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Stoke City players sneaked in as characteron Midsom Murd

Television scriptwriter Jeremy Paul managed to make sure there was always a nudge to Stoke City in his dramas

ITV is celebrating 25 years of Midsomer Murders this week and some of its favourite victims and villains might have been lifted directly out of aStoke Cityprogramme.

One of the old writers on the hit show was Jeremy Paul, a Stoke fan who managed to sneak players, staff and occasionally a chairmans names into his scripts. On Midsomer, back at the turn of the century, that included a Ward, a Lightbourne, a Megson, a Reverend Thorne and even a Jackie Marsh.

A Wooliscroft, named in honour of youth graduate Ashley, was struck twice on the back of the head with a heavy wrench then dumped in a well. A Mohan, named after Football League Trophy-winning captain Nicky, was forced to swallow an overdose of pills in a scene arranged to appear as suicide.

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It was the same in other Paul programmes like Hetty Wainthropp Investigates - which featured a Coates, a Humphries and a Durban; the Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes - which featured a Ware; and Danger UXB, when four players namesakes were blown up.

Paul once explained to the Sentinel: I first got the idea from fellow scriptwriter Alfred Shaugnessy. He was a big Chelsea fan and named Hudson, the butler, and Mrs Bridges, the cook, in Upstairs Downstairs after Alan Hudson and Gerry Bridges. We actually sat together in the 1972 League Cup Final at Wembley when Stoke beat Chelsea.

Ive been pretty discreet about using the names until now and I think Jackie Marsh is the first time Ive used an old players entire name. But he was a bit of a favourite of mine.

Paul was born in Sussex, the son of a travelling actress, and was adopted by a couple living in Wolverhampton who happened to be mad keen Stoke fans. They took him to his first game just after the Second World War.

He said: Denis Herod was my favourite because I was also a goalkeeper but I havent been able to get his name into anything yet because of King Herod!

Paul admitted he was trying to find a plot that could feature a Sergei - in honour of then teak tough defender Sergei - or Thordarson - in honour of then manager Gudjon.

He died in 2011 at the age of 71 but programmes are still re-run when viewers can be surprised by a Potter. He also wrote the song Mistletoe and Wine with Leslie Stewart and Keith Strachan, which was a huge Christmas hit in 1988. But the lyrics have been double checked and Cliff Richard must have pulled out any reference to Peter Beagrie or Carl Saunders.

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