INTERVIEWS WITH GUEST STARS
© ITV/Mark Bourdillon
SHARON DUCE plays Mandy Gideon
Appearing in Midsomer Murders has given Sharon Duce great credibility among her relatives.
"My daughter-in-law is from Sweden and when I met her mother, the very first place I had to take her was the Midsomer countryside and we had a pub lunch in Turville, Oxfordshire. We then did a tour of all the villages.
"So it was a great delight to know that I was going to be in an episode. I decided to keep her mementos from the filming, like the schedule, the script and day-to-day things.
"The series is huge in Sweden, so my profile within the family has been raised enormously. I am now introduced as someone in an upcoming episode of Midsomer rather than my son's mother. I have enormous clout with all my Swedish relatives!"
Sharon plays Mandy Gideon, manager of the shoot at the Binwell Estate. She is also in a relationship with estate owner Ted Denning (Ian Redford), whose son was murdered.
She explains: "I feel a bit sorry for Mandy. She is holding the family together and holding a relationship together and she works and manages the shoot. She has a lot on her plate amongst some unhappy people."
Despite the cold, Sharon enjoyed filming the pheasant shoot scenes.
"It was November and very cold - I had my thermals on, too right. We did it on a very crisp, clear sunny day, but once the sun went in you really felt the cold. There were firearms but thank goodness I didn't have to fire any, and the pheasants behaved themselves. There were lots of working dogs, who were all very well trained and they were a joy to behold."
Adds Sharon: "I loved the whole experience of filming; it is how television used to be done with so much respect for everyone in it. It was also lovely to work with Sam Callis who plays Mandy's son Will. He played my son in London's Burning a few years ago too, so casting directors must think we look similar even though there's a huge height difference!"
Sharon still gets recognised from her starring role in 1980s hit series Big Deal and her many other credits include The House That Jack Built, Funny Man, Coming Home, Growing Pains, The Tomorrow People, Doctors, Conviction, A Passionate Woman, Moving On, Trafford Tanzi and the films The Tamarind Seed and Rogue Trader.
GEORGIA MACKENZIE plays Susie Bellingham
Georgia Mackenzie enjoyed stepping into the shoes of a firefighter for her role in the episode.
"It was a great experience. I had some training to show how to get on the fire engine quickly, use the breathing apparatus and what to do in an emergency. I spent a lot of time with the real crews and they really embraced me. They even gave me a t-shirt that said 'honorary firefighter'!
"In the episode, there is a fire in a cottage and we had to bash down a door to get in. There were proper flames which I had to douse with water and make it look real. I had the canister on my back and the breathing apparatus and I was worried that the mask might be claustrophobic, but it was all fine.
"It's good to do physical stuff like that. The gear is quite hot and heavy but we were filming in November so I was grateful for it. It was a great look and I loved it!"
Georgia's character Susie enjoys her career and her relationship with Jones (Jason Hughes).
"Susie is feisty and tough, she's determined and she's chosen a profession with risk. But it also gives her great rewards as I discovered from working with the real firefighters - the banter is a bit like the army. As a woman you give as good as you get, otherwise you won't survive. It can be a bit exhausting but it's fun."
"She has kept her relationship with Jones quiet partly because he didn't want her to get a ribbing from her workmates. That side of Jones has never been explored before so it's interesting to see how their relationship crosses over, particularly in a small community."
Georgia's grandmother is writer and producer Hazel Adair, who created Crossroads, and her father is Colin Mackenzie, the journalist who tracked down train robber Ronnie Biggs.
"My grandmother was one of the pioneers of television and wrote the very first soap opera, Sixpenny Corner.
"I don't remember any of the fuss when my dad found Ronnie Biggs because I was far too small but it was one of the biggest scoops of the last century. Next year is the 50th anniversary and he's just sold the film rights for his book."
Georgia's own credits include Outlaws, Hot Money, Catwalk Dogs, Waterloo Road, Murphy's Law and 20 Things to do Before You're 30 on TV and the films Possession, The Kovak Box and Franklin. In her spare time her hobbies include boxing.
SAM CALLIS plays Will Gideon
Sam Callis was delighted to be reunited with friends and former colleagues in the new episode.
"Sharon Duce played my mum in London's Burning and she's also my mum in Midsomer. It was a nice reunion of mother and son. I also know Jason Hughes from drama school as I was in the same year as his wife, and Jo Wright the producer cast me in my first big TV job when I started on London's Burning. So it was good to see her again."
Sam plays Will Gideon, who works on the Binwell Estate, and who was a friend of murdered villager Daniel Denning.
"Will is down to earth, practical, pragmatic and a bit stoic. He just gets on with it. He is a farm manager and wears forest green tweed and a Barbour, so I was well wrapped up against the cold although he was not that imaginative with his fashion. It was a lovely job to work on."
Since filming the episode, Sam has gone back to the West End stage where he is appearing in Hayfever at the Noel Coward Theatre with Lindsay Duncan and Kevin McNally until June.
"It's good to be in theatre, as it's always a great experience though it's a bit nerve-wracking. It's such a funny play and I am really enjoying the actors in it. I am playing Sandy Tyrell who is a posh idiot. In some ways, the hours are more civilised, especially in rehearsals when you don't start till 11am. So it's quite lovely and I get to see my kids.
"Last year I directed a short film which went to the London Film Festival. It was a brutal story and grim to the end with no laughs at all. So it's good to be doing Hayfever."
Sam played Sgt Callum Stone in almost 100 episodes of The Bill and his other credits include Kidulthood, Ultimate Force and The Royal.
He has also written two film scripts - a romantic comedy and a thriller - which he hopes to get into production, and is a keen cyclist.
"I have two small children who steal all my sleep so I build the cycling into my day and I always cycle all over London. I have a motorbike too as anything with two wheels is so much easier than a car in London," he says.
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