Midsomer madness

by Rick Johansen

The Daily Mail – who else? – is furiously frothing at the mouth at the decision of the producers of Midsomer Murders to attach viewer warnings before each show. These include “some violent moments”, “crime scene images”, “sexual material” and, mysteriously, “traditional dancing that might offend some viewers”. One must assume that the show’s name Midsomer Murders is not sufficient in itself to warn viewers what the show might just be about, but the warning about offensive “traditional dancing”? That got me wondering.

It turns out – and I am not making this up – that the traditional dancing was Morris dancing, which in itself I would suggest is not particularly offensive to all but the most sensitive eyes, but in one instance the dancers were in blackface for reasons I cannot reveal on account of the fact that I have never seen the the show. It does seem odd, though.

Midsomer is not a real place and is hopefully not based on anywhere that is real, otherwise the inhabitants of that place, if they aren’t dead yet, must be in permanent lockdown because in its 140 episodes, 423 people have been murdered. Add to that number those people who have died of natural causes, the death rate must be on a par with a war torn banana republic.

When I saw the Mail’s story – I don’t link anything to the Mail on this blog because the paper is pure scum and I don’t want. to encourage it – I also learned that the lead character wasn’t who I thought it was. My impression was that the lead character, Tom Barnaby, was played by John Nettles who had previously starred as Jim Bergerac in the BBC series … er … Bergerac, which was set in Jersey, where like Midsomer, there was a high murder rate, as well as more mundane crime such as kidnapping and burglary. But no. Tom Barnaby, or John Nettles, or perhaps both men had retired, to be replaced by Neil Dudgeon, or was it John Barnaby who was a relative of – oh God, I’m losing the will to live, here. But what I am wondering is this: do we really need warnings, spoilers or trigger warnings?

If I was watching the Linda Lovelace classic sex movie Deep Throat, would I really need a warning about “sexual material”? On the contrary, if there was a warning saying that, I’d be encouraged to watch it rather than switch off. In fact, if I watch any kind of police drama there is, I would imagine, a reasonable chance I will be subject to “crime scene images” because when coppers are investigating crime, guess what kind of scene they would be visiting in order to establish whodunnit?

I would imagine that warnings are normally given out when there is the possibility young children might be exposed to scenes that might be inappropriate for them to see, like a party political broadcast on behalf of the Conservative Party of Great Britain or Mrs Brown’s Boys, people who watch TV specifically in order to be offended or those who might be surprised what they were watching in Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

More likely, ITV has attached the warnings just for a laugh, basically to troll the Daily Hate Mail, to take the piss, or they are covering their arses in case someone watching is so thick they get offended when a murder occurs in a show called Midsomer Murders. Either way, it’s a non story, a space-filler in a tawdry scandal sheet that is desperate to attract angry readers, and more frequently these days, internet clicks, clickbait.

I say live and let live. If you enjoy Midsomer Murders, which appears to be set in the murder capital of the western world, just remember people die there, around three per episode. Midsomer isn’t real, so don’t fret, but Jersey is and now that Jim Bergerac has retired it must be like the Bronx over there. And let’s hope Midsomer finds another Barnaby when John gets too old. I can see the Mafia moving in otherwise.

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