IT WAS the great mystery dividing South Oxfordshire last night: Where are the ethnic minority characters in Midsomer Murders?

Already the controversy had seemingly killed off one character – co-creator Brian True-May by his own hand – after he said English villages were predominantly white and he wanted the long-running series to reflect that.

Production company All3Media suspended him and ITV condemned his comments, made in a Radio Times interview.

But in Wallingford – used as Causton, the show’s main town – and the district, opinion was split.

Some townsfolk agreed, but Conservative councillor Imran Lokhon, of Bangladeshi descent, said Mr True-May’s comments were “outdated”.

He told the Radio Times: “We just do not have ethnic minorities involved.

“Because it wouldn’t be the English village with them. It just wouldn’t work.”

He added: “(The show is) 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.

“We are the last bastion of Englishness and I want to keep it that way.”

Wallingford councillor Mr Lokhon said modern British market towns are becoming more culturally diverse each year.

Mr Lokhon, 26, who serves as a town and district councillor, said: “I think his claims are unfair.

“My parents came to Wallingford before I was born, so I have grown up here. This is my home.

“Maybe his comments were true of market towns 50 years ago, but not now.

“More and more people from ethnic minorities are living in this part of the world and adding to the area’s strong culture.

“His comments seem quite outdated.”

However, Steph May, 43, from Cholsey, said the row was ridiculous.

She said: “This man was not being racist, just pointing out the realities of parts of England. This is a storm in a teacup and he should get his job back.”

Peter Atkins, of Hazel Grove, Wallingford, said: “The truth is, we do have far fewer ethnic minorities living in town’s like Wallingford than in other parts of Britain. The show supposedly reflects this part of the world, so this man is really just telling it like it is.”

Colin Gilbey, who runs Broadway Butchers in Didcot, added: “It is political correctness gone mad.

“It’s just a fact of life that more white people live in this part of the world, there is no reason for this.”

An ITV spokesman condemned Mr True-May’s comments, saying the channel was “shocked” and “appalled”. A new series starts next Wednesday.

According to South Oxfordshire District Council, 95.2 per cent of people living in South Oxfordshire were white.

Last year South Oxfordshire District Council launched a Visit Midsomer website to cash in on the show’s success.

Visitors can discover all the Oxfordshire locations used as backdrops, including parts of Warborough, Dorchester, Ewelme and Watlington.

The show was launched in 1997 and has featured 222 murders.

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