Midsomer Murders' very first episode aired today, 24 years ago, eventually going on to become a British beacon of crime drama.

Inspired by the Chief Inspector Barnaby books, the series followed John Nettles as Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby as he cracked down on crime in seemingly idyllic rural villages of England.

Broadcast across over 200 countries, and with 21 seasons to date, the show has earned an unshakeable place in television history.

And, some of Britain's most famous actors got their start on the show, playing small-time crooks and villagers on the series.

Stars like Orlando Bloom and Olivia Coleman had bit-parts on the show before skyrocketing to fame, proving the show's casting directors have an eye for talent.

To mark the show's 24th anniversary, Daily Star has dug through the archives to track the most famous faces to have graced the fictional county of Midsomer.

Henry Cavill

A front-runner to replace Daniel Craig as James Bond in the new 007 films, Henry Cavill is one of Hollywood's dishiest stars today.

Long before he became a household name as Superman, the 37-year-old played a young thug on Midsomer Murders.

Part of season seven, his episode, The Green Man, aired in the early noughties, showing Henry as part of a gang of angry teens.

After the 2003 episode aired, he went on to become a leading character in The Tudors, before carving out a niche for himself in the DC Extended Universe superhero films.

With lead roles in Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Justice League, Henry's brief Midsomer Murders gig was a sign of things to come.

Orlando Bloom

Lord of the Rings saw Orlando Bloom transform from a relatively unknown actor into an internationally adored elfish heartthrob overnight.

The 44-year-old had already signed up to film the fantasy series when he landed a small role on Midsomer Murders, starring in season three's Judgement Day.

Fresh-faced, Orlando had just graduated from the British American Drama Academy at the time, starting off his career with bit-parts.

Speaking about his role in the series, the show's producer Ian Strachan told Entertainment Tonight in 2018: "He'll always be remembered for being killed by a pitchfork in Midsomer."

Since his dramatic Midsomer exit, Orlando played the lovelorn Will Turner in Pirates of the Caribbean and found real-life love with hit songstress Katy Perry.

Emily Mortimer

Emily Mortimer's storyline on the first-ever episode of Midsomer Murders was as grim as could be, as she played the ill-fated character of Katherine Lacey.

In the episode, which was titled Killings at Badger's Drift, Katherine had an incestuous fling with her brother before they engaged in a suicide pact.

The disturbing episode demanded serious acting skills – something Emily delivered by the bucketload.

Now, fans know the 49-year-old best for her leading roles in blockbuster hits like Mary Poppins Returns and Shutter Island.

Olivia Coleman

With an Oscar to her name, Oliva Coleman has joined the acting hall of fame, praised as one of the most talented screen stars of our time.

However, long before she delivered her speech before the glittering crowds at the Academy Awards, the 47-year-old played a waitress on Midsomer Murders.

The episode was titled Small Mercies, and aired in 2009, released one year before she starred in the BBC sitcom Rev.

After wrapping on the set of the ITV crime drama, Olivia demonstrated her versatility as an actor, playing everything from a hard-hitting detective on Broadchurch to portraying The Queen on The Crown.

Tom Ellis

Fans of the DC-universe will know and love Tom Ellis for his role as Lucifer Morningstar in the American DC Comics' based series Lucifer.

Many moons ago, the 42-year-old, who was previously married to EastEnders' Tamzin Outhwaite, showed face in Midsomer.

Filmed in 2005, season eight's Midsomer Rhapsody followed a streak of mysterious murders, sparked by the discovery of a rare musical manuscript.

Five years later, he starred as the love interest Gary Preston on the TV show Miranda, entertaining BBC viewers for half a decade.

Dipping his toe in the soap world, he also appeared on EastEnders and Holby City, before moving Stateside to join the DC Universe.

Stephen Moyer

The first-ever season of Midsomer Murders saw a youthful Stephen Moyer play a dodgy cameraman in Death in Disguise.

After the slaying of a cult leader, detective Barnaby tries to get to the bottom of some sinister happenings at a local commune.

While the 51-year-old actor cut his teeth on Midsomer Murders, he went on to earn his career-defining role on the cast of True Blood.

Stephen played vampire Bill Compton in the HBO drama, starring in all seven seasons of the hit series opposite his soon-to-be wife Anna Paquin.

Living together in LA, the sweethearts, who fell for one another backstage, share a twin son and daughter.

Imelda Staunton

Harry Potter fans will shake at the sight of Imelda Staunton, who played the twisted Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Giving her a taste of similarly spine-tingling characters, the 65-year-old appeared on Midsomer Murders many years beforehand.

In the 1999 episode titled Dead Man's Eleven, she played Christine Cooper, who got embroiled in the disturbing murder of a woman who had been beaten with a cricket bat.

Five years later, Imelda starred in Vera Drake, which was nominated for three Academy Awards and won three BAFTAs – and the rest is history.

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