The first ever Midsomer Murders Convention

Convention attendees outside Chinnor Station

The Corn Exchange & Boat Trip
A few of us managed to gather early in the morning at the Corn Exchange in Wallingford, Oxon for a guided tour of the theatre which was seen in both 'Death of a Hollow Man' and 'Death of a Stranger'.

Afterwards it was straight to a boat moored on the Thames for a murder mystery trip entitled 'The Midsomer Blackmailer'! Unfortunately Barnaby wasn't in the vicinity to help solve the crime, instead this was left to Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson ably assisted by the convention attendees!


The Corn Exchange , Wallingford

We were also honoured to have a very special guest on board the boat in the guise of Caroline Graham, author and creator of Inspector Barnaby. Caroline used to be an actress so was more than pleased to join in the fun playing the part of Maria Zinden.

The weather stayed dry, if a little cloudy as we cruised along the Thames, being given lunch and, of course, clues along the way. Eventually the murder was solved and we all disembarked for a well earned rest before the next function, a quiz evening in Lewknor Village Hall. Lewknor was one of the locations for 'A Tale of Two Hamlets', 'The House in the Woods' and 'Death & Dust'.

Quiz Evening
After the teams battled with 5 rounds of questions about the series, the raffle drawn and prizes given, our two specials guests for the evening, supporting artiste Geoff Goble and Caroline Graham took centre stage.

Geoff Goble talked amusingly about the not so glamorous side of life on the set, the sometimes bad weather and long waits between takes.

Caroline entertained us once again by answering a few questions and talking about how how Midsomer Murders came about, including the truth about how Cully got her name - rather different from John Nettles amusing version!

She told us that it took a long while to cast John Nettles and that he was such a good choice, adding that it was hard to imagine any other person in that role now. Apparently, on one occasion when a photographer saw them together he thought that Caroline was John's mother!

Caroline also spoke very highly of Betty Willingale, the original producer of the series - something which is also echoed by several others in the Midsomer team.

Cully was actually a real person. There was a little girl called Cully that used to come into her garden and this is why she ended up using this rather unusual name in her novels.

As many of you may know, Troy had a completely different personality in the books and Caroline actually based him on a character from 'Far from the Madding Crowd'.

Early on in her writing career Caroline was encouraged to write in genre so decided to concentrate on crime novels. She told us that this was a completely new experience for her so she ended up having a separate piece of white card for every chapter, listing key points. She laid these around the room so she could refer to them and piece the story together more easily!

Sadly Caroline does not plan to write any more Barnaby novels. Also, 'A Place of Safety' and 'A Ghost in the Machine' will not be adapted for TV, largely because in the former story the reader knows who did the murder right from the beginning and the latter due to Barnaby and Troy not actually appearing in the plot until half way through the story. However, she is still enjoying a writing career.

Saturday, 21st June
Location Hunt
Caroline joined us one last time at the Market Square in Thame to see off the teams of location hunters. The skies looked gloomy but thankfully the rain held off and everyone managed to enjoy their exploration around Midsomer Land. At the end of the hunt everyone met up in the English Rose pub for some welcome tea, coffee, pudding and cakes!

However, as rain did threaten for the evening we decided to decamp to a pub rather than have a picnic in the open air Cowleaze Wood. This turned out a wise choice as the heavens did eventually open whilst we were ensconsed safely inside.

Sunday, 22nd June
Steam Train Ride
The morning remained free for everyone to explore some more of Midsomer Country. This time the sun was shining and the skies blue, despite being rather windy, so people were able to enjoy the area more.

In the afternoon quite a large group of us met up at Chinnor for a trip on a steam train at the Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway, complete with a cream tea.

The station itself is seen in 'Death in a Chocolate Box' and further along the line Barnaby and Jones are seen using the crossing at Wainhill Halt in the same episode. Thankfully we managed to encourage the driver to slow down on the way back so we could take some photos of the now famous location! After a group photo outside the station we said our goodbyes to some.

Later in the evening a few of us met up for dinner at the English Rose Pub, a pleasant end to the Convention.

Yes, we are already thinking of next year, so watch this space!!

With thanks, of course, to the rest of the team - Sabine, Denise, Helen and Vanessa and all those who helped along the way without whom this event would not have been possible.