Neil Dudgeon and Gwilym Lee return as DCI John Barnaby and DS Charlie Nelson in four new two-hour Midsomer Murders mysteries on ITV.
A stolen crime novel, celebrity magic, a folk festival and the launch of a new English sparkling wine become the backdrops for murder and mayhem in Season 17. Barnaby must also juggle life as a new dad to baby Betty, with the support of his wife Sarah (Fiona Dolman).
Guest stars will include Joe Absolom, Dean Andrews, Claire Bloom, Mark Bonnar, Daniel Brocklebank, Amanda Burton, Rosie Cavaliero, Ruth Gemmell, Lucie Jones, Adam Kotz, Naoko Mori, Lloyd Owen, Clarke Peters, Andrew-Lee Potts, Jack Shepherd, Una Stubbs, Georgia Taylor and Lia Williams.
Episode 1: ‘The Dagger Club’
Wednesday 28 January 2015, 8pm
DCI Barnaby is adapting to life with baby Betty when he is interrupted by a phone call from DS Nelson. Artist Suzie Colebrook has been electrocuted by a booby-trapped roulette wheel sent in the post shortly after she discovered a break-in at her home.
Suzie illustrated the Jed Dagger detective novels written by late Luxton Deeping author George Summersbee. She was also the executor of George’s estate. The murder comes as a local crime festival is about to unveil a newly discovered Dagger story – and her publisher husband Niall seems more concerned that the priceless manuscript has been stolen than that his wife has been murdered.
The festival itself is a hotbed of tension between George’s daughter Bella, a bookshop owner and sole beneficiary of her father’s will, and her mother Jeanie, while Bella’s partner Rob Mead is stressed about money. Organiser Maggie Markham is in her element promoting her GP husband Nick Summersbee’s memoirs about his famous brother.
Nelson discovers the electrocution mirrors a plotline in the first Dagger novel ‘The Wheels of Justice’, except that in the book roulette wheels are posted to two victims. Many villagers would have loved to get their hands on the manuscript, including obsessive fan Curtis Braylesford and big time publisher Miles Rattigan, while Maggie claims Jeanie hated Suzie for having an affair with George.
A second deadly roulette wheel is traced to the house of retro specialist Cecilie Peterson 30 miles away, but the police get there too late. At first there is no obvious connection between the victims but Barnaby spots Suzie’s original artwork for ‘The Wheels of Justice’ on the wall.
Curtis’ aunt Audrey demands money from Rob while Jeanie tells Barnaby her husband died in a boating accident. She is convinced the missing manuscript is fake, while Maggie and Nick offer a reward for its safe return.
Phone records reveal both victims knew Bella. As forensics reveal Suzie’s break-in was staged, Bella reveals Suzie wanted Miles to publish the new book rather than Niall, giving the dead woman’s husband motive to steal it and possibly kill her. But then police find Niall crushed to death under his printing press.
At an exhibition of Suzie’s art, Rattigan tells Barnaby that George had huge debts. Nelson follows gallery owner Vincent Treaborne to the bookstore where an illicit game of poker is taking place. The stakes are high – and Audrey wins Rob’s share of the bookshop. Barnaby makes a shocking discovery that George is alive and had been living with Cecilie. Meanwhile Curtis stumbles upon George himself and arranges for Bella to meet her father in the woods. But when she gets there they are chased, and George is stabbed to death with a dagger. Kate reveals that the murderer is left-handed.
Jeanie learns that her husband is dead – not years ago but only hours ago, while everyone converges on the bookshop where Nick is launching his memoirs. Can Barnaby find who really died in the boating accident, locate the manuscript and unmask the killer?
Episode 2: ‘Murder by Magic’
Wednesday 4 February 2015, 8pm
Landlady Hannah Altman is crushed to death by a giant Perspex box during a magic show by famous illusionist Gideon Latimer aimed at raising funds for St Cyprian’s Church. Kate finds that cables to the box were deliberately sabotaged – it’s murder. But Gideon, his wife Annabel and manager Theo Bainbridge didn’t even know Hannah.
Evangelising curate Andrew Maplin tells vicar Magnus Soane that the tragedy is God’s vengeance for the pagan traditions still held deep in Midsomer Oaks. Barnaby and Nelson fear Gideon was the real target, especially when Annabel reveals hate mail has been sent to Melmoth Hall, his newly-acquired country seat. That night a group of masked pagans hold a fire-lit ceremony.
Hannah’s husband Luke tells police his wife had an affair with florist Rhodri Probert. At the pub, Nelson finds an envelope containing £2,000, casting doubt on Luke’s claims that the business was struggling. Curate Andrew Maplin admits sending hate mail to Gideon but says he only wanted to put an end to the magic.
Andrew tries to perform an exorcism at Melmoth. The family together with Gideon’s devoted mother Carole are angry. The next day Annabel finds Andrew stabbed to death by the pagan temple in Melmoth’s grounds. His face is covered with oak leaves – the pagan Green Man symbol. Nearby is the grave of Sir Hugo Melmoth, who according to legend threw himself on a fire in an act of self-sacrifice.
Annabel seeks comfort from Theo, but Gabriel sees them kiss. Andrew’s camcorder reveals footage of a pagan ceremony which ends abruptly when one of the pagans spots him and runs towards his camera – it’s Luke. He’s defiant, claiming the group were just celebrating the end of winter by burning a straw effigy. Gideon is rattled but vicar’s wife Lorna Soane urges him to fulfil plans for another fundraising show. Theo asks Annabel to leave with him but Carole overhears.
Rhodri admits he is a pagan. He wanted to be high priest but Hannah threatened to tell his wife Ailsa about their affair unless he withdrew and voted for her. With Hannah dead, the priesthood will pass to Lorna, a descendent of Melmoth and secret pagan.
At the fundraiser, Gideon has his audience spellbound when he catches a speeding bullet in his teeth. But then Annabel is found dead. Carole confronts Theo about their relationship.
Sarah discovers Sir Hugo was no hero – he was killed by villagers seeking justice for years of tyranny. And Nelson finds Luke is really Seth Farringdale, whose boyhood games with fireworks ended up killing a homeless man. Seth was convicted but was he acting alone or has someone escaped justice?
Barnaby and Nelson race to the pagan temple where Lorna is re-enacting the death of Sir Hugo. Gideon is put into a crate over a burning pyre. As firefighters douse the flames, another person is found in the crate – it’s Luke and he’s still alive. Barnaby realises the murders are all linked to Gideon’s illusions. But who is staging the deathly tricks and why?
Episode 3: ‘The Ballad of Midsomer County’
Wednesday 11 February 2015, 8pm
It’s the day of the Little Crosby Folk Festival and organiser Toby Winning is found dead, drowned in a bowl of eggs and live eels. Toby spent his last evening at the George Hotel, run by Tom and Claire Asher, where he announced plans to move the festival away.
The murder seems to have been inspired by a folk classic, The Ballad of Midsomer County, made famous by the late, lamented Johnny Carver. The song just happens to feature on the debut album of Toby’s estranged wife Alice. Toby’s laptop is missing and phone records show he’d received a call from a phone box located near an abandoned cottage.
Local entrepreneur Frank Wainwright has most to lose if the festival moves away. At his pub The Captain Farrell, Melody Carver is about to perform when she spies her controlling father Danny and flees the stage. Frank tells Barnaby that Danny blames the music industry for the suicide of his brother. Later Toby’s assistant Brian Grey finds the missing laptop and Frank goes to the rundown cottage.
Alice’s fingerprints are found on the bowl of eels and she admits she went to see Toby – but found him already dead. Toby’s business was in trouble, thanks largely to his partner Brian Grey who was courting potential business partners. Police discover Danny owns the mystery cottage but hasn’t been there for 25 years as it was the site of his brother’s suicide.
Armed with Toby’s laptop Brian arranges to meet someone but he is crushed by a huge speaker and roses are stuffed in his mouth, echoing another lyric from the ballad. His last call was to Frank at the Captain Farrell.
Danny goes to search the cottage but what he’s looking for has gone. Angry, he attacks Frank as he performs at Toby’s memorial. Danny admits there was an old audio tape at the cottage – music recorded by Johnny before he died. Frank knew about it too, but swears he didn’t take it. He has another admission to make – staying at the cottage is Danny’s wife Heather, who left Midsomer when Melody was a young child. She wants to make amends.
Festival headliner Jay Templeton takes an uneasy Melody to the cottage and quizzes her about the tape. Meanwhile Nelson discovers Toby was funding studio sessions for Melody, and in return managed to persuade her to give him the reel to reel tape. He made a copy on his laptop and Barnaby suspects there was more than music on the missing recording.
That night, Frank is speared through the stomach with a parasol. A juniper bush – another motif from the song – has been left nearby. Barnaby discovers Frank was buying the George Hotel and Claire was planning to use the money to leave Tom. Gunshot residue is found at the cottage, revealing Johnny’s death was murder. Was the killing recorded on tape?
Danny reveals that Johnny was a ladies’ man who had an affair with Heather. She was gutted to find out he had other lovers and ran away. Detectives go to find Heather, but she’s already told a shocked Melody that she’s her mother – and Danny is not her real father.
At the George, Claire has vanished and so has a shotgun. Barnaby heads for the abandoned cottage to discover the killer.
Episode 4: ‘A Vintage Murder’
Wednesday 18 February 2015, 8pm
The launch of the latest sparkling wine by Midsomer Vinae Winery falls flat when wine critic Nadia Simons gives it a scathing review, then guests sampling the vintage start to collapse. Owner William Carnarvon suspects the Farmers Wives Association of trying to destroy his business while his wife Diana frets over her mother Matilda, one of the victims.
Kate reveals the wine was laced with slug poison while campaigner and district nurse Elspeth Rice convenes an urgent meeting. At the nearby Vine Hotel, boss Louis Paynton tells detectives he sold his family’s farm to the Carnarvons to establish the winery.
The villagers blame the vineyard for the death of 10-year-old Jessica Tyler, daughter of hotel porter Roger and his wife Judy, because Jessica was struck by a hit-and-run driver following an earlier boozy wine launch. Nadia’s car was seen speeding from the scene.
Nadia is drinking again when a car drives straight at her. She recovers consciousness briefly only to find herself trapped in the vineyard’s fermentation room with no air supply. Louis’ son Kevin discovers her body – she died from carbon dioxide poisoning. Barnaby and Nelson search Nadia’s room and find cash and air tickets to the south of France.
Kevin, a loyal worker at the winery, is angry when his dad tells him he wants to buy it from the struggling Carnarvons. Meanwhile the Tylers’ surviving daughter Tina plans to run away with the Carnarvon’s son Ryan. Nelson discovers Nadia had been sacked for taking bribes in return for good reviews and had cirrhosis of the liver. Judy tells police that since Jessica’s death she has hardly been outside, but is comforted by Elspeth. Elspeth is worried about falling water levels in the pond.
William and Diana face losing the vineyard but Matilda wants to give her cash to Ryan instead – only if he takes up a prestigious offer to study music. They deny paying Nadia for a good review and refuse Louis’ offer to buy them out. Later Louis is called to a guest’s bedroom and falls to his death from the window, apparently pushed. Kevin tells police his father never took no for an answer – especially where women were concerned.
Tina and Ryan pack to leave, but as Tina waits by the pond she is dragged into the bushes. Kevin, now owner of the Vine Hotel, offers to go into partnership with William, but his mentor is offended not flattered and tells a hurt Kevin he is as bad as his father.
Kate reviews Jessica’s case and finds the collision was low speed, so it’s unlikely to be Nadia. Ryan fears he’s been jilted, until he spots Tina’s backpack by the pond. Police divers are called but instead of Tina, they find a small rusting red car underwater. Ryan’s parents are angry at the plans to elope and even Matilda turns against him.
Diana admits she applied for bankruptcy – she paid Nadia for a bad review because she wanted the vineyard to close. She also admits to poisoning the wine. Meanwhile time is running out for Tina who is bound and gagged and trapped in a cellar as wine begins to cascade dangerously from above. Can police find her in time and discover who really killed Jessica – and Nadia and Louis?
Watch the Season 17 trailer…
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