Midsomer Murders (1997– )
11 user

Blue Herrings 

A visit to his convalescent aunt prompts Barnaby to investigate a series of suspicious deaths at the nursing home where she is staying.


Peter Smith


Hugh Whitemore (screenplay), Caroline Graham (characters)


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
John Nettles ... DCI Tom Barnaby
Daniel Casey ... Sgt. Gavin Troy
Jane Wymark ... Joyce Barnaby
Laura Howard ... Cully Barnaby
Phyllis Calvert ... Alice Bly
Nigel Davenport ... William Smithers
Geoffrey Bayldon ... Arthur Prewitt
Mary Wimbush ... George Watson
Gudrun Ure Gudrun Ure ... Celia Armstrong
Angela Down Angela Down ... Pru Bennett
Colin Tierney ... Mungo Mortimer
Clive Wood ... Dr. Clive Warnford
Deborah Findlay ... Hilary Richards
Carolyn Pickles ... Sister Lovelace
Miranda Kingsley Miranda Kingsley ... Nurse Bartlett


While taking a week off to move into their new home, Barnaby takes time to visit his aunt, Alice Bly, who is staying at a local convalescent home for a few weeks. She tells him that a resident died there the previous evening and at least one other resident believes it was murder. When the home's administrator tells Barnaby that residents' personal effects are going missing, he gets Troy to look into the goings on at the manor. When a second resident is found dead soon after, Barnaby begins to suspect that something is amiss. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery


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Release Date:

22 January 2000 (UK) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Bentley Productions See more »
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Technical Specs




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Did You Know?


Georgine Anderson plays Madge Fielding in this episode. She returns in episode 10.1, Midsomer Murders: Dance with the Dead (2006), in the role of Rosemary Wood. See more »


In her lit bedroom, a startled Aunt Alice is on her hands and knees searching for her glasses, which slid off the table to the floor. But, earlier and in a flashback, she is seen without her glasses, spotting an earring on the floor of a darkened hallway. See more »


[first lines]
Cyril Toft: You all right?
Alice Bly: Yes, thank you.
See more »


A String of Pearls
Written by Jerry Gray
Performed by Glenn Miller
See more »

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User Reviews

A little disappointing, still not a bad episode at all
23 December 2016 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee 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 Shadow" being among the show's classics.

While not quite a 'Midsomer Murders' classic, the previous episode "Death of a Stranger" was still a very strong start to Season 3. At this particular point of 'Midsomer Murders', while not by all means the worst episode of the show (not by a long shot), "Blue Herrings" was for me the least satisfying. It is by no means a bad episode, but it does fall short of being very good, let alone great or classic. More decent.

It is let down by a final solution that doesn't feel as developed as it ought to have been and like it was trying too hard to make one feel sympathy for the murderer, which to me wasn't that easy because the murderer isn't particularly interesting. Along with a motive that feels like it should have come sooner and a potentially relatable situation that was too rushed in explanation to make one feel anything properly. Some of "Blue Herrings" is a little dull pacing-wise, and it is agreed that for 'Midsomer Murders' it is rather tame and not as dark, grim or as complex as previous or succeeding episodes.

However, "Blue Herrings" does have many pleasures. The production values are top notch, with to die for scenery, who can't help love that house, quaint and atmospheric photography with some of the shots actually enhancing the herrings. The music fits perfectly, and the theme tune one of the most memorable and instantly recognisable of the genre. This may look like reiterating 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.

Some of the script is thought-provoking and poignant, like with the big band dancing scene (that did make me well up a little bit), while the directing is solid enough on the most part. The story, while flawed as said above and also that the twists and herrings weren't as twisty as hoped and a tad obvious in places, but it was still nicely gentle and intriguing.

John Nettles and Daniel Casey sparkle together, with Nettles characteristically superb and Casey a great contrast. Phyllis Calvert sparkles very expressively as Alice, an instantly lovable character, and Nigel Davenport is the other standout with a crusty demeanour that is quite fun in a way.

Overall, not a bad episode at all but compared to the previous episode it was somewhat of a let down. In a way, an example of a change of pace that wasn't executed quite as well as it had potential to. 7/10 Bethany Cox

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