Barnaby and Nelson investigate the fatal stabbing of a man with an antique sword during a ghost-hunting party at a 'haunted' manor house.

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(as Nick Laughland)

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(screenplay), (based on characters by)
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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
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Simon Fergus-Johnson
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Tabby Fergus-Johnson
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Pippa Fergus-Johnson
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Valerie Fergus-Johnson
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Ollie Tabori
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Brendan Pearce
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Libs Pearce
Susie Trayling ...
Mel Bridgeman
Jonah Russell ...
Conor Bridgeman
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Felicity Hearn
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Dev Kardek
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Storyline

With Ben Jones promoted to inspector in Brighton, Barnaby is joined by new sergeant Charlie Nelson, to investigate the murder of Conor Bridgeman during a ghost hunt at a house in Morton Shallows. Though married, Conor was using the hunt as a cover to meet his girlfriend, had fallen out with the impoverished owner of the house, Simon Fergus-Johnson, who had refused to sell it to him and was disliked by local historian Brendan Pierce, whose daughter Bridgeman had seduced. Whilst the murderer is clearly human, mysterious pamphlets circulate the village, warning not to disturb the spirits, who will wreak revenge, and a second ghost hunt leads to another murder, that of pub landlord Ross Clymer, lover of Simon's wife and enemy of army deserter Ollie Tabori, the former boyfriend of Simon's put upon sister Valerie. Ultimately Barnaby discovers the reasons for the slayings are family based, using for their cover the superstitions surrounding the Christmas hauntings. Written by don @ minifie-1

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Genres:

Crime | Drama | Mystery

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Release Date:

24 December 2013 (UK)  »

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Did You Know?

Quotes

[John Barnaby picks up the letters that the postman has just delivered, and looks at them]
Sarah Barnaby: You expecting something?
DCI John Barnaby: No. You?
[Sarah grins and turns round, revealing that she is pregnant]
DCI John Barnaby: Morning, Bump!
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Soundtracks

Fairytale of New York
(uncredited)
Written by Jem Finer and Shane MacGowan
Performed by Kirsty MacColl and The Pogues
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User Reviews

 
One haunted Christmas
14 March 2017 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

When in its prime (a vast majority of Seasons 1-9), 'Midsomer Murders' was a great show and one that is watched and re-watched frequently. Seasons 10-13 became more uneven, with three of the show's worst episodes coming from Seasons 11 and 13, but there were a few solid episodes and "Blood Wedding" and especially "Master Class" were gems.

After John Nettles retired and Neil Dudgeon and the new character of John Barnaby took over, 'Midsomer Murders' just hasn't been the same on the most part. Season 14 was a disappointment outside of "The Oblong Murders" and "A Sacred Trust", with "Echoes of the Dead" and "The Night of the Stag" being show low-points. Season 15 was inconsistent, being a case of starting promisingly and then took a three-episodes-in-a-row strange turn with "Written in the Stars" before finishing on a good note.

Season 16 gets off to a good start with one of its better episodes. "The Christmas Haunting" may not be a 'Midsomer Murders' classic, but as far as the John Barnaby-era episodes go it is one of the better ones and the second best Christmas themed 'Midsomer Murders' episodes (not as good as the near-classic "Ghosts of Christmas Past" but much better than the tedious "Days of Misrule").

Production values cannot be faulted as usual mostly, apart from some rather amateurish camera work at the start. It's mostly beautifully and atmospherically shot with suitably picturesque scenery. The music fits perfectly, with some lush jauntiness and sometimes an ominous quality, and the theme tune one of the most memorable and instantly recognisable of the genre. The script is better balanced and more interesting than most John Barnaby-era episodes, not taking itself too seriously, with some nice gentle and quirky humour sorely missing in a lot of previous John Barnaby-era episodes, while not being outlandish.

The story is not the tightest or detail-filled of all 'Midsomer Murders' episodes, but it is much less padded and tedious than "Days of Misrule" and is not simplistic or convoluted. The characters are a return to the more eccentric ones rather than the pantomimic and bland ones seen for a while previously, and the murderer and their motives were nicely surprising. Despite the murder theme "The Christmas Haunting" has a nice mix of ghost story (which wisely doesn't dominate the episode too much) and the Christmas spirit, which is so much fun and makes one feel warm and cheerful inside and out.

Neil Dudgeon is much more comfortable, and Gwilym Lee as Barnaby's new partner Nelson fills big shoes more than competently. They work well and cohesively together, that it was good to be spared Jones being written like a dumbed down idiot and Barnaby's disdainful and overly-smug attitude towards him. The supporting cast are all strong, adorable and comedically gifted Sykes continues to steal scenes and it was great that Sarah is written with more development and charm and that her chemistry with Barnaby is here more loving. Effort is also made to develop Kate, to me however she is still a bit bland and lacking in personality.

To conclude, surprisingly a very good episode and a promising start to Season 16. 8/10 Bethany Cox


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