Simon Williams knew what to expect when he joined the cast of Midsomer Murders because his home featured in the series before he did.


"We live in the countryside in Oxfordshire and I have a previous connection as they filmed around our house on a previous episode. At the read-through it was great because I knew most of the team from before. But it was wonderful to be in the series myself for the first time.


"John and I are old friends; we worked together on Bergerac. I always watch the series whenever I can. It's Sherlock Holmes meets The Archers -it's perfect and in the middle is the wonderfully enigmatic John Nettles as Barnaby."


Simon plays Guy Sandys, a former City fund manager turned proprietor of country magazine Midsomer Life - for which he also writes damning restaurant critiques.


He explains: "Guy enjoys a sense of privilege, and I've played a lot of characters like him. People who think they have some kind of superiority in the world. He wouldn't be my favourite person to have round to dinner, but you have to find something to like in your character. You wouldn't be too sad if anything happened to him though!


"We talked about putting him in tweeds, but he actually brings a feeling of London to the village - he's a bit out of place, there's a bit too much town about him."


Simon combines acting with writing.


"My wife breeds horses, and I write at home in my den. I have just written a thriller called 'Double Death' and that is about to be published. I love combining the two - writing and acting - and I think they complement each other.


"There is a team spirit about acting which I love, and something like Midsomer is such fun to do, it doesn't seem like working, they make it so good for everyone. This year I've had a good range from contemporary to costume drama.


"On the other hand, there's also something very nice and solitary about writing. Sometimes it goes easily and sometimes it doesn't. When it's not going smoothly you just have to get on with it. You put on an old T-shirt and jeans and knuckle down."


Simon is still remembered for his role as James Bellamy in Upstairs, Downstairs but his other credits include the recent adaptation of Sense and Sensibility, Holby City, The Gathering, Sword of Honour, Pig Heart Boy, The Mixer and The Prisoner of Zenda.


"Bellamy was a wonderful character to play and I think it's great that people are still enjoying it more than 30 years on. Now my son Tam is a successful actor, too, and we are very proud of him."