Sparrow’s fart on Friday morning two weeks ago saw me hauling my bottom out of bed and into the shower in a last ditch attempt to make myself look glamorous and sophisticated before spending the day in Midsomer county with a certain Mr Greg James from Radio One. Yes that’s right loyal readers, the day I’d been dreaming of my whole life (since March) had arrived, I was off to hopefully watch someone get murdered whilst trying not to dribble on myself in the presence of one so handsome.
Having hurtled up the motorway wondering whether this was all some sort of bizarre dream I was rather concerned when my satnav guided me off the beaten track into some dark and mysterious looking woods, was I about to become a Midsomer victim? Thankfully I cleared the woods and in the distance spied what looked like a fairground trailer park, I half expected to see a hairy man sat on the steps of a trailer playing a wooden flute with a scraggy dog at his feet but instead I was greeted by lots of people wearing wet weather gear drinking coffee out of plastic cups and chowing down on a very impressive breakfast feast. I’d managed to get there before Greg which I was really relieved about as if being there first was going to give me some kind of mental supremacy. He bimbled up about ten minutes later looking a little worn around the edges (he wasn’t long back from the Edinburgh festival the poor lamb) and although it wasn’t ball achingly awkward it was a little bit weird when we said hello as here was GREG JAMES from RADIO ONE stood in front of me eating porridge because I had been drunk enough to ask him to go and then made a nob of myself on national radio on several occasions since whilst talking to him about it. Eek!
The lovely Emily our Midsomer Mother introduced us to all the right people and we stood chatting and trying to look natural in the photos before being shepherded into the back of a crew minibus to be taken to our top secret filming location which turned out to be a fuck off MASSIVE manor house set in several thousand acres of land with sculpted gardens reputedly designed by Humphry Repton – paradise on earth in a little corner of England. As if being stood on an actual television set with actual Greg James wasn’t enough, bugger me if actual Paul Nicholls (ex Eastenders and Bridget Jones’ Diary) wasn’t stood there wearing a dirty grey wife beater. I lost the plot at this point and was reduced to staring open mouthed remembering quite how much I fancied him when I was a spotty teenager. I didn’t want to go and say hello as he looked a bit scary gurning his face off. If he’d been in a nightclub you’d have been convinced he was at the bottom of a K-hole as he was pulling some pretty special faces however looking around a bit convinced me that it was an actory thing to loosen facial muscles or something as they were all at it.
The first scenes were driving ones which were a little bit dull although watching the actors stall, kangaroo hop, wheel spin and in one instance skid the pickup was pretty amusing. In fact when Paul Nicholls hopped the pickup and almost got his head slammed in the door I had to bite my lip to stop myself from laughing, hard. I’ll be honest, I was fighting the urge to shout ‘BOGIES’ whenever they started filming – I clearly could never work in television. At one point we were shepherded into the bushes so we would not be in the back of the scene and Greg and I got talking to Dave who was in charge of the vehicles they use in the show. There was a Midsomer Constabulary police car which confusingly also had Oxfordshire Constabulary badges down the side of it from where it had most recently been used to film ‘Lewis’. Greg worked his magic with Dave and we were given (although I had to hide them under my coat so nobody saw…) Midsomer Constabulary magnetic crests to take home which now has pride of place on my fridge (and on the bonnet of my Yaris when I want to get through traffic).
Then Greg spotted DCI Barnaby’s Volvo and in a pitch only dogs could hear because he was so excited he scampered over there whilst squeaking about passing himself off as Barnaby’s nephew and the possibility of organising a job swap, Radio One DJ for Midsomer Murders actor. The professional photographer followed us over and took photos of Greg looking into the distance as if solving a crime and then we swapped over and he attempted to take pictures of me where I wasn’t pulling a face like I’d smelt something grim or laughing through nerves.
Neil Dudgeon and Jason Hughes who play Barnaby and Jones were so down to earth, at one point they photobombed us although my thighs look massive in that photo so it won’t be seeing the light of day on this blog (sorry) and they took the time to make us feel really at ease – plus there was some great banter. Sadly Greg had to leave to get to Radio One in order to do his show but I stayed and lovely Emily took me round all the different departments so when my day in Midsomer ended I came away knowing trade secrets and feeling like part of the gang. It was the best day ever and naturally Greg James and I are now the bestest friends ever.