TV

Neil Dudgeon: Lead piping, Latin and death by cheese

Has Neil Dudgeon (Midsomer Murders' DCI John Barnaby) discovered a Cluedo to the source of violent crime in Britain?

There is now a Midsomer Murders-themed edition of Cluedo.

We can’t get enough of murder. Not only can you watch the show, you can join in and play the whole whodunit murdery thing.

Barnaby is one of the characters, does that mean he is a potential culprit?

I haven’t had the chance to play this yet but I suppose so… I think Barnaby, Mrs Barnaby and Sykes the dog could all be murderers.

That would be quite a twist in the world of Midsomer.

People are always saying, how can there have been so many murders in one county over so many years? The common denominator, obviously, is Barnaby. Wouldn’t it be amazing at the series end you say, actually the policeman framed all these people for all these murders? But no, I don’t think that’s going to happen. That would be too far-fetched, even for Midsomer.

So are you any good at Cluedo?

It’s a bit embarrassing to admit as a TV detective but I find it terribly difficult. I always think I’m going to lose so have a stab at guessing prematurely. I never win at Cluedo.

Did you know the game was first developed to play in bomb shelters during the war?

Was it? A murder-based game while you’re hiding from being murdered. What about Monopoly or Snakes & Ladders?

And the lead piping token was originally made of lead.

You couldn’t do that now.

It would be ironic if anyone had been killed by lead poisoning while playing Cluedo.

Kids used to suck away on their lead soldiers. We were all aggressive in those days because of all the lead in the environment. On the subject of lead, I gather that since lead was taken out of petrol about 30 years ago there has been a 50 per cent decline in the amount of violent crime in the country. I don’t think it’s clear exactly what the relationship is but it seems a big coincidence. There are people who know more about this than me. I’m only a pretend TV detective.

midsomer-murders-licensing-5534

My last piece of Cluedo trivia is that the name comes from the Latin ‘ludo’, meaning ‘to play’.

I sort of probably knew that in my past. I did Latin at school but have managed to forget all of it. I had a very good Latin teacher, he made everybody get As at O-level because he taught us the A-level course by mistake.

They probably stopped teaching Latin in schools about 30 years ago as well. That might explain the drop in violent crime.

Maybe that was it! Better put the lead back in the petrol then and scrap the Latin.

In a world full of horrible and terrible things, why are we fascinated by the horrible and terrible things that happen in Midsomer?

There are so many going on – you don’t switch the news on most nights. Midsomer is escapist and flamboyant. There was a murder where a gargoyle fell off the roof of a castle and crushed the owner. Martine McCutcheon was beaten to death with a wheel of cheese. They are not the kinds of deaths you’re afraid of happening to you on your way home from the office. The lovely countryside is the star of the show and it’s too nice to have horrible, scary murders. Midsomer is not gritty realism.

There are also a lot of gritty crime dramas, like any Scandinoir series. Strangely, Midsomer Murders is very popular in Scandinavia, as well as everywhere else in the world. Why?

There’s something about being British that’s universally interesting. Being quite reserved and stiff upper lipped – but there are always seething passions, jealousies, lies and affairs going on under this calm and genteel surface. Actually, that’s true of Scandinoir too. Denmark is supposed to be the happiest country in the world but The Killing shows you the terrible darkness looming underneath.

Midsomer Murders airs Wednesdays at 8pm on ITV. Midsomer Murders Cluedo is available on Amazon

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