© ITV/Mark Bourdillon
Claire Bloom plays Matilda Stowe
Celebrated theatre, film and television actress Claire Bloom makes her Midsomer Murders debut in the new series. Claire, whose career stretches back almost 60 years, plays Matilda Stowe in the episode set against the backdrop of a vineyard.
She says: "It is my first time on Midsomer Murders and I was delighted to come on board. I know lots of people who watch it and enjoy it."
Matilda is the mother of Diana Carnarvon (Ruth Gemmell), who runs Midsomer Vinae Winery with her husband William (Mark Bonnar). But although the vineyard is struggling, Matilda shows no inclination to help her daughter financially.
"Matilda is fairly smart; she is a woman with money and she's very elegant," explains Claire. "She is an ordinary woman who starts meddling into something she shouldn't have done and is then out of her depth.
"I enjoyed every minute of it - lovely people, beautiful locations and good food on set! A good role and a decent script are my criteria in television and that is as much as you can ask for."
Claire was propelled to stardom in 1952 when Charlie Chaplin picked her to star alongside him in Limelight. She became a respected Shakespearean actress and won rave reviews for her appearances in A Streetcar Named Desire and A Doll's House. Her film roles have included Look Back in Anger and The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.
On television, Claire's classic roles have included Lady Marchmain in Brideshead Revisited and Joy in Shadowlands and she was recently awarded a CBE for services to drama.
Says Claire: "I have had an awful lot of special moments in my career, the first two came together - Limelight with Chaplin and in the Old Vic with Romeo and Juliet. I was only 21 so it was quite a start to my career.
"The roles I adored and which stick out are A Streetcar Named Desire, Shadowlands and Brideshead. Those things don't just happen, it is a mixture of ambition, hard work and good health and I always received great support from my mother, my first husband and then my daughter later. I am very fortunate and happy looking back at my career and I have no complaints."
Claire shows little sign of slowing down, with her more recent roles including Doctor Who, The King's Speech and Doc Martin.
"I go to the theatre and the opera a lot - that is my great love and I try not to miss too much. I also love to travel and I have a house in Greece on the island of Poros and it's rather beautiful. I try to get back as much as I can as it's my bolthole and I love it there."
Mark Bonnar plays William Carnarvon
Mark Bonnar describes vineyard boss William Carnarvon in as a good man, with his head in the clouds.
He explains: "William is ambitious beyond his means. He has started a vineyard but he is a bit of a dreamer. He is trying his hardest to keep the business afloat but the business side is not his forte unfortunately.
"He is a good guy under pressure. He's a family man who enjoys the trappings of the good life and there is nothing underhand about him. Having said that, everybody has a little skeleton in the closet!"
William and his wife Diana (Ruth Gemmell) come under pressure when their new vintage is sabotaged at a launch evening and guests start collapsing.
"Diana is a realist, unlike William, and she knows the business is in trouble. But William doesn't want to hear it."
Mark enjoyed working with Ruth in the episode. "We also play husband and wife in a new series Home Fires, so that was a strange coincidence but also lovely.
"A lot of my family are fans of Midsomer Murders and as soon as you say you are in an episode people come out of the woodwork and say they are real fans. I would call it an underground hit."
Adds Mark: "I come from Edinburgh and I play William as Scottish but I don't mind what accent I am asked to do as I've done everything from American to Philippino tribal chiefs! But Scottish is what I usually get cast as."
Mark has enjoyed a busy year, starring as a police chief under pressure in Line of Duty.
"I played DCC Mike Dryden and it was really special to be part of something that everyone was talking about. It rarely happens as people have different tastes, but it became event television for want of a better phrase.
"It was really exciting to watch it every week and see the drama unfold in front of my eyes, even though I knew what was going to happen. Jed Mercurio's characters are all flawed and able to be compromised and you never knew which side of the fence they were on. A great role.
"I've also done an episode of Grantchester with Robson Green playing the village doctor and I played a cattle farmer in Vera. I play a vicar in Home Fires and it's a nice change to do these roles as I'm usually either the criminal or the copper. I also did a couple of films, Take Down and Sunset Song, which is adapted from a classic Scottish novel. So I can't complain."
Mark's other credits include Wire in the Blood, Casualty, Psychoville, Paradox and Shetland.
Naoko Mori plays Nadia Simons
Naoko Mori was delighted to get the role of outspoken alcoholic wine critic Nadia Simons in Midsomer Murders.
Says Naoko: "I usually get the geeks or the gentler parts so it was fun to play someone so different. Nadia is very unlike me; she is acerbic and has a reputation, she's quite a force to be reckoned with."
Nadia causes uproar when she gives a scathing review to a new wine being launched by the Midsomer Vinae Winery.
"I would like to say that she is misunderstood but she does have some issues which explain why she behaves as she does," says Naoko.
"I was so excited when I got called in for the audition. Midsomer Murders is one of those shows that you grow up with so I was really chuffed. It is so established so I got quite nervous about going on set but everyone was very welcoming.
"I had worked with Neil Dudgeon years ago on Murder in Mind and funnily enough he played the murderer, so it was lovely to be reunited with him. I had also worked with Selina Griffiths on The Smoking Room. Hand on heart, it was one of the most glorious jobs to do."
Naoko got her first break in Absolutely Fabulous, playing Sarah. "It was the first Ab Fab and I was quite inexperienced. My agent was trying to discourage me from doing it because it was such a small role. But I was there from day one, and carried on all the way through, with one or two episodes in each series. It was pure luck but such an honour, and I can't thank the universe enough.
"Then I was in Doctor Who for one episode and Russell T Davies liked what I did and invited me to go on to Torchwood. It was crazy but good and now I even have my own action figure - how weird is that? I don't know how I have been so lucky to be in two of the biggest cult shows."
Adds Naoko: "I get lots of fan letters and they are very loyal, so that is wonderful and strange at the same time. I'm sure they will be excited about Midsomer Murders and they will enjoy it. I love the fact that everything I do is so different."
Before filming Midsomer Murders, Naoko worked on new Josh Brolin movie Everest shot on location in Nepal.
"I play a well-known Japanese climber and we trekked up Everest. It was a long and tough shoot. So I went from filming in minus 20 degrees in brutal snowstorms to the gentle countryside of Midsomer. It felt like being on holiday!"
Naoko was born in Japan but grew up in the USA before moving to England at the age of 12. She says: "I had a thick New Jersey accent when I arrived which got beaten out of me at school! I go back to Japan a lot but I miss London when I am not here. I will always beJapanese but England is my home now."
Her other credits include Hackers, Spice World, Hot Tub Ranking, Topsy Turvy, Psychos and Rocket Island.
Rosie Cavaliero plays Judy Tyler
Rosie Cavaliero describes her character Judy Tyler as a "broken woman".
She explains: "Judy has a sad story; she has suffered the most terrible tragedy. Her daughter was killed in an accident and they never found the murderer. It's an unresolved issue and she can't get over it.
"Judy now suffers from agoraphobia and she's crippled by anxiety and grief. She has a remaining daughter whom she has slightly neglected and has a troubled relationship with her husband Roger because of her psychological problems. She can't be a proper wife, so he is more of a carer for her. The marriage has hit a very unstable low but they have been livingwith it for a long time and not dealing with it."
Judy spends her time obsessively cleaning the house. "She is very pristine about it and relatively smart in her appearance, even though she doesn't go anywhere. She's quite old fashioned, with a country casual look," says Rosie.
Despite her character's sad outlook, Rosie enjoyed the role. "I was very excited to work with the cast as they are all people I really admire. I am based in Wiltshire so I'm a country person and I loved seeing the pretty villages and discovering idyllic hidden gems which are not that far from the motorway."
Rosie's credits include Prey, Jane Eyre, Scoop, A Young Doctor's Notebook, Lewis, Life of Riley, Jam & Jerusalem, Little Dorrit, Vera Drake, Cold Feet and Saxondale.
"I have predominantly done comedy but I'm now getting recognised for drama projects and since Prey I've been really busy. There is no real difference in the way I approach a role - I play my comedy straight but you have to have more timing. Drama is more about rhythms.
"My next role is The Enfield Haunting, which is based on a real life case from the 70s about a family living with a poltergeist."
Ruth Gemmell plays Diana Carnarvon
Ruth Gemmell was delighted to meet her screen husband Mark Bonnar in Midsomer Murders.
"It was the first time we had met and then we found out we were also going to be husband and wife in new ITV series Home Fires, so we have had a bit of practice. He was a very generous man to work with."
Ruth plays Diana Carnarvon, who with her husband William runs the Midsomer Vinae Winery.
"Diana certainly loves William but she has gone down the route of the new business to please him and they can't maintain it. He has his head in the sand about the situation and they have conflicting ideas about what they want, made worse by money problems.
"She is a person who will fight for her family's survival and, although people might not agree with her, she utterly believes it is the way forward. She is a strong character and very determined."
Ruth was also pleased to be reunited with Midsomer Murders star Neil Dudgeon during filming.
"We worked together on a series called Four Fathers so it was lovely to see him again. I loved the whole experience of filming Midsomer Murders."
Ruth played Debra in EastEnders and her other many credits include Band of Gold, Fever Pitch, Murder in Mind, Blue Dove, A Touch of Frost, Good, Waking the Dead, The Fades, Inside Men, Dancing on the Edge and Utopia.
BACK TO MAIN EPISODE PAGE