Midsomer Murders

Season 1 Episode 0

The Killings at Badger's Drift

Aired Wednesday 8:00 PM Mar 23, 1997 on ITV
out of 10
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Episode Summary

The Killings at Badger's Drift
A gentle stroll in the woods for Miss Emily Simpson ends in tragedy. To the village doctor Miss Simpson's death looks natural, but her old friend, Lucy Berringer, is unconvinced. Lucy eventually draws the unwilling Chief Inspector Barnaby into the case. Barnaby's investigation reveals old rivalries, old loves and new scandals. Then a second horrifying killing shocks Barnaby into running the murderer to ground.moreless

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  • Miss Emily Simpson is a harmless retired school teacher who lives alone and bothers nobody so why is she brutually murdered after being out in the woods looking for a special orchid?moreless

    In this very first episode of "Midsomer Murders", DCI Tom Barnaby (John Nettles) and DS Gavin Troy (Daniel Casey) are called in to investigate the death of an elderly spinster, Emily Simpson, (Renee Asherson) a former school teacher who lived alone in a little cottage in the village of 'Badger's Drift'.

    At first, it is thought that she died of natural causes but DCI Barnaby soon has reason to believe that foul play was involved when he interviews her neighbour and friend, Lucy Bellringer (Rosalie Crutchley) who is absolutely convinced that Emily was murdered because of her strange behaviour just a short time before she died. Upon hearing that the two elderly ladies were having a 'contest' to see who would be the first to find a particularly rare orchid in the local woods, and having Miss Simpson's flower collecting basket and markers found strewn hapazzardly in the woods, the investigators soon wonder whether or not she may have seen something in the woods she shouldn't have and had been murdered because of it.

    News of Miss Simpson's death spreads quickly and everyone appears shocked and distressed by the news, particularly the very strange mother and son duo of Iris and Dennis Rainbird. (Elizabeth Spriggs and Richard Cant.) Dennis is the local undertaker who, judging by his luxury car, is doing very well for himself indeed. His mother, a local gossip, has theories of her own to pass on to police, but, then again, she doesn't miss much as she has a very high window and high-powered binoculars from which she can see everything that goes on the village around her. A charming pastime for an older lady, and an excellent way to blackmail local residents when she spies them doing something they shouldn't be.

    When Iris and her son are found brutually murdered in their home and ledgers detailing all of their extortion attempts are found, Barnaby and Troy realise that Mrs. Rainbird has spotted something deadly - and paid the price for it. It soon transpires that there are many possible suspects in the Rainbird deaths, for Iris's blackmail had a very wide reach, but Barnaby still feels that there is a connection between these deaths and that of Emily Simpson.

    When a young local artist, Michael Lacey (Jonathan Firth) is suspected of having some part in the crimes, Barnaby and Troy must work at unravelling a very complex web involving a lot of people and some very dark secrets.

    An excellent episode to begin this fantastic long-running series. The script and acting are superb with fine performances all round. This is one not to be missed!moreless
  • An episode that's hard to forget.

    And the episode is hard to forget mainly because of the Rainbirds - weren't they creepy?? This was the first episode I ever saw of Midsomer and I found it very intriguing and what a twist at the end - where did that come from?

    A well written episode which shows each actor firmly cementing who their character is which is why I think the series is now so popular.

    I like how they give the clues throughout the episode - but who actually recognises them before the ending? No, this episode is hard to beat purely because of the characters that were created, a brilliant start to a brilliant series.moreless
Renée Asherson

Renée Asherson

Emily Simpson

Guest Star

Rosalie Crutchley

Rosalie Crutchley

Lucy Bellringer

Guest Star

Jonathan Firth

Jonathan Firth

Michael Lacey

Guest Star

Jane Wymark

Jane Wymark

Joyce Barnaby

Recurring Role

Laura Howard

Laura Howard

Cully Barnaby

Recurring Role

Barry Jackson

Barry Jackson

Dr Bullard

Recurring Role

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Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • Deaths in "The Killings At Badger's Drift"

      1. Emily Simpson (murdered)

      2. Iris and Dennis Rainbird (both murdered)

      3. Bella Trace (murdered, but first thought to be an accidental shooting)

      4. Phyllis Cadell (suicide)

      5. Katherine and Michael Lacey (Michael shot Katherine and then himself in a murder/suicide pact.)

      This means that a total of seven people died in the very first episode.

  • QUOTES (2)

    • Barnaby: Troy, you are about as politically correct as a Nuremberg rally.

    • (Barnaby has just finished a phone conversation with Troy)
      Joyce: Was that Sergeant Troy just now?
      Barnaby: Yes, it was.
      Joyce: I'd like to meet him one day.
      Barnaby: No you wouldn't!

  • NOTES (4)

    • International Titles:
      - Denmark - Barnaby
      - Brazil - Assassinatos de Midsomer, Os
      - Portugal - Crimes de Midsomer
      - Germany - Inspector Barnaby
      - Finland - Midsomerin murhat
      - Sweden - Morden i Midsomer
      - Croatia - Umorstva u Midsameru

    • Cully Barnaby was learning her lines for the play from the book "'Tis Pity She's a Whore" by John Ford.

    • This episode is based on Caroline Graham's book The Killings at Badger's Drift (1987).

    • Filming Locations:

      The Lee, Buckinghamshire/
      Bedlow, Buckinghamshire/
      Little Missenden, Buckinghamshire/
      Cambridge, Hertfordshire/
      Brighton, Sussex.


    • Goof: In several scenes after the murder of Iris and Dennis Rainbird, Barnaby and/or Troy refer to only Mrs. Rainbird having been murdered, not her son as well. These may be surviving scenes from a version faithful to Caroline Graham's novel, in which only Mrs. Rainbird is killed, while Dennis suffers from post-traumatic catatonia.

    • Barnaby: You are as politically incorrect as the Nuremberg rally.

      The Nuremberg rallies were the annual national party conventions (Reichsparteitag) held by the Nazi Party from 1923-1938 in Germany under Hitler's reign. They are named after their venue: the city of Nuremberg. During these conventions Nazi policies were proclaimed and marches were held in honour of and attended by Hitler himself. The chilling images of Hitler giving speeches to large crowds and saluting marching soldiers mostly stem from these conventions.