There will be few dry eyes in British living rooms when the final Midsomer Murders scene starring John Nettles ends and the credits roll. John, 67, first appeared as Detective Inspector Tom Barnaby in 1997. But after 14 years and 80 episodes of investigating murders in English TV’s most picturesque murder hot-spot he is due to hang up his police badge.

Fit for Murder will air on February 2nd and, thankfully, it seems that the title won’t refer to the fate of the show’s biggest star.

The series’ executive producer Brian True-May has tirelessly campaigned to preserve the beauty of the Chilterns countryside where some key scenes are shot, and seems equally as determined to preserve MM’s image as wholesome family entertainment (despite the high body count).

As far back as 2009, he promised that Barnaby “won’t get executed or anything like that. We’re just going to end the episode like a normal episode”.

Could viewers be being lulled into a false sense of security about Barnaby’s departure? True-May recently admitted that Nettles’ last scene “will be emotional” and two alternative endings have actually been filmed.

The clever money is on the UK getting the happy ending and the 230 other countries which screen the show will get something a little different!

Sadly, John is unlikely to ever reprise the role of Barnaby. He revealed in 2009 that “Tom Baker [who used to play Dr Who] once said to me never go back, particularly with TV shows”.

It is hoped that his vow never to return doesn’t extend to South Oxfordshire’s glorious countryside, where many of Barnaby’s key scenes were filmed.

Though the show continues, the very human detective who made it such a hit will be sorely missed.