COVER Be­hind the scenes of Death in Par­adise

As a new se­ries of the BBC’s Death in Par­adise is due to be­gin, we dis­cover how film­ing on the heav­enly lo­ca­tion of Guade­loupe is not with­out its haz­ards…

YOURS (UK) - - Contents - By Ali­son James

As Death in Par­adise re­turns to our screens this New Year, its cast and crew are well aware that they are some of the luck­i­est luvvies and be­hind-the-cam­era bods around. A six-month shoot on the Caribbean is­land of Guade­loupe – which dou­bles for the fic­tional is­land of Saint Marie – film­ing one of the most pop­u­lar shows on Bri­tish TV with fam­ily and friends reg­u­larly fly­ing in for vis­its, what’s not to love?

“Not much,” ad­mits ac­tor Ardal O’Han­lon (53) who plays DI Jack Mooney. “But it was dur­ing the film­ing of the se­ries that’s now go­ing out that I ex­pe­ri­enced my most fright­en­ing mo­ment. In fact, I thought my time was up.” It was the no­to­ri­ously un­pre­dictable weather that in­di­rectly caused Ardal’s near-death ex­pe­ri­ence.

“We had a cou­ple of days off so a few of us char­tered a small boat and boat­man to take us to the is­land of Montser­rat, about 100 miles away, where we’d planned to stop the night,” he ex­plains. “The jour­ney there was fine, but on the trip back the trou­ble started. The weather changed sud­denly. Clouds closed in, the wind picked up and the waves were as high as a ceil­ing.

“We couldn’t even see Guade­loupe, let alone get back. It was the scari­est thing that’s ever hap­pened to me. I’m not a good sailor and I re­ally thought this was it. Our very ex­pe­ri­enced boat­man kept turn­ing this way and that, and even­tu­ally we were sail­ing par­al­lel with the is­land. We sailed south and fi­nally made it back to Guade­loupe – it had taken five hours, rather than the two-and-a-half it should have.”

In Septem­ber 2017, film­ing se­ries seven of Death in Par­adise had to be sus­pended be­cause of Hur­ri­cane Irma, shortly fol­lowed by Hur­ri­cane Maria. The gov­ern­ment in Guade­loupe is­sued a red alert due to dan­ger­ously high winds and rain, as hur­ri­canes bat­tered the Caribbean. The is­land es­caped most of the dam­age, but it was quite an

ex­pe­ri­ence for the stars of the se­ries.

“It was scary,” ac­tor Tobi Bakare, who plays of­fi­cer JP Hooper, says. “It was a sce­nario that I’ve never been in­volved in be­fore, so we had to do what we could to cope. I’m a man of faith, so I prayed. I just asked for God to guide me and also prayed for the neigh­bour­ing is­lands. It af­fected Guade­loupe, but what it did to the nearby is­lands was cat­a­strophic.”

As this was Ardal’s first full se­ries of film­ing, it must have been some­thing of a bap­tism of fire.

“We were aware of the dev­as­ta­tion that the ex­treme weather could cause and the dev­as­ta­tion it caused else­where,” he

‘Ev­ery morn­ing I’d be lath­er­ing up my pale Ir­ish skin in Fac­tor 50 so I’d be well pro­tected’

adds. “It was wor­ry­ing be­cause we knew we had a big hur­ri­cane com­ing – and then an­other.”

The in­tense heat and hu­mid­ity were other chal­lenges to face on Guade­loupe, as Kris Mar­shall (45), who played DI Humphrey Good­man from 2014-17, has at­tested.

Speak­ing at the time he said: “It’s not all 28 de­grees and on-shore breezes. We film from April to Oc­to­ber, which is hur­ri­cane sea­son. It’s some­times 40°C of sear­ing heat with 85 per cent hu­mid­ity.”

Kris is said to have had the backs of his shirts cut out in an at­tempt to keep cool and al­though Ardal hasn’t re­sorted to such ex­treme mea­sures, he, too, has felt the ex­treme heat.

“Un­til you’re ac­tu­ally there and you’ve ex­pe­ri­enced it your­self, you re­ally don’t know what it’s like,” he says. “Ev­ery morn­ing I’d be lath­er­ing up my pale Ir­ish skin in Fac­tor 50, so I’d be well pro­tected. Noth­ing re­ally pre­pares you for the heat, though.”

The soar­ing tem­per­a­tures have also taken ac­tress Shyko Amos, who plays new po­lice of­fi­cer Ruby Pat­ter­son by sur­prise.

“Be­fore I got the job, I’d read about the ac­tors in Death in Par­adise go­ing on about the heat and I’d think, ‘Oh purrlease – you poor things!’,” she laughs. “I mean, I love a bit of sun­shine and Vi­ta­min D. But when I started film­ing, I re­alised what they’d been go­ing on about. The heat is the worst thing be­cause we’re out­side for 11 hours at a time. We’re not on a set and there is no air-con­di­tion­ing, so it’s re­lent­lessly hot.”

The lo­cal wildlife, aka creepy crawlies, is also chal­leng­ing.

“Last year I was ter­rorised by a crea­ture called a Scolopen­dra,” re­veals Ardal. “It’s a giant cen­tipede, about six inches long, that moves very fast and bites. For­tu­nately, I wasn’t bit­ten but some of the crew were and they de­scribe the pain as be­ing about 50 times worse than a wasp sting. Scolopen­dra are a del­i­cacy for hens, so maybe I was pro­tected by some stray ones I be­friended. They were like my per­sonal body­guard.”

Mosquitos – and there­fore mos­quito-borne dis­eases – are an­other prob­lem. In 2016 dengue fever swept through the crew.

All things con­sid­ered, how­ever, Death in Par­adise is some­thing of a dream job – de­spite the po­ten­tial dan­gers. In­deed, some cast mem­bers seem to thrive on it.

One par­tic­u­lar high­light for French ac­tress Eliz­a­beth Bourgine (61), who plays restau­ra­teur-turned-mayor Cather­ine Bordey, was tak­ing time out to climb Guade­loupe’s La Grande Soufriere vol­cano.

“It was just the great­est ex­pe­ri­ence,” she says. “It was ab­so­lutely mag­i­cal. It started with mag­nif­i­cent land­scapes and then came the wind and, would you be­lieve, the cold. When we were at the top we found our­selves in a sort of fog. All sorts of dif­fer­ent cli­mates in just one day.”

And it sounds like there was some respite from the heat too!

■ The new se­ries of Death in Par­adise starts on Jan­uary 10, BBC1, 9pm

The Death In Par­adise cast with new po­lice of­fi­cer Ruby Pat­ter­son (Shyko Amos) sec­ond from left

Tobi Bakare (who plays of­fi­cer JP Hooper) Eliz­a­beth Bourgine (mayor Cather­ine Bordey) and be­low Ardal O’Han­lon (DI Jack Mooney)

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