Barnaby reluctantly accompanies Joyce on a spa weekend to Swavely Manor. But as he attempts to de-stress, a woman is found dead in the flotation chamber. He abandons his treatment to investigate, but his personal worries are never far away as he contemplates his future.
Barnaby reluctantly accompanies Joyce on a spa weekend to Swavely Manor. But as he attempts to de-stress, a woman is found dead in the floatation chamber. Abandoning the treatments to investigate, Barnaby uncovers a feud between neighbours, money wrangles and the mystery of a half-written novel. Then there’s another death. But his personal worries are never far from the surface.
Barnaby reluctantly accompanies Joyce on a spa weekend to upmarket Swavely Manor, a country house offering treatments to soothe the body and spirit. His birthday is approaching but the detective is anything but relaxed – as well as his mistrust of New Age treatments and therapies, Barnaby has something on his mind.
The atmosphere at the picturesque manor house is far from tranquil, too, as owner Phoebe Archbold has fallen out with her old friend and neighbour Miranda Bedford, a wannabe novelist. Miranda saved Swavely from ruin in the past, but now Phoebe’s husband Luke wants to end her right of way over the land.
Highly-strung spa enthusiast Kitty Pottinger collapses when she finds the ‘garden of contemplation’ full of sheep and Phoebe blames Miranda’s friend Carter Smith for stirring up trouble. As Barnaby is sent for a hot stones massage, Joyce tries out the floatation chamber – only to find Kitty’s dead body floating beside her.
Jones arrives and Barnaby puts him in charge of the investigation. It appears that Kitty argued with her husband Kenny before taking tranquilizers, while Kenny fled in the night. Luke is angry - he hoped Kitty would rescue the spa from its latest financial crisis. And fitness trainer Julian has a black eye following a tussle with Carter.
Barnaby seeks refuge at the village pub where he learns Phoebe married Luke after the sudden death of her first husband. Carter reveals he is helping Miranda with her novel although his wife Janet – like many others - is convinced the book doesn’t really exist.
Back at the spa, Luke is crushed to death by a training machine as he works out. Carter had threatened him and Barnaby is convinced there is more going on than the land feud. Bullard suggests both deaths could be murder, while spa guest Natasha Fox seems badly distressed at Luke’s demise.
A therapist named Cloud reads Barnaby’s aura – to his amazement she knows he is worried about dying at the same age his father was. He goes home to find Cully there.
The police search Miranda’s house and find the completed novel in a safe. Then they discover a vital piece of the gym machine that crushed Luke in Carter’s truck and a set of keys to the spa. Miranda claims they are being framed.
Natasha admits she is Luke’s ex-wife – and she witnessed some strange events on the night of Kitty’s death. Barnaby makes a gruesome discovery in his search for Kenny and the truth gradually emerges. With the killer apprehended, all Barnaby has to worry about is his birthday party ... and making a big decision about his future.
“Fit for Murder” is actor John Nettles’ final appearance as he hands in his police badge after over 80 episodes and 14 years in the starring role as British television’s top detective. The two-hour film, made by Bentley Productions, is screened on ITV1.
More than 250 suspicious deaths have rocked the tranquil surroundings of Midsomer since Barnaby took office. Stabbing and strangulation have been joined by many bizarre murderous methods, including death by poisonous frogs, spontaneous combustion, falling from a doped horse and getting speared by King Neptune’s trident.
“Fit for Murder” also features the final episode for Jane Wymark, who has played Barnaby’s long-suffering wife Joyce since the series began in 1997, and Laura Howard, who has co-starred regularly as his daughter Cully.
Some of the top names in British television join John for his final episode. Geraldine James, Lesley Manville, Jason Durr, Ronni Ancona and Shaun Dingwall are among the latest guest stars joining the roll call of almost 1000 famous names who have played killers, victims or red herrings in the drama.
“Fit for Murder” also features an appearance by Midsomer’s new detective Neil Dudgeon who takes over this year as DCI John Barnaby, a cousin of the original Barnaby who moves to Midsomer to team up with DI Ben Jones, played by established MIDSOMER MURDERS star Jason Hughes.
Four new episodes of series 14, starring Neil and Jason, have already been filmed, with another four in production during 2011. The new-look MIDSOMER MURDERS team, also featuring Fiona Dolman as Barnaby’s wife Sarah, will make their debut on ITV1 this spring.
In “Fit for Murder”, Barnaby (John Nettles) reluctantly accompanies Joyce (Jane Wymark) on a spa weekend to upmarket Swavely Manor. But as he attempts to de-stress amid the New Age therapies, a woman is found dead in the floatation chamber.
Abandoning the treatments to investigate, Barnaby uncovers a feud between neighbours, money wrangles and the mystery of a half-written novel. But, despite the distractions of the case, Barnaby has a birthday approaching and a decision to make. His personal worries are never far from the surface.
John Nettles says: “I wanted to die in noble fashion in the service of my country and then be buried with full military honours in Westminster Abbey. In the event, Tom and his long-suffering wife Joyce will simply retire. It’s always better to leave when people want more.
“Barnaby has been a great character to play; he’s an island of calm surrounded by death and destruction. I think the hundreds of murders he has solved more than meets the targets of modern policing!
“It has been a joy to be involved in such a long running series, with so many good actors and great storylines. If Neil has half the good times that I have had on Midsomer then he will be in seventh heaven. I am only worried that he is much younger than I am and a much better actor!”
Producer Brian True-May adds: “The departure of John Nettles from MIDSOMER MURDERS marks the end of an era, as the series grew from a single, pilot episode to become one of the best-known and most-watched TV dramas in the world.
“Although we will miss the huge contribution that John has made to the series, the brand of Midsomer is so strong that I am confident of its continuing success. We look forward to our new Barnaby tackling more murder and mayhem in Midsomer.
“Having said that, Barnaby’s final scene is a very emotional one, and there was scarcely a dry eye when we finished filming. I’m sure it will touch a chord with John’s many fans in the UK and around the world, but it’s a tribute to the brilliant actor and great gentleman that he is, that the handover to Neil Dudgeon is so seamless.”
Brian reveals that two separate endings were filmed for “Fit for Murder”.
“We did one version showing Barnaby’s retirement party and another where it is a birthday gathering. So for the first UK transmission, it will be the retirement ending, but for repeat screenings when episodes are shown in different orders and for international use, it will be the birthday version. So in a way, John will always live on in Midsomer!”
MIDSOMER MURDERS attracts top viewing figures on ITV1 and is one of the UK’s best programming exports with sales to 230 territories, from Afghanistan to Zambia.
“Fit for Murder” is written by Andrew Payne, directed by Renny Rye and produced by Brian True-May. The drama is made by Bentley Productions, part of the All3Media Group, for ITV1.