Annette Badland, AKA Albert Square's Aunt Babe, will play a pathologist in the 20th anniversary series of Midsomer Murders

Neil Dudgeon as DCI John Barnaby and Nick Hendrix as DS Jamie Winter will be joined by a new pathologist  – Dr Fleur Perkins (Annette Badland) – in the 20th anniversary series of ITV’s Midsomer Murders.

Annette, best known for playing the fiendish Aunt Babe in EastEnders, said: “I have always enjoyed living dangerously so arriving at Midsomer is thrilling! In truth I’m delighted to be involved in the 20th series of Midsomer Murders and to work alongside and be part of this creative team. I hope Fleur can assist Barnaby in maintaining his high success rate of crime detection. She is very good at her job.”

Also returning this series is Fiona Dolman as Sarah Barnaby, followed closely by Paddy the dog as the Barnabys’ faithful canine companion. Guest casting will be announced at a later date.

Midsomer’s executive producer, Jonathan Fisher, added. “It is a real privilege to be leading this iconic British detective series into its landmark 20th year.  As part of our celebrations, we will be treating our very loyal audience with nods back to some of the most memorable moments of the show’s history.

“Meanwhile we are thrilled to welcome the wonderfully talented Annette Badland to the cast as our formidable new pathologist Fleur Perkins. We’re sure Fleur will prove to be a vibrant and much-loved Midsomer character.”

Storylines for the new series – which begins filming later this month – include  Barnaby and Winter investigating a cursed brewery, an elite intellectual society with a dark past, a killer comic book festival and a circus of horrors…

No word yet on when Midsomer Murders 20 will screen, but it’s likely to be 2018.

Midsomer Murders sells to more than 220 territories worldwide and this year’s series averaged 5.9m viewers and a 23 per cent share of the audience.