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Midsomer Murders is a hit all around the world as it prepares to mark 20th anniversary

Manjinder Virk, Neil Dudgeon and Nick Hendrix in Midsomer Murders (ITV / Mark Bourdillon)
Manjinder Virk, Neil Dudgeon and Nick Hendrix in Midsomer Murders (ITV / Mark Bourdillon)

IT has, frankly, nothing to do with real police work and many of the slayings are simply farcical.

But it hasn’t stopped Midsomer Murders becoming a British telly institution.

It’s about to mark its 20th anniversary – and star Neil Dudgeon says it’s an astonishing milestone to reach.

“It’s mad isn’t it?” says Neil, 55, as he settles down with iN10 to talk about the upcoming series.

“For a two-hour show to go on for 20 years is quite remarkable. If you think back over that time to all of the great shows that have come and gone.

“They’ve been big hits for three or four or five years and that’s a long time for a TV show these days.

“The people who make it keep enough of it the same so that viewers are comfortable and reassured and know what they are getting.

“But they also change it enough so that it stays fresh and entertaining.”

This new series will be Neil’s sixth, having taken over from the departing John Nettles.

To help keep the viewers comfortable and reassured, Neil plays DCI John Barnaby, younger cousin of Nettles’ now-retired Tom Barnaby.

And a bit of freshness comes in this six-part series in the shape of new sidekick DS Jamie Winter, played by Nick Hendrix.

Getting the casting right was crucial as the pair have to get along on screen.

“We had a day and a bit with me doing scenes all the young felllas who came in.

“It was a bit of a group decision but Nick was the unanimous choice. We all just felt he fitted really well right from the off.”

Another series has already been commissioned by TV bosses and Neil is more than happy to keep on filming what he calls his “perfect job”.

And it’s likely he’ll still be busy after that with impressive viewing figures here and massive sales abroad.

He was promoting the show in Sweden recently, where he was told that more than half of the population tune in and regard the show as their own.

Like many, they are keen to see where the show is filmed.

“There are books that detail the filming locations and sometimes when we go back to the same place again, tourists get lucky by seeing the location and ourselves,” adds Neil.

“I stepped out of a hotel in little village near Oxford to see about 50 people applauding from across the street.

“They were shouting that they’d travelled from Sweden by coach just to tour Midsomer.”

Midsomer Murders, tonight, 8pm, ITV