A stolen crime novel, celebrity magic, a folk festival and the launch of a new English sparkling wine become the backdrops for murder and mayhem when Neil Dudgeon and Gwilym Lee return to the beautiful but deadly countryside of Midsomer in a new series of Midsomer Murders soon on ITV.
Neil and Gwilym star as DCI John Barnaby and DS Charlie Nelson in four new two-hour episodes made by Bentley Productions for ITV. They are assisted by pathologist Dr Kate Wilding, played by Tamzin Malleson.
Barnaby must also juggle life as a new dad to baby Betty, with the support of his wife Sarah (series regular Fiona Dolman).
As ever, the episodes feature a stellar array of guest stars including Joe Absolom, Dean Andrews, Claire Bloom, Mark Bonnar, Daniel Brocklebank, Amanda Burton, Rosie Cavaliero, Ruth Gemmell, Lucie Jones, Adam Kotz, Naoko Mori, Lloyd Owen, Clarke Peters, Andrew-Lee Potts, Jack Shepherd, Una Stubbs, Georgia Taylor and Lia Williams.
There’s also the return of the Barnabys’ much loved pet, Sykes the dog.
What’s in store in the episodes
In the first episode, “The Dagger Club”, a newly-discovered novel by deceased Midsomer crime-writer George Summersbee at the Luxton Deeping Crime Festival is stolen. A woman is fatally electrocuted by a booby-trapped roulette wheel. Can Barnaby and Nelson untangle a web of jealousy and obsession to find the killer?
The second episode “Murder by Magic” opens when a pub landlady is crushed to death during a magic show in Midsomer Oaks. Barnaby and Nelson uncover conflict between the village church and ancient pagan traditions. Is famous magician and new Midsomer resident Gideon Latimer to blame or is he the target?
In “The Ballad of Midsomer County”, a ballad made famous by late, lamented folk singer Johnny Carver might be an inspiration for murder. Did someone want to kill Toby Winning for threatening to take the Little Crosby Folk Festival away from Midsomer – or is the true motive something hidden for 20 years?
In the final episode, “A Vintage Murder”, the fizz goes out of a sparkling wine launch when the glasses are laced with poison. Who is targeting the Midsomer Vinae Winery and what does the attack have to do with the death of a child in a hit-and-run accident?
Executive Producer Jo Wright says: “Midsomer Murders may have a touch of old- fashioned charm about it, but actually the themes we cover are modern issues affecting and reflecting today’s society. Wine production and commercial festivals are part of today’s countryside as is the influx of more traditionally urban families, like our celebrity magician buying up the local country house. The mixture of town and country and the clashes that brings works really well for us.”
Strange deaths indeed
Despite its picture postcard setting, more than 300 people have died before their time in Midsomer. Bizarre and gruesome murder implements since the series began include electrocution from a faulty microphone, death by poisonous frog, a French guillotine, a hatpin in the ear, bottles of relish, a tower of newspapers, a gargoyle from a roof and shelves of Midsomer Blue cheese.
Midsomer Murders attracts top viewing figures on ITV and is one of the UK’s best programming exports. In 2014, Midsomer Murders became the first television programme to be inducted into the prestigious Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards Hall of Fame.
The accolade – previously awarded to top crime authors such as PD James, Lee Child, Colin Dexter and Agatha Christie – is made in recognition of the long-running series’ contribution to the crime genre.
The new episodes of Midsomer Murders are written by Chris Murray, Rachel Cuperman & Sally Griffiths, Paul Logue and Lisa Holdsworth and directed by Alex Pillai, Charles Palmer, Renny Rye and Nick Laughland. The producer is Phil Hunter and the executive producer is Jo Wright.