John has now decided to leave hos role as Barnaby in Midsomer Murders after the completion of the 13th series at the end of next year. Barnaby's swan song will be screened in the UK in 2011. At 65 John decided that he couldn't go on forever as Barnaby. He has no plans to retire, though, and will still appear on TV and stage.
John has now received an honorary doctorate at Southampton University, where he once was a student, and where his theatrical talent was first spotted.
John's favourite actor of all time is Alan Howard, simply 'because he's the best. He has an amazing ability to walk on stage in whatever part he's playing and bring a whole world on with him. You are not conscious of the fact that he's acting, and I think he's the last of the great heroic actors'.
John has said in an interview that he is a great fan of the American cop series CSI Miami, and that he thinks David Caruso is an excellent actor. One of his dreams is to play a villain in the series. He thinks it would have been magic to be revealed by David Caruso himself.
John has a lot of fans, and some are rather obsessive, e.g. the woman who sent him expensive jewellery. This was promptly returned by his wife. John says he does not know how to deal with such things. He doesn't think anybody does. Because this does of course not only happen to him, but to a lot of people who happen to be on television for one reason or another.
John has narrated the following audiobooks: Ted Allbeury, No Place to Hide (1988); John Nicol, Point of Impact (1996); Roger Lancelyn Green, Robin Hood; (1997); Daphne du Maurier, Frenchman's Creek (1997); George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (1997); Ken Follet, Lie Down With Lions (1998); Peter Mayle, Encore Provence (1999); Donna Leon, Fatal Remedies (1999); Douglas Freeman, Dust on the Sea (1999); Simon Sebag Montefiore, Stalin, The Court of the Red Tsar (2004)
John's first job was in the clay mines in his home town of St. Austell, Cornwall at the age of 16, as a holiday job, earning £7.10 a week, which was good money in the late 1950s. He was 26 the last time he worked there. When he was out of work acting he would go and work in the mines. He once said in an interview that his worst job ever was teaching in an inner city London school during the late 60s, early 70s.
John told in an interview how he finds Barnaby to be slightly boring. John would have liked Barnaby to have some more romance, but the producers say no. John said: "I sometimes contemplate in the early hours of the morning, the horror of Barnaby's sex life. In the books Barnaby was overweight and suffering from indigestion, but he still liked the occasional bounce with the missus. I would like the occasional bounce with the missus, but we are not allowed. It really is a case of no sex, please, we're British."
Fans of John Nettles can rest easy, as he will not hand in his police badge for many years to come. In the summer of 2005 the production company, Bentley, made a deal with ITV for almost permanent Midsomer Murders. Writers are now working on scripts a year ahead of filming, and if we are lucky we could see John in the role as DCI Tom Barnaby for at least another five years.
The theatre has been one of John's playing grounds throughout the years. He joined the The Royal Shakespeare Company in 1976, and his Shakespeare roles with them include Thersites in Troillus and Cressida (1976), Albany in King Lear (1976), Lucio in Measure for Measure (1978) Bassanio in The Merchant of Venice (1978), Ventidius/Dolabella in Antony and Cleopatra (1978), Leontes in The Winters' Tale (1992-93), Page in The Merry Wives of Windsor (1992), Octavius Caesar in Antony and Cleeopatra (1992), Merecraft in The Devil is an Ass (1995-96), Brutus in Julius Caesar (1995-96) and Buckingham in Richard III (1996). His contribution with the RSC also included roles in new plays, such as Maxwell in Edgar's Destiny (1976), Hoy in James Robson's Factory Birds (1977), Captain Thompson is Howard Brenton's The Churchill Play (1978) and Ernest in Hart and Kaufman's Once in a Lifetime (1979).
It doesn't seem like John will be out of a job for a while yet, as the makers of Midsomer Murders have just completed a deal with ITV for almost permanent Midsomer Murders, which means we can look forward to seeing John as Chief Inspector Barnaby in eight new two-hour films every year, maybe for another five years.
"Laddism is the last fart of male chauvenism" (John's comment on the laddism which infiltrated Britsh TV during the 1990s through shows like Men Behaving Badly)
John Nettles: Barnaby is no sleuth.
I see him as the most ordinary plod in the world. That's the point of him, he doesn't have wonderful powers like Columbo or Morse.