the entire six-episode series was immediately released on the streaming services Acorn TV and BritBox, and became available on Netflix after the UK broadcast schedule had finished. The show was removed from Netflix in October 2019; only the first 19 seasons had been shown on the service. Series 20 onward have never been shown on Netflix in US or Canada. As of January, 2021, Episodes 1-20 can be seen in the US on IMDb TV and Tubi TV.

The show's official social media confirmed that production of series 21 began in March 2019. As with series 20, series 21 is to be initially released in the USA. It is to premiere on Acorn TV and BritBox on 1 December 2019, before airing in the UK in January 2020.

As of October 2020, filming had begun on series 22 after being delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Setting

Midsomer is a fictional English county. The county town is Causton, a medium-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. 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 its actual 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.

Each episode usually contains several murders, the high body count being a well known feature of the show. Despite this, the culprit is almost never a serial killer—very frequently the murderer is driven by circumstance to compound his or her crimes, and keeps killing to cover up the original murder.

Humour is a main feature of the series. There is often dark comedy, such as a woman being murdered with a wheel of cheese, and many scenes are examples of "dramedy" (comic drama or dramatic comedy). According to Radio Times 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."

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. 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". "The spirit is obviously of the '50s", Nettles remarked, and the less crowded, less complicated village/world was clearly part of the books' appeal.

Filming locations

Causton is represented by a number of towns including Thame and Wallingford, in Oxfordshire.

The Six Bells, a pub in Warborough, Oxfordshire, repeatedly features as the Black Swan in the Midsomer village of Badger's Drift. The Bull & Butcher, the village pub in Turville, Buckinghamshire, featured in both "Murder on St. Malley's Day" (renamed as The Chalk and Gown) and in "Schooled in Murder" (renamed as The Spotted Cow).

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

The Buckinghamshire tourism authority announced in 2021 the launching of three themed tours of locations in the county that have been used to film the series.

In "The Killings of Copenhagen"—number five in the sixteenth series and the 100th episode overall—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. The murder in Copenhagen is one of three within the entire series (until episode 114, at least) that take place outside the fictional County of Midsomer, the others being in Wales where DCI Tom Barnaby (John Nettles) and DS Ben Jones (Jason Hughes) travel in ‘Death and Dust’ and Brighton where Inspector John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon) is introduced.


Characters

Characters and the series where they appeared
CharacterActorSeries
12345678910111213141516171819202122
DCI Tom BarnabyJohn NettlesMain
Joyce BarnabyJane WymarkMain
DS Gavin TroyDaniel CaseyMainGuest
Dr George BullardBarry JacksonMainMainRecurringMain
Dr Dan PetersonToby JonesRecurringMain
DS Daniel ScottJohn HopkinsMain
DS Benjamin JonesJason HughesMainGuest
DC Gail StephensKirsty DillonRecurringMain
DCI John BarnabyNeil DudgeonRecurringMain
Sarah BarnabyFiona DolmanMain
Dr Kate WildingTamzin MallesonRecurringMain
DS Charlie NelsonGwilym LeeMain
Dr Kam KarimoreManjinder VirkMain
DS Jamie WinterNick HendrixMain
Dr. Fleur PerkinsAnnette BadlandMain

Episodes

The pilot episode of Midsomer Murders was shown on 23 March 1997. As of 4 April 2021, 128 episodes have been broadcast in the UK, comprising 22 series.

SeriesEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
Pilot23 March 1997
1422 March 19986 May 1998
2420 January 199919 September 1999
3431 December 19995 February 2000
4610 September 200016 September 2001
5423 September 200122 September 2002
653 January 200331 January 2003
772 November 200325 December 2004
8810 October 20042 October 2005
989 October 200517 September 2006
10812 November 200611 May 2008
1171 January 20085 May 2010
12722 July 200914 April 2010
13812 May 20102 February 2011
14823 March 201111 January 2012
1561 February 201230 January 2013
16524 December 201312 February 2014
17428 January 201518 February 2015
1866 January 201617 February 2016
19618 December 201620 May 2018
20610 March 201914 January 2020
21421 January 202028 March 2021
2264 April 2021TBA

20th Anniversary Special

In June 2019, US streaming service Acorn TV began streaming a 20th Anniversary Special presented by John Nettles. 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.


Controversy

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 "the last bastion of Englishness and I want to keep it that way". 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. He was reinstated, having apologised "if his remarks gave unintended offence to any viewers", but subsequently stepped down as producer. ITV said it was "shocked and appalled" at True-May's comments, which were "absolutely not shared by anyone at ITV".

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


Broadcast

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

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.

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 Amazon Prime Video, while only season 21 is available on Britbox. The first 19 seasons are also available on streaming service/app Tubi and Acorn.

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 was 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. 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 September 2021, episodes through series 21 are available on the streaming service Acorn TV, with episodes of the current series 22 appearing as they are made available.


Soundtracks

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.


Home media

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 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.

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.

Below table are release dates for complete seasons sets in both Australia Region 4 and United Kingdom Region 2.

DiscsRegion 4Region 2
Complete Season 1318 August 2006
Complete Season 233 July 2007
The Complete Series One and Two66 April 2009
Complete Season 323 July 2007
Complete Season 4311 August 2008
The Complete Series Three and Four611 May 2009
Complete Season 5311 August 2008
Complete Season 6311 August 2008
The Complete Series Five and Six61 June 2009
Complete Season 74 (Region 4)

6 (Region 2)

3 November 20106 July 2009
Complete Season 84 (Region 4)

6 (Region 2)

3 November 20103 August 2009
Complete Season 94 (Region 4)

6 (Region 2)

3 November 20107 September 2009
Complete Season 105 (Region 4)

6 (Region 2)

4 February 20155 October 2009
Complete Season 115 (Region 4)

6 (Region 2)

4 February 201523 August 2010
Complete Season 1264 February 201517 April 2011
Complete Season 135 (Region 4)

6 (Region 2)

4 February 20159 May 2011
Complete Season 14 (4-Discs)4 (Region 4)

6 (Region 2)

9 March 20162 April 2012
Complete Season 15 (4-Discs)4 (Region 4)

6 (Region 2)

9 March 20166 May 2013
Complete Season 16 (4-Discs)4 (Region 4)

5 (Region 2)

22 March 20177 July 2014
Complete Season 17 (3-Discs)3 (Region 4)

4 (Region 2)

22 March 20178 June 2015
Complete Season 18 (4-Discs)4 (Region 4)

2 (Region 2)

4 October 201716 May 2016
Complete Season 19 (4-Discs)4 (Region 4)

2 (Region 2)

15 August 201821 May 2018
Complete Season 204 (Region 4)

2 (Region 2)

22 July 20202 December 2019
The Complete Seasons 1–4 (Limited Edition)102 August 2017
The Complete Seasons 5–8 (Limited Edition)142 August 2017
The Complete Seasons 9–12 (Limited Edition)1911 April 2018
The Complete Seasons 13–16 (Limited Edition)1611 April 2018
The Complete Seasons 17-20 (Limited Edition)1516 September 2020
Seasons 1–10 (33-Discs)3325 October 2017

Books

  • 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 978-0-312-24419-4.
  • Graham, Caroline (2004). A Ghost in the Machine. ISBN 978-0-7553-0772-2.
  • Evans, Jeff (2003). Midsomer Murders: The Making of An English Crime Classic. Batsford. ISBN 978-0-7134-8768-8.