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The real reason why John Nettles left Midsomer Murders – details

The actor played DCI Tom Barnaby for 14 years before leaving the show in 2011

John Nettles and John Hughes
Emmy Griffiths
TV & Film Editor
Updated: 8 April 2024
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It's been over a decade since John Nettles bowed out of Midsomer Murders after a 14-year stint as Causton's resident detective DCI Tom Barnaby. Following his departure, Neil Dudgeon has since taken over as the new lead on the much-loved ITV drama, but why did the original detective leave the series in the first place? 

Now that the show is being repeated, we take a look back at why John announced that he'd only be making two more seasons of the show in 2009, before leaving for good in 2011. Keep reading for all the details...

Holly Willoughby makes cameo on Midsomer Murders

Chatting about his decision to leave the show, in 2009 John told The Telegraph: "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. 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."

John Nettles and Jane Wymark
John Nettles and co-star Jane Wymark in Midsomer Murders

He continued: "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."

john nettles midsomer
The star explained that it was a "very difficult decision" to leave the show

Meanwhile, Neil who stars as Tom's cousin DCI John Barnaby has also discussed his future on the series and it sounds like fans don't have to worry about John moving out of the village - for now!

Chatting to Radio Times in 2020, he said: "I've been doing Midsomer Murders for… it'll be ten years this year. I started in 2010. I started wanting to do it because I’ve always loved Midsomer Murders, and I've gone on doing it because – I suppose I still love Midsomer Murders, really."

midsomer murders
Neil Dudgeon as DCI John Barnaby

He continued: "I've got no intention of stopping doing it. I don’t know what else I'd do. I’m in a very fortunate position. I think it's such a great show that, one always assumes – when you're an actor you always think, whatever job I'm doing, it's going to end next week and that'll be it, I won't work again. 

"But no, I think that as long as ITV wants to make it and people want to keep commissioning it, as long as people want to keep watching it, it's a great show to do." 

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