Fit For Murder is the eighth episode of the thirteenth series of the popular ITV crime drama Midsomer Murders and was first aired on 2nd February 2011. It is the final episode featuring John Nettles as DCI Tom Barnaby.
This episode focuses more personally on Tom Barnaby's character. Throughout the episode we are shown an aspect of Tom Barnaby's background that hasn't been featured before - the death of his father which was only briefly mentioned until this point. We find out that Tom Barnaby's father died on his birthday due to a massive stroke, Tom Barnaby and his father had feuded shortly before his death and he says that his last words to his father were "not very nice". As such - he deeply regrets his fathers death and ever since has harboured anxiety that he, too, would die at the same age as his father. As that age draws near Tom Barnaby becomes more pensive and contemplative about his future.
At the end of the episode, having solved the murders, he celebrates his birthday with family and friends and announces his retirement. He and Joyce go on to spend his retirement traveling the world.
Barnaby accompanies Joyce to Swaveley Manor health spa, run by fussy Luke Archbold and his wife Phoebe. Luke is in a right of way dispute with Phoebe's former best friend, Miranda Bedford, who has written a novel, and her volatile handyman Carter Smith. Demanding guest Kitty Pottinger is found drowned in the flotation chamber and soon afterwards Luke is killed by a faulty weights machine. The spa faces closure and evidence points to Carter having killed Luke, though Barnaby believes he was framed. Kitty's husband Kenny disappears but is found, having survived an attempt on his life. Before Barnaby retires, handing over to his cousin John Barnaby, he has exposed a fake medium and discovered that the killer had dual motives - hatred for the Pottingers and a need to stop Miranda 's book being published - both instances being Fit For Murder.
Barnaby reluctantly accompanies Joyce on a spa weekend to upmarket Swavely Manor, a country house offering treatments to soothe the body and spirit. His birthday is approaching but the detective is anything but relaxed – as well as his mistrust of New Age treatments and therapies, Barnaby has something on his mind.
The atmosphere at the picturesque manor house is far from tranquil, too, as owner Phoebe Archbold has fallen out with her old friend and neighbor Miranda Bedford, a wannabe novelist. Miranda saved Swavely from ruin in the past, but now Phoebe’s husband Luke wants to end her right of way over the land.
Highly-strung spa enthusiast Kitty Pottinger collapses when she finds the ‘garden of contemplation’ full of sheep and Phoebe blames Miranda’s friend Carter Smith for stirring up trouble. As Barnaby is sent for a hot stones massage, Joyce tries out the flotation chamber – only to find Kitty’s dead body floating beside her.
Jones arrives and Barnaby puts him in charge of the investigation. It appears that Kitty argued with her husband Kenny before taking tranquilizers, while Kenny fled in the night. Luke is angry - he hoped Kitty would rescue the spa from its latest financial crisis. And fitness trainer Julian has a black eye following a tussle with Carter.
Barnaby seeks refuge at the village pub where he learns Phoebe married Luke after the sudden death of her first husband. Carter reveals he is helping Miranda with her novel although his wife Janet – like many others - is convinced the book doesn’t really exist.
Back at the spa, Luke is crushed to death by a training machine as he works out. Carter had threatened him and Barnaby is convinced there is more going on than the land feud. Bullard suggests both deaths could be murder, while spa guest Natasha Fox seems badly distressed at Luke’s demise.
The police search Miranda’s house and find the completed novel in a safe. Then they discover a vital piece of the gym machine that crushed Luke in Carter’s truck and a set of keys to the spa. Miranda claims they are being framed.
Natasha admits she is Luke’s ex-wife – and she witnessed some strange events on the night of Kitty’s death. Barnaby makes a gruesome discovery in his search for Kenny and the truth gradually emerges. With the killer apprehended, all Barnaby has to worry about is his birthday party ... and making a big decision about his future.
- John Nettles as DCI Tom Barnaby
- Jason Hughes as DS Ben Jones
- Jane Wymark as Joyce Barnaby
- Laura Howard as Cully Barnaby
- Barry Jackson as Dr. George Bullard
- Neil Dudgeon as DCI John Barnaby
- Kirsty Dillon as DC Gail Stephens
- Geraldine James as Miranda Bedford
- Jason Durr as Luke Archbold
- Lesley Manville as Phoebe Archbold
- Oliver Mellor as Julian Woodley
- Sally Giles as Natasha Fox
- Angus Barnett as Kenny Pottinger
- Ronni Ancona as Kitty Pottinger
- Shaun Dingwall as Carter Smith
- Miles Richardson as Dr. Giles Danby
- Gemma Dyllen as Florence
- Kimberley Nixon as Cloud/Angela Danby
- Eric Carte as Clarky
- Sophie Dix as Janet Smith
- Chris Wilson as Police Officer (uncredited)
Prior to the Episode
In the Episode
- Fit for Murder is actor John Nettles’ final appearance as he hands in his police badge after over 80 episodes and 14 years in the starring role as British television’s top detective. The two-hour film, made by Bentley Productions, is screened on ITV1.
- More than 250 suspicious deaths have rocked the tranquil surroundings of Midsomer since Barnaby took office. Stabbing and strangulation have been joined by many bizarre murderous methods, including death by poisonous frogs, spontaneous combustion, falling from a doped horse and getting speared by King Neptune’s trident.
- Fit for Murder also features the final episode for Jane Wymark, who has played Barnaby’s long-suffering wife Joyce since the series began in 1997, and Laura Howard, who has co-starred regularly as his daughter Cully.
- Some of the top names in British television join John for his final episode. Geraldine James, Lesley Manville, Jason Durr, Ronni Ancona and Shaun Dingwall are among the latest guest stars joining the roll call of almost 1000 famous names who have played killers, victims or red herrings in the drama.
- Fit for Murder also features an appearance by Midsomer’s new detective Neil Dudgeon who takes over as DCI John Barnaby, a cousin of the original Barnaby who moves to Midsomer to team up with DI Ben Jones, played by established Midsomer Murders star Jason Hughes.
- Producer Brian True-May reveals that two separate endings were filmed for Fit for Murder. “We did one version showing Barnaby’s retirement party and another where it is a birthday gathering. So for the first UK transmission, it will be the retirement ending, but for repeat screenings when episodes are shown in different orders and for international use, it will be the birthday version. So in a way, John will always live on in Midsomer!”
- The ending scene showing Tom Barnaby's birthday is set on the 20th April as Picture of Innocence showed 20th April 1943 as Tom's birthday
The following actors and actresses who appeared in this episode have also appeared in the following episodes