MIDSOMER MURDERS

THE DARK RIDER
INTERVIEWS - GUEST STARS


© ITV/Mark Bourdillon

JAMES CALLIS - Toby DeQuetteville and Julian DeQuetteville

James Callis couldn't resist the opportunity to play identical twins in Midsomer Murders.

 

"The idea of being two brothers, playing twins, would buzz any actors, and it was a chance to do two identical but totally different people. They do look a bit different, but their personalities are the big difference."

 

James plays Julian and Toby DeQuetteville, who both live with their extended family at Quitewell Hall.

 

He explains: "Julian is ambitious and arrogant, while Toby is someone who tries really hard, but is possibly walking up the wrong escalator, he's not quite all there. But he's very sweet and a good person. We used trick photography to film them when they were both in the scene together.

 

"It was a wonderful experience to play them both and I looked forward to coming to work every day. It felt like a mini movie - the guns, the headless horseman, the wonderful house. Raquel Cassidy and Kerry Fox were great as my wives and my dad is William Gaunt. So I felt very honoured."

 

James is a long-standing fan of the series.

 

"There are lots of things that drew me to this job - I have always watched MIDSOMER MURDERS and I'd worked with the director Alex Pillai on Merlin. Then the script itself is fantastic. So many weird and crazy things, it was verging on the supernatural."

 

The Civil War re-enactment was another highlight of filming.

 

"The re-enactment was a great day and my family came up to watch the filming. My daughter found all the noises a bit scary, but it was a great day as you don't often have a Civil War battle in your back garden. Filming at Knebworth House was also beautiful."

 

Adds James: "Everyone is always pleased when they hear you are going to be in an episode of the series. It's very popular and everyone I know was very excited about it."

 

James' credits include more than 70 episodes of Battlestar Galactica, the Bridget Jones movies, Numb3rs, FlashForward, A Town Called Eureka, Soldier Soldier, Dead Cool and the forthcoming feature films Austenland and Theatre of Dreams.

 

When he's not working he enjoys playing the piano and writing.

 

WILLIAM GAUNT - Sir Ludo DeQuetteville

William Gaunt enjoyed living it up as Lord of the Manor at Knebworth House in Midsomer Murders..

 

"Knebworth was my home for a while and it was great. The King's Speech was filmed there and every huge rock star in the world has performed there. It was wonderful. The house itself is so spectacularly eccentric, having been an Elizabethan mansion and now converted into a gothic palace. It's unique and we are fortunate that it is still rentable."

 

William plays Sir Ludo DeQuetteville, the head of the family, whose nerves are shattered by the appearance of a ghostly headless horseman which seems to prophesy death.

 

"Sir Ludo is a mad old fart really, but very interesting to play and I had Eleanor Bron to play off as my wife which was great fun as they are an equally eccentric couple. The family were all very individual, as members of a disparate family should be.

 

"I have lived in the Cotswolds for many years and I have met those kinds of characters that you see on Country House Rescue. They are so unbelievably out of touch with this world, and they are immensely attractive as they are so mad.

 

"I was rather keen that Sir Ludo would look fairly normal and yet behave strangely, which makes it more interesting. We decided he would wear a cardi and look like he was completely at home in the big house."

 

William enjoyed being reunited with Eleanor Bron for the episode.

 

"I have worked with Eleanor a few times, when I was running the Liverpool Playhouse back in the late 70s. We were also together in Doctor Who, when I was a cybernetic galactic assassin and I killed her. That was great fun. When you get to my age you meet people you have worked with many, many years ago and you pick up just the same.

 

"I knew Neil Dudgeon as I'd married Caroline Quentin's mother in Life of Riley, so that was lovely to work with him again. It's a difficult job taking over from John Nettles, but I think Neil has achieved a different character with his Barnaby and managed it very well. I also appeared with Jason Hughes in Look Back in Anger at the National Theatre."

 

William began his career in the 1960s and his credits include Next of Kin, Capstick's Law, No Place Like Home, A Gentleman's Club, The Far Pavilions, The Champions, Nobody's House, Holly and Sergeant Cork.

 

"At my age I can be selective but I work if there are projects that attract me. I recently did an episode of Doctors with my daughter Tilly who is an actress and we played father and daughter. Unfortunately she was trying to kill me in it, so that was a lot of fun.

 

"While I was doing Midsomer Murders I also did a play at the Bush Theatre and we managed to make it work. So I am not giving up yet!"

 

KERRY FOX - Betty DeQuetteville

Kerry Fox loved being part of the "barking mad" DeQuetteville family.

 

"I decided a while ago only to go to work to have a fun time and this job fitted the bill. The episode is completely nuts, the family are barking mad and I was happy to go with it. I really loved working on the series."

 

Kerry's character Betty married Toby DeQuetteville following the death of his first wife in a riding accident. She was formerly the estate manager of the family's ancestral home Quitewell Hall.

 

Says Kerry: "Betty is loyal and honest and hardworking and she has a good sense of humour. She is anxious about the future of the house and is also protective of her husband. She doesn't suffer fools gladly but neither does she miss the irony over aspects of their lifestyle. When the murders start happening, she can't quite believe it.

 

"She has quite an English look and wore the same thing every day, variations of the same shirt. I bought some fantastic fur-lined ankle-high Wellington boots at the end. I couldn't resist them and I've used them in the garden!"

 

Kerry, a New Zealander by birth, enjoyed filming at historic Knebworth House.

 

"I loved filming at Knebworth and at the same time as we were filming, I was watching the All Blacks playing rugby. There I was in this grand location, watching the rugby live on my iPod. It was quite a surreal experience.

 

"I realised during the filming that I've now been away from New Zealand longer than I lived there. That is a strange milestone. I have been in London for 17 years and it's home now."

 

Adds Kerry: "In Australia and New Zealand they love the Englishness and the madness of Midsomer, so I will have them watching!"

 

Kerry has a number of other roles in the pipeline.

 

"I've just done a feature film called Trap for Cinderella, a comedy called Mental and the film adaptation of Mr Pip, playing Hugh Laurie's ex-wife. I've also got a big Australian TV series coming out on Sky Atlantic which is an adaptation of Tim Winton's Cloudstreet. I play a matriarch in times of ration and war."

 

Her other credits include Shallow Grave, An Angel at my Table, A Village Affair, Mr Wroe's Virgins, Fanny and Elvis, 40, Intimacy and Welcome to Sarajevo.

 

Adds Kerry: "I have just decided to take a couple of months off work now as I have two kids and one was saying the other day 'I just want to stay at home'. We'd done 15 cities in 20 days so now I am taking time out to spend with the family and sort out schools."

 

RAQUEL CASSIDY - Diana DeQuetteville

Diana DeQuetteville has trapped herself in an unhappy life, despite being married to an aristocratic heir, according to actress Raquel Cassidy.

 

"Diana is an extremely lonely figure," says Raquel. "She is defined by her relationships - with her husband who has cheated on her, and her sister-in-law who comes in and orders everyone around. She didn't make anything of herself as she felt she wouldn't have to, but later realises what she has imprisoned herself into.

 

"She wanted to be the lady of the manor, but she hasn't got either the companionship or the excitement she imagined by marrying Julian, and the family is struggling financially. So her expectations of life are not fulfilled and she has nothing to fall back on because of the choices she has made."

 

Despite Diana's unhappiness and the strange deaths that befall the family in MIDSOMER MURDERS, Raquel enjoyed being part of the eccentric DeQuettevilles.

 

"James Callis played my husband and he brought loads of freshness to the role. So although we had a partnership that was bitter and twisted, there was a camaraderie and diehard attitude between them, and they did have a sort of relationship.

 

"Although the DeQuettevilles appear to be a cold family who don't really care, they do care quite deeply in their own strange way. Almost anyone in the family could have committed the murders, as they all individually loathed and loved one another."

 

Diana's look reflects her unhappiness.

 

"She is always in dresses and heels, pretty much a woman on the turn, which is a terrible phrase, but if you have nothing else that's what you do. Her only appeal was the way she looked and she still wants to keep herself thin and attractive. So she would drink herself lonely and try to be sophisticated but she is no longer blooming and fresh."

 

Adds Raquel: "It's not great to be the cuckolded wife, and if Diana had had children it would make her happier because she had produced an heir. But it's hard when people keep pointing out that she doesn't have any children, and yet her husband is believed to have sired plenty in the village."

 

Raquel came to the role straight after filming a new episode of Hustle.

 

"I play John Barrowman's wife, called Dana Deville, and then I went straight on to play Diana DeQuetteville. It was quite strange and I got the names confused at times! I'm also in a new drama for Sky called A Touch of Cloth with John Hannah and Suranne Jones. It's a satire on A Touch of Frost and it was so much fun to do."

 

Raquel's other credits include Lead Balloon, Teachers, Moving Wallpaper, DCI Banks, Land Girls, Party Animals, According to Bex, The Worst Week of My Life, Red Cap and Nature Boy.

 

NATALIE MENDOZA - Sasha Fleetwood

Natalie Mendoza credits Midsomer Murders with getting her back into acting after she was hurt onstage during a performance of the Broadway musical Spiderman.

 

"I got injured while working on Spiderman. I was flying and attached to a wire and it went wrong and I suffered concussion. I got spooked by it because it took longer than I thought to recover and my memory was affected which is a disaster for an actor. So I decided to take six months off.

 

"When I got the offer to do Midsomer Murders my memory had all come back and my confidence with it. I was so excited at the thought of going back to England and working in that environment. I was honest with the director Alex Pillai but he was so positive and lovely so I took the offer and had a ball. It was a huge turning point for me."

 

The role of Sasha Fleetwood meant Natalie facing her fears of stunts head on - as it required her to ride horses.

 

"As an actor I have always enjoyed doing my own stunts and the idea of getting on a horse conquered my demons. I absolutely loved it and got the bug for horse riding again. The whole process was very cathartic for me and it meant more than I could say to do this perfect job. And having a cup of tea on set in the English countryside - what more could you want?"

 

Sasha runs a riding stable and is married to an older man, successful financier Harry Fleetwood (Paul Ritter).

 

Says Natalie: "Sasha is an ambitious, strong lady; she is driven but she's coming from the right place. She genuinely loves her husband and wants what's best for him. She is sophisticated and smart and she runs the marriage. There is a nice arc to her story, where she is humbled and realises that ambition has taken her a little too far."

 

Sasha's clothes were another part of the role's appeal. "I didn't expect her to be as glamorous as she was. I had a ball shopping for her clothes. For riding, I had a wonderful red jacket and I fell in love with one of her Diane von Fürstenberg dresses and had to take that back home with me!"

 

Since filming the episode, Natalie has returned to Los Angeles where she is developing film and music projects with her partner Glen Ballard, a songwriter and film producer.

 

"When I had time off from acting I got in touch with the writer in me and wrote a pilot for a new series in LA. It's in the early stages at the moment but I'm very excited about filming it next year. Glen and I also have a film trilogy coming out."

 

Adds Natalie: "I grew up in Australia but I trained at the Bristol Old Vic, so although I live in LA now, England will always be a second home for me'

 

Natalie has appeared in several stage musicals and her other film and TV credits include Hotel Babylon, Fearless, The Descent, BeastMaster and Surviving Evil.

 

 

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