DAYS OF MISRULE
John Nettles with Dave and
Dawn, the proprietors of the Windmill pub
renamed Calham Cross Inn for the episode
With thanks to Paul Barker for the photograph
"The episode involves me in some action sequence, but I have honed my acting craft to absolute stillness and I like scenes behind a desk, not falling over in mud," he jokes. "When we started filming back in 1996 the sun always shone and we only shot four episodes a year. Now half the series is filmed in deep, deep winter.
"A lot of the cast of Midsomer are, like me, of a certain age and we like our creature comforts. When the temperature falls below minus five, one fears for the life of these wonderful character actors!"
Despite some comic moments slipping on the mud with co-stars Jason Hughes and Kirsty Dillon, John is certain viewers won't be seeing any out-takes on TV.
"I don't like behind the scenes and I object to any clips like that being shown. I think it's important to maintain a little mystery."
'Days of Misrule' features Tim Pigott-Smith, Niamh Cusack and Joseph Millson among the guest stars.
Says John: "It's a great story and a terrific cast. One of the great things about the series is that actors of great quality make themselves available for us. Recently we had Donald Sinden and George Cole - two men from opposite ends of the acting spectrum - together in the same episode. Both are in their 80s but they were like a couple of kids - wonderfully wise, witty, clever and talented."
Jason Hughes enjoyed getting dirty in 'Days of Misrule'.
"Barnaby, Jones and Gail Stephens, the WPC, go on an outdoor assault course with the TA because their acting chief constable thinks it's a good idea for team-building. It was great to get away from the desk and do some scenes with a bit of comedy.
"We filmed the episode last winter at Bramley army camp in Surrey and it was bitterly cold. The mud was frozen so they had to chuck a load of water on it and mush it up in order to make it nasty and muddy and sloppy. When we fell over it was like falling into a freezing cold slimy bath!"
After four series of Midsomer Murders, Jason no longer feels like the new boy.
"Jones has developed as a character. Unlike the eccentric villagers, Jones doesn't get involved in the main thrust of the story so you have to manufacture bits and pieces of character background so he doesn't become bland. When you get good actresses coming in it's great. When Emma Cuniffe appeared in Cully's wedding episode, we suggested something was going on between them even though you never saw them being intimate.
"His relationship with Barnaby has changed. He's starting to tease Jones a bit and he's more jocular when things go wrong. Jones is a real jobsworth who lives for work. He tends to jump ahead and make conclusions. Barnaby teases him and I like that."
Adds Jason: "Even though I'm the young one amongst the cast, John and I get on really well. We spend a lot of time together and he's a good laugh. He loves his music and we're getting into swapping artistes at the moment. I have given him Richard Hawley and Ray LaMontagne and he gives me Alison Krauss."
Tim Pigott-Smith enjoyed being back in uniform for his role as a Territorial Army commanding officer.
"I play Matt Parkes who comes from a long generation of farmers, very well off established people although not quite landed gentry. In those types of families, sons sometimes went to the clergy and some to the army. Parkes went into the army and ended up back at the farm at a difficult time. He went into the haulage industry to make ends meet and it's blooming hard.
"Parkes has become an army man and completely espouses the values. Truth, loyalty and comradeship - which you would expect an upright British soldier to have. But he is not one of the world's great thinkers and sometimes takes the virtues a bit too simplistically."
Parkes works with his son James (Joseph Millson) but family tragedy has left them with a troubled relationship.
Explains Tim: "He lost his wife in childbirth and has brought James up alone, in a good but rather a tough way. He has a very difficult relationship with his son and can't understand why James appears to reject all the values that he has lived his life by. It's tragic because he loves his son and can't believe where he has gone wrong.
That creates huge tensions in the family. In Midsomer, everyone seems to be inter-related and one bad relationship means ten bad relationships. There is a web of people who don't quite get on in the way that they should."
Parkes has continued his army career in the Midsomer Yeomanry TA, which meant a bit of outdoors action for Tim.
He explains: "Parkes organises the Territorial Army out of a genuine sense of community and unselfishness. He gives young lads a taste of what the army is about. He also holds a police training day where Barnaby falls in the mud! For one scene I found myself up to my waist in a lake at midnight in minus five degrees. I was covered in wetsuits but it took me two or three days to feel warm again.
"I wear camouflage gear but I've done a lot of these sorts of parts, so I know how to wear it, like in Bloody Sunday or The Chief. You have to live up to the uniform. It's interesting the effect it has on other people. They see you as someone important and people who are anti-war also tell you what they think.
Niamh Cusack describes Penny Galsworthy as a 'tortured soul'.
"Penny had a daughter who hung herself and she has never quite got over it. She blames herself and her husband and there is a sadness to her. She is quite a neurotic and tortured soul, obsessed with avenging her daughter's death.
"I liked playing someone that obsessed. I really did enjoy the whole experience. They are a lovely bunch of people and there is much goodwill on set, and that comes from John and Jane and Jason. I was completely charmed by them.
"I had the frumpiest clothes, though. My costume fitting took me two minutes. It was big jumpers, long skirts and sensible shoes, as Penny became anonymous and tried to hide herself. I wasn't buying any of the costume afterwards!"
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