MIDSOMER MURDERS

THE FLYING CLUB
CAST INTERVIEWS


© ITV/Mark Bourdillon

 
Robert Bathurst plays Perry Darnley

 

Robert Bathurst enjoyed playing airfield boss Perry Darnley in MIDSOMER MURDERS - but has no desire to follow his character into the cockpit.

 

He says: "Perry loves his flying and wearing the bomber jacket and looking the part. I like the smell of aeroplanes but I don't think I would want to fly in one of the very small planes that we saw - they are very fragile and basic and seeing the stunt pilots do the acrobatics looked quite frightening to me!"

 

Perry runs Finchmere Airfield, but feels the pressure of following in the footsteps of his parents who were both wartime heroes.

 

"He's quite an enclosed character and not at all larger than life. His colleague is murdered and he reacts quite strangely, but that could be a red herring.

 

"We had great fun filming at a real air show with a Spitfire flying over and a huge crowd, it was a great atmosphere. This is my first time on MIDSOMER MURDERS and I wasn't aware that you can get recycled, so I look forward to coming back in a different guise!"

 

Robert has worked with Neil Dudgeon who plays DCI Barnaby on two previous occasions.

 

"He is great company so I always enjoy working with Neil. It was also good to be in an episode with June Whitfield, who plays Perry's mother. She has spanned so many decades in light entertainment and had great stories about Sid James and Tony Hancock. She's everyone's dream screen mum and she is also very sharp and canny. It was really good and interesting to work with her."

 

Robert has hardly stopped working recently and has several projects in the pipeline.

 

"I will be seen in Dracula on Sky playing a member of the British establishment and The Toast of London is a new comedy for Channel 4. I'm filming more Blandings with Jennifer Saunders in Enniskillen and I'm also working in Dublin on the movie version of Mrs Brown's Boys, playing her Anglo-Irish barrister. I grew up in Dublin until I was nine so it's good to get back there."

 

Robert is often recognised from his roles in Cold Feet and Downton Abbey.

 

"A lot of people say that they are their favourite shows, which is lovely, and I also get asked endless animal questions from my time in Wild at Heart. My favourite programme ever was Joking Apart. It wasn't widely seen but it will always remain my best role."

 

Robert trained as a barrister before turning to acting and among his other credits are White Teeth, Three Sisters, My Dad's The Prime Minister, Coup!, My Family, Emma, The Pillars of the Earth and Hattie.

 

He adds: "When I'm not acting, family life is pretty full on and I also love watching horseracing and going to the race tracks."

 

 

Bernard Cribbins plays Duggie Wingate

 

Playing the role of aircraft mechanic Duggie Wingate took Bernard Cribbins back to his years as a member of the elite Parachute Regiment.

 

"I was a paratrooper when I did my National Service. The first time I ever flew a Dakota was thrilling, we had one flight round and then we had to jump out! I got my Wings, which is eight jumps - 2 balloon jumps and then six aircraft jumps - which qualifies you as a parachutist. I enjoyed it, in a terrifying way!

 

"We were shipped out to Palestine in 1947 for six months of shooting and bombing, which wasn't great but we got on with it. Then we went on to Germany for the end of the airlift. I was demobbed in 1949 and went back to Oldham and rejoined the theatre. The rest is history as they say."

 

Adds Bernard: "I have flown since in a couple of helicopters and civil aircraft, although I haven't done it for a long time. I'd quite like to go up and fly again, it's a great way to unwind."

 

Bernard's MIDSOMER MURDERS character Duggie has been part of Finchmere for as long as anyone can remember and is saddened to lose his job as part of a restructuring scheme.

 

Explains Bernard: "Duggie is an embittered old man. He's a sombre character which was nice as I often get the silly buggers to play. He's under the impression that his sister was killed in a dodgy plane and he blames June Whitfield's character, but he's wrong.

 

"I've known June for ages because we've both been around the industry for a while and she was also in the Doctor Who episode I did recently. It was also good to work with Gwilym - he is a lovely young actor."

 

Bernard celebrated 70 years in showbusiness in 2013 and shows no sign of slowing down.

 

"I am selective about what I will do these days but only on a physical level. If someone wanted me to run up and down ladders I would probably say no. I've just had two new knees fitted so I can't do praying parts. Thankfully that wasn't required for my role in Midsomer!"

 

Bernard has found fame with a new generation of fans thanks to his role in children's series Old Jack's Boat.

 

"I play an old gentleman who is a fisherman. At the end of the episode I read a story based on who he has met that day and it's a bit like Jackanory, which I also did. A lot of children's TV is flashing lights and CGI but this is much gentler. It's very popular with small children and it makes me very happy that we're doing another series.

 

"I get recognised these days from Old Jack's Boat although people still remember me from The Railway Children or Frenzy and Doctor Who, which I finished three or four years ago. I don't have a personal favourite but I've been very lucky."

 

Bernard appeared in many of the Carry On films and his other many credits include The Wombles, Langley Bottom, Bertie The Bat, High and Dry, Down to Earth and Coronation Street.

 

 

Scarlett Alice Johnson plays Jessie Rayner

 

Former EastEnders star Scarlett Alice Johnson gets caught up in a love triangle in "The Flying Club".

 

"I play Jessie who works as a receptionist at Finchmere Airfield. She is a very compassionate and lovely girl but she gets caught up in this very tricky love triangle. She has a best mate and a boyfriend, who are both talented pilots, and those lines get a bit blurred sometimes."

 

Explains Scarlett: "Jessie comes from a complicated background. Her mum has passed away and her dad is not a happy man. She gets involved in something that she ought not to."

 

Scarlett was delighted to join the long list of guest stars who have appeared in almost 100 episodes of MIDSOMER MURDERS.

 

"I have always loved Midsomer on TV. It's a British staple. I loved the experience, we had the last few days of summer and the day of the air show was such a great day, I couldn't believe it was work, I felt like a real cheat.

 

"It was incredible to meet Bernard Cribbins and June Whitfield. They were both so inspiring and we were all saying how phenomenal June is. She turned up at the read-through looking beautiful in a gorgeous outfit with earrings, while I had walked through the rain without an umbrella feeling a bag of rags. She looked a real star and is a consummate professional."

 

Adds Scarlett: "It's sometimes strange going in to an established series to do a single episode but Neil and Gwilym were both very welcoming and made such an effort to make the set a friendly place. I came home and said to my boyfriend that I'd like a regular part - it was like a jolly holiday!"

 

Scarlett left EastEnders in 2004 after playing Vicki Fowler in more than 200 episodes. Her roles since have included the films Adulthood and Panic Button, and TV series such as Beaver Falls, Pramface and Big Bad World.

 

"I am going to be in an episode of Playhouse Presents called Nightshift which follows a group of policemen and women through the night. I play opposite Danny Mays and Ashley Walters and I am their new upstart superior, with a lot of suppressed power and control.

 

"In real life I am younger than them and about a foot shorter so it was a good challenge to make it convincing. It was written by Jimmy Gardner who sadly passed away and it's a character study more than a drama, with brilliantly observed characters."

 

Adds Scarlett: "I'm also doing the third series of Pramface which is a comedy and very different. My character is a young mum who is anxious and well-meaning but always getting things wrong. I am 28 now but I always play younger than I am."

 

 

June Whitfield plays Molly Darnley

 

June Whitfield makes a welcome return to Midsomer Murders nearly a decade after she first appeared in the series.

 

"I am a real Midsomer fan and I appeared in an episode in 2005 where I got married to Trevor Peacock in an old people's home. This time I play Molly who flew planes in the war. It was good to come back and see some of the crew I knew from last time and it's a bit of a coup to be in the 99th episode.

 

"It's also lovely to have worked with both Barnabys - John Nettles and Neil Dudgeon are different but both very good and equally charming and delightful," she says.

 

June's character Molly Darnley worked for the Air Transport Auxiliary in the Second World War and still lives and breathes Finchmere Airfield.

 

Explains June: "Molly's husband was a pilot in the war and was in command of the airfield. Now that she's widowed she is very protective of anything to do with Finchmere. She mostly wears black trouser suits and the old style ATA beret although not the actual uniform.

 

"It was a wonderful experience, being at the airfield and watching displays with the Spitfires. Everyone in the cast was quite delightful and it was marvellous working with Bernard Cribbins, whom I've known for many, many years."

 

June began her career in the 1940s and moved from radio to television, working alongside some of the biggest names in comedy in such iconic series as Terry and June, The News Huddlines, the Carry On films, The Tony Hancock Show, The Benny Hill Show, Frankie Howerd, The Dick Emery Show and more recently Last of the Summer Wine and Absolutely Fabulous.

 

"I don't have to do work that I don't want to these days, but I haven't turned down many things because I really advocate that everyone should keep busy. I did turn down one job though which involved being in a prison and getting knocked to the ground - I wasn't sure if I would be able to get up again!

 

"I've been in the business for 67 years and I'm not jaded at all, it's a reason to get up in the morning and as long as I can remember my lines then I really enjoy it. I've got lovely memories from working with some great people.

 

"The power of television means you can keep reinventing yourself and I've been so lucky to have Ab Fab. Every job you do as an actor you think is your last so I am more than surprised and very happy when anything else turns up. Long may it continue!"

 

June's attitude to keeping busy is reflected in her role as president for the charity Age UK.

 

"I also feel older people should know how to get on the internet, even if they don't use it regularly. We try to encourage them to keep up to date with technology that they might have to use at some stage for online payments and so on. I try to keep up to speed myself, I have an iPhone and laptop and I use email. Technology saves time but I still don't like ordering food online because I like to see it - I'm a bit old fashioned like that."

 

When she's not working, June, whose daughter is the actress Suzy Aitchison, also enjoys spending time with her extended family.

 

 

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