Midsomer Murders: Season 7, Episode 6

The Straw Woman (29 Feb. 2004)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 206 users  
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Midsomer comes closer and closer to its boiling point when a priest is burned to death inside the effigy of a straw woman and more people burst into flames spontaneously as though by witchcraft.



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Title: The Straw Woman (29 Feb 2004)

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Jane Wymark ...
Laura Howard ...
Barry Jackson ...
Keith Barron ...
Alan Clifford
Agnes Waterhouse
Kelly Hunter ...
Kate Malpas
Liz Francis
Richenda Carey ...
Margaret Hopkins
Dr. John Cole
Jo Clifford
Matthew Cole
Jonathan Hackett ...
Rev Jim Hale
Jed Fox


When the curate of the local church in Midsomer Parva is burned alive in the effigy of the straw woman, DCI Tom Barnaby and DS Dan Scott find themselves investigating what must be a murder. Many of the villagers lay the blame on Alan Clifford who has made his fortune in the sex industry and has moved into the local manor house. There were others in the village however that objected to what they saw as a pagan festival. When the vicar is also killed - he too is burned to death in what some believe is the result of spontaneous combustion - the police have difficulty keeping some of the villagers from taking justice into their own hands. As the death toll keep mounting, Barnaby realizes that the solution is to be found in old parish records. Written by garykmcd

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Crime | Drama | Mystery





Release Date:

29 February 2004 (UK)  »

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Did You Know?


The character of Alan Clifford's nurse, Agnes Waterhouse, is named after the first witch to be executed in England (hanged, not burned, in 1566). See more »


[first lines]
Margaret Hopkins: Evening, Vicar. Encouraging turnout.
Rev Jim Hale: Indeed.
See more »

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User Reviews

"See if you can find a pig that's lost it's head." Decent Midsomer Murders.

Midsomer Murders: The Straw Woman starts late one night in the Midsomer village of Midsomer Parva where a local teacher named Liz Francis (Susannah Wise) has revived the Straw Woman festival where a large effigy of a straw woman is set on fire. The first time festival has been held in over 200 years & the village turns out in force, however a local Vicar named Deakin is trapped inside the straw effigy & burned alive in front of the horrified villagers... DCI Tom Barnaby (John Nettles) & Sgt Dan Scott (John Hopkins) are on the case, suspicion immediately falls on porn king Alan Clifford (Keith Barron) who has tried to 'destroy village life' since he moved there & gets a lot of hassle from the locals including the Chruch. Then things take another sinister turn when Reverend Jim Hale (Jonathan Hackett) who was Deakin's gay lover is found dead in his Church having seemingly been a victim of spontaneous human combustion...

Episode 6 from season 7 this Midsomer Murders was directed by Sarah Hellings & like a lot of show's from later seasons The Straw Woman is a good watch & an entertaining murder mystery but the magic of the earlier stories are somewhat lacking. The script by Jeff Dodds obviously features the usual Midsomer Murders ingredients like sexual deviance, murder & blackmail but definitely isn't one of the best Midsomer Murders mysteries. For a start the killers motives make next to no sense, as I understand it they killed four people so they could kill someone else. Right? Well, why not just kill the person they want to kill to start with first? Why kill other people, I don't know, maybe I missed something but the motive here seemed weak & made little sense. As I understand it the killer didn't stand to gain anything anyway so I ask again why kill those people? Barnaby & Scott's relationship is interesting here, you can sense that Barnaby is losing patience with Scott as he continues his womanising & he also berates Scott for not leaving his mobile phone turned on. As usual for a Midsomer Murders episode you need to watch all of it & concentrate for the eventual ending to make any sense, this isn't something you can join 30 minutes in or miss any of it & expect to get it.

Midsomer Murders doesn't usually go for homages but here I can't help but feel the whole burning of a straw effigy shaped like a person with someone trapped inside was inspired by The Wicker Man (1973), then there's the whole spontaneous human combustion & witch angle along with severed pigs heads which gives The Straw Woman a certain horror film feel to it. There are four murders in The Straw Woman although none particularly graphic apart from a few shots of people on fire, there are also some shots of a decapitated pigs head too. The acting is very good as always.

The Straw Woman is a nice enough Midsomer Murders mystery, it has some nice horror overtones & I liked the Wicker Man homage but the actual murder plot here isn't perhaps as good as it could have been with a weak killer & a weak set of motives. Even though the IMDb lists The Straw Woman as the penultimate story from season 7 the next episode Ghosts of Christmas Past (2005) was a Christmas special & aired 10 months after The Straw Woman.

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