Midsomer Murders, the TV show that covers blackmail, betrayal and an unfeasible number of deadly killings in picturesque locations in Oxfordshire is celebrating 25 years.

Die-hard fans of the genteel detective series are now deep into series 22 of the hugely popular show which was firest aired in March 1997.

The Lions at Bledlow has been five different pubs, while The Crown in Sydenham is at least three.

Villages around the Oxfordshire/Buckinghamshire border - Turville, Hambleden, Fingest, Haddenham and Long Crendon - are favourite backdrops.

Grand country houses such as Mapledurham and Greycourt plus many ancient churches have also been the scene of grisly goings-on.

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Based on author Caroline Graham’s Chief Inspector Barnaby books, the very first episode of Midsomer Murders, entitled The Killings at Badger’s Drift, was an immediate hit attracting an audience of 13.5million.

Over the years its eerie Theremin opening music has set the scene for death by cricket bat, fire iron, doped horse, pitchfork, Celtic spear, vintage claret, longbow arrow, and hatpin. There has even been an alien abduction.

Actor John Nettles, who played DCI Tom Barnaby from 1997 to 2011, once said Midsomer is a mix of ‘fairy cakes and blood letting.’

In 2011 DCI John Barnaby, played by Neil Dudgeon, took over from his cousin.

Its illustrious list of guest stars have included Olivia Colman, Jenny Agutter, Hugh Bonneville, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Imelda Staunton, Alison Steadman, Claire Bloom, Bernard Cribbins and Orlando Bloom – as a young actor, the future Pirates of the Caribbean star appeared as murder victim Peter Drinkwater in Judgement Day, an episode from season three which aired in 2000.

On his 10th anniversary in the role Neil Dudgeon said: "Usually as an actor if a job goes on for three months it is a long job, if you go to the National you might stay there for a year but the idea that you might be in the same job for 10 years, playing the same character, seems to me to be tremendously unlikely.

"You don’t really think about how long you’ve been doing it whilst you’re doing it because there is always so much to do that you don’t have a lot of time to reflect.

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"If you are going to work in television as an actor what else would you want to be doing? It’s a fantastic job – wonderful crew, beautiful locations, great scripts, marvellous guests, great fun and nice catering… What more could one ask for?"

He added: "Some of the deaths have been marvellous, Murray Melvin falling to his death having seen a headless horseman is something that doesn’t happen around our house every day. Martine McCutcheon killed by cheese of course, the guy who was covered in truffle oil and then eaten alive by a wild boar was very inventive.”

To celebrate the quarter century, ITV is planning a documentary to be aired later this year.

Publisher Pitkin is also launching a guide that pinpoints the most popular locations used for filming the series by Frank Hopkinson (£6.99).

Local author Tony Long, organiser of Midsomer Tours of Thame, has also written A Midsomer Day Out which provides a detailed itinerary for more than 60 filming locations and includes a map for a day-long tour, commentaries and photographs taken by the author.