THE end of a era in Midsomer was confirmed a few minutes ago.
John Nettles is to leave Midsomer Murders – but not just yet.
The veteran actor, who plays Det Chief Insp Tom Barnaby, will investigate his final case next year.
And be seen on screen well into 2011.
John, 65, has played the role since filming the pilot episode in 1996 and probed some 200 murders.
I spoke to the official Midsomer Murders spokeswoman this morning.
She confirmed that John has told producers he plans to retire from the role after filming scheduled episodes this year and next.
“John Nettles has decided that he will be leaving the series, but not until the end of 2010, which means that Tom Barnaby will be with us on screen for a long time to come,” she told me.
“He will leave after his 13th series, and following more than 75 episodes of the popular drama.”
John said today: “I never thought when we were filming the pilot The Killings at Badger’s Drift in 1996 that I would go on to film so many episodes.
“It has been a joy to be involved in such a long running series, with so many good actors and great storylines.
‘It’s the end of an era for me, and while I’m very sad to be handing in Barnaby’s police badge, he has solved nearly 200 murders, which I think meets the targets of modern policing!
“I wish my successor, whoever he or she is, the very best.”
John has two episodes to film early next year from Series 12, and will then begin filming Series 13.
A further eight episodes will take him through to the end of 2010.
A 14th series will mark the entrance of a new DCI, played by a different incoming leading man…or woman.
Producer Brian True-May said: “The brand of Midsomer is so strong that I am confident of its continuing success with a new actor.
“It has been a great personal and professional relationship between John and I, and I am very pleased that this is set to continue.”
Said to be one of the Queen’s favourite shows, scripts are now at an early stage of development for John’s Midsomer exit storyline.
No decision has been taken yet about whether Barnaby will be killed off as one of Midsomer’s murder victims.
But you wouldn’t bet against it, would you?
The series, on course to make its 100th episode in 2012, is still a huge ratings hit in both the UK and around the globe.
John’s decision to retire from Midsomer inevitably throws into question the long-term future of Jason Hughes as Det Sgt Ben Jones.
As well as Jane Wymark as Tom’s wife Joyce and Laura Howard as their daughter Cully.
But they are all due to be involved in filming episodes this year and next.
While speculation that the post-Nettles series will focus on Jason and Det Con Gail Stevens (Kirsty Dillon) is wide of the mark.
Laura Mackie, Director of Drama Commissioning for ITV said: “John has been instrumental in creating a much loved character and a hugely successful long running series for ITV.
“He will missed by us all and Barnaby will be fondly remembered as we move forward with the show, but we hope to work with John on other projects for the channel.”
Midsomer Murders Blogs