First broadcast: 31 December 1999

Tom Barnaby is on holiday in France with Joyce and Cully and his colleague – soon to retire Ron Pringle played by “Likely Lad” James Bolam – stands in for him while he is away.

During this time, in the village of Marchwood, a tramp, (do we still call them that?) is found dead in the woods near the village, owned by Graham Tranter, who inherited his wealth from his father who disappeared years before and who had been officially declared dead.

The local fox hunt (still legal at the time of filming), provides a colourful backdrop to this episode. The masters of the hunt are James Fitzroy and Marcia Tranter, (mother of aforementioned Graham Tranter). Tom Barnaby’s stand-in, Ron Pringle has moved to Marchwood where he intends to retire and is very keen to become a member of the hunt. Forensic evidence around the corpse found in the wood enables Pringle to make a rapid arrest and local lad, Billy Gurdie, is quickly arrested and imprisoned awaiting trial – a fact that impresses Fitzroy and Tranter no end.

Upon his return Tom re-examines the case and is far from happy with the outcome – especially when Billy Gurdie’s father Ben is also found dead, having apparently committed suicide. Barnaby and Troy dig a lot deeper into the background of the case and uncover a fascinating history of deception and intrigue.

Stand out character for me is Henry Carstairs, beautifully played by Simon McBurney, a relative of the Tranters, who earns a macabre living as a taxidermist, largely with the corpses of animals found on Tranters’ land. The episode also features Toby Jones as Dan Peterson – George Bullard’s short-term replacement as forensic pathologist.

Here we have that ideal combination of a strong storyline with some excellent twists, strong characters and an superb choice of acting talent – Death of a Stranger is a favourite of mine and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


John Nettles – DCI Tom Barnaby
Daniel Casey – Sgt. Gavin Troy
Jane Wymark – Joyce Barnaby
Laura Howard – Cully Barnaby
Robert Hardy … Robert Cavendish
Anthony Calf … Stephen Cavendish
Annabelle Apsion … Jane Cavendish
Felicity Dean … Tara Cavendish
Penelope Beaumont… Mrs. Wilson
Duncan Preston … Colin Cooper
Imelda Staunton … Christine Cooper
Terence Rigby … Ian Frasier
Delia Lindsay… Zelda Frasier
Zoë Hart… Patricia Smith (as Zoe Hart)
Terence Corrigan… Charles Jennings
Toby Jones… Dan Peterson
Hilda Braid… Doreen Beavis
Susan Field… Emily Beavis
Eileen Davies… Olive Beauvoisin
Joss Gower… Matthew Draper
Ella Jones … Young Trish
Amanda Walker – Edwina the Rambler

Writer/Screenplay: Anthony Horowitz based on characters by Caroline Graham

Director: Jeremy Silberston