Dr Peter Moore: Lockdown was murder... will we survive another whodunit?

Midsomer Murders

Midsomer Murders - Credit: Archant

Can we cope with another lockdown? In the spring it was murder, quite literally. I downloaded and watched numerous Midsomer Murders, Vera, Death in Paradise, Hercule Poirot and any other whodunit I could find.

Throughout my career I have tried to be supportive to anyone suffering a bereavement, but I confess I have little sympathy for the population of Midsomer.

Anyone who moves there must be aware of its reputation, although the next village of Badger’s Drift appears to be even more dangerous.

It is also important not to live in a massive mansion. I am not always impressed by my fellow GPs in Midsomer, who are either implicit in murder or just incompetent.

At least they are better than the vicars who are invariably psychopathic killers.

I have also worked out how both the Chief Inspector Barnabys could prevent most of the murders.

The murders seem to come immediately before the adverts. All they need to do is to check when the next ad break is due, increase the police presence and protect any potential victim.

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When recorded from ITV3 during the day the adverts make the target audience clear.

They are either for mobility aids or carers for the elderly. There are even adverts for life insurance to pay for your funeral. Occasionally I’ve seen ads to book your cremation in advance when other channels advertise booking holidays in advance.

In some ways murder mysteries should be a busman’s holiday. I spent 30 years working as a police surgeon. I dealt with several murders over the years but none as imaginative as the case load of poor Chief Inspector Barnaby.

And although South Devon is not crime free, luckily we do not have quite as many as Midsomer or even St Marie.

The few murders I did attend were somewhat more straightforward but would not make good drama. It was usually clear who had killed the victim.

Cases were often drug related; the victim had not paid the dealer and so was beaten up. Another one was homophobic. The only ‘mystery’ was whether the accused should be charged with murder or manslaughter.

Admittedly, I was only a humble police surgeon, now known as FME or Forensic Medical Examiner, not a pathologist. Unlike the pathologist in Midsomer I could not lean over a body and say that he died between nine and ten last night unless he was seen alive and well at nine and found dead at ten.

But then our Home Office pathologist covered a large area of the South West and was not available for every body or even everybody.

In Midsomer the pathologist appears to double up as a scenes of crime officer. There are always people in the background in paper suits, but it is the pathologist who points out the clever clues.

A few years ago, there was a TV drama about a police surgeon called Dangerfield.

At a conference I met the doctor who was the adviser before he resigned. He told me that there would be a dramatic scene and he would point out that this could not happen in quite the way it was portrayed.

“I know, doc, but this is much better dramatically,” he was told.

And so, every week the series went out with my colleague’s name on the credits and every week his colleagues would ask: “How did you allow that?”

The only time he was needed as a doctor was when a ‘body’ was lying in a stream. The filming took so long that he had to treat the actor who was the ‘body’ for hypothermia.

Locally we had The Coroner on daytime TV. It was worth watching just to spot the locations. It was strange seeing Totnes Town Hall becoming a police station.

Hopefully, we will not need another lockdown in the South West. If we do, I might try downloading something else.

Are Torquay United’s highlights available when the only mystery is the off-side rule?