TV Times magazine brings Neil Dudgeon, alias Midsomer Murders’ DCI John Barnaby, in for questioning…

The Midsomer episode that’s been the most fun to work on is… Death in the Slow Lane, my first episode. I was filled with trepidation but even before I’d seen a script, people who’d read it described it as a vintage car rally in a girls’ school. That brought a smile to my face as I felt it was typical Midsomer. Plus, being my first episode, it has a special place in my heart.

My favourite Midsomer murder is… also in the first film. I have a relatively small pool of episodes to choose from but in this one, at the car rally, a young man was killed by a starting handle. When the body was brought out, the crank handle was sticking out of his chest. In an episode to come there’s a poor man who is found dead in a vat of cider. I like the ones that are slightly comedy gruesome. The more exotic and bizarre the murder the better!

My advice to anyone wanting to relocate to Midsomer is… yes, please move in, the countryside is beautiful, you will love the people, the village greens are perfect but just watch out you don’t get murdered!

I wouldn’t change anything… about my character. John has a lovely wife, a faithful dog, a great working partner and it’s all rather wonderful. If anything, I’d have moved him to Midsomer years ago.

John’s wardrobe is… limited to shirts, ties and suits but for this last episode I had some great walking boots and some rather nice gaiters. You nearly always see him in his work uniform, so he doesn’t make many fashion faux pas.

If roles were reversed, my murder weapon of choice would be… something ludicrous, like firing someone out of a cannon at a fete! Before that, trick them into dressing up as a giant sausage and then when they land they drown in a pool of mashed potato!

I celebrated getting the role… I was in Glasgow shooting BBC1’s Life of Riley [in which Neil plays dad Jim] and when I got back home I went out with a mate and bought him pie and chips but that was as glamorous as it got.

The best thing about working with Jason Hughes who plays John’s sidekick DS Ben Jones is… that we get on very well; it’s a good relationship off screen and on. Jason’s a very appealing part of working on Midsomer. He’s brilliant in the part and has a lot of charm and is very funny. I hope the friendship we have off-screen shows on-screen to some extent.

Working with Sykes who plays John’s dog is… good but you have to be careful that he doesn’t upstage you as he’s a bit of a scene stealer. He knows every trick in the book and will do anything for a sausage! He’s great, but you have to remember he is a dog and not an actor, so when he is performing he really is looking for a sausage from his trainer. He’s a very sweet-natured little dog.

My must-haves on set are… the Guardian crossword, a pencil and my script. You can’t really go off and read a book mid-scene, so a cryptic crossword is a small distraction but not enough to take you away from what you should be concentrating on. I also carry breath freshener.

If John Barnaby, Miss Marple, Poirot and Lewis competed to solve a murder, the winner would be… justice! I think they would all collaborate rather well together – it’d all be wrapped up in 10 minutes.

I don’t have a top TV detective… but I like watching series like The Wire and NYPD Blue. I also look back to the cop shows of the Seventies – Kojak, Ironside, and I loved Callan. I like reading Agatha Christie, the brilliantly deductive Sherlock Holmes and The Lord Peter Wimsey stories.

The most unusual place I’ve been spotted by a fan is… in Sainsbury’s. The woman was delighted to meet me, but was convinced that I was Kevin Spacey.

The role that changed my life was… in a play called Road when I was just out of drama school. I got a lot of offers after that. I was also in a play Waiting Room Germany at the Royal Court and that’s where I met my wife and the mother of my two children, so that role certainly changed my life.

Work-wise, I’d love to do… period work as I always get offered more contemporary and traditional roles. I haven’t been offered the arty posh roles in the past but I’d be interested to do something from Charles Dickens. It’s period but predominantly urban; I love the richness and eccentricity of the characters, and how they don’t conform to type.

My guilty TV pleasure is… Location, Location, Location. I don’t watch a lot of TV, however I’ve always liked this – I quite like looking into other people’s houses! I think it’s the property version of Midsomer Murders. Jason is Phil and I’m Kirstie!

When I was growing up, I wanted to be… a footballer but sadly I wasn’t very good at it. In my mid-teens, I started getting interested in the theatre but originally I was more attracted to directing than acting.

The best piece of advice I’ve been given… was from my careers teacher. He chuckled when I said I was interested in the theatre and said why don’t you get yourself a proper job and keep the acting as a hobby. It was a seminal moment for me.

Happiness to me is… Good health, and beyond that all the usual things, my family and friends.

The person I admire most is… my mum. She is strong, and has great determination. You see that in ordinary folk just living their lives, with fortitude and a great sense of humour.

I’d love to… have a huge garden with a shed at the bottom of it, which would be an artists’ studio. This is where I could write, play the piano, sculpt and paint. I’ll never have this as I can’t do any of those things, but it’s a wonderful dream.

My fantasy weekend would be… that I would wake up very early by the sea on the South coast. I would take the kids down to the beach for a bacon roll and a cup of tea. Then I would go to see Fulham at home with them miraculously beating Manchester Utd 5-4 in the last few minutes. I’d then have a couple of pints and a pie. I’d wake up Sunday morning late in a hotel in Paris and go to see some lovely art exhibitions. We would have a few drinks over a lovely Parisian lunch, then go to bed early with a good book.

Midsomer Murders is on Wednesday October 12 at 8pm on ITV1.

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