THE hottest day of the year and a trip to a secret location in the killing fields of Buckinghamshire.
Midsomer Murders is filmed in some of England’s most picturesque villages, which is where I’m headed to interview John Nettles and other cast members.
Tom Barnaby and co have already completed work on their 50th ITV1 episode – due on screen in the autumn – and are busy making several more films in the scorching heat. Now sold to over 200 countries, the series is one of British TV’s greatest ever success stories.
It’s mainly shot in various parts of the countryside on either side of the M40 corridor between London and Oxford, an area you may know well, even if you’ve never visited.
Part of the fun of watching Midsomer Murders is spotting the locations, usually within easy driving distance of the production’s base at Pinewood Studios. If you’re struggling, there’s always Joan Street’s wonderful Midsomer website to help you out.
I’ve been on location with John Nettles and Bentley Productions many times and often return on days off to explore the various villages and towns in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Hertfordshire and Surrey. It’s a region steeped in film and TV history – from wartime films, through classic television shows like The Avengers, up to present day productions.
One tourist favourite is Turville, on the Bucks / Oxon border. It doubles for Dibley in the Dawn French sitcom The Vicar of Dibley and contains the exterior of Rev Geraldine Granger’s home, as well as the real life church which provides both the interior and exterior of St Barnabus of Dibley – scene of Alice Tinker’s unforgettable “Teletubby” wedding.
The BBC1 comedy, first screened in 1994, comes to an end this year with a two-part Christmas special, amid speculation that village vicar Geraldine will be married off. The series will live on, of course, via repeats and DVD. And for those who love the title music (Psalm 23), it’s available on Howard Goodall’s Choral Works CD.
Among other productions, Turville was the location for Goodnight Mister Tom, starring the late John Thaw. Go here and scroll down for images from Joseph Horodyski’s website – another labour of love. The village can also be seen in the new ITV1 adaptations of Agatha Christie’s Marple.
Plenty of big screen films have been made around here as well. The windmill on the hill overlooking Turville was the home of Caractacus Potts, played by Dick Van Dyke, and his family in the 1968 Disney film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
The village has changed little since it was invaded by Germans in the 1942 British propaganda film Went The Day Well? Sixty-four years on, it is still a picture of old England – including the popular local pub The Bull and Butcher.
It’s just one of many hidden gems in an area of winding single track country lanes and picture book villages. Aside from their natural beauty, they’re ideal for filming because they are generally very quiet… apart, of course, from all those murders.
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