ITV are sending a team of reporters and investigators to Wallingford this week to examine the effect of Midsomer on the area. The town, that was also famously home to Agatha Christie, has been in the news quite a lot recently. As well as this latest ITV venture, the town of Wallingford (and Oxfordshire as a whole) were also the centre of an enquiry by Radio 4’s More or Less programme this month.
A listener wrote to the show and asked whether the murder rate in Midsomer was out of the ordinary. The team quickly set to work to investigate whether this were so and found some interesting results. Comparing Midsomer to Oxfordshire, which is where it is filmed and presumably based on, it seems the fictional area has a surprisingly high murder rate.
With an average of 2.6 murders per episodes and roughly eight episodes per year, it equates to about 32 murders per million inhabitants. That is over three times the rate actually recorded by Thames Valley Constabulary for the area. This makes Midsomer a much more dangerous place to be than the fictional Oxfordshire of Morse or Lewis.
In an article about the findings in the Radio Times, they pointed out that Midsomer’s murder rate is actually equivalent to that of Chile or Latvia. Although they also pointed out that perhaps the most dangerous TV place in history is Abbot Cove from Murder She Wrote, starring Angela Lansbury. Over the course of the show, a whopping 2% of the population of the small town in Maine were bumped off. That’s a massive murder rate of 1,490 per million.
So, what will the ITV team find in Southern Oxfordshire this week? Well, almost certainly not quite the murder rate that they experience in the show. It’s unlikely that Southern Oxfordshire, including the Cotswolds, would be quite so popular if it were the UK’s murder capital. But what they will see is the rural English village charm that makes the show so beautiful to look at. It’s one of the reasons that so many of us love watching it (the odd garrotting or poisoning aside, of course).