© Bentley Productions/Mark Bourdillon

Alison Steadman explains what it was about her character, Abigail Tonev, that drew her to the role in Midsomer Murders.


"She's a fun character but also runs the emotional gamut. I thought that a woman who runs alien tours for a living has got to be a fun kind of person! The fact that then there is an emotional storyline with her son, played by Steve Oram, was great. She loves her son dearly and relies a lot on him because her husband died when he was only a boy."


Abigal is quite an active character and as such, Alison was involved in some action scenes.


"I had to run through the woods in the Windsor estate at 3am, as we had to film when no one else would be around. My character thinks she is being chased by an actual alien spacecraft so she is terrified. And I had to film that with smoke machines and a drone with a camera attached to it. The wind machine was blowing a gale so I could hardly see!


"I was running along this road and then off it to fall into a ditch - I'm a pensioner after all! It was exciting and very different from anything I have done before."


And although firearms are discharged in this episode Alison was very happy not to have to handle a gun.


"Many years ago my left ear was damaged with a gun rehearsing a play when the stage manager fired it right by my ear in a tiny enclosed space. It damaged my hearing so I am wary now.


"I filmed Dad's Army earlier this year and all the women had to fire a big army rifle - with blanks - and you don't realise until you have to fire a run how strong they are and the kickback on them. They are horrible things. Even to pick up a rifle... they weigh a tonne before you even try to shoot them."


However, she was delighted to be able to enjoy one of her personal hobbies whilst filming in the woods.


"I am a great birdwatcher - not a twitcher - but I knew we'd be outdoors and so I had my binoculars with me. I always take them with me if I am filming outside. You never know with bird watching what's going to happen as no one can organise it - it's random, they are wild birds and that's what's fun about it. I was filming the Syndicate in Guildford two years ago and I got caught out - there was as whole flock of Waxwings making their way to Scandinavia and I forgot to bring them with me so now I always have them!"