Midsomer Murders: The curse of Joyce Barnaby

I always imagine that Tom Barnaby’s heart must sink into his hush puppies when his wife comes home and announces “I’ve been shopping today in Chaffing-on-the-Arse, darling.” He must immediately think “Well, there goes my day off ”.

She should be banned from joining any sort of book reading group, amateur dramatic society or knitting circle. In fact Barnaby should just lock her up for everyone’s safety. If you saw her in your local library you would run a mile in case you came a cropper from a heavy Maeve Binchy.  She falls into the category of cursed women who seem to have the knack of leaving a trail of dead bodies in their wake. Imagine having dear old Miss Marple round for tea. I’d want to employ a food taster to make sure the food wasn’t laced with Cyanide. I’d definitely have to refuse the offer of a spot of light gardening from Rosemary and Thyme for fear of a hideous crime being committed in my clematis.

I imagine there is a carousel somewhere in TV land, similar to those at the airport where you grab your suitcases after your holiday,  full of old, has-been actors, going round and round waiting for producers from shows such as Midsomer Murders, Lewis or any Agatha Christie adaptation to come and pick them up. The same old actors appear in these programmes over and over again, doing the rounds and usually ending up getting bumped off, or caught while trying to kill their tenth victim of the night.

Apparently the Americans love Midsomer Murders. I’m sure it just reinforces their belief that we are all slightly mad, living in houses with thatched roofs because it makes them easier to burn down if we want to kill the occupants for stealing our secret recipes for our prize winning jam.

In the last gripping episode of Midsomer, the murder of the local suit-maker (pronounced syuit by the plum-in-the-mouth tailor) had everyone talking. It took at least six visits to the suspect’s house to get all the information Barnaby and his sidekick needed. Why can’t they just ask all the questions in one interview and have done with it? Though I suppose the programme would only last an hour instead of the long drawn out two hours, made longer by all the suspicious sidelong glances, sighs, stilted conversations and unanswered questions.

The detectives leave the house then ponder why the suspect hadn’t given clear answers then decide to go back the following day, by which time four other people have met a grisly end. The murders in this lovely little picture postcard village are not your average run-of-the-mill murders either. They are the most hideous, violent and gruesome ways to kill somebody. A pitchfork through the back of a deckchair stands out in my memory, and that was all because of a rare orchid.

The background to the story was that the lord of the manor  owned all the local property and the locals were worried he wouldn’t be renewing tenancies in the houses or the shops, including the tailor’s. As Barnaby’s wife (AKA the kiss of death) walked into the shop, she was followed by a mysterious hooded black figure, just at the time when some young thugs (teenagers to anyone outside Midsomer) came in to try on some trainers. This was truly disturbing: a shop selling trainers in Midsomer! Whatever next? Crack dealers in the tea shop? With customers dwindling, probably because the population of the village gets halved every week with all these murders, the son of the owner of the suit shop decided to trendy the shop up and sell ripped jeans and trainers.

All hell broke loose when one of the young lads, who looked perfectly decent to me (but what do I know, I’m not from those parts) was accused of shoplifting. He got thrown out of the shop and so became a suspect when owner of said shop was found dead in the churchyard. Victim number two was the vicar, who also came to a nasty end in the

Please, no

churchyard when someone very nearly decapitated him. The third victim was saved from the chop by Barnaby and Jones heroically opening a door and rescuing her from the mad lord of the manor, who, it turned out, spent his time either bonking or bumping off the tenants of his land.

It all ended up with the detectives having hideous plaid suits made for them with an amusing twist of tweed at the end.

Sometimes I think it would be nice to live in a picturesque village, with a village green, a summer gala, vegetable growing competitions, pony shows and morris dancers (strike that one). Cottages with roses round the door and country pubs for Sunday lunch.

Idyllic. If they could just lower the crime rate I’d move there tomorrow.

Posted by the lovely  Nicola


Filed under Detective/police drama

16 responses to “Midsomer Murders: The curse of Joyce Barnaby

  1. chumbles

    Idyllic! The notion of the country cottage, replete with kindly old lady dispensing tea and cucumber sandwiches… but wait until night falls. The night chorus will include the chomping of the death watch beetle, the screaming of the foxes in heat (and believe me, whatever they do, it doesn’t sound like fun) and cats doing what cats do best at night to keep you awake. And if you have thatch, and wattle and daub walls, there’s bound to be rats and earwigs munching away. Your sense of smell gets attuned to the burning of ancient wiring and the dripping of the taps can drive you completely insane. Finally, the sounds of nature trying to grow right back through your lovely cottage are a please counterpoint to all this.

    Believe me, a few murders come as light relief, to the constant search for money to keep the place going!

    • pauseliveaction

      Ouch. That sounds like the voice of bitter experience speaking there, chumbles.

      • chumbles

        I’m afraid so; and I suppose you’d have to call them something else as the builders were mainly Elizabethan! But for about five days of an English Summer (i.e. when the Sun shone) it was wonderful! Midsommer territory lies just to the west and south of Wycombe, very close where the Vicar of Dibley resides!

  2. Nicola

    Yes it does sound like first hand experience. Cowboy builders perhaps? I could never live in the country really, i fear nature and anything furry with four legs and a tail. Worst of all though would be the risk of running into Morris Dancers and the WRVS. I suppose i could always fend off a mad murderer with my homemeade Victoria sponge though.

  3. You’re forgetting the Kim Bauer of Midsomer – Cully (as in “Hello Cully, what are you doing here?”). Another harbinger of doom. If they could a) do these things in an hour and b) find new sound effects for the rural nighttime (it’s always the same bloody fox and owl barking and screeching), I might still be watching it. I used to quite the enjoy the ridiculous ways they despatched their victims…

  4. Gorblimeyguvneryouraregulartofmakenomistake!

    What amazes me is those incredible ‘Midsomer’ moonlit nights, so brighs you could read your Country Life by them. As for that screeching owl, it certainly gets about, i’ve just heard it in Rosemary and Thyme. And one more thing could somebody please shoot that bloody alarmed blackbird that seemingly appears in every episode of Midsomer, it must be the most used sound effect in tv history!

  5. Whatever that “night sound” is (descriptions range from a fox, black bird, owl, panther (panther?) it is comical in its repetitive nature. Please, please, please!, directors of this TV series, I beseech you, stop!, that stupid-stupid night sound!!! What are you twelve? It’s distracting, and makes an otherwise “fun to watch” TV series become ”so cheesy” so fast; as opposed to a “series of cozy murders” (my wife’s words, not mine). She so loves her English detective shows, this one in particular, and so do I must admit. The director (and writer) get it right all the way, “…..except……” with that annoying night sound, and that’s the kindest thing I can say about it.

  6. Frederick

    I’ve just been binge-watching this series on Netflix and was smiling through this post and the wonderfully snarky comments, all true and all irrelevant! It is a the most ambitious and effective travel brochure that I’ve ever seen in my entire life. That “Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” had us packing our bags for visits to remote windswept Channel Islands but this Midsomer/Somerset place looks incredible. Dangerous, clearly. But incredible.

    • Rosie

      Watch something else if you don’t like the ones you complain about. I dislike Ray Donovan prison break and all reality shows, so I don’t watch and switch on a murder / thriller!!!!

  7. Jaybird

    This was a most entertaining read–thanks!!
    I’ve binge-watched this show too and laughed out loud so many times. As soon as you hear “Oh, it’s you…” you know the person saying that is about to die in some hideous manner. Every time there’s a noise in the woods you see the same flock of pigeons take to wing (since when do pigeons live in the woods?). Those omnipresent Fox calls whenever it’s dark are almost as annoying as the laughable sound effects on any Attenborough documentary (don’t get me started!).
    I can only assume the fox sound effect is some sort of a running gag between the crew?
    Having said all that, I do love this show. It’s predictable in many ways, but always unpredictable in others (it’s hard to predict the preposterous).
    Some of the cinematography has been great. It’s a fun show if you don’t take it too seriously. 🙂

  8. mossyfern

    I came across this article and comments while searching for something else, and had to read it. I laughed through the entire thing because I’m American, I DO love Midsomer Murders, and I’ve often thought Tom should tell Joyce to get a job!

  9. zuly

    These are the best posts ever! I’ve becoming annoyingly addicted to MM, and all of the above explains my annoyance! But I just love Tom Nettles and can’t stop watching.

    • Lyndon Harris

      MM is strangely compulsive viewing. I must have seen every repeat twice and then some but i find myself watching it again knowing full well who did the foul deeds.
      I have a theory that Barnaby and Jones are the killers, they’re the ones doing it all to keep themselves in a job. Have you noticed when they gets involved suddenly four other people at least are murderd, Coincidental? I think not!
      Personally, i’d murder the barking fox, screeching owl and startled blackbird that ‘appears’ in every episode!!

  10. Chris

    Love this show. I’ve noticed there are only white folks in the villages, all their homes are beautiful and everyone is polite to the police. When walking in mud or rain or wood they wear nice suites. It’s a fairy tale I really enjoy.

  11. Sama

    MM is strangely compulsive, I agree! Even when Tom Barnaby is so annoyingly smug and certain that he is the smartest man in the room. Makes me wonder why Joyce didn’t have an affair — that I would have loved to see. That would have added some real spice and change of pace to the show.

  12. Bette Debole

    I have watched with much pleasure all of the Midsomer Murders, if fact I have watched them at least 4 times each. Here’s the thing though, I usually watch at night and inevitably I fall asleep, and then wake to find I am watching a totally different one. So I have gone back several times and watched each story at least 4 times, much to my amazement I actually have discovered many ones that I had missed altogether. I love the show, I hope it continues for along time. I am an American and find I like the villages and their houses and all things that I guess are somewhat typical of English countryside living, more importantly I love the twist and turns of the stories. Some of the murders are so vile, but I like them because they are not overly graphic, and there is not a lot of shoot them up, like American detective shows tend to be, or car chases which bores me. I also love the tea pots and cups, my sister and I both love it. I think it’s our ages we are both over 70. Just like in real life there is always something going on behind someone’s door that you would never expect.