SARAH SMART - Jo Starling

Sarah Smart was thrilled to tick Midsomer Murders off her list of 'must-do' acting jobs.

"Midsomer is the nation's favourite and I was so chuffed to get the part. I have done some dramas in the past that I wouldn't want my family watching but I am happy to say that this Midsomer episode is one my granny can watch without having to hide her eyes - apart from the murders!

"I love doing classy TV and Midsomer was definitely on my list, so I am pleased that I can tick that one off."

Sarah plays Jo Starling, whose housemate is murdered at the start of the episode.

"She's a great character with a cool name. She is strong and brave - completely different from me - and she stays in her home even after a murder had taken place. But I wouldn't like to get too close to her, because everyone around her seems to get killed.

"I had to do some fighting and it was quite tough and a little bit violent. I love all that stuff, though I had never been strangled before - thankfully!

"I also loved the look they gave her - denim shorts and legging with shirts. She's a free spirit and her hair was loose. I got to ride around on a bicycle to all the beautiful villages with a little basket on the handlebars. I am from Birmingham and I live in London now, so it was good to play a country girl."

Adds Sarah: "Jo works at the donkey sanctuary, which I absolutely loved. I thought they would be rough and smelly but they were like really big teddy bears, so that was a good revelation."


LEE BOARDMAN - Matt Rowntree

Old rivalries are left behind when former Coronation Street actor Lee Boardman teams up behind the bar with EastEnders' Kacey Ainsworth in Midsomer Murders.

Explains Lee: "My character Matt is repugnant, the swinger of the village and likes to upset the applecart. The only thing I could say in his favour is that he does have a good choice of wife. Kacey Ainsworth and I come from opposing soaps and I'd never met her properly, so it was lovely to get to know her. In fact, we had such a great time we were hoping to get a spin-off series!"

Matt is an ex-copper who now runs Great Worthy's village pub with his wife Nikki, a former brothel madam.

"I had the most hilarious costume and in one scene I had to wear a pair of boxer shorts, cowboy boots and a heavy gold chain. It was not my best sartorial look ever!

"Meanwhile Kacey was wandering around in a basque, stockings and suspenders, so she didn't fare much better. I even had a huge hole in the shorts which we kept, as an extra for the character!"

Adds Lee: "I loved my time on the series. Everyone I know is a secret fan and I was intrigued to see Neil Dudgeon as the new leading man. It's very difficult to step into shoes that have been there for so long, but he has an air of dignity and can lead a company of actors modestly. It's a lovely trait and it distils down all the way through the cast."


PAM FERRIS - Liz Tomlin

Pam Ferris had an entertaining time working alongside some four-legged co-stars in Midsomer.

"My character Liz Tomlin runs the donkey sanctuary which was interesting to film. The donkeys liked each other and noisy procreation was going on big time. It was slightly unnerving as we were trying to film. Coaxing a donkey to do the acting thing when they had other matters on their minds was quite difficult!"

Liz is questioned by Barnaby and Jones when a young woman is killed in Great Worthy.

Explains Pam: "Liz is an unusual character. She gets on better with donkeys than human beings. In fact she gets on better with everyone other than her son Sam. She is unconventional and quite outspoken, but in a good way.

 "She is a typical Midsomer character with hidden pasts and that makes it interesting to play, which I hope will be tantalising without giving the game away.

"The best way to describe her look is ex-army surplus. I was determined that my hair wouldn't look good and I persuaded make-up to achieve a dishevelled appearance."

Pam's husband, actor Roger Frost, appeared in Midsomer several years ago. "He was in an episode called Destroying Angel in its previous life with John Nettles. It is a well-oiled machine but has the fresh blood of new actors coming in each time. Neil is great. He takes it very seriously and works very hard."

Adds Pam: "I was pleased to do it and I know my friends and family will be watching, as well as my sister from New Zealand, as it's a huge hit down under."