MIDSOMER'S NEW DCI
Neil Dudgeon with John Nettles & Jason Hughes
John Nettles has now filmed his last scenes as DCI Tom Barnaby.
Neil Dudgeon takes up the mantel as Midsomer's new DCI from Series 14 onwards.
ALL STAR MR. & MRS. ITV
AT CHENIES DIAMOND JUBILEE CRICKET MATCH
IN 'THE CASTLE' BBC RADIO 4 COMEDY
ON CELEBRITY MASTERMIND 2012
NEIL DUDGEON FAN SITE
INTERVIEW WITH NEIL DUDGEON - MARCH 2011
Neil Dudgeon had convinced himself that he would never get the leading role in Midsomer.
"My agent phoned me about two years ago and said that the producers were hoping to continue the series when John Nettles left and were thinking of me. I was very flattered but put it absolutely to the back of my mind as I thought it would never happen.
"A few months later she told me that they had talked to ITV and everyone wanted me to do it. I still thought that was charming but nothing more. Then in the summer I was asked to play one episode as John Barnaby, to introduce me as a character. As I was filming, it seemed to me that events were a bit more concrete than I thought and a little part of me started to believe it could just happen."
The call offering him the role came at Christmas 2009.
"I was told the first four episodes with me as John Barnaby had been commissioned. Then in January another four were commissioned. I still thought it was a wind-up, though, and even when I went shopping for the costumes, I felt that someone might jump out and say it was a terrible hoax and you have fallen for it!"
Adds Neil: "Through your career, you hear that people are interested in you and for the first 15 years you get excited and then it doesn't happen. So it's safer to err on the side of caution, then you get a lovely surprise."
Neil admits to some nerves at stepping into John Nettles' shoes.
"John was a fantastic ambassador for the series. He made it look very effortless and easy. He did an understated, beautiful job of guiding the viewer through without being flashy. I admire him enormously and shadowing him was an education.
"What I liked about John's version of Barnaby is that he was the strong centre who all these marvelous actors come in and work around. So you are not doing the big thing that the guests are doing, it's more about being the still centre.
"Although the show has lost John it has gained me and I hope that people will like the new element that I bring, along with my wife and our dog Sykes. I hope the enormous popularity of the series continues, and I am there to continue it."
Despite following in his cousin's footsteps, DCI John Barnaby is his own man, as DI Ben Jones (Jason Hughes) soon discovers.
Explains Neil: "He's done a psychology degree and he is pretty clever. He's interested in people and he likes figuring out the puzzle of the murder. He enjoys solving the mystery as I imagine real life policemen would do.
"He has a very dry, dark sense of humour. He likes a bit of a laugh and he winds Jones up a bit with psychology. When you are a policeman you do play different roles, depending if you're interviewing a lady or a farm worker.
"We don't know why he has left Brighton CID but he feels to me like a man with his shackles taken off. He has his wife, his dog, a lovely house in the country - he's enjoying life in a quiet backwater with little idea of how many murders are going to happen. Of course, as soon as he arrives people start dropping like flies. I think it's something to do with the Barnaby karma!"
Neil first appeared in Midsomer more than 10 years ago.
"I played a guest, a saucy gardener called Daniel Bolt in the episode 'Garden of Death' in 2000. It was a very happy experience - a sunny summer, wearing wellingtons in soily ground and jumping out of bushes surrounded by some rather beautiful women.
"I've always been a fan of the series - the great strength is that it is not reliant on the intricacies of police work. It's not got real forensic details like CSI, it's not edgy like The Wire, and it doesn't try to compete with them. It inhabits more of an English whodunit Agatha Christie world.
"What I love is that if you took the murders out of it, you would still have the countryside, the villages, the characters and the small communities with their rivalries and families in a wonderful setting. There's a rather marvelous English comedy-drama going on, even without the killings and poisonings."
Adds Neil: "It's also good to be part of such a well-oiled machine. The writing is good, the scripts are thoroughly worked on before they get to the actors and all the production values are very strong. I'm enjoying it very much."
Neil is joined in episode two by Fiona Dolman, who plays Barnaby's wife Sarah.
"I'd never met Fiona before but I've been very lucky in the choice of my screen wife. I think the relationship lies in their mutual sense of humour. They entertain each other, stimulate and challenge each other. They don't have children yet and their relationship is very sexy. Barnaby is strong and clever and quick at work and it's interesting to see what he's like when he goes home."
Neil stars as Jim Riley in Life of Riley and is currently working on a new series of the hit comedy with Caroline Quentin. His other leading roles include The Mrs Bradley Mysteries, The Gift, Common as Muck, The Street, Messiah, Roman's Empire, Out of the Blue, Resnick and Sorted. He recently appeared in The Nativity and feature films include the award-winning Son of Rambow.
Neil's theatre credits include Road and Blasted at the Royal Court, and Closer at the National.
WITH NEIL DUDGEON (2)
Neil Dudgeon is thrilled to be appointed as the new detective in Midsomer - DCI John Barnaby.
He makes a guest appearance in the story "The Sword of Guillaume" before taking up the role in full this summer.
Says Neil: "It's brilliant to be joining such a fantastic and successful long-running series. The production values are so high and it seems to me that as the waters of quality television have receded, Midsomer Murders stands up against the prevailing waves.
"It will be exciting to get stuck into some juicy murders. I have always enjoyed whodunits and I like the mental exercise of discovering who the culprit is, while along the way you have the great red herrings, the smaller dramas within the bigger ones."
Neil admits to some nerves at stepping into John Nettles' shoes.
"John is a fantastic ambassador for the series. He makes it look very effortless and easy and I admire that. Big movie stars like Spencer Tracy are charismatic yet always point to the story rather than to themselves. John is like that too. He does an understated beautiful job of guiding the viewer through without being flashy. I admire him enormously."
Neil has appeared in Midsomer Murders before and is a long-standing fan of the series.
"I love sitting down to watch it with a glass of wine and the fire lit. You know you are in for a treat. I just hope I can play my part and that people will continue to enjoy it."
DCI John Barnaby currently works for Brighton CID and helps his cousin Tom (John Nettles) with an investigation at the seaside town.
Explains Neil: "John Barnaby is very canny and guarded. He plays his cards close to his chest and adapts his persona to get results, even if it means he needs to look weak or silly. His eyes are on the prize.
"He is quite direct and has a likeable black sense of humour, which I imagine you would need to get through the darker moments.
"The two Barnabys get on very well - it's like an old friend you haven't seen for a while and you slip back into the relationship. They understand each other," he adds.
Neil's previous credits include Life of Riley, Sorted, The Mrs Bradley Mysteries, Common As Muck, Messiah, The Street, Out of the Blue and Silent Witness. He has also previously appeared in Midsomer as amorous gardener, Daniel Bolt in 'Garden of Death'.
BACK TO MAIN CAST INDEX