Death In Paradise is mixing Caribbean sunshine and London drizzle for the first time. we join the cast on the set of the sixth series, which sees DI Goodman schooling his team in british customs
Of all the TV crime dramas, the one series that every journalist desperately wants an invite to the set of is Death In Paradise. Filmed on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, the BBC One ratings winner stars Kris Marshall as British Detective Inspector Humphrey Goodman, who investigates baffling cases from Honoré, the main town in the fictional British colony of Saint-marie. Would Crime Scene like to visit the set of Series 6? Just as soon as we’ve dug out that wrinkled linen suit and snorkel… As it turns out, the set is in not-so-idyllic South London. For the first time, over two episodes, the Honoré Police team are visiting the British capital on a murder case. Following a minibus journey through Rotherhithe’s narrow streets, our destination is almost as inviting as a Caribbean island: a cosy, historic riverside pub. “Welcome to paradise,” announces Marshall, as Crime Scene steps over the cables, past the crew and on to the outdoor deck of The Mayflower inn. “The tide comes in fast – it’s very Caribbean.” Although jet-lagged, Marshall is relishing this rare return home during filming. He even admits a hankering to eat at a carvery, and for other staples of British cuisine. “When I come home from six months away, I have my first pint of Guinness and I’m like, amazing!” he smiles. “But Humphrey’s been away for four years, you know. He’s definitely on home turf and I think that we play those beats.” Of course, it means the roles are reversed: Humphrey is back in Blighty, while fellow officers Dwayne Myers (Danny John-jules) and DS Florence Cassell (Joséphine Jobert) are having to adapt to foreign weather and customs.
“We have introduced Florence to the great British pub,” says Marshall. The Parisian actress says that the restored, 16th century inn we’re visiting is “amazing”, but is less happy at her initiation into the delights of pork scratchings. “It’s just a nightmare, never ever again,” says Jobert, who’s horrified by the salty bar snacks.
Jobert’s also struggling with the English weather, on what is a pretty mild summer’s day, and even Marshall is clutching himself as he adjusts to our climate.
“I do feel my tan falling off, literally as I’m sat here,” he complains. When Crime Scene asks Danny John-jules what he misses about filming on Guadeloupe, his answer is simple. “The island,” he laughs. “Yeah, the British weather does tend to hurt when I get back.”
Although the cast are clearly missing the Caribbean sun, the production team want London to provide a total contrast to the beauty of the fictional Saint-marie.
“I want it to be cold, I want it to be rainy and overcast – I want drizzle,” confirms executive producer Tim Key. Ironically, the show’s first ever episode saw DI Richard Poole (Ben Miller) express a similar longing for damp British weather: “that feeling on your face like a wet flannel”.
Following Poole’s murder in Series 3, the endearingly clumsy Goodman was sent to investigate and ended up becoming his replacement. With the advent of Series 6, Marshall has now been in the role twice as long as Miller, and he’s cemented the show’s ratings success. While the combination of cosy crime, exotic locations and the comedy-rich culture clash may seem like an obvious attempt at escapism to cheer up viewers during chilly January, Death In Paradise shouldn’t be overlooked. Creator Robert Thorogood’s enjoyable homage to Agatha Christie can easily become addictive, thanks in part to Marshall’s always engaging performances.
When Marshall joins Crime Scene in The Mayflower’s upstairs dining room, he’s warmed up enough to just be wearing a vest. Despite the fog of jetlag, the former My Family star is a natural comedian, one whose bronzed, animated face produces myriad impromptu impressions. However, when the conversation turns to Death In Paradise, he’s focused and serious.
“I think last series we changed things a little bit on certain episodes,” he reflects, “especially episode four with the Dwayne storyline [ involving the death of his mentor], and I thought some of the murders we had were brilliant. And this year we’re changing
it again – we’re just trying to reinvent the genre. We’re really trying, within that template, to just keep the series moving on, rather than it becoming stale and samey. There are some big changes this year.”
Those are partly down to the divorced DI Goodman’s brand new love interest, following the departure of fellow officer Camille Bordey (Sara Martins) in Series 4. Having guested during the last episode of Series 5, as Martha Lloyd, an old friend of Goodman’s, Sally Bretton ( Not Going Out) has now become a regular cast member.
“Having Sally on the show is brilliant, she’s got funny bones,” says Marshall, who tries not to reveal too much about the new relationship. “I’ve always said the show’s about loneliness. Here’s a 40-odd-year-old man living on his own in a shack with a lizard – that’s quite lonely. It’s sort of this juxtaposition of loneliness with beauty.”
The other major departure, one which sees Goodman leaving the shack and the idyllic island behind for a couple of episodes, is the jaunt to London.
“It does feel weird, but it’s also great to have that sort of reversal of fortune,” says Marshall. “Now I’m not the fish out of water, and there’s lots of great stuff to be had with Dwayne – Danny [ John-jules] is wearing this lumberjack hat. So it’s great to film in London, but we flip between there and the Caribbean, so you’ve still got lots of lovely island stuff. It’s still Death In Paradise.”
That will come as a relief to long-term fans, who have seen two main characters depart the show. For Parisian actor Joséphine Jobert, it was quite a challenge joining a hit series that’s filmed in her second language.
“I think, and I hope, my English has improved,” she tells Crime Scene. “The first series, to be honest, I was very stressed because it’s like a family, so when you’re a new member it’s not easy to fit in. But they’ve been so nice to me. Sara Martins was leaving the series, so it was not easy for me to take her place. I wanted the audience to like me. I knew some people would complain because some people don’t like change. But I think Florence fits very well with Humphrey, they have a good relationship – that’s what makes the show.” Could Florence go for the top job? “I’m not sure I could do a denouement,” admits Jobert. “The final scene that Humphrey does, this may be too much for me – too many lines to learn for now.”
One laidback cat…
The permanently relaxed Officer Dwayne Myers isn’t aiming for seniority either. Danny John-jules’ performance is a celebration of the relaxed island life and serves as a contrast to his British boss.
“He probably has a bit more sympathy with Humphrey now,” says John-jules, “instead of him thinking ‘why doesn’t he get this Caribbean lifestyle?’”
As you would expect from an actor who stars as the super-stylish Cat in Red Dwarf, Jules is sharply dressed in funky sportswear. Easygoing, he chats about growing up in Notting Hill and his career, which this year involved back-to-back filming on the revived sci-fi sitcom and Death In Paradise. Shooting in Guadeloupe resonates with Jules, as his parents moved to London from the Caribbean island of Dominica.
“I am like that West Indian guy coming to England for the first time,” he says, of Myers’ trip to London. “For the people that like the funnier side of Dwayne, I’m sure they’ll be well stocked up.”
He’s also thrilled that Death In Paradise has finally got around to a two-parter.
“I always find that every classic detective story always has a ‘to be continued…’ episode,” John-jules reasons. “All I can say is that there’s kind of a twist and a turn in that particular double show.”
John-jules is anticipating big ratings for the London adventure, but there are always high expectations for each new series of Death In Paradise. Marshall found it really daunting to step into the big BBC One hit.
“I think it was a pressure when I started the show, I don’t think it’s a pressure now,” he explains. “I think that, obviously, you get to a certain point and you want to sustain that and keep it up. You can expand a character more, make him more of a classic leading man. I really hope that this show remains as popular as it has done. I really, really love the series.” Death In Paradise Series 6 will air on BBC One in January.
Jobert, John-jules, Don Warrington (Commissioner Patterson), Tobi Bakare (J.P. Hooper) andmarshall.
Joséphine Jobert as DS Cassell: hold the scratchings.
Di goodman and Dscassell, enjoying the fine British weather.