Six million viewers tuned into last week’s Midsomer Murders – the first episode of the new series. Curiosity about how actor Neil Dudgeon would fare in the role of the new Inspector Barnaby reached fever pitch prior to broadcast time, so what was the verdict?

Mark Lawson, writing in the Guardian, seemed genuinely impressed by Dudgeon’s range of “facial expressions” and “vocal inflections”. It is an area of acting which Lawson thinks the new leading man has an edge over the departed John Nettles.

His review also gave a special mention to the teasing way in which the new Causton cop was introduced – camera angles showing him speaking to a mystery companion in the kitchen of his new house. The unseen figure eventually turned out to be his dog Sykes, rather than his wife!

On Twitter, one Guardian reader found it hard to cope with DCI Barnaby mentioning a local sushi bar – perhaps the producers are ringing the changes a little too quickly?

Over at the Telegraph, reviewer Andrew Pettie said that Neil Dudgeon’s wry smiles and rolls of his eyeballs reminded him of the animated plasticine cartoon character Gromit – apparently a good thing.

The reviewer praised the way Dudgeon is slowly but surely stamping his mark on the role, writing: “Watching Dudgeon standing in for Nettles was like slipping on a new pair of your favourite make of slippers: a little stiff at first, then so snug it felt like you’d been wearing them for years.”

It seems that reviewers and viewers have been as welcoming to the new Inspector Barnaby as the succession of housewives who brought him house-warming presents in the new episode.

This week’s episode even featured a guest appearance from the great Edward Fox, the mysterious occupant of a stately home.

Beautiful South Oxfordshire villages, such as Wallingford, Thame and Henley (pictured) are sure to be used as a shooting location for all the action in Midsomer Murders – we’ll update you on which places were used as soon as we can!