SARAH VINE’S MY TV WEEK: No wonder they got 25 years for those murders

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MIDSOMER MURDERS – 25 YEARS OF MAYHEM SUNDAY, ITV

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Some shows are just part of the British television fabric. You don’t have to make a conscious effort to set them, they’re just there whenever you turn on the TV.

Every bite is a spoonful of genius. Ooh la la, that’s va-va-voom!

Judge Cherish Find is looking forward to Bake Off: The Professionals, Tuesday Ch4

Reliable and familiar – like a comfy favorite armchair: Nice to sink into after a long day at work or when you’re feeling nauseous, as my mother used to say.

Midsomer Murders is one such series. For 25 years, against a backdrop of country pubs and perfect borders, the citizens of rural Oxfordshire have happily dug each other up in varied and imaginative ways, all under the watchful eye of police identification’s most polite man, John Nettles’ Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby, now retired, and his newly arrived cousin John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon).

DCI John Barnaby and DS Jamie Winter in Midsomer Murders, which aired a special quarter-century episode on Sunday

DCI John Barnaby and DS Jamie Winter in Midsomer Murders, which aired a special quarter-century episode on Sunday

I say newly arrived Dudgeon took over in 2011 but it takes a while for people to get used to new faces in Midsomer. Especially since most don’t stick around long before an unfortunate accident happens to them.

The catalog of destruction directed by these two gentlemen is legendary. In no particular order, death by cheese, candle wax, cricket, chocolate… The English countryside along this stretch of the M40 can be a dangerous place.

Sarah (pictured) says Midsomer Murders has been a channel for some of Britain's finest acting talent, including Olivia Colman, Peter Capaldi and Orlando Bloom

Sarah (pictured) says Midsomer Murders has been a channel for some of Britain’s finest acting talent, including Olivia Colman, Peter Capaldi and Orlando Bloom

Part of the show’s appeal, of course, is the contrast between the outwardly respectable setting and the simmering tensions beneath, a theme that, like the show’s seemingly endless selection of sidekicks, never seems to grow old. That’s all part of the genius, too: a host of handsome young lads, from Daniel Casey as DS Gavin Troy to Jason Hughes as DS Ben Jones and Nick Hendrix as the current incumbent DS Jamie Winter.

It’s a show that perfectly captures the English temperament – charming and endearing for the most part, but woe betide you if you overstep the mark.

This special was a loving romp through a quarter-century of chaos, with contributions from all the major players. I have to say Nettles is very good looking for his age, still the housewife heartthrob at 78 and there were plenty of anecdotes from other cast members including the first Mrs. Barnaby, Joyce (Jane Wymark), aka ‘the nicest woman in the world”. ‘ (but also the worst cook) and her successor Sarah (Fiona Dolman).

The show has also been a conduit for some of our finest acting talent, many of whom have reached far more dizzying heights. Unfortunately, of all the many stars who owe Midsomer a debt – Hugh Bonneville, Olivia Colman, Peter Capaldi, Tom Ellis, Orlando Bloom and the current Superman, Henry Cavill – only Tamzin Outhwaite expressed gratitude. Shame.

And a big mistake. After all, we all know what happens to those who get on the wrong side with the good citizens of Midsomer…

TERRIBLE AT EVERY LEVEL

Drawers Off will return for a second season.  The competitive art show will be hosted by Jenny Eclair (pictured), who Sarah says is

Drawers Off will return for a second season. The competitive art show will be hosted by Jenny Eclair (pictured), who Sarah says is “completely unsuccessful” as a presenter

God only knows how Draws Off (Monday, Channel 4) got a second season, but here it is. Don’t get me wrong, I love the concept of a competitive art exhibition.

Sky does it brilliantly with Portrait Artist Of The Year. But there they take the work and the artists seriously; This is just an opportunity to make childish jokes about the nude models and upset the contestants, and Jenny Eclair is utterly unsuccessful as a presenter. Terrible on every level.

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THE JEWEL IN THE JUBILEE CROWN

SECRETS OF THE QUEEN’S CORONATION SATURDAY, CHANNEL 4

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Secrets of the Queen's Coronation features old footage including that of Andrew Parker Bowles, who was a page at the coronation

Secrets of the Queen’s Coronation features old footage including that of Andrew Parker Bowles, who was a page at the coronation

There have been wall-to-wall anniversary specials in recent weeks, but this was a cut above, both in terms of vintage material and its participants – including Andrew Parker Bowles (who was a page) and Jane Heathcote-Drummond -Willoughby. a mighty old git who was one of the queen’s maids of honor at the coronation.

At the time, a stunning (and one suspects rather naughty) 18-year-old aristocratic beauty, her memories of waiting in Westminster Abbey’s dressing room before the ceremony, smoking cigarettes and following the Queen’s progress on the radio, brought the event to life Walk life in a way a thousand historians never could.

As for Parker Bowles, his participation was a reminder of the merry-go-round of matings in upper-class society, his own ex-wife, now of course married to Prince Charles, watching his mother’s elevation from the sidelines at the age of four.

Elsewhere there were more intriguing nuggets; The long coronation procession created friction with the carpet in the abbey, making it nearly impossible for the queen to move. She had to ask the maids of honor to give her a “nudge” to get started.

And at the end of the ceremony, she wore two dresses, a golden cloak and a cape weighing 10kg – a deep symbol of the burden of responsibility resting on her slender shoulders.

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