On Sun 2nd Sep 2001 here in the UK, TV channel ITV broadcast a feature length two hour episode of the murder mystery series Midsomer Murders that revolved around the crop circle phenomenon. The series is one of the top ten shows on ITV, and this episode attracted an audiences of over 10 million. Below is the synopsis of the episode entitled Electric Vendetta taken from the press release:
"When a man's naked body is discovered in the center of a crop circle, DCI Tom Barnaby laughs off tales of alien abduction. But as more corpses are discovered - each bearing peculiar injuries - it's up to him to uncover who is responsible, or if extra-terrestrial powers are truly at work in Midsomer.
The discovery of a man's naked body in the centre of a crop circle brings UFO fans flocking to Midsomer Parva and the field owned by Sir Harry Chatwyn (John Woodvine). With a hole at the base of the spine, a chunk of hair missing, burn marks and a terrified expression, the corpse bears all the hallmarks of alien abduction.
DCI Tom Barnaby (John Nettles pictured right) and Sergeant Gavin Troy (Daniel Casey) think stories of flying saucers are a smoke-screen for murder, but extra-terrestrial expert Lloyd Kirby (Kenneth Colley) is convinced otherwise. Lloyd is brought in for questioning but former diplomat Sir Christian Aubrey (Alec McCowen) vouches for his honesty.
A post-mortem confirms electrocution, but the victim is a London criminal with no interest in the countryside or aliens. Then the body of a local burglar is found in a crop circle with an identical set of injuries.
There are also plenty of earthly goings-on in Midsomer Parva. Sir Harry shares a mistress, doctor's receptionist Sally Boulter (Amanda Mealing), with his daughter Lucy's (Daisy Bates) husband. As a third victim is discovered, Barnaby must discover who is responsible - or if extra-terrestrial powers are truly at work."
When asked about the three formations that were featured in the program Sarah Hall from Bentley Productions, part of the Chrysalis TV Group that produced the episode said "Midsomer prides itself on being an entertaining drama set against a background of heightened reality with added sprinklings of Midsomer charm and as such the crop circles were designed purely for television." They certainly looked the part in the program, if not from the air! (see photo above). She told us that the formations were both designed and then created by four people from their art department in daylight with the permission of the land owner at Stonor House, Nr Pitslhill in Buckinghamshire back in August 2000 and that no crop circle researchers visited the formations during filming. The formations were subsequently discovered and documented by the Oxfordshire CCCS group.
Photo: Oxfordshire CCCS