© ITV/Mark Bourdillon

Andrew-Lee Potts plays Gideon Latimer

Filming Midsomer Murders was a magical experience for actor Andrew-Lee Potts.


"I play Gideon Latimer who is a bit like a British David Blaine. He is a successful illusionist and does close up magic as well. He's a kind of dark, mysterious magician. I was taught some magic by a very cool magician and he showed me card handling. I had to learn that quite quickly to make it look as if I had been doing it for years.


"I also got involved in the bigger illusions and stunts and it was very interesting to film. In one scene Gideon does a trick which looks like he walks through a mirror. We took a whole day to perfect it and it looks amazing. I found it all quite interesting - I'm a guy who always likes to make an entrance!"


Gideon has recently bought a large manor house in Midsomer, where he spent time as a child.


Explains Andrew: "He left a long time ago but now he's trying to ingratiate himself with the key pillars of the community. He is very wealthy already but he wants a bigger name. He gets off on the whole spectacle of it. His father was a magician but not very successful so he is trying to prove a point to his mother and to himself.


"It's a family business - his wife is one of his assistants and his mother is always there. There are lots of problems within the family that are later revealed. His social skills when he tries to integrate with the locals is almost offensive and yet when he is doing his magic he is Dr Charm, a very different animal."


Adds Andrew: "We dressed him in black; he's slightly sinister and gothic in look with a bit of eye make-up."


The role was one Andrew really enjoyed. "It's good to do different things and learn new skills. Neil Dudgeon was great to work with and I loved the other guests especially Amanda Burton who played my mum and Stephanie Leonidas who was my wife. Also, my country house was Chenies Manor and I felt like Lord of the Manor.


"I also played the Master recently in The Mill, which was another Lord of the Manor role. I normally play a computer hacker and suddenly I've gone all posh, so I don't know where all that has come from!"


Andrew began his career in musical theatre and has since had roles in many well-known dramas including Primeval, By Any Means, Ideal, Trial & Retribution, Dead Fish, Fat Friends, Buried, Strange and Band of Brothers.


"I also direct and I will be directing a new sci-fi series for the web called Wireless through my own production company. I love that side of the business; it's great to be creative."


His sister Sarah-Jane Potts is also an actor. "She lives between LA and England. She has just finished doing Gracepoint, the US version of Broadchurch. We are three years apart in age but we have played twins on screen."


Amanda Burton plays Carole Latimer

Amanda Burton relished the chance to play possessive mother Carole Latimer.


"I was very attracted to the role of Carole. She is overly possessive, she has a total focus on her son and enjoys her position of being the mother of a very famous magician. She also has a dark side to her and wasn't always what she seemed. So that all added up into an interesting character and draws me to the part like a moth to a flame.


"Carole is quite smart and well-groomed. She lives quite a high life on the back of her son. She doesn't have to worry about the pennies so she gets to stay in a big house, with lovely clothes and a nice car. But she lives vicariously through her son and her lifestyle is dependent on Gideon's success, so she treads a precarious line.


"She doesn't like the fact that Gideon has a young wife. She pays lip service to her but her main focus and everything she does is concentrated on her son in a very overbearing way."


As well as the character, Amanda was delighted to be part of the long-running series.


"It was lovely to be part of a drama that has had such longevity. It was like walking into a well-oiled machine and I was thrilled to join the Midsomer family. I didn't know Andrew who played my son but we had fun off-screen which was great, as the relationship between them on-screen is very intense and focused.


"I knew Neil Dudgeon as we did a Lucy Gannon film together called The Gift, which won a huge accolade. I hadn't seen him for years so it was lovely to catch up. Not only is he a gifted actor, he is also a lovely man and has done a great job of taking over the helm at Midsomer Murders.


In real life, Amanda is mum to two daughters, Phoebe and Brid.


"Phoebe is working behind the camera as a loader working on music videos. She is very busy and even when she's not working she always has a camera over her shoulder shooting short films. She is very dedicated and a hard worker, she loves her job and is so focused.

"Brid has a theatre company called Short Back and Sides, which is all about diversity and allinclusive theatre. She writes and performs as well as running the company, which givespeople from all backgrounds opportunities. She recently debuted five new writers in Covent Garden. She studied English at Cambridge and did a lot of theatre there.


"Both my daughters are crazily creative and I am immensely proud of them. I keep up with the industry through the girls and we are a tightly bonded unit and always have such a laugh together."


Amanda's big break came with Brookside and she has since had many leading roles including Boon, Peak Practice, Silent Witness, Waterloo Road, Helen West, Bronson and The Commander. She also appeared recently in Celebrity Masterchef Challenge.


"It really was an extraordinary experience and a real challenge as it's all-consuming and incredibly stressful. I learnt an enormous amount, though, and got back my joy of cooking."


Jack Shepherd plays Magnus Soane

Former TV cop Jack Shepherd enjoyed having the tables turned for his role in Midsomer.
The star of Wycliffe plays a vicar who is questioned by police after a murder at his church.


Explains Jack: "Magnus is Vicar of St Cyprian's and is desperate to raise funds to save his church. He drinks too much and has a rather mysterious aura to him. He's quite an imposing figure but he is actually very liberal and intelligent.


"He tolerates the pagan rituals, the old village customs celebrating the coming of spring. There is an interest in the old traditions and he understands it in an academic way. He doesn't try to stamp it out as a Christian, unlike his curate.


"After years of playing the policeman who asks the questions in Wycliffe it was the other way around this time. It's quite interesting to reverse the situation and it's actually more fun to answer the questions than to ask them!"


Magnus faces his own crisis with his wife Lorna, played by Deborah Findlay.


"He's been with his wife for a long time and he is finding it hard to come to terms with his wife's obsession, which could mean the end of their marriage. He would regret that after spending a lifetime together, so he finds refuge in the bottle."


Adds Jack: "This was my first time in the series and my family were intrigued by the idea of me being in it. I enjoyed my time in the villages. There were scenes that you could get your teeth into and the quality of the actors was very high, so it was all enjoyable.


"I last saw Neil Dudgeon in Morocco when we were both in The Nativity for ITV. I was playing one of the wise men and we were staying at a lavish hotel. It was lovely to work with him again."


Jack is still recognised for his starring role in Wycliffe, which he appeared in for four years and nearly 40 episodes.


"It's like the shadow that follows you and refuses to go away! It's probably because it is still shown on ITV3. It's also very big in Iran where they call him Cliffe. They allow it there because there are no lurid sex scenes, although I'm sure bits of it are still cut."


Jack's other film and TV credits include The Virgin Soldiers, Bill Brand, Blind Justice, High Stakes, The Jury, Waking the Dead, The Golden Compass, The Politician's Husband and, most recently, New Tricks.


"I have also been on a theatre tour of ghost stories and we are doing another one with two famous Charles Dickens tales, Whistle and I Will Come to You and The Signalman. They are both rattling good stories and I pay the lead in both, which is very tiring but very rewarding. I have learned a lot about the haunted nature of many of the theatres we have toured in along the way!"


Jack is also an acclaimed playwright, director and jazz musician.


Joe Absolom plays Luke Altman

Joe Absolom plays a barman whose life and beliefs come under scrutiny when his wife is killed.


"Luke Altman works at the Green Man pub and he has fallen in love with the landlady and married her. He is a calm and down to earth fellow whose life is turned upside down by the death of his wife Hannah.


"He's a good guy in a Midsomer Murders way, so you don't really know. When we meet him we see that his wife has been murdered so my first scene is very emotional. I enjoyed the challenge of it."


"Luke is a peaceful guy who has been travelling around the world and settles down in Midsomer-land. He obviously doesn't know it's a not a safe place to live!"


Luke attracts further police attention when they discover he is a pagan.


Says Joe: "I didn't know anything about paganism until I read the role. I had to do a night shoot wearing a leather leaf mask and a druid's gown while dancing round the fire to a bongo drum. It's at times like that you think that acting is a strange profession. Television has a job to blend the stereotype and the real, and sometimes it doesn't please everybody, but hopefully I can pull it off.


"The series has a great reputation among jobbing actors and I had great fun. Neil Dudgeon and Gwilym Lee were a welcoming team to step into for a couple of weeks. When I tell friends that I've been working on Midsomer they are very impressed."


Joe played Matthew in more than 150 episodes of EastEnders but is now more often recognised as one of the regulars in Doc Martin, where he's played Al Large for the past 10 years.


"I left EastEnders 14 years ago so I do get recognised less and less. Being in a soap does open doors but I have done a whole heap of stuff since then.


"Doc Martin has been a great job; it has brought me to an idyllic place and way of life. Al is a good egg in a nice place. It's well written and there are always nice bits to do. Martin Clunes is great, unlike his character he's never grumpy or quiet, he is always energetic and funny and it means that everyone has a laugh. He runs a very happy ship, very like Neil on Midsomer."


Joe's role on Doc Martin has led to him deciding to base his family in Cornwall.


"I fell in love with Cornwall from filming the series. I have three kids and one of them was born here. So we're experimenting to see if it works, and commuting to London when we need to."


Joe's other credits include Caught in a Trap, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Touching Evil, Vincent, P.O.W., Servants, Personal Affairs and Trevor's World of Sport.