The first episode of the new Midsomer Murders series proved a bigger hit with TV viewers than the film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Series 13 of Midsomer Murders will end with actor John Nettles giving up the role of the show’s main character: Detective Inspector Barnaby.

He looks set to go out on a high as 25 per cent of Brits who were watching TV between 8pm and 10pm on Wednesday, were tuned into Barnaby’s latest investigation.

Over on BBC 1 at the same time, the Indiana Jones film managed just 16 per cent of the audience share – meaning that Midsomer was the most-watched prime time programme of the evening.

Reviews of the new episode, entitled Not In My Back Yard, praised the show which, thanks to daytime repeat screening of episodes, has become a cult hit enjoyed by both university students and pensioners.

The Metro attempted to explain the series’ continuing popularity by explaining that it has “lost all contact with reality but still proves good fun”.

The beauty of the filming locations must also play a part in the show’s success. Great Haseley in South Oxfordshire was one of the picturesque places which provided a backdrop to last night’s whodunit, its village hall hosting a rowdy planning meeting.

With French and Iranian TV recently snapping up the rights to screen the latest Midsomer series, such villages are proving a great advertisement for the beauty of the English countryside.