The reasons everyone quit Midsomer Murders

midsomer murders
Why everyone quit Midsomer MurdersITV
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Based on the novels by Caroline Graham, Midsomer Murders centres around the efforts of Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby, and later his successor and cousin John Barnaby, to solve a series of murders that take place in the fictional county of Midsomer.

The ITV detective drama has been a British TV staple ever since its debut back in 1997, and it recently celebrated its 25th anniversary after 22 crime-filled seasons.

We've seen a whole host of stars come and go over the years, from Imelda Staunton (Harry Potter) and Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey), to Olivia Colman (The Crown) and Orlando Bloom (Pirates of the Caribbean).

However, there are just some actors who you'll always remember as being a part of the cast, no matter how long ago they left.

But why exactly did they leave? Here's everything you need to know.

John Nettles as Tom Barnaby

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John Nettles is the man who made the show the success it still is today, having played DCI Tom Barnaby since its debut in 1997 until he bowed out in 2011 after 14 years.

His character announced that he was retiring from the force and handed the job over to his cousin John (Neil Dudgeon), who has been the show's leading man ever since.

At the time of his departure, Nettles admitted he had no idea how many episodes he'd go on to film when he first took on the role (81, for those wondering), but that it had been a pleasure to do so.

"I never thought when we were filming the pilot The Killings at Badger's Drift in 1996 that I would go on to film so many episodes," he shared. "It has been a joy to be involved in such a long-running series with so many good actors and great storylines. It's the end of an era for me."

He also went on to say that he felt too old to carry on with the role and it was his time to go:

"I suddenly realised that I'm going to be the oldest detective in the business now that David Jason has thrown off the mantle. But it was a very difficult decision to make.

"I'll have been doing Midsomer Murders for 14 years by the time Barnaby leaves. I've formed familial ties with the people involved in the show and they will be hard to break. It's always wise to leave people wanting more, rather than be booed off the stage because you bored them."

Jane Wymark as Joyce Barnaby

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Nettles' onscreen wife Jane Wymark also made her Midsomer debut in the first ever episode before stepping down in 2011 after 81 episodes.

While some fans speculated that Wymark had been asked to leave as a result of Tom's retirement, the actress said she was happy to move on.

"Toms retirement will be tough on Joyce – when he mentioned it before, she was horrified," she explained. "I certainly would be if my husband said he was retiring. But John and I have been talking about him leaving for a long time, it hasn't come out of nowhere. And I agree, enough is enough. I am fond of Joyce but she is very limiting. Now I get to do different things."

She also shared that she was relieved to not have to play the "nicest person in the world" anymore, adding: "That's a heavy burden to carry. I want to be completely evil now, a really bad person with no redeeming features and a terribly good cook!"

Daniel Casey as Gavin Troy

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Daniel Casey played the original sidekick to Nettles' Tom Barnaby, helping his partner solve 29 mysteries before exiting in 2003 after seven seasons.

He said at the time: "I've learned a lot and now it's time to put that experience into practice. It is something to do with the benchmark of reaching 30 – I felt it was the right thing to do.

"Once I'd made the decision, I told John. He was sad because our relationship has been a major part of the series' success, but from a personal point of view he thinks it's the right thing for me to do."

Jason Hughes as Ben Jones

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Another Barnaby sidekick, Jason Hughes joined the show in 2005 and left in 2013 due to its strict demands.

The actors are required to film Midsomer Murders for ten months a year, and Hughes explained that it started to affect his health, forcing him to leave.

He said: "I was completely burned out from getting up at 4.30am in Brighton to get the train to London, then on to wherever we were filming in Buckinghamshire, and then doing the journey back and getting home at 9pm.

"It was starting to affect my health and I was so tired I was no good to anybody, at home or at work. That would go on for ten months, and when I had a break I'd get colds that lasted for weeks. My doctor told me I was suffering from exhaustion and the only answer was rest."

He also admitted that he was about to leave two years prior, in 2011, but when Neil Dudgeon was cast as Nettles' replacement, he felt obligated to stay and help out with the transition.

Laura Howard as Cully Barnaby

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Laura Howard played Tom Barnaby's feisty daughter Cully for 12 years, leaving in 2011 when her character got married to Simon Dixon and her father retired.

"I was 19 when we filmed the first episode and 30 when we shot the wedding last summer," she said. "Midsomer Murders has been quite prohibitive in terms of being able to do other work and it just seemed like the right time to say goodbye."

Despite being a big part of the show, though, Howard said that she didn't receive a "big send-off".

"Surprisingly I didn't get a big send-off – a lot of the crew didn't know it was my last episode. The director did shout something like, 'OK, that's Laura's last scene – you can go back to your trailer. Thank you and goodbye.' But most people didn't seem to realise what was going on."

Barry Jackson as George Bullard

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ITV

Barry Jackson is another OG cast member, portraying Dr George Bullard until his character eventually left to "take some time off" and holiday in Ireland.

According to the Daily Mail, Jackson wasn't a fan of the slightly steamier version of Midsomer we got when Dudgeon took on the lead role.

"I do worry this new licence to spice things up might alienate the heartland audience," he shared at the time.

"Midsomer has always evoked a kind of Agatha Christie world that probably never existed. Will people who faithfully tuned in to watch the beautiful countryside and gracious houses really appreciate a new, sexed-up style? I may be wrong but I would have thought that they change that at their peril. If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Jackson went on to say that it was also disappointing that his character was never fully developed and received few lines, something he had threatened to quit over just a few years prior.

"Originally, George was more of the local GP," he recalled. "But, as programmes like CSI came along, he developed into a pathologist. I started wearing rubber gloves and what I called my Babygro, a protective nylon boiler-suit.

"I'd turn up to shoot a scene and have little more to say than, 'He died at midnight'. I'd have enjoyed getting into the pathological detail. I was always interested in what I had to do, but I would have loved to have been given more. If you've been waiting around for a month and then you go in for two days' filming, it can be a bit disheartening."

Midsomer Murders is on ITVX.

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