MIDSOMER MURDERS

THE SICILIAN DEFENCE
INTERVIEWS


© ITV/Mark Bourdillon

JULIE GRAHAM plays Dr Laura Parr

Julie Graham is enjoying a busy year in ITV murder-mysteries. Following her role as a code-breaker turned unofficial investigator in The Bletchley Circle, she plays a doctor with a secret in Midsomer Murders.

 

Explains Julie: "Dr Laura Parr is a neurologist in charge of the care of a young girl called Harriet who has been unconscious for several months following an attack.

 

"At the start of the episode she wakes up, which brings a new energy to the police investigation. But Harriet's recovery seems to spark a series of murders.

 

"We don't know much about Laura - she's not an eccentric character like we sometimes see in Midsomer Murders. But she comes across as someone who is very good at her job and is very caring and protective towards Harriet.

 

"I didn't base her on anyone, I went with my intuition. She has a past and she comes from Scotland so I play her with my own accent."

 

Julie enjoyed becoming part of the Midsomer Murders 'family'.

 

"It was a lovely job to work on, as Neil and I had worked together before on Dirty Tricks and it was good to see him again. I'd also met Jason and knew the director, and everyone was very relaxing and welcoming.

 

"I was also popular at home because my husband and eldest child Edie love the series and her teacher got very excited that I was in it! It was also a complete contrast to my character in The Bletchley Circle."

 

Since filming The Sicilian Defence, Julie has also filmed a six-part series for BBC based on the film Lapland, in which she starred with Sue Johnston, about a family who go on a package tour to Lapland but get more than they bargain for.

 

Her other many credits include Doc Martin, The Sarah Jane Adventures, Survivors, Bonekickers, William and Mary, At Home with the Braithwaites, Between the Sheets, Life Support, Some Voices, Bedrooms and Hallways, Harry, Casualty and Napoleon and Josephine: A Love Story.

 

Says Julie: "I just enjoy good scripts and I have been very fortunate. It's been a busy year and I have children, so I look after them when I'm not working which means I don't have time for any hobbies!"

 

FAY RIPLEY plays Caroline Potts

Fay Ripley finally impressed her Australian in-laws with her role in Midsomer Murders.

 

"My husband is from Australia and I have relatives there and they are all going completely bonkers about Midsomer. They are over the moon that I am in it. They've never noticed anything before that I've done career-wise but they never miss the series. I'm not allowed to tell them any plotlines so I don't ruin it for them!"

 

Fay plays Caroline Potts, a deeply-religious woman who is married to down-at-heel hotelier Arthur (John Henshaw).

 

"Caroline is a woman who is driven by her faith," explains Fay. "She has her eye on the missions in Africa and she also wants to save people's souls and make the world a better place. The way she has decided to do this is to live in Midsomer and marry a man who could help her financially to do what she wanted.

 

"She runs her meals-on-wheels and does her do-gooding. But for somebody who is such a do-gooder she appears very cold and detached. She is mysterious and can be quite rude. She doesn't appear to have a huge number of friends in Midsomer - she's not close to anyone and doesn't appear to like her husband even! Something is motivating her, but we're not quite sure what it is."

 

Fay enjoyed her time in 'Midsomer County'. "I loved it and I have now realised how beautiful Oxfordshire is and I'm going to book a holiday there. Although I don't want to get murdered!"

 

Acting is just one of Fay's passions - she is also a best-selling cookery writer.

 

"It's my other job - my last cookbook won Mumsnet book of the year. It's a big arm of my life, and what is so hilarious is that in Midsomer, my character cooks food that turns out to be poisonous!

 

"Although I still love to act, the cookbooks are a big part of my life and I'm never out of that role. It's grown to become the love of my life and it's what I get up in the morning to do. I won't be buried with my acting DVDs, but I will be buried with my cookbooks! I am totally passionate about it."

 

Fay's cookbooks feature her children Parker and Sonny. "They eat all the food I cook, which is easy family food. Other chefs have lots of people prepping for them but I just have my kids and they are my hardest critics too. I know when I get it right."

 

Fay's many credits include I Saw You, The Broker's Man, Karaoke, The Stretford Wives, Green Eyed Monster, Dead Gorgeous. Monday Monday and Reggie Perrin.

 

But she is probably still best known as Jenny from ITV drama Cold Feet, which ran for six years. "I don't think the connection will ever go away but I don't mind as it was very well loved and I am proud to be part of a groundbreaking series."

 

JOHN HENSHAW plays Arthur Potts

John Henshaw enjoyed living the life of a hotelier in Midsomer Murders.

 

"I play Arthur Potts, who runs the King's Gambit hotel in Bishopwood. He's trying to make a living and struggling a bit, so the hotel is hosting a big chess competition. All is going well until the murders start.

 

"Arthur is a decent enough guy, he's not a baddie, but he just gets led astray from time to time. He loves his wife Caroline and wants to make her happy, which leads to some bad decisions."

 

Arthur and Caroline come under the scrutiny of DCI Barnaby after a spate of killings in Bishopwood are linked to the game of chess. But it's not immediately clear if they are involved in the murders - or just village eccentrics.

 

Says John: "I like murder-mysteries, they are good fun. It's fun guessing who the murderer is and we always try to work out who did it in Midsomer.

 

"As an actor, it's great to do a bit of everything. I enjoy playing a policeman and I've been in some good police drama before like Coppers, which was groundbreaking in its day and The Cops, which was a great baptism and a springboard for me. Police apparently use it in training as how not to do it!

 

"Midsomer Murders was also a great experience with a smashing cast and crew. Sometimes it's hard to walk into a long-running series but even though Midsomer has its own little community, everyone was very welcoming from the director down. My missus also loves it; she watches it time after time and wanted to come to the set!"

 

John also enjoyed filming on location.

 

"I knew the countryside around Midsomer a bit as I did four series of Born and Bred at Bray Studios which is nearby. It was good to go back there. I love the countryside as I live near the moors and go walking out there with my dog."

 

John is combines acting with writing. "I'm doing a drama with a couple of other people and I enjoy that creative side. I'm also doing a spit and a cough in the Christmas episode of Downton Abbey. My character is a visitor to the house and it's only a brief appearance but it was great to be in the series and the cast are all so lovely."

 

His other credits include The Grand, Nice Guy Eddie, The Second Coming, Early Doors, See No Evil: The Moors Murders, Starter for Ten, The Visit, Red Riding, Ruddy Hell! It's Harry and Paul, Candy Cabs, South Riding, Looking for Eric and the latest Ken Loach feature film, The Angels' Share, set in Glasgow.

 

CHERYL CAMPBELL plays Vivian Stannington

Appearing in Midsomer Murders meant a complete change of personality for Cheryl Campbell.

 

"Up until two days before filming started, I was doing a long and really quite exhausting tour in Steel Magnolias, playing a very loud American character. I then had to turn into Vivian, who was a very quiet character who keeps her emotions to herself. In Steel Magnolias I have to be very upfront and loud, whereas Vivian is just twittering in the background. But it's good to go into something so different."

 

Vivian lives in the shadow of her overbearing nephew Edward (Nicholas Rowe).

 

"She comes from a well-heeled family which inherited money down the line, but which for some reason always passed her by. The death of her unpleasant nephew allows her to release something she has never been allowed to tap into before which is her good instinct and common sense.

 

"Until that point, she's been unfulfilled, but she is a good soul and my feeling is that she gains a complete new lease of life. So her story begins as the film's story ends."

 

It's Cheryl's second appearance in the series.

 

"I played a victim in my previous episode 'Beyond The Grave' and I was drugged and my husband was trying to kill me. I remember getting the giggles a lot. I have survived two episodes now, which is good - I wouldn't be looking forward to lying face down in the mud.

 

"My previous episode was with John Nettles so now I've worked with both Barnabys and both of them were very pleasant experiences and good jobs to do."

 

Adds Cheryl: "I've also worked with consultant Betty Willingale who's been involved in Midsomer Murders for many years. I did Testament of Youth with her when I was quite young. In those days we had long rehearsals whereas today things have changed so much and you just have to get on with it."

 

Cheryl made her name as a young actress in Pennies From Heaven and her many other credits include Malice Aforethought, McVicar, Chariots of Fire, Greystoke, The Shooting Party, The Murder at the Vicarage, The Mill on the Floss, The Way We Live Now, William and Mary, Funland, Casualty and Call The Midwife.

 

"I do work across film, TV and theatre and I love working. I also go through phases of reading and I'm very creative - I use my hands a lot and make presents for people as well as gardening, as I love the natural world."

 

 

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