Midsomer Murders: Holly And Nettles

JOHN Nettles was his usual dry-witted self when we spoke to him yesterday.
Including after I asked him about a certain Holly Willoughby.
The venue was a pub in a sleepy Oxfordshire village, which came complete with a stone church.
A group of us were there to talk about all things Midsomer, including Days Of Misrule.
That’s a special festive episode to be screened in the UK this Christmas.
Guest stars include Tim Pigott-Smith, who was also there yesterday.
You may have seen him in his most recent big screen role – as the Foreign Secretary in Quantum of Solace.

Jason Hughes (Det Sgt Ben Jones) was in attendance, along with Midsomer executive producer Brian True-May.
There will be much more to say nearer Christmas.
But here are a few extracts:
There’s a news story in today’s (Saturday) MEN featuring John’s comments about the phone calls controversy involving Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross.

“I think too little fuss was made of it, frankly,” said John, 65, who plays Det Chief Insp Tom Barnaby in ITV1’s top drama.
He described it as “extradordinary, unreformed laddishness, which is merely an excuse for all kinds of awful vulgarity.
“It’s not that they behave as they do. It’s the assumptions they make about what will entertain us. That is the insulting thing about that.”
Brian True-May said the row showed some TV and radio bosses were out of step with the public.
“There’s a big backlash going all the way round the industry about how far people go,” he added.
“I don’t think it attracts an audience at all. I think people want to sit down and be entertained.”
The Sun ran a story yesterday about The Xtra Factor and Dancing On Ice presenter Holly Willoughby.
She was quoted as saying: “I would really love to have a part in a murder mystery like Midsomer Murders.
“I’m a big fan of John Nettles.”
I asked John if he had read the story.
“I’m not a reader of The Sun,” he replied.

So I read him the details.
He said: “Holly Willoughby…? Has she the usual attributes which make her fodder for The Sun newspaper?”
I indicated that she qualified in that respect.
“In that case,” John laughed, “I would be delighted to have her on board.
“We’ve had an extraordinary number of very beautiful women on this show.…I wish I was 40 years younger.”
Around the time that Blood Wedding was screened earlier this year, actress Laura Howard gave an interview and said she was quitting Midsomer.
But Laura is back as Barnaby’s daughter Cully and was filming yesterday.
John explained: “She has left. She makes what would now be thought of as guest appearances.”
Brian told us that episode 70 currently being filmed contains a hint that a baby may be on the way for newly-married Cully.
John revealed that he’s not a fan of comedy outtakes from Midsomer.
“I do object to them being used in things like It’ll Be Alright On The Night and stuff like that.
“I think it’s important to maintain, as it were, some little mystery around the making of programmes like this.
“I can’t bear those programmes that go ‘Behind The Scenes’ to talk to the warm-hearted actors who make them. I can do without all of that, thank you very much.”
Days of Misrule is episode 65 of Midsomer, so filming is currently almost six episodes ahead of what has been screened in the UK.
We’re still watching series 11 but a deal has been signed with ITV to take Midsomer into a series 13.

That means filming into 2010.
With agreement likely soon on a 14th series, Midsomer is on course for its 100th episode in 2012.
There were fears that Midsomer Murders could possibly be axed under former ITV Director of Television Simon Shaps.
But the new regime at ITV realise the worth of a series which still attracts huge ratings here and is sold to over 200 countries.
Brian told us: “As you know, I met the Queen last November. I was told by Michael Grade it was her favourite show.
“I think she probably believes that we all carry on like that in the countryside anyway.
“She asked me, ‘Is there anybody left in Midsomer?’”
So how about a much deserved knighthood for John Nettles?
Midsomer Murders Blogs
Tim Pigott-Smith Official Site