© ITV/Mark Bourdillon

Ben Bailey Smith plays Zach Lime


Multi-talented Ben Bailey Smith describes his move into acting in Midsomer Murders as entering a 'brave new world'. The actor, also known as rapper and comedian Doc Brown, was delighted to win the role of Zach Lime.


"Zach is quite a laid-back individual, he's a young, smart graduate and he's worked hard to become a senior member of the River Authority. He's a little awkward and geeky and he's fallen for one of his colleagues, Ava Gould. But it's completely unrequited love as Ava has a lot else on her mind. Zach never gets the opportune moment to ask her out.


"I had seen snippets of the series and I really enjoyed being part of it. For a show that's essentially quite grisly, it's amazing how much fun you have. I like the challenge of acting and the team experience but it's still quite new for me, it's a brave new world."


Ben won fame as Doc Brown and enjoyed a successful music career before combining stand-up with rap, winning the attention of Ricky Gervais. The pair collaborated on "Equality Street", a spoof song to mark the Comic Relief comeback of Ricky's The Office character David Brent.


"Equality Street got well over three million hits on You Tube - I knew it would get a lot of attention but that was amazing. I'm still writing songs for people and working with Ricky on a series of sketches and songs, but Doc Brown is now someone I associate with my youth and I want to focus on my drama," he says.


Ben has appeared in Derek, 4 O'Clock Club, Hunted and Rev and recently joined the cast of Law & Order: UK.


"Roy Hudd is in the episode with me and he was also a suspect in an episode of Law & Order. My character is a detective so I had to interview him but in Midsomer it is the other way around with Neil Dudgeon interviewing me. Being able to work with people like Neil and Roy was a real education."


Ben's other claim to fame is that he is the brother of acclaimed novelist Zadie Smith.


"We never thought our careers would converge but recently we have come across the same people in TV. Maybe we will work together in the future. I have read all her books and her new one 'NW' is amazing because it connects back to the council estate where we came from in Kilburn. My mum is hugely proud of us both."



William Beck plays Michael Dewar


William Beck enjoyed playing a shambolic drunk in Midsomer Murders: "Let Us Prey".


"Michael is a troubled soul and you know he has had a hard time. His wife left him and the implication is that she was a bit of a handful and for one reason or another he didn't see himself as being up for the task - or she didn't. He hits the bottle in a spectacular way.


"He has a slightly fractured relationship with his dad, which as the story carries on makes for muddied waters, and he somewhat naively ends up digging them both into a hole."


Explains William: "Michael is given a shambolic look. Unfortunately at the end of each day, instead of disrobing, he accumulates more clothes as the alcohol has a trickle-down effect on his wardrobe and he is sozzled in every sense of the word.


"Some of the sartorial choices seemed to be more designed for dog walking or agricultural work but they are very accurate as he works outside, just not that flattering."


William was anxious not to exaggerate Michael's drunkenness.


"Playing a drunk is asking for trouble, even people who are habitually drunk seem a bit unreal. Michael drinks slightly above the national average at all times so there is a maximum sobriety that one could allow him, but it's not exaggerated to a falling down drunk level, as that wouldn't be believable."


He adds: "When I told people that I was doing Midsomer Murders they smiled, it's just one of those shows that has a feel-good factor and doesn't take itself too seriously. What is remarkable is the way that the team manage to create such different stories within relatively tight structures. It's the different personalities and acting styles that make it work."


The former Casualty star left the role of Dr Dylan Keogh in 2012 after more than 60 episodes.


"Dylan was a fantastic character but one of the reasons I stopped doing Casualty was that I missed the variety of roles. Since then I've done an episode of Whitechapel where I played someone who was so ill, I looked like I was turning into a pizza. The make-up was fantastic.


"I am enormously fortunate in that I haven't had long periods of unemployment. I am lucky enough to play parts where directors give me a fair amount of space to include my own interpretation. And I continue to work consistently on the radio. The discipline of radio is unusually taxing as there's a lot to learn, but I really enjoy doing the afternoon plays."


William's other credits include Robin Hood, Vital Signs, Red Cap, Fallen, The Murder Room, Northanger Abbey and The Suspicions of Mr Whitcher.



Rebecca Front plays Rev Martha Hillcott


Rebecca Front had to confront her fear of claustrophobia to play Rev Martha Hillcott in MIDSOMER MURDERS.


"Martha spends a lot of time soaked as quite a lot of the action is underground in a crypt with water. I am both claustrophobic and not a very good swimmer but with the magic of filming of course I didn't get drowned. It was all carefully done, although it was rather watery and cold."


Martha is the newly-arrived vicar at St Claire's.


"On the face of it she is very charming and personable, quite a modern, trendy vicar. Underneath that there is a steely business sense and she definitely has her eye on matters more temporal than spiritual. She is not looking up to the heavens as much as she should be!


"I wear a dog collar, which is a first for me especially as I'm Jewish. It wasn't all that comfortable having something tight around my neck so I don't think I'll choose to wear one again. I had a jaunty pink one for off days as there's no rule to it and we thought it would liven things up a bit, but the black one was weirdly more flattering."


Rebecca enjoyed meeting Neil Dudgeon and Gwilym Lee who play detectives Barnaby and Nelson.


"Neil is a nice level headed bloke and Gwilym is a charming man and we were sharing good people to follow on Twitter. I liked the chemistry that is developing between them. In fact I loved the whole process. Alex Pillai, the director, was delightful from start to finish. My mercury when choosing a role is whether I would like watching it. In this case it was a really good script and a good part and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I was sure I knew who the murderer was, but I got a surprise at the end."


Rebecca moves seamlessly from drama to comedy.


"One of my favourite roles is Nicola Murray MP in The Thick of It. I loved the series before I was in it and she was a very complicated woman and quite ambiguous. She annoyed people and attracted sympathy in equal measure. I've had some good opportunities and have been able to choose really great parts, like Psychobitches, Up The Women and being a team captain on Jo Brand's Wall of Comedy.


"At the moment I am writing a TV comedy pilot with my brother Jeremy. We've done a couple of radio plays together and he writes the long-running Charles Paris Mysteries with Bill Nighy on Radio 4.


"Writing is very different from acting. I'll always feel more comfortable acting but there's no point in waiting for the best part to come along when you can have a go and write it yourself. Jeremy is very disciplined and quite strict with me and I am duty bound to do my best!"


Rebecca is also writing a book. "I used to write columns for The Independent and The Guardian and it is non-fiction, anecdotes about life and the experiences we all go through."


Rebecca's other credits include Lewis, Knowing Me Knowing You with Alan Partridge, Have Your Cake and Eat It, Kavanagh QC, Big Train, The Rotters Club, Nighty Night, The Spa and Grandma's House.



Roy Hudd plays Victor Spencer


Roy Hudd refused to die in his Midsomer Murders episode.


"As you get older a lot of the roles that are offered are when the character is dying. I felt I was doing too much on-screen dying so I said to my agent I didn't want to die any more. It was a big career decision which seems to have worked out well, as I'm in Midsomer Murders and Law & Order: UK and I don't die in either.


"Mind you, I've just done a feature film with Gillian Anderson and Ben Kingsley called Our Robot Overlords where I don't die, but my brain is removed by aliens. So I am not sure in that one whether I am dead or alive by the end of the film!"


In Midsomer, Roy plays Victor Spencer, who's devoted to the village of Midsomer St Claire.


"I liked the character of Victor. He's a know-it-all and drives everyone in the village mad, but he is not the village idiot. He's quite bright and gets things done, although the way he does it rubs everyone up the wrong way. He has an innate sense of community and keeps the village together. But you sometimes see people walking away from him as he comes towards them."


Victor is married to Stella, played by Patricia Brake.


"Stella is not as keen on village life as he is, but she is extremely loyal to him, so will always put up with whatever he is doing for the community. Funnily enough, I always fancied Patricia when I was a younger man and she was a great actress to work with and really good fun."


Adds Roy: "I had a great time on Midsomer and loved working with the director. I often find after doing so many years of stand-up that directors tend to tell me to bring the performance down a notch. I don't mind at all, as a director once told me it's easier to get actors to bring it down than the other way around. If it isn't naturally there then it's hard work."


Roy started out as a Butlins Redcoat and has been in showbusiness for over 50 years. His career has encompassed stand-up comedy, panto, music hall, film, soaps, drama, sitcoms and variety, across radio, stage and screen.


"I don't think there is anything I haven't tried and I have enjoyed every minute of it. The News Huddlines was ground-breaking and went on to win every possible award for Radio 2 but I don't think anyone thought it would go on for 26 years. Another favourite of mine was Flanagan and Allen which I still get letters from people today about."


Roy's other credits include Up Pompeii, Lipstick on Your Collar, Karaoke, Cold Lazarus, Common as Muck, The Quest, Missing and Coronation Street. He has been married to his wife Debbie for 25 years and recently published his autobiography "A Fart in a Calendar".



Michael Jayston plays Rev Arthur Gould


Michael Jayston was delighted to team up with Andrea Lowe and Roy Hudd for his episode.


"I play a disillusioned vicar called Arthur Gould who has been forced into retirement through ill health. He's a nice man but he feels a bit deserted and put to one side. He has a daughter Ava, whom he adores and she looks after him, because he is poorly and undergoing treatment. But he still has the light of battle in his eyes.


"Andrea was wonderful as my daughter. I'd seen her in DCI Banks and she had worked with Ken Loach who I knew when we were in an amateur company together. Andrea and I had some strong scenes together; she is an excellent actress and we didn't have to explain anything - our father-daughter relationship just gelled.


We had Roy Hudd in the episode too and the stories he told were amazing. He is a wealth of information and a bit like Paul Merton who has a retentive memory. Roy is totally up to date with all the young comedians.


"It was a lovely part to play and the crew were really professional. Rev Gould wears a lapel cross instead of a dog collar so you know his religious side but it's just a tiny one that didn't glint too much in the camera."


Michael also enjoyed working with Neil Dudgeon and Gwilym Lee who play DCI Barnaby and DS Nelson.


"Neil is an excellent actor and he plays it totally differently to John Nettles. Unlike so many people on TV, he doesn't need to shout, he acts with an intensity and a reality about him. I reminded him of the episode where he guest starred as a saucy gardener and he said it did him quite a lot of good! Gwilym is great too and I talked to him about Welsh rugby."


Michael has recently returned from LA where he attended a Doctor Who 50th anniversary celebration.


"In the 1980s I played The Valeyard, a possible future, evil incarnation of the Colin Baker doctor. The convention was great fun. I've been an actor for over 50 years now and I loved working with Laurence Olivier in JB Priestley's Eden End, and A Bit of a Do, and playing Rochester in Jane Eyre. It's been a good career and I still enjoy working."


His other credits include Nicholas and Alexandra, Quiller, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Crown Court, Cluedo, Outside Edge, The Royal, EastEnders and forthcoming series Borgia.



Andrea Lowe plays Ava Gould


Playing the role of caring daughter Ava in Midsomer Murders was an ideal job for new mum Andrea Lowe.

"I recently took 11 months out to have my son Emmanuel. He's just turned one and is a handful, a proper boy who is full on and into everything. He's a really happy little baby and life is quite different now. I took a lot of stuff for granted before I had him and now, when I go out to work, it's a bit of a relief to be sitting around waiting to go on set!"


Ava is sole carer for her ill father, Rev Arthur Gould, played by Michael Jayston.


"She is as you see her, there isn't an edge to her, she is very determined and good at her job but she's in touch with nature too. She's younger than her years because she still lives at home, and it's always been just the two of them, so she hasn't had relationships," explains Andrea.


"It was brilliant working with Michael Jayston. He has been in the business for 50 years and has so many stories and this lovely rich voice. He was very prepared and knew exactly what he wanted to do.


"Ben Bailey Smith plays Ava's colleague Zach, who has a crush on her, and it was very interesting talking to him and Rebecca Front about their writing and comedy. I also thought it was funny that Ben was a detective from Law & Order: UK and I play one in DCI Banks."


Andrea hopes to return to the role of DS Annie Cabbot in DCI Banks in the near future.


"She was written out as going on maternity leave in the last series to tie in with my pregnancy. She is very feisty and driven and I think having a baby will have softened her a bit and made her less single-minded. I love playing her and working with Stephen Tompkinson and, although it might be a bit of a struggle to film in Leeds with a small baby, I'm sure I can make it work.


"I've just finished a short film, called I Don't Care, about a woman who is told that the child she is carrying could have Down's Syndrome. It is beautifully written and features a wonderful child actor called Billie Jo Bailey."


Andrea's other credits include Rescue Me, Where the Heart Is, The Innocence Project, Murphy's Law, The Tudors, Silent Witness, Shameless and Monroe. She also appears in a forthcoming episode of George Gently.