Midsomer Murders

Season 1 Episode 2

Death of a Hollow Man

Aired Wednesday 8:00 PM Mar 29, 1998 on ITV

Episode Fan Reviews (3)

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out of 10
44 votes
  • Agnes Gray is a quiet, unassuming and devout spinster whose main concern is animal welfare. When she is found dead and other murders follow, Barnaby and Troy must untagle a very tightly woven web of intrigue in order to find the killer.

    DCI Tom Barnaby (John Nettles) and his ever-faithful sidekick, DS Gavin Troy (Daniel Casey) investigate the murder of a lonely lady named Agnes Gray (Denyse Alexander) whose favourite way of spending her time was helping animal conservation charities and practicing her new-found Catholic faith. The officers can find no reason why anybody would want to kill her and her only family, a cousin, the snobbish and wealthy Esslyn Carmichael, (Nicholas Le Prevost) clearly doesn't give a hoot that she is dead, being only interested in anything she may have left him in her will.

    Esslyn Carmichael is to play the lead role of Salieri in a local stage production of "Amadeus" and Tom's wife, Joyce (Jane Wymark)has a non-speaking part as Salieri's cook. Somewhat reluctantly, Tom agrees to help with the scenery while Joyce becomes more and more nervous about her performance in spite of having no lines.

    The flamboyant and talented Nicholas Bentley (Ed Waters) is to play the role of Mozart in the production and it's very clear that he, and not Esslyn Carmichael is the true star. Tom's daughter, Cully, (Laura Howard) is also quite taken with Nico herself and she is one of the many people who can see that he certainly has a gift for acting.

    The totally obnoxious and over the top director, Harold Winstanley (Bernrad Hepton) drives the cast mad with his need for absolute perfection and his fanciful stories of working with "the greats" of British theatre. Fortunately, most don't listen to himand just get on with the job at hand.

    On opening night, however, things get a little messy when Esslyn Carmichael cuts his own throat on stage with a weapon that was supposed to be merely a prop. The list of potential suspects is indeed a long one for someone who was so thoroughly disliked, including by his pregnant wife, Kitty (Debra Stephenson) and his very bitter ex-wife, Rosa. (Sarah Badel). The questions that Barnaby and Troy must answer are first of all, did the same person kill both victims and if so, what was the motive? Is the truth buried behind tales of adultery, stolen art, and revenge or is it something as yet undiscovered? Watch this terrific episode and see for yourself as the intrepid investigators sort out the puzzle piece by piece.
  • Not quite what I wanted to see.

    For the most part I felt that this episode got lost along the way and was more about introducing Nico than anything else.

    Agnes's murder at the beginning is almost swept away with the death of the actor on stage during the performance and it feels as though it takes ages to get back to Agnes. In fact there is a large portion of the episode where she isn't even mentioned.

    Overall it was a good episode, but I wouldn't say that it is ever going to be one of my favourites - I took off an extra point because of the overacting of Kitty's character.
  • "A night at the theatre with unexpected twist"

    "A night at the theatre with unexpected twist"

    The episode Death of a Hollow man is also one of the classic episodes and based on a book by Caroline Graham. The episodes starts more less shocking than “Written in blood” but still features a murder. The murder victim in this case is a lonely woman named Agnes Grey, animal lover, expert on foreign languages and lover of beautiful objects. She is battered to death in what seems a church. After the murder we jump to a happier scenario, the rehearsals for the play “Amadeus” which will be played in Causton theatre shortly afterwards. The true classic element in the episode might be a slight spoiler, it is the second murder when actor Esselyn Carmichael commits suicide in his role of Salieri during the second half. Carmichael, unaware of the peril didn’t notice somebody removed the safety tape of the blade.

    Instead of the more serious characters in written in blood this episode also stars many funny characters and moments. The row between Esselyn’s wife and his admirer for example results into some strange situations… from scratches on a new car till an anonymous phone call causing Esselyn to divorce. Also there is the owner of the local bookshop trying to sell Troy a diary in the middle of October and of course not to forget Harold Winstansley and his always faithful wife Doris even trying to make success out of Esselyn’s death. His reactions on the murder are funny, he is feeling bad because Barnaby and Troy are interrogating a handyman before him for example. But not to forget the first meeting between Cully and her boyfriend Nico ( which even becomes a mariage in the books )

    The main plot about the two murders are coming together perfectly near the end of the episode. The motive is far less complicated than in Written in blood, this time it is the how of the second murder which is difficult to understand. After watching the episode a second time I understood everything but after the first time I still had some questions. I think this point could have been explained a little bit better. All with all the killer is someone you wouldn’t really suspect + everything becomes clear without getting unrealistic. I think this is a plus for the episode. Besides the maybe a little unclear explanation of the second murder because it went a little to fast this is a true classic. The excerpts from Amadeus made everything more then fine.