Midsomer Murders’ New Year’s Resolution: The return of Gwilym Lee

Midsomer Murders XVllThe Dagger Club
Midsomer Murders XVllThe Dagger Club /

Midsomer Murders still misses Gwilym Lee’s character Charlie Nelson. That’s why the return of the Bohemian Rhapsody star is our first New Year’s Resolution.

Many TV crime dramas need to make New Year’s Resolutions that will make them even better than they are today—and one of them is Midsomer Murders.

The Acorn TV drama has been running for almost 23 years as of January 2020, and that’s an incredibly impressive feat. For comparison, NCIS is on season 17 this year! But more impressive, it hasn’t really dropped in quality over its two-plus decades either.

The show is currently airing the last few episodes of series 20 in the UK. But there’s still something we’d like to see from Midsomer Murders when it returns for series 21 later this year, which is why it’s first up on our list of New Year’s Resolutions.

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The show: Midsomer Murders

The resolution: A return guest appearance by DS Charlie Nelson (Gwilym Lee), the former series regular from series 16-18.

Why it needs to be made: Midsomer Murders has always had good luck when it comes to casting the junior detective opposite DCI Barnaby. Jason Hughes will always be the number one contender for the many years he put in as the charming and oft put-upon Ben Jones, and current co-star Nick Hendrix has settled nicely into the sidekick spot, too.

But Hendrix’s predecessor Gwilym Lee, who played DS Charlie Nelson in series 16-18, was just about as good as Hughes and got maybe half his due for it. It didn’t hurt him any; Lee went on to star as legendary Queen guitarist Brian May in the Golden Globe Award-winning biopic Bohemian Rhapsody.

That’s exactly why 2020 would be the perfect time for Lee to return to Midsomer for one more episode. His profile has definitely risen sizeably thanks to all of the exposure that’s come out of Bohemian Rhapsody; just announcing his guest appearance would likely draw in more viewers who haven’t seen Midsomer Murders before, in addition to the fans who remember him.

But the other, bigger reason to bring Gwilym Lee back is that Nelson didn’t get much of a sendoff. He left after series 18, so there was no on-screen departure, and little explanation as to what he was doing next. That’s unfortunately been another trend with Midsomer Murders: the show isn’t great at exits. It’s usually just the character moved somewhere else, never to be seen again.

Most infamously, John Hopkins made the decision not to return so late that his character DS Dan Scott was said to be “out sick” when Jones was introduced, apparently having the world’s longest cold.

So for a show that’s wonderful at getting fans attached to characters, it’s terrible at giving any kind of closure when they leave.

Only two juniors have made return appearances: Daniel Casey was kind enough to return as Gavin Troy for “Blood Wedding,” and Jason Hughes got a proper ending when he reprised his role as Ben Jones in “Last Man Out.”

That episode showed how Midsomer Murders can tell excellent stories when an old friend comes back to town. Jones fit seamlessly back into the picture, and watching Hughes interact with Nick Hendrix was a treat, too.

It would be similarly endearing to watch Lee work with the actor who’s his direct successor and see how he’s grown as an actor since departing in 2016. Not to mention, get a firm idea of what Charlie Nelson is up to now. It’s easy to imagine him in a more high-profile position, maybe running a task force, with all kinds of stories to tell.

2020 should be the year of bringing Charlie back, because he and Gwilym Lee deserve one last Midsomer Murders mystery.

Next. See the full New Year's Resolutions schedule. dark

What do you think of our Midsomer Murders resolution? Which TV crime dramas do you have New Year’s Resolutions for? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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