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Five Minutes With

Five Minutes with… Fiona Dolman, Midsomer Murders’ Sarah Barnaby

Would you survive a trip to Midsomer?

12:00 PM GMT+1 on April 21, 2024

    To celebrate the launch of Midsomer Murders Mayhem, the all-new companion podcast to the long running TV show, we sat down with Fiona Dolman. Fiona plays Sarah Barnaby in the show, wife of DCI John Barnaby.

    We started by asking Fiona to sum up her time on the show, having been a regular feature since 2011...

    Fiona: It’s been absolutely wonderful. Really really wonderful. I know that the term family is overused by actors but because we’ve been on it for so long it really does feel like that. And because we joined a crew that had already been doing it for so long it was already such a slick machine.

    When they first started with John Nettles (DCI Tom Barnaby), to have an actor who was not egocentric and it wasn’t a star vehicle for him - he was very much a team player. And I think it was very important to continue in that vein. With Neil Dudgeon (DCI John Barnaby) they found somebody who was very much of that ilk and I think that creates a really wonderful working atmosphere for everybody. 

    You mentioned that the show had been going for a long while by the time you started - we’re up to 27 years since the first episode. What do you think is the secret to its success?

    Fiona: I think the main reason is that it’s a whodunnit. People like to be able to sit down and try and guess who did the murder. It’s a very interactive sort of television. I think the added success with Midsomer is that it’s very family oriented. It covers generations.

    I also think the Chilterns play a big part in it. It's such a beautiful, beautiful setting. And it's the fact that with  Midsomer, there is nothing pedestrian about the murders that are committed. I think we go out of our way to find the most elaborate and most ingenious, extraordinary ways of murdering people. So there is a huge level of humour that's brought to it as well, which I think people really enjoy.

    Do you have a favourite murder?

    Fiona: I think obviously the murder by cheese, which was written by a friend, Lisa Holdsworth, was just quite extraordinary. We all roared with laughter when we read that script and started to take a step back from her because you do think if you can look at a piece of cheese and see it as a murder weapon, I really don't want to go to your house for dinner.

    My favourite one was probably Oliver Ford Davies and the trebuchet of expensive wine. He was sort of stapled out onto a garden and then catapulted with expensive wines until he died. I know Oliver and have worked with him before and it was just the most ingenious, wonderful way of killing someone off.

    How would you describe the podcast?

    Fiona: Well, I think it's wonderful. It's launched straight into the top 10 on Apple Podcasts TV charts, which is fantastic. We have really brilliant fans and we’re lucky to have celebrity super fans too. It’s hosted by Nicki Chapman and we’ve got special guest Ashley Storey who you may know from her new TV series Dinosaur.

    Each episode takes the listener behind the scenes of a favourite episode like The Killings at Badgers Drift, A Rare Bird, or Death and the Divas. There are behind the scenes interviews and secrets that are shared by cast regulars like Neil Dudgeon, John Nettles, Jason Hughes. You’ve got actors, directors, writers, and there’s a real sense of what goes on behind the scenes which I think viewers of the TV show are going to love.

    I’m surprised it’s taken this long actually for there to be a podcast because it’s just been calling out for one.

    What advice would you give a visitor to Midsomer to stay safe?

    Fiona: I'd probably say to marry the detective, but that role's taken, I'm afraid! I think just take your chances, you know, don't answer the door, don't go out. There's not really anything you can do, is there? I don't think anyone's going to be safe!

    I’m a big Midsomer fan - sell me the podcast in a sentence.
    Fiona: If you want to know all the secrets, this is the podcast for you.

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