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All-white Midsomer
Frogmarch 2002 - Whitby
tobyaw
Controversy in the news today about the lack of racial diversity in Midsomer Murders. The programme’s producer, Brian True-May, was quoted in an interview in the Radio Times saying that they don’t have ethnic minorities involved, because “it wouldn’t be the English village with them.”

There is a parallel between the fantasy world of Midsomer and that of Middle-earth; a hairy-toed Barnaby interacts with the very-white inhabitants of the Shire.

Currently watching this week’s afternoon repeat; a 2005 episode called Sauce for the Goose. Annette Crosbie thinks she is going dotty, and someone has just died under a palette-load of chutney, only then to be steam cleaned. Pink peeling skin!

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Midsomer Murders may have a modern setting, but a significant part of its ethos is that of the folkloric village-setting of 1930s murder mystery novels. It exists both in the present day and in a non-existant fantasy of English country life.

Barnaby as an outsider, a resolute townie living in Causton. He finds order in the chaos of Midsomer; he is an agent for the audience; his is the only sanity in a deranged world of country folk.

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At least they don’t follow the one of the other tropes of 1930s murder mysteries: the villainous foreigner.

I get enough of that from Taggart; if there is an English accent in the cast, odds are they are the murderer!


I grew up in a very white area of the Trossachs. We didn't even have any Asians, the only 'foreign' element was the strong presence of one Italian family that owned a lot of the town centre, and a few Polish remnants, both from WWII. In fact..the only ethnic minority I saw in school was a black child in my primary one class in Bridge of Allan. Whom I rather liked secretly, but never really got to know as we moved soon later. Boo!

Doesn’t every Scottish town, however small, boast a chinese carryout (and an Italian ice-cream shop)?

Assuming he was quoted correctly, it's absolutely right he was suspended. Here's the key quote:

"Well, we just don't have ethnic minorities involved. Because it wouldn't be the English village with them. It just wouldn't work. Suddenly we might be in Slough. Ironically Causton is supposed to be Slough. And if you went in to Slough you wouldn't see a white face there. We're the last bastion of Englishness and i want to keep it that way."

I've not seen any comment, anywhere, suggesting that it's wrong that Midsomer Murders is overwhelmingly white (although I'm sure such comment will exist if you look hard enough). However, the producer of the show is giving the impression that coloured faces are just not welcome at all, despite being common in a real world inspiration for one of the localities. Assuming the best possible motives, that was a clueless thing to do, and there's a possibility it may be worse than that.

At the back of my mind I wonder whether the whole furore is a publicity stunt that has gone too far. Perhaps True-May was encouraged to say something controversial with the new series in the offing — with a replacement Barnaby in the detecting seat, I imagine they are pushing hard on the publicity.

Where I grew up and when to school in Co Down it was very white.

I remember 3 "different" lads in my year. A lad called Andrew who was the son of the owner of the local chinese restaurant, a lad called David who was from a family that had moved from Jordan before he was born, and a lad called John who was a Catholic.

I remember first seeing a black guy in the flesh when I went to university and I had to work very hard not to just stare at him.

I grew up in one of the villages where it's filmed. Total 'foreign' population: 2. (Village pop. 4-7K over the years I was there.) David's mum, who was from Sri Lanka (David was not obviously non-white) and my dad, who is Italian. Then there was also Mrs A, who was Chinese and taught at my primary school, but she lived in Oxford. It's really not changed. :-/

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