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Spotlight On: John Nettles

John Nettles 

 Date of Birth: 11th October 1943

Born: St. Austell, Cornwall,  England

Birth Name: John Vivian Drummond Nettles 

Height:5' 10" (1.78 m) 



John Nettles has been a familiar face on British and International television screens for over thirty years.

From his early beginnings in the UK hit comedy The Liver Birds (1969), he became a household name overnight playing the Jersey detective Jim Bergerac. The series, Bergerac (1981), was a huge hit in Britain and was exported to many countries across the world including France, Spain and Greece, gaining him thousands of fans. His new found fame as Bergerac gave him almost film-star-like fame and fortune, not to mention thousands of female admirer

Despite Bergerac (1981) being mothballed in the early 1990s, the series still has a considerable fan base and lingering popularity abroad, especially in Jersey, where images of John Nettles are still used for advertising tourist attractions and other services on the island.

Nettles' polished Shakesperean performances have won him critical acclaim and many consider him to rival fellow British stalwarts of theatre such as Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellan.

Oddly enough, however, he has never really ventured onto the big screen and has seemed happy to stick to stage and television throughout his successful career.

Most recently he has enjoyed success playing the straightforward DCI Tom Barnaby in ITV's Midsomer Murders (1997). He is on record as wanting to create a TV detective without any of the usual tics, and consequently Tom Barnaby is a happy family man, who just happens to live in the most murderous part of an otherwise stereotypically idyllic English countryside. 

In February 2009, it was announced that John Nettles would be leaving Midsomer Murders. His final appearance on-screen was on 2 February 2011, by which time he had appeared in 81 episodes.



1969: The Expert (TV Series) played the part of John Franklin in the episode 'Lie Down, You're Dead'

1970: One More Time (Film) played the part of Dixon

1971: The Red, White and Black (Film) played the part of 10th Cavalry Trooper

1971/72: A Family At War (TV Series) played the part of Ian Mackenzie in 14 episodes (click here to purchase on dvd)

1973: The Adventures Of Black Beauty (TV Series) played the part of Edwin in the episode 'The Debt'

1976:  Arnhem: The Story of an Escape (TV Movie)

1976: Dickens Of London (TV mini-series) played the part of Mr. Macrone in 2 episodes

1972-1976: The Liver Birds (TV Series) played the part of Paul in 17 episodes

1977: Holding On (TV Series) played the part of Herbert Goodings in 3 episodes

1978: Enemy At The Door (TV Series) played the part of Det. Sgt. Roy Lewis in the episode 'Officers Of The Law'

1980: The Merchant Of Venice (TV Movie) played the part of Bassanio

1981: BBC2 Playhouse (TV Series) in the episode 'Findings on a Late Afternoon'

1982: The Agatha Christie Hour (TV Series) played the part of Raoul Letardau in the episode 'The Fourth Man'

1984: Robin Of Sherwood (TV Series) played the part of Peter de Leon in the episode 'The Legacy'

1981-1991: Bergerac (TV Series) played the part of Jim Bergerac in 87 episodes

1991: Tonight at 8.30 (TV Series) played the part of Peter Gilpin in the episode 'Hands Across The Sea'

1992: Boon (TV Series) played the part of Joe Green in the episode 'The Queen's Gambit'

1993: The Detectives (TV Series) played the part of Jim Bergerac in the episode 'Studs'

1994: Romeo & Juliet (TV Movie) played the part of Capulet

1995: All Men Are Mortal (Film) played the part of Sanier

1998: The Tourist Trap (TV Series) Narrator in 1 episode

1998: Disaster (TV Series) Narrator in the episode The Millennium Time-bomb

1998: Fraud Squad (TV Series) Narrator

2001: Heartbeat played the part of Giles Sutton in the episode 'Still Water'

2002: The Hound Of The Baskervilles (TV Movie) played the part of Dr. James Mortimer

2003: Sindy: The Fairy Princess (Video)

2003: French & Saunders (TV Series) played the part of DCI Barnaby in 'French & Saunders Actually'

1997-2011: Midsomer Murders (TV Series) played the part of DCI Tom Barnaby in 81 episodes (click here to purchase on dvd)



*John has one daughter, Emma and one grandson, Nathan John.
*He was awarded the OBE - Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 2010 Queen's Birthday Honours List for his services to drama.
*He has an honorary doctorate from Southampton University, where he once was a student, and where his theatrical talent was first spotted.


Personal Quotes 

  • Talking about a national newspaper story which wrongly alleged that he and Liza Goddard were having an affair, because their characters Jim Bergerac and Philippa Vale in Bergerac (1981) were romantically linked:

"She sued a newspaper for the allegation, which wasn't true, and got a lot of money for it. And I thought "She's getting paid money for not having an affair with me" - I felt a little demeaned!"

  • Talking about why Alan Howard is his favourite actor:

"because he's the best. He has an amazing ability to walk on stage in whatever part he's playing and bring a whole world on with him. You are not conscious of the fact that he's acting, and I think he's the last of the great heroic actors"

  •  On why he found Tom Barnaby slightly boring:

"I sometimes contemplate in the early hours of the morning, the horror of Barnaby's sex life. In the books Barnaby was overweight and suffering from indigestion, but he still liked the occasional bounce with the missus. I would like the occasional bounce with the missus, but we are not allowed. It really is a case of no sex, please, we're British."

  •  John's comment on the laddism which infiltrated Britsh TV during the 1990s through shows like Men Behaving Badly:

"Laddism is the last fart of male chauvenism"  

  •   Talking about Tom Barnaby as a detective:

"Barnaby is no sleuth. I see him as the most ordinary plod in the world. That's the point of him, he doesn't have wonderful powers like Columbo or Morse."