Almost 12 months after the race row that led to the departure of producer Brian True-May, it looks as though Midsomer Murders has had a rethink on its casting policies.
An episode entitled The Dark Rider (Wednesday 1 February, ITV1), the first to be produced by Jo Wright following True-May’s exit from the series, is notable for the fact that Hong Kong-born actress Natalie Mendoza features prominently among the suspects. It’s a move that signals the fact that 21st-century Britain is at last being recognised in Midsomer.
In March 2011, True-May commented in Radio Times that his series “wouldn’t work” if ethnic minorities appeared on screen and described the hit ITV1 drama as “the last bastion of Englishness”.
His words sparked a media storm with ITV stating at the time that it was “shocked and appalled” at the sentiments, which were “absolutely not shared by anyone at ITV”.
Production company All3Media launched an investigation and although True-May was “reinstated” as producer after a period of suspension, he stood down at the end of the last run of episodes.
The appearance of Mendoza (whose credits include movies Moulin Rouge! and The Descent) in the instalment airing on 1 February appears to refute the tenets of the programme’s previous regime. So could this mark the beginnings of a more racially inclusive Midsomer Murders?
Incoming producer Wright takes over creative control at the long-running crime drama following work on 55 Degrees North and a modern retelling of Othello starring Eamonn Walker and Christopher Eccleston.