Fox hunting, taxidermy and Oscar Wilde are part of the backdrop as Barnaby and Troy investigate a series of murders, beginning with that of a tramp in the woods.

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
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Daniel Casey ...
Jane Wymark ...
...
...
James Fitzroy
...
Sarah Fitzroy
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Grahame Tranter
Diane Fletcher ...
Marcia Tranter
Sarah Winman ...
Kate Tranter
...
Ron Pringle
Janet Dale ...
Betty Pringle
Jeanne Hepple ...
Linda Wagstaff
Peter Bayliss ...
Tramp
Jane Wood ...
Cathy Gurdie
Fred Ridgeway ...
Ben Gurdie
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Storyline

While Barnaby is away on holiday his replacement, the soon to be retired Ron Pringle, arrests Billie Gurdie for the murder of a tramp who lived in the woods near the village of Upper Marchwood. When Billie's father is also found dead in the same woods some three weeks later, an apparent suicide, Barnaby seriously questions the coincidence. When the post-mortem reveals the second death to also be murder, Barnaby is certain that both murders were committed by the same person. Written by garykmcd

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Crime | Drama | Mystery

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31 December 1999 (UK)  »

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1.33 : 1
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The voice of Kreacher and voice of Dobby from the Harry Potter films both appear in this episode. Kreacher was by Simon McBurney and Dobby was by Toby Jones. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Season 3 gets off to a very good start
18 December 2016 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

The first two seasons of 'Midsomer Murders', which when in its prime was one of my favourites and one of my most watched shows (although it's nowhere near as good now it's still being stuck with), were extremely good, with the best episodes, "The Killings at Badgers Drift", "Written in Blood" and "Death's Shadows" being among the show's classics.

"Death of a Stranger" is not quite a 'Midsomer Murders' classic, but still a very good start to Season 3. It was interesting to keep the real identity of the tramp ambiguous until very towards the end, but at the same time it was disappointing to find it very difficult to find fun in guessing possible motives for the killing, which has often been part of the show's charm and what makes it so fun.

Mostly loved the final solution, which was extremely clever and very sinister but with so much needing to be explained (which at least the episode manages to do) it did get a little complicated (especially when the motives were also of that nature) and slightly over-stuffed.

However, as always, the production values are top notch, with to die for scenery, the idyllic look of it contrasting very well with the story's grimness, and quaint and atmospheric photography. The music fits perfectly, and the theme tune one of the most memorable and instantly recognisable of the genre. This may look like reiterating exactly what was said about what was so good about the previous episodes, but only because when 'Midsomer Murders' was in its prime its strengths were the same and with similar impact.

Meanwhile, the script is smart, thought-provoking and suitably grim, the humour also being a breath of fresh air. Nothing felt inconsequential, everything had a point, everything intrigued and it was explained and cleared up well, though not quite overcoming the tendency towards the end of convolution.

The story is hugely compelling, and never simplistic and never losing any of the maturity of the previous episodes. There is a lot going on mostly without being cluttered or rushed, and that nothing is what it seems, or very few people are who they seem adds to the complexity, while there are no out of kilter scenes. The twists, red herrings and turns keep coming, and rarely in an obvious or press-the-rewind button. The characters are colourful.

John Nettles and Daniel Casey sparkle together, with Nettles characteristically superb and Casey a great contrast. Jane Wymark similarly charms, while Diane Fletcher and James Bolam (ever the national treasure) stand out of the supporting cast.

All in all, a very good start to the third season. 8/10 Bethany Cox


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