Midsomer Murders is a British television detective drama that has aired on ITV since 1997. The last episode of Series 19 was aired in the UK on the 20th of May 2018. The program will continue to run with its 20th series in the later part of 2018.
The program, originally adapted by British Author and Screenwriter Anthony Horowitz, OBE, is based on British Playwright, Screenwriter and Author Caroline Graham's Chief Inspector Barnaby detective fiction series.
The current lead character, Detective Chief Inspector John Barnaby, played by Neil Dudgeon, works for Causton CID. Neil Dudgeon's character is the younger cousin of former lead character Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby, played by John Nettles. Neil Dudgeon permanently joined the program in 2011 following John Nettles' departure in Episode 8 of Series 13. In Episode 2 of Series 13, both cousins actually teamed up to solve a crime, when Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby called on the assistance of Detective Chief Inspector John Barnaby of Brighton CID.
There have also appeared different Detective Sergeants throughout the run of the program: Gavin Troy, played by Daniel Casey, Dan Scott, played by John Hopkins, Ben Jones played by Jason Hughes, Charlie Nelson played by Gwilym Lee. The current Detective Sergeant Jamie Winter played by Nick Hendrix.
The stories are set in modern-day England and revolve around Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby's efforts to solve numerous murders that take place in the idyllic, picturesque, but deadly, villages of the English fictional county of Midsomer. The county town is Causton, a middle-sized town, where Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby lives with his wife, and where the Criminal Investigation Department is located.
Much of the popularity of the series arises from the incongruity of sudden violence in a picturesque and peaceful rural setting. Individual episodes focus on institutions, rituals, and customs, popularly seen as being characteristic of rural English counties. Various clues in several episodes hint that Midsomer might cover the actual areas of Berkshire and part of northern Hampshire in the UK. Many of the villages and small towns of the county have the word 'Midsomer' in their names. This is inspired in part by the real county of Somerset and, specifically, the town of Midsomer Norton. It became a naming convention within the program.
Humour is a main feature of the series. There is often dark comedy as well, such as a woman being murdered with a wheel of cheese, and many scenes are examples of 'dramedy' (comic drama or dramatic comedy). According to Jane Rackham of RadioTimes, when describing Episode 4 of Series 15, 'Death And The Divas', "Midsomer Murders never takes itself too seriously, but here it’s got its tongue so far into its cheek, it hurts." In one of the episodes, when Mrs Barnaby proposed they move out of Causton, and suggested various villages to move to, her husband countered with recollections of particularly grisly murders that occurred in each community. Likewise, in Episode 2 of Series 7, when Detective Sergeant Dan Scott asked if the body count was, "always this high around here, sir?", Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby replied, "It has been remarked upon."