Midsomer Murders‘ boss Brian True-May has been suspended after claiming that ethnic minorities are not English enough for the drama.

The producer described the long-running drama as ‘the last bastion of Englishness’ and defended the all-white portrayal of rural life in Britain’s murder capital, saying: “Maybe I’m not politically correct.”

He told Radio Times that the ITV1 series – which has run for 14 series – ‘wouldn’t work’ if there was any racial diversity in the village life.

The series returns this week with a new star, Neil Dudgeon, who has joined the cast as DCI John Barnaby, replacing actor John Nettles (pictured, as DCI Tom Barnaby) as the central character.

Brian, the programme’s co-creator who has been with it since it started in 1997, said: “We just don’t have ethnic minorities involved. Because it wouldn’t be the English village with them. It just wouldn’t work.

“Suddenly we might be in Slough. Ironically, Causton (one of the main centres of population in the show) is supposed to be Slough. And if you went into Slough you wouldn’t see a white face there.

“We’re the last bastion of Englishness and I want to keep it that way,” he added.

Asked why “Englishness” could not include other races who are well-represented in modern society, he said: “Well, it should do, and maybe I’m not politically correct.

“I’m trying to make something that appeals to a certain audience, which seems to succeed. And I don’t want to change it.”

An ITV spokesman said: “We are shocked and appalled at these personal comments by Brian True-May, which are absolutely not shared by anyone at ITV.”

The full interview is in the new edition of Radio Times, on sale on Tuesday.