The Wolf Hunter visits Midsomer Murders

Sunday: Midsomer Murders; (ITV, 8pm)

Saturday, 3rd April 2021, 5:00 pm
DCI John Barnaby, Fleur Perkin and DS Jamie Winter
DCI John Barnaby, Fleur Perkin and DS Jamie Winter

Although Midsomer Murders is beginning its 22nd series, it isn’t showing its age, and seems as popular as ever.

Originally adapted by Anthony Horowitz from Caroline Graham’s Inspector Barnaby novels, the series follows detectives as they investigate all manner of deaths throughout the villages and towns of the fictional but picturesque Midsomer County.

John Nettles led the first 13 seasons as the veteran DCI Tom Barnaby and mentored three different junior officers: Gavin Troy (Daniel Casey), Dan Scott (John Hopkins) and Ben Jones (Jason Hughes).

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After Nettles’ departure, his role was filled by current star Neil Dudgeon, who portrays Tom’s cousin, DCI John Barnaby.

John initially partnered with Jones, before working with Charlie Nelson (Gwilym Lee) and now DS Jamie Winter (Nick Hendrix).

Although it may only seem like yesterday that Dudgeon joined the show, 2021 actually marks 10 years in the role for the 60-year-old Doncaster-born star, who has previously appeared in The Mrs Bradley Mysteries, Common As Muck and Life of Riley.

He is both surprised and delighted to be marking a decade in the role.

“I never had any idea that it will go on this long,” he says.

“They said come in and do a few episodes of Midsomer and I thought, ‘I’ll give it a try. I hope I don’t destroy the show inside one episode because that would be very embarrassing, after John Nettles has done it so marvellously for 13 years and I bury it inside one episode’.

“But we got through that first series and then they wanted to do it again and I thought ‘Hurrah!’, and sort of repaid the faith of the people who cast me in it.”

Tonight’s episode entitled The Wolf Hunter of Little Worthy, guest-stars a man who is more used to solving crimes than being implicated in them.

Mark Williams, known for his role as sleuthing cleric Father Brown, plays Pat Everett, a stuck-in-the-mud northerner who is unhappy at social-media enthusiasts arriving from miles around and ruining his camping holiday.

The show opens with local photographer Steve (Matt McCooey) winning an urban myth competition with his creation of the legend of the Wolf Hunter.

The tall tale unexpectedly gains a cult following and Little Worthy is soon buzzing with activity.

However, not everyone is enjoying the attention, and the local landlady Annie (Louise Jameson) blames The Hub internet cafe run by Mel (Sinead Matthews) for her downturn in business, as do the Yarrow family who run Worth Glamping.

Then when handyman Jez (Kojo Attah) who has been making some cash forging Wolf Hunter replicas, is found dead in the woods, Barnaby and Winter must investigate if this myth has become murderous reality.

Like many shows, the filming of Midsomer Murders has been affected by the pandemic.

But as Dudgeon explains, the spirit of the show kept the cast and crew going.

“On the first day, when I first arrived back and we started shooting The Wolf Hunter Of Little Worthy, it was all on a glamping site,” he explains.

“It was all very Midsomer – except that everybody was distant and wearing the masks.

“I thought, ‘This is really weird and really strange and a little bit unnerving’, and within about 15 minutes I was quizzing Mark Williams and Sean Redmond about whether they’d murdered somebody.

“I sort of slipped back into the Midsomer world with frightening ease.”

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