Midsomer Murders is a British television drama that has aired on ITV since 1997. A detective drama, it focuses on the main character of Detective Chief Inspector John Barnaby played by John Nettles. The stories revolve around Barnaby's efforts to solve the numerous crimes that take place in the fictional English county of Midsomer, assisted by successive Detective Sergeants - DS Gavin Troy (Daniel Casey), DS Dan Scott (John Hopkins), and DS Ben Jones (Jason Hughes). It is based on a series of crime novels by the author Caroline Graham and was previously adapted by Anthony Horowitz.
We're talking sleepy Cotswold-type fare. Cricket on the village green, fayres, a local public house where the publican knows everyone in the village. So far, so M C Beaton, right?
Well, this beloved series - certainly beloved with the older generations it has been written to appeal to (as comfortable Sunday evening viewing) - has stirred up a little shitstorm of controversy.
You see *gasp* the show has never featured any black people.
How dare they?! How dare they represent a sleepy English village without adding a token black person?
I'm not racist at all. I found it fairly amiss when Friends didn't include many black people, considering the sitcom took place in the cosmopolitan city of New York. But this? I almost find it more offensive that people now want to shoehorn in a black character to an English village which is unlikely, in real life, to have many, if any, black people.
One argument that has been made is that since Midsomer is a fictional place - and it truly is, considering the sheer amount of murders committed in such a small location! - then those involved can include whoever they please, which means black people could be added easily.
Apparently ethnic minorities make up 1.4% of the rural community, and white people represent 98% of Oxfordshire, which is where Midsomer Murders is filmed and loosely based on. Surely this means putting in a token black person to appease politically correct minded people would stand out as a deliberate effort, rather than feeling natural?
If we were talking a series set in London, or Manchester (such as Eastenders or Coronation Street, which both have prominent ethnic characters) then it is very reasonable to assume black people should be included.
Ack, my view is that this is mostly stirring up trouble for the sake of it. Maybe Midsomer Murder ratings are dipping somewhat and they need the additional publicity? This all feels very much like the Huck Finn issue I previously highlighted on my blog - people meddling in forms of entertainment and art when it should be left well alone to develop as seems fitting depending on what is being represented.