Midsomer Murders: DCI Barnaby star opens up on fears show would be axed

Midsomer Murders: Preview trailer for series 21

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Midsomer Murders will be returning this weekend with DCI John Barnaby (played by Neil Dudgeon) and DS Jamie Winter (Nick Hendrix) back investigating deadly crimes in the fictitious county of Midsomer. It will also mark a special occasion for lead actor Neil, who is celebrating 10 years as one of television’s favourite detectives.

Neil Dudgeon took over from John Nettles, who played DCI Tom Barnaby in 2011, when the actor decided to retire from TV.

Neil plays the role of DCI John Barnaby, who is Tom’s younger cousin.

Over the years, the cop drama has featured a long list of famous faces including the likes of Jason Hughes, Barry Jackson and Daniel Casey.

Midsomer Murders remains a popular feature in British television schedules and has been broadcast internationally in over 200 countries.

Speaking ahead of season 22, Neil opened up about what it has been like working on the iconic programme for the last 10 years.

The actor felt like he had some big shoes to fill when John Nettles decided to leave and he feared the show wouldn’t be a success with him leading the way.

 “You don’t really think about how long you’ve been doing it whilst you’re doing it because there is always so much to do that you don’t have a lot of time to reflect,” he began.

“When I do look back on it I see myself starting and thinking ‘oh no the other fella has been here for 13 years, if they cancel it after one episode that’s going to look pretty bad for me.”

“So, when they commissioned a second series I thought ‘phew’,” he continued.

“If you are going to work in television as an actor what else would you want to be doing?

“It’s a fantastic job – wonderful crew, beautiful locations, great scripts, marvellous guests, great fun and nice catering… What more could one ask for?

“But 10 glorious years, it did bring back some memories for Fiona and I. Nine series because we had a year off.”

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Recalling some of his favourite highlights, Neil said “some of the deaths have been marvellous”.

“Murray Melvin falling to his death having seen a headless horseman is something that doesn’t happen around our house every day,” he added.

“Martine McCutcheon killed by cheese of course, the guy who was covered in truffle oil and then eaten alive by a wild boar was very inventive.

“The marvellous episode I love was all about the UFOs and then we actually showed one crashing in the woods, I thought we had lost the plot but the writing was so brilliant and it all made sense and Alison Steadman was in that episode.

“It’s the people; the crew, the cast, the murderers and some of the more lavish, thoughtful deaths are the highlights that stand out to me.”

The first episode of series 22 which will premiere this weekend will be called The Sting of Death.

In this instalment, Barnaby and Winter have to search for a masked assailant who attacked beekeeping fanatic Lord Ambrose Deddington (Griff Rhys Jones) and his hive.

However, when they are trying to work out who committed the attack, the village doctor is found dead and covered in bees, linking the two crimes together.

But, will Barnaby get to the killer before they have the chance to strike again?

Midsomer Murders season 22 starts on Sunday, March 21, on ITV.

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