John Nettles as the original DCI Barnaby in Midsomer Murders In promotional material for the show’s 20th series, which starts on ITV on March 10th, “Fans are being invited to watch out for carefully hidden clues that make reference to the previous 19 series of this much loved drama in the episode entitled Death of Small Coppers,” a spokesman said.Michele Buck, executive producer, said: “We hope fans will relish the 20th anniversary series and enjoy watching out for the hidden hints to past episodes they have watched and loved.”The episode will tell the dark story of Mahesh Sidana, a butterfly collector and founding member of an elite IQ society, who found murdered, dissected pinned to a wall just like his specimens.Ian Strachan, the producer who has overseen 347 corpses across 19 series, said he believed the show’s popularity lay in how “it’s all handled with taste, decency and a certain degree of flippancy”. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Neil Dudgeon as DCI Barnaby in series 20Credit:ITV “It’s not The Handmaid’s Tale, where people are constantly being hanged, or one of those cop shows where if the police want to know something they tie you to a chair,” he told the Mail on Sunday’s Event magazine.“We are as imaginative as we can be without turning people’s stomachs. It doesn’t matter if someone is being beheaded with a Samurai sword or thrown out of a plane, you know it’s going to be family entertainment.“We’re Midsomer Murders, not a manga novel.”He added that the most complaints received about the show came not from the murders, which are carefully filmed to prevent copycat deaths, but the two episodes where there was no killing.“In an episode called Habeus Corpus, there was a bit of body-snatching and a body was dumped but it was already dead,” he said. Series 20 will guest star Elaine PaigeCredit:ITV “When that show went out the Midsomer chat rooms got rather alarmed. We had to make it up to the audience afterwards.”Midsomer Murders sells to more than 220 territories worldwide.In series 20, guest stars will include Elaine Paige, Eastenders actress Annette Badland and Ann Eleonora Jørgensen, a Danish actress who has previously appeared in The Killing.“Midsomer Murders is very popular in Denmark,” she said, returning to the show for a second time.“It first and foremost comes down to the great love and connection that the Danes feel with the UK and the people here.“Also, the show is exciting and thrilling without being too scary, so it appeals to a broad audience and several generations. You can watch it together as a family, which is wonderful.”“We do love to see all of the beautiful and romantic, countryside locations where Midsomer Murders is filmed.” Over 22 years, 116 episodes, and countless ever-more-innovative deaths, Midsomer Murders has left fans around the world with the simple satisfaction of a puzzle well solved as the credits roll.If viewers want to get the most out of its 20th anniversary series, however, they will have had to be paying close attention.The writers of Midsomer Murders have promised a smattering of hidden treats for loyal fans, as they place clever references to past episodes in its newest shows.The insertion of in-jokes and hidden messages, which have become known as “Easter eggs”, are increasingly popular on television in the internet era, with fans swapping the things they have spotted on social media and forums.The Royal Television Society recently noted that while planting messages for die-hard fans has been going on for decades, citing the cameos made by Alfred Hitchcock in his own films, the trend for “Easter eggs” has seemed “like a relatively new phenomenon” thanks to cult classics Doctor Who, Games of Thrones and Black Mirror.Now, that venerable television institution Midsomer Murder has joined the fun.