MIDSOMER Murders is a class act – in more ways than one.
The wedding of Cully Barnaby and Simon Dixon was filmed last summer, with yours truly in the congregation.
Yesterday – exactly one year and three days later – came the reception.
It began with the screening of Midsomer Murders: Blood Wedding, due on ITV1 next month – the first of four new films.
The episode features both Cully’s marriage and an altogether more bloody wedding day.
A delicious confection, it’s Midsomer at its best, no thanks to Her Majesty’s Press acting as unpaid extras.
“Wonderful people all, incandescent with talent,” leading man John Nettles (DCI Tom Barnaby) told us yesterday, tongue firmly in cheek.
“This must be the first time that the journalists have done something for nothing.
“We were very grateful. You added a dimension of reality almost impossible to imagine. Thank you for it.”
More importantly, the equally classy leading man behind the camera – executive producer Brian True-May – told me of exciting plans for the future.
John and the rest of the cast are currently filming episode 67 – a golfing tale which features a cameo appearance by former European Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance.
That marks the start of series 12 – eight new films – which will keep the TV team filming until March 2009.
“I have also signed up for a 13th series,” revealed John.
“I can see Midsomer Murders going on forever.”
The current contract with ITV will take Midsomer up to episode 84.
I asked Brian if 100 episodes was attainable.
“That’s always been in the back of my mind, 100 episodes. That would be a record – with just one Barnaby.
“To be honest, if John and I are happy with the results and the quality, I think we’ll just keep going on – ITV seem to be very happy with it.”
Brian is still working on a story idea to pair Roger Moore and Michael Caine as Midsomer guest stars.
And that Midsomer Parva wedding may be followed by a christening.
Bride Cully (Laura Howard) and groom Simon (Sam Hazeldine) were at the “reception” yesterday in a central London hotel.
Proud mum Joyce (Jane Wymark) was also on hand to describe the tearful event, as well as Jason Hughes, who plays Barnaby’s sidekick DS Ben Jones.
Jason has some very amusing lines in an expertly-written, acted and filmed upstairs downstairs tale of murder, this time with just the 100 suspects.
There will be a special feature in the MEN closer to the wedding day – along with photos of Cully’s dress.
For the moment, check out the pics of last year’s filming at St Mary’s Church in Denham.
And here are just two extracts from yesterday’s interview with the, as ever, dry-witted Mr Nettles:
When he was presented to the Queen, did she really say she wouldn’t be coming to Midsomer in a hurry?
“She did. And she was very gracious.
“I’ve often hoped to get a knighthood or a CBE.
“Anything really, just a badge,” he smiled.
“I saw the great lady and she said to me, ‘Yes, Midsomer. A lot of people die there. I wouldn’t like to live there.’
“And this equerry by her said, ‘No, you wouldn’t ma’am, because you’d die – ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!’
“There goes the knighthood. But she apparently is a fan.
“I was told by the chief butler, or whatever they are, that when Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother were alive, they used to argue about the pronunciation of Midsomer – and the Queen Mother won the argument on the basis of age.”
I also asked John about the story he told in the recent ITV Midsomer restrospective weekend, finally revealing the origin of his screen daughter’s name Cully.
Was he serious?
“Absolutely serious, yes.”
Turning to screen wife Jane, he explained: “In our younger day – you blush to think of it now – we spent our honeymoon at a place called Cully, which is a beautiful little village or town above Lake Geneva.
“I recommend it to you, it’s a lovely place.
“And it was there that Cully was conceived.”
Looking at screen daughter Laura, he added: “I never told her because you never wanted to be named after a village, did you?”
As I said, a class act.
Midsomer Murders Blogs
Midsomer Wedding 2007