John will have little time to put his feet up and see in the new Millennium by relaxing and watching Midsomer Murders. While millions of TV viewers are glued to 'Death of a Stranger' John himself will be taking only a quick festive break from his pantomime production of 'Jack and the Beanstalk'.

"I get a couple of days off from the panto for Christmas and the New Year but that's it. We'll be having a traditional Christmas with a log fire and funny hats on the dogs and for New Year the village where I live in Worcestershire is getting a marquee together, so we're going to spend the night with the neighbours. It will be fun."

"I find the idea of the Millennium a bit sad, though, because I don't think the 20th Century bears much looking at. It's been the most murderous century in the history of mankind, but it's also witnessed the most astonishing remarkable advances. None the less, global warfare and the concentration of hatred which have punctuated it are very unpleasant to behold - so I look forward rather than backward."

'Jack and the Beanstalk' sees John becoming a baddie, in contrast to his crime-busting role in Midsomer.

He explains: "I play Fleshcreep, a guy who kills children and serves them up to the giant. It's quite a savage story so I'm busy creating a really nasty character. Funnily enough, I spend my TV life trying to be loved by everybody and my stage life trying to be hated by everybody."

Filming "Death of a Stranger" reunited John with his one-time RSC colleague Richard Johnson.

"That's the great joy of Midsomer Murders. Chums turn up as well as people that one admires like James Bolam. I also enjoyed the episode very much because of the horses. I like riding but unfortunately didn't get on horseback myself. Perhaps that's a good thing because my rising trot has very little to do with the movement of the horse!"



As budding policeman Sgt. Gavin Troy actor Daniel Casey is hot on the heels of criminals - but in real life he has experienced what it feels like to be a victim of crime.

Explains Daniel: "When I was 15 years old, I was beaten up by about a dozen lads when I was walking down the street. I lived in the north east and we'd get these gangs walking around. They were aged about 17 or 18 and I don't know why they laid into me. I didn't react at the time, I was just numb."

"Afterwards it left me a bit shaken and I had a black eye for about six weeks, but I just has to tell myself it was one of those things."

Daniel enjoyed returning to the character of Sgt. Troy for 'Death of a Stranger' and the other Midsomer films, which are still to be screened.

"Troy is learning more as time goes on and he's becoming more settled in the type of work he does. He still looks up to Barnaby but he's a bit less naive. He's obviously very young to have got the rank of Detective Sergeant, so while he'll probably never be Poirot, he'll get by."

"The nice thing about his relationship with Barnaby is that they like each other deep down, although they niggle each other every now and again. And Troy still finds Barnaby's naff Jokes incredibly naff."

Although "Death of a Stranger" is set against the backdrop of the Marshwood Hunt, Daniel did not get a chance to fulfill his ambition of riding on screen.

"I've ridden since I was about two years old an we had about seven horses at home. The one thing I would love to do in film is horse riding. But although we've had horses in Midsomer I haven't done any riding yet."

"The great thing about Midsomer is that it gives me the freedom to wait and do what I really want to do. After months of filming I'd now like to do some theatre. I love all acting but there's something vibrant about being on stage and I think it keeps you on your toes. I'd also love to do a British film at some point."