Saturday, 26 February 2011


[6.20 - French Time] HBO has passed on the comedy pilot Tilda, starring Diane Keaton.

In spite of a high-profile cast and a ton of industry buzz, HBO has decided not to move forward with that hot pilot which starred Diane Keaton as a powerful and reclusive Hollywood journalist - obviously based on She Who Must Be Read aka's Nikki Finke. Ellen Page and Jason Patric co-starred.

A conflict between writers Cynthia Mort (Tell me you love me) and Oscar-winning writer/director Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters, Dreamgirls) and other production difficulties led to HBO's decision.

Too bad that the opportunity to deliver the Murphy Brown of this century went wrong. And it is a personal disappointment for your humble servant, who was looking forward to watch what HBO could have done with a TV series based on Nikki.

See also:

Friday, 25 February 2011


[19.34 - French Time] BBC Showcase is an annual TV sales fair hosted by BBC Worldwide, the Beeb's commercial arm. Held since 1976, it's the largest event of its kind held by a single television distributor.

BBC Showcase 2011 runs from Sunday 27th February to Wednesday 2nd March in Brighton and will welcome 550 buyers from around the world. Keeley Hawes, Rupert Penry-Jones, Hannah Spearritt and Andrew Lee Potts are among the personalities announced this year at the event, which will move to Liverpool in 2012.

See also:

Thursday, 24 February 2011


[18.57 - French Time] reports that German private broadcaster ProSieben will air series four and five of Primeval from April.

The 13 new episodes of the sci-fi/adventure show from Impossible Pictures, split into "series four" and "series five", will be aired in one block by German private channel ProSieben starting April 11. ProSieben is a historic co-producer of Primeval.

In the United Kingdom, ITV1 aired the fourth series (actually a 7-episode block) from January to the beginning of this month. Series five must be aired by UKTV's digital channel Watch, new co-producing partner, ahead of ITV. In the US the show is aired by BBC America. (In German) (In German)


While watching episodes of Luther, Zen or the premiere of the new Peter Moffat legal drama Silk you may have noticed that the title sequences of these three BBC One series share common esthetic qualities.

The reason is that these superb titles, which recall some title sequences of the golden age of ITC Entertainment, are from the creative talents of Momoco. Based in London and LA, the company was founded in 1999 by Nic Benns and Miki Kato. Film titles designed by Momoco include Love Actually (2002), Johnny English (2003), Alien Vs Predator (2004), Hard Candy (2005) or Bharat Nalluri's first feature film Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008).

For television they are behind the titles of dramas like Eleventh Hour (the original UK version), Murphy's Law and E4's hit Misfits (2009). Their work perfectly matches with Massive Attack's Paradise Circus in Luther (2010) or the beautiful theme composed by Adrian Johnston for Zen (2011). The titles of Zen are one of their many masterpieces, along with the clever title sequence of Episodes (2011).

Momoco also works on commercials, music videos and motion branding.

See also: (Luther) (Zen)

Wednesday, 23 February 2011


[Updated] Martha Costello is an overworked and ambitious defence barrister applying for silk - the chance to become QC (Queen's Counsel) with the attendant silken robe. Having just won an important case, Martha is given two new cases for the next day, with a possibility of getting a good reference for her Silk application. But her rival is the arrogant Clive Reader.

Silk is another legal drama series from BAFTA award-winning writer Peter Moffat, a former barrister who created the acclaimed Criminal Justice. Criminal Justice 2's Maxine Peake stars as defence barrister Martha Costello and former "Spook" Rupert Penry Jones is back on BBC One as Martha's ruthless rival Clive Reader. Neil Stuke (Reggie Perrin), Natalie Dormer (The Tudors) and Tom Hughes (Cemetary Junction) are among the cast.

Martha is a hard-working woman in a workplace dominated by men, who struggles to find a balance between her principles and her job. She's in competition with Clive, the ultimate a**hole patronizing colleague. She calls her mum regularly and has no personal life - when she's back home you can hear piano. A tough but protective senior clerk is devoted to her and both Clive and Martha are assigned two young and cute pupils. Martha's one shoplifts a barrister wig.

This six-part series could be the Luther or Zen of legal dramas - in fact the titles are designed by the talented folks from the company which did their titles, Momoco - and it doesn't help a genre worn out by years of David E. Kelley's shows. Neither does this dull series opener saved only by the legendary Peter Vaughan as a victim. Next episode's trailer seems to promise more drama but trailers always do anyway.

Or we'll have to catch a rerun of Kavanagh QC. But Silk's premiere did more than well in ratings (1), which would be a solace for BBC One after Outcasts if the other episodes confirm. Silk is exec produced by Hillary Salmon and Peter Moffat and produced by BBC Productions.

(1) Update (16.19 - French Time) : 5.324 million viewers (

Tuesday, 22 February 2011


[18.14 - French Time] The Guardian reports that BBC One has decided not to commission another series of detective drama Zen, starring Rufus Sewell.

Adapted from the Aurelio Zen series of books by Michael Dibdin, the three-part feature length drama was produced by Left Bank Pictures (Wallander for BBC One) for the BBC. It was co-produced by the Italians of RTI (Mediaset), the Americans of Masterpiece, German pubcaster ZDF and Ingenious Broadcasting, in association with LipSync Productions.

English actor Rufus Sewell starred as Aurelio Zen, an upright maverick detective working at the Questura di Roma of the Italian State Police. The premiere of Zen in January attracted 5.11 million viewers (20%), beating ITV1's Agatha Christie's Marple (4.3m/17.4%). But the two other episodes lost vs Wild at Heart and Dancing on Ice.

According to The Guardian's article, Left Bank is currently in talks with other broadcasters about pursuing the series elsewhere. Could Sky, for which Left Bank Pictures already produces Mad Dogs and Chris Ryan's Strike Back, be a new home for the Italian cop? The company also produces DCI Banks for ITV1, which has its share of recent literary detective adaptations.

See also: (Review)

Rating details:

Sunday, 20 February 2011


[11.00 - French Time] French private channel TF1 aired yesterday the second episode of Danse avec les Stars, the French adaptation of BBC Worldwide's format Dancing with the Stars (Strictly come Dancing in the UK). A global hit licensed to more than 30 countries.

Last week's premiere won the evening with only 4.840.000 viewers and a 23,9% share and it seems that some minor adjustments were made to improve the ratings: Canadian judge Jean-Marc Généreux spoke normally and stopped screaming, and everybody insisted on the spirit of fun vs the competition aspect (episode one was in many respects reminiscent of the French Got Talent). « The show sticks to its promises with beautiful sensations at the beginning of the programme, » heavily stated co-host Vincent Cerutti right after the first number by singer Sofia Essaïdi and dance pro Maxime Dereymez.

Some years ago Essaïdi was a contestant on Celebrity Dancing, a similar concept/format tried by TF1, which makes her definitely a favourite. It also makes her a kind of counterpart to Brit singer Alesha Dixon, who won Strictly come Dancing in 2007 and became a judge two years later. Former football player David Ginola, who must know his SCD perfectly, and hearthrob singer M Pokora, emerge as serious rivals with their performances.

Drama was provided by talented Almodovar actress Rossy de Palma, who slipped on a prop and asked to start again her tango with partner Christophe Licata. And viewers probably took that into account when they voted her off and surreally prefered stage actress Marthe Mercadier (82 years!) after the Dance Off. Even if de Palma was blatantly better but the "Dance Off" segment is the show's Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None.

Last week's vote off was for André Manoukian. Regardless of his weak performance the treat to send a former Reality TV judge at home must have been a bonus for voters. But Manoukian was in two of those cringy pre-recorded sequences which seem escaped from Star Academy. And Robbie Williams and Take That, who last december managed to perform on BBC One's Strictly and ITV1's The X Factor the same night (1), were there to sing The Flood.

Co-host Sandrine Quétier jokingly invited the band to come back and dance next year for series two. She can start to dream of a second series as ratings improved with 5.034.000 viewers and a 24,6% share (2). The other programmes were far from glorious anyway: the unnecessary NCIS: Los Angeles followed with 3.544.000 viewers for TF1's private competitor M6 and a tribute to singer/composer Serge Gainsbourg on pubcaster France 2 was 3rd.

(2) (Ratings - In French) (Official Site - In French)

See also: (Including names of the contestants and dance pros)

Saturday, 19 February 2011


Hustle - Series seven, Episode six. Mickey (Adrian Lester) and the gang must retrieve diamonds stolen by Cool Hand Cooper (Shaun Dooley) But these diamonds are buried beneath a busy police station and they belong to a humorless mafia boss who wants them back. Meanwhile, a woman named Susan (Hannah Gordon) is in London to bring Albert (Robert Vaughn) a shocking revelation.

Series seven of BBC One's con artist hit drama finished yesterday on a rather sour note, with an episode written by Hustle supremo Tony Jordan and directed by Colin Teague. Kudos to Twitterers who recognised Blue Streak (1999) as the basis of the intrigue, because your humble servant has been spared most of Martin Lawrence's filmography. But actually the heist was far from relevant and the twist, as usual, was beyond the notion of suspension of disbelief. The real deal was all about Albert Stroller in a personal situation unrelated to the main story.

Most of us believed Albert was victim of a con, tied (or not) to the diamond heist, but nothing like that. It was truly personal and lead to the dramatic open end brought by Sting's Shape of My Heart, one of those songs often heard in US shows - with Hallelujah or Somewhere over the Rainbow. All this gave the impression that we were prepared for the possible departure of Mr Robert Vaughn, should this screen legend decide to not return for another series.

And why there would not be another series? Without hype and with minimum promo, Hustle (like New Tricks) still manages to draw deservedly solid ratings and has a loyal following. Both which could be envied by some recent big budget flops.

Sunday, 13 February 2011


Private network TF1 aired yesterday the premiere of Danse avec les Stars, the French adaptation of BBC Worldwide's global hit format Dancing with the Stars (Strictly come Dancing in the UK).

Licensed to more than 30 countries, this format teams up celebrities with professional dance partners competing in Ballroom and Latin dances in front of three judges, and viewers can vote. Co-produced by BBC Worldwide and TF1 Production, Danse avec les Stars arrives in France six years after TF1 tried a similar concept/format called Celebrity Dancing.

The contestants are former model Adriana Karembeu, former football player David Ginola, stage actress Marthe Mercadier (82 years), singer M Pokora, Spanish actress Rossy de Palma, composer, jazz pianist and former French Pop Idol judge André Manoukian, singer Sofia Essaïdi (who was a contestant in Celebrity Dancing), and comedian Jean-Marie Bigard. They team up with dance pros Fauve Hautot, Katrina Patchett, Grégoire Lyonnet, Julien Brugel, Silvia Notargiacomo, Candice Pascal, Maxime Dereymez and Christophe Licata.

The show is hosted by Sandrine Quétier and Vincent Cerutti. And the judges are dancer and actress Alessandra Martines, Salsa world champion Chris Marques (who worked on Strictly), and Canadian dancer and choreographer Jean-Marc Généreux (judge on the Canadian edition of So You Think You Can Dance). And the voice-over is provided by France's most reputed voice-over and dubbing artist Richard Darbois. French-speaking voice of Harrison Ford, Danny Glover or Richard Gere, Darbois is also the voice of radio station NRJ and the gaullic equivalent of American trailer God and voice-over master Don LaFontaine.

In spite of high production values and an astute celebrity casting, the entertaining Danse avec les Stars won the evening with only 4.840.000 viewers and a 23,9% share. There are certainly adjustments to be done with the young hosts (Quétier is 40 and Cerutti is 30) and the judges, who both often recall the French Got Talent instead of Strictly. Don't forget that in Reality TV it's the jury who makes the programme strictly worth watching, the judges who makes the "stars" dance. Ask the amazing Craig Revel Horwood, Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli. (Official site - In French) (Ratings - In French)

Update (February 20):

Saturday, 12 February 2011


Hustle - Series seven, Episode five. Ash Morgan is outraged to learn that Railton, his old football club has gone into administration, brought down by the greed of football agent and businessman Don Coleman. Coleman is the perfect mark for the gang but the plan is put in jeopardy by a little accident with an unexpected effect.

It's pure chance and a little irony that BBC One's hit con artist drama is back with a football themed episode after one week off because of rugby. But it's nice to see Hustle back in shape after a disappointing story with Denis Lawson as the character you expected him to play.

« Football is our game and I want it back! »

You know right from the pre-credit sequence if Hustle can deliver the goods or will fail. And Ash's inspired diatribe against what is wrong in contemporary football sets the tone for the rest of yesterday's episode, written by Chris Lang. The football biz is a dreamy invitation to social satire and Lang's jokes, references (Asda Price, Michelle Heaton...) or views are often spot on: the bit on sexist football has a peculiar echo, thanks to recent news about two former Sky football pundits.

Guest star David Harewood as agent Don Coleman absolutely deserves his own spinoff a la HBO's Arli$$ - think of it, BBC... Mickey (Adrian Lester) has a fabulous "stadium inspection" scene and it's a commonplace to tell how Robert Glenister is brilliant as Ash and should already have a drama of his own. Too bad Chris Lang feels the need to introduce this Liar Liar syndrome thing which recalls the darkest hours of series three and four. More of this and the next step would be a BBC America co-production with one episode filmed in LA and Larry Hagman as a mark.

Like New Tricks (another gem of the BBC) Hustle is more and more a cocktail with three thirds: one third pure genius, one third "easy watching" and one third weak. As long as it doesn't morph into self-parody the con will still be on.

The episode was directed by Colin Teague.


[15.54 - French Time] Website Beans On Toast, the first French-speaking information source about the Whoniverse, has just put online an interesting interview with Belgian actor and dubbing artist David Manet by Aude Boubaker and Aurélie Demonchaux.

Very appreciated by French-speaking Doctor Who fans, Manet was the voice of The Doctor as portrayed by Christopher Eccleston and later David Tennant.

Full disclosure: Your humble servant is mentioned because of his short stint as a consultant on the dubbing in French language.

You can listen to this interview here: (In French)

Wednesday, 9 February 2011


[Update February 10] On the contrary to what was reported yesterday by several sources, we read that Cinemax would actually co-produce the second series with Richard Armitage PLUS Philip Winchester and Sullivan Stapleton. Not a distinct version. [ +]

[20.07 - French Time] HBO's sister pay-cable channel Cinemax will co-produce Sky1's Chris Ryan's Strike Back for its original programming, with British satcaster Sky and Left Bank Pictures (Zen, Wallander).

The 10 X 60-minute new series of Strike Back for Cinemax will be written by American scriptwriter Frank Spotnitz (The X-Files) and Brit scribe Richard Zajdlic (Eastenders, Clocking Off). Enter Sullivan Stappleton as Damien Scott, a former U.S. Special Forces operative, and Philip Winchester (Camelot, Crusoe). Filming starts this month in South Africa and Hungary and will go on until July for a premiere on the cable channel this summer.

Based on the best-selling book by former SAS man Chris Ryan, Strike Back stars Richard Armitage (Spooks) as John Porter. It is produced by Left Bank Pictures and distributed by BBC Worldwide. Sky1 HD and Sky1 aired Chris Ryan's Strike Back as a 6 X 60-minute drama in May 2010, and commisioned a second series in August. German channel RTL II aired the initial series last month in a 3 X 90-minute version.

Left Bank's Andy Harries and Sky1's Elaine Pyke will exec produce the new series. Daniel Percival (The State Within) and Frank Spotnitz will be co-executive producers. Percival directed the first four hours of the original series and will co-direct this one. Spotnitz has another British venture in the pipeline: Morton, a 8 X 60-minute spy series from Kudos Film and Television (Outcasts, Spooks), commissioned in January by BBC One.

See also:


Outcasts - Pilot and Episode one (BBC One). In 2040 on the distant planet Carpathia, a group of human pioneers led by President Richard Tate lives in Forthaven. They have lost contact with Earth some years ago but the unexpected arrival of a last transporter ship brings hope. One of the settlers, Head of Expeditionaries Mitchell Hoban, is frustrated and wants to leave the community.

Outcasts is an ambitious science fiction series produced by Kudos Film and Television and BBC America for the BBC. Created and written by Ben Richards (Spooks, The Fixer), it was filmed in South Africa and it is co-produced as an official South African-German co-production by Film Afrika and ApolloMovie Beteiligungs. The cast has the attractivity necessary to a project of this scale: Liam Cunningham, Hermione Norris (Spooks), Daniel Mays (Ashes to Ashes), Amy Manson, Ashley Walters (Small Island), Eric Mabius (Ugly Betty) and Jamie Bamber (Law & Order: UK and, above all, Battlestar Galactica).

The pilot and Episode one are directed by Bharat Nalluri. When he's at his best, Nalluri is more than a director, he's a genius stylist. He directed the premiere episodes of Spooks (2002), Hustle (2004) and Life on Mars (2006). He actually got the idea of Hustle and he's the man behind the stylistic identity of these three hits which established the reputation of Kudos as an indie. As often he works here with talented cinematographer Adam Suschitzky and the result is beyond what you can expect from artists of such caliber, undeniably inspired by South African locations.

And it takes some talent to raise interest on a drama which seems to have been done a thousand times. Outcasts has shows like Earth 2, Lost, Battlestar Galactica or Survivors in its DNA and the characters played by Liam Cunningham and Hermione Norris, Tate and Stella, channel Space: 1999's Commander Koenig and Dr Helena Russell. But on planet Carpathia there is regrettably no form of life, the protagonists are wooden and the only one interesting is shot at the end of the pilot episode. This pilot is plagued by heavy exposition and the dialogues of Outcasts sound endless, even for "intelligent" science fiction.

The words "high concept" should be banned for ever by the television industry as it usually ends (when it can end) in some purgatory - maybe all the citizens of Forthaven are dead. And has Eric Mabius's Julius Berger met "a man of wealth and taste"? Ask Daniel Mays... Oh, there are clones too. No matter how they will be used here, clones have become in many respects the narrative device equivalent in sci-fi of "the dog ate my homework" and should be banned too.

Production designer Edward Thomas (Doctor Who) does a great job, as usual. And the score, by Paul Englishby, is superb - like in most Brit TV dramas. Thank God theme tunes still exist on this side of the pond, and this one is very Babylon 5. But unfortunately it's all Outcasts shares with its illustrious predecessor. Looking forward to watch the new series of Doctor Who and Torchwood before total despair.

Jane Featherstone, Simon Crawford Collins, Faith Penhale and Ben Richards exec produce for Kudos Film and Television and Matthew Read is executive producer for the BBC.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011


[6.21 - French Time] Be patient, this patience will be rewarded, etc. Where have I heard this one before? Is there a polar bear on Carpathia? When did Commander Koenig and Dr Russell leave Moonbase Alpha for Forthaven?

Review ASAP. Still in dead of Winter mode (

Update (February 9) - Review:

Monday, 7 February 2011


This weekend ITV1 aired the final episode of Primeval's fourth series, watched only by 3.596 million viewers (15.4%) from 7.30pm.

When ITV axed Primeval after its third series, an unexpected 2009 deal resurrected the sci-fi/adventure show from Impossible Pictures for 13 new episodes filmed in Dublin and split into series four and series five. German private channel ProSieben, historic co-producer, stayed aboard (the programme is very popular in Germany). UKTV's digital channel Watch entered as a first-time investor with a first run of the fifth series. And BBC America, which airs Primeval in the US, arrived as a co-producer of the show distributed by BBC Worldwide since its start.

Overall the 7-episode "series four", which started last month on ITV1, appeared to be a major improvement from the previous series. Some changes in the regular cast, Irish locations and an interesting story arc managed to keep the revived Primeval at least watchable (in spite some blatant defects) - when series three was only calamitous. But the ratings quickly dropped under the 4.4 million viewers of the premiere and remained under (1) except for episode five (2).

With such ratings and "series five" aired by Watch ahead of ITV, inevitably comes the question of ITV's position regarding an hypothetical sixth series. Keep in mind that the show is distributed, co-financed and co-aired by the BBC and is rather atypical in ITV1's drama lineup.

(1) +


[11.09 - French Time] reports that German private broadcaster RTL will not order new episodes of action concept's Lasko - Die Faust Gottes. The fight for justice of Brother Lasko (Mathis Landwehr) and Brother Gladius (Stephan Bieker) ends after two seasons and 15 episodes.

Lasko - Die Faust Gottes emerged in 2006 as ambitious television movie (doubling as a backdoor pilot) called Lasko – Im Auftrag des Vatikans (Lasko - Death Train), starring martial artist and actor Mathis Landwehr (The Challenge) as Lasko - an ex-soldier retired as a monk. Unfortunately the weaknesses of Death Train were plethoric: an heavy international casting, Arnold Vosloo basically playing 24's Habib Marwan, a script burdened with clichés, etc.

Lasko resurfaced 150% improved three years later as a regular action/adventure series, for seven excellent episodes. Ratings and market shares were impressive enough for RTL to consider the commission of a second season. Nevertheless with a budget estimated around 1 million euros per episode for the first season they asked for a careful development process before greenlighting new episodes and some substantial adjustments were decided.

Apparently tough competion and season 2 ratings, not up to the channel's expectations, were stronger than the first kick ass monk since Kwai Chang Caine and what was (in its first year) one of the best shows produced in Germany. But unfortunate format and cast changes and other problems are certainly to blame as much as the decline of rating numbers.

Fortunately for the faithful fans of action concept, RTL will air new episodes of the company's flagship show Alarm for Cobra 11 (Alarm für Cobra 11 - Die Autobahnpolizeï) in March. The same month Cobra 11 will celebrate its 15th anniversary. (In German) (In German)

Friday, 4 February 2011


[6.08 - French Time] Marchlands , Episode One. Three different families living in the same house in 1968, 1987 and 2010 are linked by the spirit of the 1968 family daughter, who died in mysterious circumstances.

ITV1 aired yesterday the premiere episode of the awaited Marchlands (formerly The Oaks), a five-part series from ITV Studios which is actually the British remake of The Oaks, a 2008 unpicked pilot developed for American network Fox. It's the result of an innovative 2008 deal between ITV and Fox to identify properties on their respective slates that could be developed for the other’s home market. The original pilot, written by David Schulner and directed by Michael Cuesta (Dexter), featured British actress Sienna Guillory, Jeremy Renner and a pre-Glee Matthew Morrison. It was produced by Shawn Ryan.

Marchlands, first commission to come from the collaboration between ITV Studios and Fox, is written by Stephen Greenhorn (Doctor Who) and directed by James Kent. It stars Alex Kingston (Doctor Who, ER), Jodie Whittaker, Dean Andrews (Ashes to Ashes), Shelley Conn (Mistresses), Elliot Cowan, Denis Lawson, etc. The story is a compilation of everything from the Poltergeist and Amityville franchises to the US chiller TV movies of the seventies and the work of Dan Curtis.

The British treatment of The Oaks has all mentioned above, plus shades of Sapphire & Steel (1979-1982) and the two Hammer television series of the eighties - in less scary. Should Marchlands be a hit it would be an amusing answer to the US Being Human and all those Brit shows remade by American networks. After all ITV remade wonderfully Who's the Boss? as The Upper Hand between 1990 and 1996.

On Channel 4 Marchlands would have been a gloomy crime drama. Its genesis is far more interesting than the drama itself, and we'll see who from ITV and Fox takes advantage of the 2008 deal. In the United States it's ABC which ordered a remake of ITV Studios's Identity, not Fox, and the next thing from this ITV/Fox partnership is apparently a British version of Dharma & Greg your humble servant is not looking forward to watch.

See also:

Thursday, 3 February 2011


DCI Tom Barnaby (John Nettles) reluctantly accompanies his wife Joyce (Jane Wymark) on a spa weekend to upmarket Swavely Manor. But as he attempts to de-stress with New Age therapies, Joyce finds the dead body of one of the clients while trying to relax in the floatation chamber.
Launched in March 1997 with the one-off episode The Killings At Badger's Drift, Midsomer Murders is based on the book series by Caroline Graham and initially transposed for television by screenwriter and novelist extraordinary Anthony Horowitz. This global hit series sold in over 230 countries is produced by Bentley Productions (an All3Media company) for ITV, and stars John Nettles as Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby.

In 2009 Nettles announced that he would give up his role at the end of the 13th series after more than 80 episodes, 14 years, and more than 250 suspicious deaths by the most diverse methods, conventional or not (1) - now the Midsomer County authorities must probably kidnap people to maintain their population number. Written by Andrew Payne and directed by Renny Rye, Fit for Murder is John Nettles's final episode.

« What was that about?
- I do not know but I'm feeling calmer already. » ("Long-suffering wife" and her hubby)

Joyce Barnaby drags Tom to the picturesque Swavely Manor luxury spa ("Your tranquility is ours") to get him in shape for his police medical. But the supposedly de-stressing weekend starts with a sheep "infestation" and a feud between neighbours, prelude to poor Joyce finding a dead body while trying relaxation in a floatation chamber. DS Ben Jones (Jason Hughes) happily plays the SIO (Senior Investigating Officer) on the case, as his boss is off duty. Anyway DCI Barnaby seems elsewhere, preoccupied by a painful memory triggered by his incoming birthday.

Elsewhere than in the Barnabyverse and with such a cast (Geraldine James, Lesley Manville, Shaun Dingwall, etc), Fit for Murder could be a pleasant whodunnit - just imagine DI Robbie Lewis in Shrublands. But it's Midsomer Murders so you can't stay out of the pantomime crime zone for too long and the murderer almost surrenders to our tired sleuth. Because we all know the case is just an appetizer before Tom gives the phone to "the other Inspector Barnaby": the excellent Neil Dudgeon, who appears as the recently transferred DCI John Barnaby (2).

Producer Brian True-May has revealed that two separate endings were filmed : one for the first UK transmission yesterday with Tom Barnaby announcing his retirement, and one for repeats (when episodes are shown in different orders) and for international use, with a birthday party (3). The vicar at Badger’s Drift has been found hanging from a bell rope (wonder how they still had a vicar) but now Tom will have his cake and eat it because he bloody deserves it.

Maybe Tom Barnaby and his wife will retire in Jersey.

(2) Astutely introduced last year in The Sword of Guillaume (