Midsomer Murders producer Brian True-May suspended over minorities comment

The producer of long-running TV hit Midsomer Murders has been suspended after sparking a row when he claimed part of the show's appeal was an absence of ethnic minorities.

Brian True-May has been suspended by production company All3Media pending an internal investigation.

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

True-May, the drama's co-creator who has been with it since day one, 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," he added.

An ITV spokesman said: "We are shocked and appalled at these personal comments by Brian True-May which are absolutely not shared by anyone at ITV.

"We are in urgent discussions with All3Media, the producer of Midsomer Murders, who have informed us that they have launched an immediate investigation into the matter and have suspended Mr True-May pending the outcome."

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

But True-May said he has not previously been tackled about the programme's failure to reflect "cosmopolitan" society.

"It's not British, it's very English. We are a cosmopolitan society in this country, but if you watch Midsomer you wouldn't think so.

"I've never been picked up on that, but quite honestly I wouldn't want to change it," he said.

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 Radio Times.

The series returns this week 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, so ethnic minorities apparently avoid the show. A study in 2006 found to be "strikingly unpopular" with minorities.

:: The full interview is in the new edition of Radio Times.