Midsomer Murders producer Brian True-May 'will step down'

The producer of Midsomer Murders who sparked a race row has apologised and will step down from the show after "the current production run".

Production company All3Media launched an internal investigation after the publication of Brian True-May's comments that part of the show's appeal was an absence of ethnic minorities.

A statement on its website said: "Brian True-May has been reinstated as the producer of Midsomer Murders.

"Brian apologises if his remarks gave unintended offence to any viewers."

An ITV spokesman said: "We welcome the apology from Brian True-May and understand that he will step down from his role on Midsomer Murders at the end of the current production run."

Mr True-May told the Radio Times that the ITV1 programmes - which have run for 14 series - "wouldn't work" if there was any racial diversity in the village life.

He said: "We just don't have ethnic minorities involved. Because it wouldn't be the English village with them. It just wouldn't work.

"Suddenly we might be in Slough. Ironically, Causton (one of the main centres of population in the show) is supposed to be Slough. And if you went into Slough you wouldn't see a white face there.

"We're the last bastion of Englishness and I want to keep it that way."

Midsomer Murders, based on the books by Caroline Graham, was launched in 1997 and has featured 251 deaths, 222 of which were murders.

True-May has also banned swearing, violence and sex scenes from the show but his idyllic formula does not stop challenging storylines, or other elements of diversity which do not involve ethnicity.

"If it's incest, blackmail, lesbianism, homosexuality... terrific, put it in, because people can believe that people can murder for any of those reasons," he told the Radio Times.

The series has just returned with a new star, Neil Dudgeon, who has joined the cast as DCI John Barnaby, replacing actor John Nettles (DCI Tom Barnaby) as the central character.

Mirroring the way the programme, which is broadcast to 231 territories around the world, avoids portraying racial variation, it has been found that ethnic minorities apparently avoid the show. A study in 2006 found that Midsomer Murders was "strikingly unpopular" with minorities.