BALLAD OF MIDSOMER COUNTY
© ITV/Mark Bourdillon
Clarke Peters plays Frank Wainwright
The Wire star Clarke Peters brings the crime capital of Baltimore to Midsomer when he makes a guest appearance in the series. Clarke also draws on his own musical heritage to play folk veteran Frank Wainwright in the episode "The Ballad of Midsomer County".
He explains: "Frank is a guy who is not that far from where I am. His journey is something I am very familiar with as I played guitar with a group called the Dylanites. Singing and playing in Midsomer Murders was a journey down memory lane and it all came back to me.
"But what was far from me was going out to Midsomer county - oh baby that is worlds apart from Baltimore! I've filmed on the mean streets of Baltimore, but those night scenes in spooky woods in Midsomer sure were enough to scare me."
Clarke spent most of his career in musical theatre spanning the West End and Broadway, where his credits included starring in Porgy and Bess and writing Five Guys Named Moe, before winning the role of Lester Freamon in the critically-acclaimed series The Wire, created by former Baltimore Sun journalist David Simon.
"Being in The Wire did change my life dramatically. For 30 years I was a stage actor going on the subway but then The Wire came out and I was recognised in the street. It wasn't unbearable of course, but everything changed for good and for bad.
"Everyone loved The Wire - it was good storytelling and it broke the mould of the 55 minute formula, having 13 weeks to tell one story. It was a critical analysis of society, not just of Baltimore. When industry leaves a big city, something like drugs takes over as there's no work.
"I never thought in my wildest dreams that The Wire would be such a success. It's unavoidable not to be known from it as there is always someone watching the box set or catching up if they missed it first time around. I really appreciate that role but there have been other strings to my bow and I want to explore them."
Clarke was able to show his musical side in David Simon's drama Treme, set in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and he is also about to star in another series from the same team, Show Me a Hero, about the American housing relocation of the 70s and 80s.
"I like to keep it fresh so after filming Midsomer Murders I went to the States and did Shakespeare in the Park, then I did an Agatha Christie called Partners in Crime where I am the victim, not a policeman for once. I've also recently finished a short series in Americacalled The Divide, about the men and women on Death Row."
Clarke's other many credits include The Corner, Life on Mars (US), Damages, Notting Hill, Mona Lisa, Marley & Me, Endgame, Red Hook Summer, The Divide and Person of Interest.
He splits his time between Baltimore and London, where he lives with his wife Penny and son Max, a budding musician who has appeared as the young Michael Jackson in Thriller - Live. His older son Joe Jacobs is an established actor.
Daniel Brocklebank plays Brian Grey
Daniel Brocklebank enjoyed running riot with his character in Midsomer Murders. "Brian Grey was a huge amount of fun to play. He is like a big spoilt child and a bit of a narcissist. He is organising the Little Crosby Folk Festival and is a real mummy's boy He throws his toys out of his pram if he doesn't get his own way.
"I knew the director Renny Rye from Oliver Twist and Renny let me have free rein with Brian. It was great to run riot with the character from the costume fitting to the end of the shoot. We gave him blue swede shoes which I thought was very musical! You do lots of different jobs but this one was really good fun."
Being in an episode set around a music festival was an added bonus for Daniel.
"I am a singer and play the piano. Music features heavily in my own existence. I play purely for pleasure and I have played in films, but never as a session musician. I am an actormusician.
"I don't get to sing in the episode because Daniel is an organiser not a performer but it was still great. And my grandmother is a huge fan so she was thrilled when I got the role. Midsomer Murders is an institution in itself."
When his episode is screened Daniel will be a regular face on another British TV institution -Coronation Street.
"I'm joining as a love interest to Sean Tully, played by Antony Cotton. I'm playing Billy the Vicar who is a new regular character. It's an interesting storyline, combining homosexuality and religion. It's always good to do something that will cause a bit of interest.
"I'm absolutely thrilled to be joining Coronation Street. It's something I've grown up with and my mum is one of the biggest fans. I'm 35 now and I'm looking forward to the next part of my life.
"One of my best mates is Hayley Tamaddon, who's also in Corrie, and Hayley has a spare room where I will stay, then commute back to London when I'm not working," adds Daniel.
After finishing work on Midsomer Murders, Daniel flew out to Holland to star alongside Charles Dance in a new film, The Admiral.
"The film is about a Dutch guy who defeated Charles II. Charles Dance is Charles and I am the Lord Chancellor of England. It's a big movie and is coming out next year.
"I've done two other films recently. In Soft Lad I play a nasty character who leads a double life and causes heartache for his wife and family. It's all about breakdown in a family unit and how lies destroy. I'm also in a science fiction film called Native about an alien world that is dying and scientists who clone twins. I do get to play some really horrible roles which worryingly I do rather convincingly!"
Daniel's other credits include playing Ivan Jones in Emmerdale, Ed Stone is Dead, Waterloo Road, Doctors, Age of Heroes, Down to Earth, Cal and Chasing Shadows.
Lucie Jones plays Melody Carver
The X Factor finalist Lucie Jones makes her TV acting debut when she plays a budding folk singer.
Lucie plays Melody Carver who gets caught up in a police investigation when a song made famous by her late father seems to be inspiring a series of killings.
Says Lucie: "I have acted on stage but I've never been given the opportunity to do TV acting before so I didn't expect to get anything from the audition. I was very nervous so when I got the job it was amazing. On the first day of filming I was absolutely terrified but the director Renny Rye talked me through step by step and Sean Gilder who plays my dad really helped me - what a lovely, lovely man."
Lucie found she had much in common with her character.
"Melody is at an age when she is just starting to push against her dad. As a teenager I had spats with my parents so I could use that. She is a folk singer which obviously suited me, and comes from a small village, like mine - Pentyrch near Cardiff.
"She gets a little gig in a pub garden but then her dad Danny turns up and doesn't want her to perform. We think at first that he's unreasonable, but learn that his brother was a star who committed suicide from the pressures of the business. So we understand why Danny is so protective."
Luckily for Lucie's fans, the episode does include a chance to hear her singing talents. "I get to sing a song called The Ballad of Midsomer which was written especially by Seth Lakeman. He's a brilliant songwriter and we recorded it at a music studio in Shepherd's Bush. This time, I felt very comfortable going into my own territory. I listen to folk music but hadn't sung it for a few years so it was very refreshing."
Lucie appeared on The X Factor in 2009 alongside Olly Murs, Stacey Solomon and Jedward.
"It was my third year of auditioning and I was in 6th form doing my A levels. It was very exciting but scary and stressful, especially Boot Camp. I lasted for six weeks on the live shows but then lost out to Jedward. I keep in touch with lots of the others and we all encourage each other and want each other to do well. I still talk to my mentor Dannii Minogue as well - she is wonderful, a lovely lady. All my experiences with Dannii were great and still are."
Now aged 23, Lucie has turned her hand to TV presenting, modelling and musical theatre, as well as continuing with her singing career.
"I have always wanted to play music or sing, it's the only thing I have wanted passionately. I am gigging and spending a lot of time writing and recording. I've spent some time in New York working with Daniel Sheik who wrote American Psycho and Spring Awakening and being in Midsomer Murders has really spurred me on to do more acting. I am just working hard and enjoying life."
Dean Andrews plays Tom Asher
Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes star Dean Andrews leaves his TV cop image behind when he makes a guest appearance.
Dean plays hotelier Tom Asher who is strong, dependable and endlessly cheery, despite life not always going his way and his wife Claire (Claudie Blakley) feeling trapped in their marriage.
"I think Tom is a down to earth decent guy who doesn't like any injustice. He's very protective of Claire his wife. I know I've got the face for a copper and can use the hardness when I need to but it's good to play both sides.
"It's my first time in Midsomer Murders and it was a lovely experience. Neil Dudgeon and I are from a similar background and a similar age. We are often up for the same jobs, sometimes he gets them - and sometimes he gets them!"
Dean's career has in fact gone from strength to strength, especially as he didn't start acting seriously until the age of 40 following many years as a professional singer. His big break came when film director Ken Loach was looking for people from Yorkshire to appear in The Navigators, about the privatisation of the railways under Margaret Thatcher. He then went on to appear in Buried, which won a BAFTA for best drama series, followed by Clocking Off and Wire in the Blood before landing the role of DS Ray Carling in Life on Mars and its follow-up series Ashes to Ashes.
"After Life on Mars life was never the same. That was my breakthrough and changed people's outlook on me. It was nearly 10 years ago now, but it's still in people's psyche, one of those iconic shows that doesn't go away," he says.
"Acting came to me late in life, so I always appreciate it and will still feel the same in 30 years' time. Anything artistic is a passion more than a job. I don't have to sing for a living now, but I love to sing, and acting is the same when you get a great scene."
Dean's other credits include Between The Sheets, Marchlands, United, The Street, The Body Farm and The Security Men. He is now more frequently recognised for his role as Robbie in the BAFTA winning Last Tango in Halifax.
"It's nice to be known for a nice, level-headed intelligent chap who people have really taken to."In his spare time, Dean is an active cyclist, completing about 200 miles a week and often taking part in events such as triathlons to raise money for cancer charities. He also enjoys fly fishing.
"Everyone is touched by cancer and both my parents passed away from cancer so I try to do as much as I can in their memory. In this business when you can help people by being a face from the telly then it's good to give something back. Triathlons are hard work but it's very rewarding as I feel as though I don't deserve all the good stuff that has come my way and don't want to just keep taking in life."
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