The latest episode of Midsomer Murders, screened in the UK on Wednesday 27 January, was called Breaking the Chain and set against the backdrop of an international cycle race – the Tour de Midsomer. A race which in the real world just so happened to take place in South Oxfordshire.
Cycling is more popular than ever in the UK thanks to a couple of decades of sustained competitive success on the road and track. More and more Brits are taking to two wheels to get fit, which has also seen a rising number of races being staged, one of which was the Wallingford Festival of Cycling.
Filming took place in and around the actual event back on 21 June 2015. So when you watch the episode, much of what’s going on in the race actually happened in a real life competition environment. How’s that for realistic drama? Much of the cycling camp scenes were shot during a heatwave over a two week period in June in the nearby beautiful village of Warborough. The village green, church and thatched-roof pub make this village a favourite of Midsomer’s location managers.
Producer Phil Hunter revealed that the shot of the town at night is actually a day shot. “We created the night time-lapse in post production with the aid of visual effects”. He went on to reveal a little secret “The gentleman sporting the blue & white jersey to Manjinder’s right is Gwilym Lee’s dad, as a keen cyclist he decided to join our shoot. Just before the race started I had Manjinder swap bikes – she’s actually on Gwilym’s dad’s bike”.
Gwilym added “My family are all into cycling, so they turned up in full lycra which was pretty embarrassing. I was already embarrassed about having to be in lyrca myself and then my slightly portly father and brother come along and make it even worse! “My dad and brother took it all very seriously and they were telling me they had worked out their ‘continuity’ and knew exactly what they were supposed to be doing… very professional.” The funniest moment however came about when the producer decided Manjinder Virk’s character Kam needed a more impressive bike for the scene. “They nicked my dad’s bike not knowing it actually belonged to my dad and gave him a rather rubbish old bike. So you’ll be able to spot him in the background because he’s the grown man on a woman’s bike.”
Of course, we won’t give too much of the plot away – you’ll just have to watch it yourselves to find out what happens. We can tell you Wallingford and Warborough become Burwood Mantle, not Causton, for this episode. Keep your eyes peeled for more lovely South Oxfordshire locations. And, if you made it to the race on the day, you might even spot yourself in the background.