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By Phil Ogley
Residents cannot fail to have noticed all the police activity around the village green in recent weeks. Events were centred around the pavilion on the green, which your Newsletter can exclusively reveal housed a ‘camera obscura’ used to secretly observe goings on. Luckily Detective Inspector Barnaby and the rest of the Midsomer constabulary were quickly on hand and arrests have been made. The Midsomer Holm Newsletter will keep you up to date with developments as they happen.
We should be thankful that the real residents of The Lee do not suffer from the high murder rate depicted in the TV series. So far The Lee has been the scene of nine murders, three suicides and one accidental death investigated by D.I. Barnaby. If they were all real, we’d never sleep at night.
The Lee has starred as three different identities in Midsomer Murders so far. In the first series The Lee appeared as Badgers Drift, the main centre of the action in the pilot episode ‘The Killings at Badger Drift’. Action returned to Badgers Drift twice more in the second series, which was filmed in 1997 and 1998.
In 2002 The Lee was featured as Midsomer Florey in the episode ‘Painted in Blood’, which featured only one paltry murder. In 2007 we have had another name change, becoming Midsomer Holm, in an episode entitled ‘Death in a Chocolate Box’.
‘Death in a Deluge’ might have been a more appropriate title given the weather enjoyed during filming. Fortunately the script called for several scenes to take place on rainy days, though in an ironic twist the type of rain falling from the sky was not correct for filming purposes, so the crew could be seen spraying artificial rain from sprinklers onto cast and extras being soaked to the skin by the real stuff!
Filming took place in and around The Green, The-Lee Manor being renamed Holm Manor and the Cock and Rabbit becoming ‘The Safe Haven’. Elizabeth Stewart-Liberty, who gave permission for The Green to be used in filming, is kindly donating a portion of the proceeds paid by the film company to the Church of St John the Baptist, The Lee Old Church and to The Lee Cricket Club.
Midsomer Murders is made by Bentley Productions, the company run by local resident Brian True-May. Sixty episodes have been made in ten series, with filming on another six due to start in the summer. The series remains popular in the UK, where it typically attracts over eight million viewers, and is currently shown to 204 countries around the world. There are no plans at present to end the series, so perhaps more murders are possible in The Lee.
One sad footnote to the recent episode was the sudden death of actor Ian Richardson just one week before he was due to start filming in The Lee. Ian Richardson was a very accomplished actor on stage (with the RSC) and TV, perhaps best known for his portrayal of Francis Urquhart in the TV series ‘House of Cards’. His part, as ‘Lord Holm’ was taken by Edward Petherbridge, at very short notice.
The police are still finalising their investigations, and have imposed reporting restrictions until some point during the summer. All will be revealed in a nationally televised broadcast that I, for one, will be watching with a drink in ‘The Safe Haven’.
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