| C H A R A C T E R
Sgt Dennis Merton
Duncan Bell as Sgt Dennis Merton
|First Episode||The Leopard's Spots|
|Last Episode||In Sickness and in Health|
Deborah Vine (cousin)
Sergeant Dennis Ian Merton, played by Duncan Bell. Appeared in 71 episodes from 2002 - 2004.
A strait-laced and honourable Scotsman to whom the men were loyal. Merton had previously worked for the CID but was demoted to uniformed sergeant and transferred to Ashfordly after punching a fellow officer during an argument. He married the much younger pharmacist Jenny Latimer. Realising he should put his wife ahead of his job, he eventually left the series, resigning from police force to move nearer to the hospital where Jenny was being treated after her mental breakdown during Series Fourteen.
Personality and appearanceEdit
Dennis Merton is shown to have a darker side than most of the Sergeants than seen before compared with the likes of Sgt Craddock. He has a problem of controlling his temper and in his earlier appearances took his situation out on his fellow colleagues. He is described by the actor who plays him, Duncan Bell, as being a workaholic and having no life but gradually starts to gain respect for his colleagues including Mike Bradley. He also becomes more settled as time goes on and begins to show a lighter side.
After arresting a man that other officers had given up on, a senior officer took the credit for all Merton's hard work. An argument followed and Merton punched him. Another senior officer saw Merton's point of view and decided to send him back into uniform and give him a second chance, which spared him from being removed from the police force.
Aidensfield village bobbies
PC Michael Dunstan "Mike" Bradley
PC Stephen "Steve"Crane
PC Rob Walker
Other Ashfordly police
PC Alf Ventress
PC Philip "Phil" Montgomery Bellamy
PPC Tom Nicholson
Dr Tricia Summerbee
Dr Liz Merrick
Dr Helen Walker
Other medical staff
Jenny was the pharmacist who later married Dennis, and their wedding was shown in the episode, Fool for Love. Their relationship started after Dr Tricia Summerbee discovered he was diabetic. Dennis proposed to her twice as the first time he did, Jenny broke off their engagement when she discovered that he'd sweet-talked her into giving infornation on a patient. In The Holiday's Over, Jenny and Dennis returned home from their honeymoon, because Jenny wasn't feeling well. Their happiness was short-lived when Jenny was being convinced that her husband was having an affair, and this led her to suffering from a mental breakdown, in the episode In Sickness and in Health, he resigned from the force to be be near the hospital where she was being treated.
Aidensfield Arms staff
Georgina "Gina" Ward
"Loveable rogue" lineage
Aidensfield Garage staff
Bernard "Bernie" Scripps
Rosemary "Rosie" Cartwright
Other regular characters
From Nicholas Rhea's website
When Sergeant Dennis Merton first arrived at Ashfordly police station he swiftly established himself as a stern, stark contrast to the recently departed Craddock. Duncan Bell was initially attracted to playing Merton because of his slightly darker side.
"The character was first presented to me as a man with a dark past," Duncan recalls. "Originally he was going to have a drink problem but that was changed fairly early on. The problem evolved into a difficulty he had with controlling his temper, which I think was more exciting and allowed far greater dramatic possibilities."
Merton arrived in North Yorkshire with a secret. It soon emerged that he had been a far senior officer and had been demoted.
"The main thing about Merton is that he's a workaholic", says Duncan. "He has no life! He's concentrated purely on his career and had climbed the ranks until he was a high flying detective in CID based in Leeds. His temper got the better of him however and after assaulting a senior officer he's been demoted. Ending up in a rural out post, as he sees it, is a terrible blow. He feels as if all of his years of slog have been wasted."
Merton began by taking his situation out on his new staff.
"When we first saw him he was very irritated and taking his situation out on others." says Duncan. "All the cases around him were rather feeble compared to the gritty city crimes he's been used to. From inner city depravation to sweet little problems over lost goats. I don't know how the other police put up with him."
Series twelve sees a far more settled Merton.
"He has settled into rural life and I think he's starting to develop some grudging affection for the characters a rural bobby meets. He's also gained more respect for his colleagues particularly Mike because he's a good cop who gets the job done. I think he worries that Bellamy hasn't got enough drive and alas he carries on the Sergeant's tradition of worrying about poor old Ventress!"
Duncan also feels that a country existence will help Merton get a better perspective on life. We see a far more rounded human emerging as Series twelve progresses.
"His life has been on hold", he says. "His work has been paramount and although we have had evidence that he's had relationships in the past they've been pretty disastrous. At the start of the new series two things happen to him. He has a health scare and starts dating Jenny Latimer. The first thing may lead to him realising there can be more in life and hopefully Jenny will be that 'more'."
Like Merton, Duncan has also found himself settling into his new job.
"I didn't know Yorkshire that well and I love the chance we get to travel around the most delightful places," he says. "It is a bit of a return to my roots I suppose because my grandmother was from Scarborough so I recall childhood holidays in Whitby and Robin Hoods Bay."
One of the highlights of the new series for Duncan has been acting with fellow Scot Lulu, who arrives in Aidensfield as Merton's famous cousin Deborah Vine.
"Lulu was fantastic," Duncan says. "It was great to know that po-faced old Merton actually has show business in the family!"