TV Crime Log: Midsomer, Pemberley

It’s Christmas. You’re probably reading this in front of a warm fire – if it’s a cold fire, you’re doing something wrong – feet tucked up on a sofa, wearing your Christmas jumper, as you contemplate flicking through your leather-bound Radio Times looking for something to watch.

If that’s the scenario, I’d imagine that crime drama with a bit of foliage is what you’re after. Bushes, nice lawns and so forth. So Midsomer Murders tomorrow – Christmas Eve – is just the ticket.

MIDSOMER_MURDERS_2014You’re not alone. MM, as absolutely no-one likes to call it, has been a ratings powerhouse since 1997. It’s survived a change of leading man – it used to star another man, but now it stars that man  – numerous sidekicks and even a bit of controversy.

Midsomer Murders started in 1997 and is based on the seven Chief Inspector Barnaby novels by Caroline Graham written between 1978 and 2004. It was originally going to be called Barnaby, but TV writer Anthony ‘Foyle’ Horowitz  came up with the genius title.

Get cosy for the blurb:

It’s Christmas as new detective Charlie Nelson moves into Midsomer.  He’s thrown straight into a murder investigation in Morton Shallows when a man is fatally stabbed with an antique sword during a ghost-hunting party at a ‘haunted’ manor house.  Can Barnaby and Nelson find a more earthly motive behind the murder and trap the killer?

When you’ve watched it, you can play the Midsomer Game. All you have to do is name the 66 towns and villages in that wretched county where the murder rate is double that of London. I’ll start you off… Midsomer Florey… Badger’s Drift… Pandlefoot Bailey…

The first episode of the new series is on at the sensible time of 8pm tomorrow.

608For more nice lawns and good grouting to boot, Death Comes To Pemberley is the murder-mystery sequel of Austen’s Pride And Prejudice by PD James. The first of this three-part drama in on the day after Boxing Day. I’m calling it – it’s Thursday.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the blurb must be in want of a reader:

It’s the eve of the Darcy’s annual Lady Anne ball at their magnificent Pemberley home. It’s been six years since Elizabeth and Darcy married and they now have a young son, Fitzwilliam, 3. They are happier than ever and Elizabeth’s caring nature sees her suited to her role as lady of the house.

Elizabeth finds the time to visit the Bidwell family before the guests arrive. Mr Bidwell is head coachman at Pemberley and the rest of his family work for the Darcys too but his son Will is dying and Elizabeth goes to visit him, reaching out to the family in their time of suffering.

The first of their guests arrive the evening before the ball, including Mrs Bennet who is complaining about the journey to the long-suffering Mr Bennet. Georgiana Darcy has two suitors vying for her affections: her emotionally distant cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam who, stepping up to the duties of heir, has marriage in mind; and Alveston, a dynamic young lawyer who clearly has Georgiana’s heart.

The party are relaxing after supper when the festivities are brought to an abrupt halt. A scream calls them to the window and a hysterical Lydia Bennet tumbles out of a carriage screaming murder. What follows is the sombre discovery of a dead man in Pemberley woods, with George Wickham – Lydia’s husband and Darcy’s brother in law – found at the scene covered in the dead man’s blood. So begins a nightmare and mounting scandal which will threaten to engulf Pemberley and all that the Darcys hold dear.

Him from The Americans is in it, and her from Doctor Who, and her from The Bletchley Circle. Death At Pemberley is on at the awkward time of 8.15pm.

Merry Christmas, dear reader!


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