Midsomer Murders begins filming its 24th season
ALISON BOSHOFF: Midsomer Murders Begins Filming Its 24th Season With Lead Neil Dudgeon Showing No Signs Of Slowing Down
Actor Neil Dudgeon has reached a milestone in his Midsomer Murders journey – his 50th episode as DCI John Barnaby airs this Sunday.
Dudgeon, 62, replaced John Nettles in the lead role in 2011 and has a long way to go to reach Nettles’ grand total of 81 episodes.
However, executive producer Michele Buck tells me he’s moving ahead, as a new series, the 24th, has just begun filming.
Buck, who also produced Poirot, tells me there was some cake and a short party for Dudgeon.
She adds: ‘We all love Neil, and the public loves him too. He’s the real deal – he’s a nice guy, and people can see that.’
One to watch: Neil Dudgeon (right) has reached a milestone in his Midsomer Murders journey – his 50th episode as DCI John Barnaby airs this Sunday (pictured with Kevin Whately)
She adds: ‘One of the secrets to Neil’s success is that it really works when you get a glimpse into his family life.
“(Actress) Fiona Dolman has the upper hand, his daughter Betsy has the upper hand, I think even the dog has the upper hand.
“He’s coming back from solving a big case and as soon as he comes through the door he’s cut to size—and he doesn’t care at all.”
She continued, “The murders in Midsomer are never nasty or grim — it’s whimsy. When you watch the show, you can relax.
“The world is scary and horrible and grim, but the show is like a safe, warm blanket.”
Dudgeon’s half-century show finds him paired onscreen with Kevin Whately, who has his own very long history as a television detective in Inspector Morse and Lewis.
The story is about a murder at the local opera society – and Whately sings in it. Apparently music was his first love, and he’s pretty good.
In 2019, Dudgeon revealed that he had no plans to slow down and couldn’t imagine the show ever ending.
“I see no reason for Midsomer to ever quit,” he told Weekend Magazine. “The only reason it would stop is if the public goes off on it or if someone at ITV loses heart.
“I imagine it goes on and on because it keeps reinventing itself.”
He’s still going: In 2019, Dudgeon revealed he had no plans to slow down and couldn’t imagine the show ever ending (pictured with Jason Hughes and Barry Jackson)
He continued, “I remember my first episode. Who else would do a story about a vintage car meeting at a girls’ school? Duty line? I don’t think Jed Mercurio would be willing to take that on! We have our own strange little world and people love it.”
Of course, all agents have to retire at some point.
The original Barnaby, John Nettles, hung up his handcuffs after 81 episodes, so could Neil, who is 58, be able to match his number? “I’m barely halfway,” he says.
“I don’t know if I could last that long.” But who would take over the mantle? When Neil joined the show, he became Tom Barnaby’s cousin because the show is called Inspector Barnaby in some countries.
“There could be offspring,” he suggests. “Maybe Tom’s daughter Cully realized it was her true calling, retrained in the police force and is now a detective.
“You could have a female Barnaby. You can do pretty much anything with Midsomer, and let’s face it, we did!’
Original: Dudgeon, 62, replaced John Nettles (pictured) in the lead role in 2011 and has a long way to go to reach Nettles’ grand total of 81 episodes