Cast your mind back to 1997. Tony Blair became Prime Minister. Chelsea won their first major competition for 26 years. Dolly the sheep was ‘born’. And, over on ITV, a fresh faced young copper called Gavin Troy was helping solve the first grisly death in Midsomer Murders.
It could, however, have all been very different, as Daniel Casey explains.
“In the books, Gavin is mid-30s, married, with a couple of children. He’s got ginger hair and wears a long leather coat and leather boots. He’s a bit of a Nazi, really!”
Happily for the then 24-year-old Casey, the decision had already been made to soften the character somewhat. “They cast me as younger and more naive, and I think that works much better. Although Gavin did have hang ups – homosexuals, old people, and he's every “ist” you could imagine – I think they were borne out of youthful ignorance.” Daniel laughs.
It was the start of a remarkable seven years, and 29 episodes, as John Nettles' sidekick, a time that Daniel clearly enjoyed immensely.
“I had a fantastic time,” he admits. “John and I got on really well, from the first day really. The first scene we shot, we had to drive up in a car outside a murder scene, stop, get out, have a bit of a chat and walk in the house. I drove up, I stopped, I got out, said my line... and all I could hear was shouting from inside the car. I’d parked about an inch from a wall and John couldn’t open the door. He was saying ‘ambitious little swine, isn’t he?!’”
The series had a number of benefits, from the regular work to the quality of the co-stars.
“The casts were phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal. I got to work with Richard Briers, Richard Johnson, Alan Howard, Honor Blackman, Samantha Bond, all sorts of people.
“As a young actor you learn an enormous amount by watching people. Alan Howard’s delivery was phenomenal, I just sat and watched him. And Bernard Hepton was lovely. We stayed away doing that episode and I bought him a nice malt whisky and sat down and he told me stories about Alec Guinness and Smiley’s People and Olivier and all the greats. That was fantastic, just listening to his stories. I think that’s part of tradition, we do sit around in-between takes and tell stories and you become a part of this ‘acting family’. It’s lovely.”
After seven years though, Daniel decided the time was right to try new things. Having secured a promotion for Troy – “he made inspector against all the odds,” laughs Daniel, “he couldn’t even identify a piece of fruit in one episode!” – he decided to leave Midsomer behind and try new things.
“I was just aware I didn’t want to stay with the same thing for too long and I wanted to branch out,” he explains.
Since then, he’s been a regular on stage and appeared in series such as Steel River Blues, Doctors, The Bill and Silent Witness. It’s clear though that, even with all the jokes about how there can’t be anyone left to kill in Midsomer – “I’ve heard them all” – Daniel has very fond memories of his time on the show. Particularly, he admits, one particular death.
“My favourite one was ‘death by drinks cabinet’! That was hilarious. He opened the cupboard and the drinks cabinet collapsed on him! That’s genius...”
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