SCHOOLED IN MURDER
© ITV/Mark Bourdillon
PATRICK ROBINSON plays Gregory Brantner
Patrick Robinson enjoyed spending time in the Midsomer Murders countryside for the episode "Schooled in Murder".
"I play Gregory Brantner, a former well-known rugby player turned businessman. Gregory means well and is quite straightforward and genuine, which is quite unusual in Midsomer I think! He has recently arrived in the countryside to take over his wife's father's dairy business after he dies.
"The dairy produces a famous cheese called Midsomer Blue, but the production methods are very old-fashioned and labour-intensive, so Gregory wants to make changes to help it become profitable. But he doesn't meet with much success and risks alienating the local community.
"He's also very loyal to his wife, who is a struggling writer, and he wants to make her happy. But their relationship is rather tense."
Adds Patrick: "It was a great experience coming into Midsomer - everyone was very welcoming, and I enjoyed filming in and around Oxfordshire and Berkshire. I knew Maggie Steed, who plays the headmistress, from before so that was good too."
The actor is perhaps best known as Ash in Casualty, a role he played between 1990 and 1998.
Says Patrick: "Even though I left all those years ago I still get recognised as Ash and it's all part of the legacy of being in such a high-rated series. It was one of my favourite roles and I'm always grateful for it."
Patrick's other credits include: Harper and Iles, Driven, Pig Heart Boy, A Many Splintered Thing, Shadow Play, Headless, Belly of the Beast and The Bill.
He says: "Since I left Casualty I've been involved in different roles and they have all been interesting so I feel very privileged. I've been in War Horse on the stage and I also like to write and a few years ago I wrote and directed my own short play. I intend to fulfil more of my own projects one day."
CON O'NEILL plays Jim Caxton
Con O'Neill shared his days on Midsomer Murders with herds of cattle and giant wheels of cheese.
"I play Jim Caxton who works at a dairy producing the famous Midsomer Blue cheese. He's passionate about cheese and his job but he's excruciatingly uncomfortable around women and has the social skills of a brick. I like a bit of cheese but I'm not obsessed like Jim is.
"We had to work with real cheese, huge wheels of them, and I had to eat some of it - but that wasn't the worst of it. In one scene, my character is surrounded by great herds of milking cows. When we filmed the scene, there were a lot of nervous cows around, and I was nervous about them in a very confined space.
"There was a strong smell of cattle and when a cow gets nervous they tend to do one of two things to ease the tension or pressure. It seemed to me that they were doing either of these two things throughout the whole day! I was glad to get home and into a hot bath to get rid of the smell."
Despite the beastly encounter, Con enjoyed the experience.
"It was good playing Jim - because he is so awkward there is some comedic value. I also find damaged characters quite compelling to play. He deals with a murder at the dairy by concentrating on his work. He may appear callous but he doesn't really mean to, he just doesn't have any social graces.
"It was a great experience, as everyone in the cast is totally charming and so established and at ease. I've been a fan of Neil Dudgeon's for years so it was good to work with him. It feels like we are all cohabiting in the same arena, not fighting egos."
Adds Con: "My family are all delighted I got the part and will be watching!"
Con has had a busy year with a range of projects.
"I'm in the feature film G.B.H. playing a disabled ex-policeman, and I've just finished an American TV mini-series called The Bible, retelling well-known Bible stories. I play St Paul, and we filmed that in Morocco.
"St Paul is interesting because he didn't believe at first, but when he had a vision of Christ he became completely convinced that he was the Messiah and devoted his life to God. Sometimes I can't even decide what socks to wear so it was compelling and challenging to play someone who was so committed. It's one of my favourite roles to date, along with Telstar and playing Mickey in Blood Brothers."
Con's other credits include Dancin' Through The Dark, Moving Story, 3 Steps to Heaven, Cider With Rosie, Bedrooms and Hallways, Waking The Dead, In Deep, Criminal Justice, Bash Street and Frank.
MARTINE MCCUTCHEON plays Debbie Moffett
Martine McCutcheon rounds off a busy year with a guest appearance in Midsomer Murders: "Schooled in Murder".
She explains: "I'm a troublemaker in the episode which is set around a posh prep school. My character is well to do and feisty, she's not Tiffany from Albert Square."
The former soap queen plays Debbie Moffett, who argues with the Midsomer Pastures prep school over plans to expel her daughter Holly - because Debbie, not Holly, has broken a strict code of conduct.
Debbie also works at the nearby dairy which produces world-famous Midsomer Blue cheese, where events take a nasty turn.
"It's great to do something I wouldn't normally do, as she's not a nice piece of work," says Martine.
The episode comes shortly after Martine tied the knot with her fiancé, singer-songwriter Jack McManus in September in a romantic ceremony on the shores of Italy's Lake Como.
Says Martine: "We are best friends as well as lovers and totally supportive of one another. We feel that we can conquer anything the world throws at us as long as we have each other, and that's a rare thing."
The new bride admitted it was her mother Jenny who knew Jack was 'the one' from the word go. 'Mum adores Jack and could not wait for him to become my husband," she says.
Martine studied at the renowned Italia Conti stage school in London from the age of 10 before winning a part in the BBC children's series Bluebirds in 1989. At 15 she was picked to front the all-girl band Milan. Her big break was winning the role of Tiffany in EastEnders and she appeared in more than 350 episodes over four years.
After leaving the soap, Martine appeared in the film Love Actually and her other credits include Kiss Kiss (Bang Bang), The Knock, The English Harem, Jump! and Echo Beach. She also starred as Eliza in the West End revival of My Fair Lady and has released three albums.
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