Death in Paradise is back for an eighth series! What can we expect this time round?
We can expect a lot of twists, a lot of turns. Expect a bit of romance on the island and lots of sunshine of course! I feel like all the characters have really grown into the island and it’s become part of their being, the island affects people more. Whether that’s through a love interest, or relationships built with the locals, or through how people remodel themselves. That’s what we see this season.
Where do we find JP at the beginning of the series? Has anything changed since we last saw him?
JP has grown up and he takes on a lot more responsibility now that he has stepped up as the most senior officer. JP’s a lot more forward thinking and he is now mentoring the new recruit, Ruby Patterson. As he does so, we start to see another side to JP, we often see him as one who is always pure and kind and innocent, almost naive to a degree, but now we see a bit of spike in him as pressure mounts. That’s going to be quite interesting for viewers to watch.
What does he think of the new recruit, Officer Ruby Patterson? Do they get on?
He has a love hate relationship with her. JP is the sensible one in their work relationship and Ruby is the fresh faced recruit who is eager to please, but is not always right. There’s a lot of chasing around, there’s a lot of trying to teach her protocol and through that you see the responsible side of JP a lot more. Their relationship really does work when it works and it’s an exciting new dynamic.
Ruby can be quite challenging at times, how does JP cope with the pressure of mentoring the commissioners niece?
There is the initial pressure of the fact that she is the commissioner’s niece, and JP feels she can just say anything to the commissioner. I guess what JP finds and what everyone finds with Ruby Patterson is that she is a team player, so her family connection doesn’t affect the team too much. JP tries to manage her zeal, manage her excitement, manage her kookiness, and manage her lack of ability to be disciplined. He wants her to succeed so he tries to show her the way to do certain tasks and do them with finesse.
How does JP feel about the step up to senior officer this year? Is he excited?
Yes there’s a lot more responsibility for JP. He hasn’t got an extra stripe on his badge yet but he is definitely doing a lot more. There’s a fantastic episode where JP has to really step up and step in, and because of that you start to see how his mind works, you start to see him try to learn but also impact at the same time. JP doesn’t know what he should be saying, or how he should be saying it, even though he may have the answer, and you really start to see him come into himself and learn how to instigate situations and change environments as a senior officer would.
What is JP’s relationship with the commissioner like this year?
There’s a lot more comedic moments with JP and the commissioner, they have this very weird relationship. JP accidentally lets his professionalism slip in environments where he’s with the commissioner. All that means is that JP over thinks so much to make sure he does things right, that he finds himself being too close to himself and ends up making a big mistake. This in turn creates beautiful moments between himself and the commissioner. They have a relationship that is distant but it’s also very close, it’s almost like an unsaid mentorship.
Can you tell us anything about the cases that feature this series?
We’ve got a case that’s very close to home for one of the characters which impacts everybody in the team. We’ve got another one set at a radio station and someone is killed on air. The audience is in for a treat this year as they’re going to see the show switch it up.
The scripts for each episode of Death in Paradise are full of twists and turns. Do you ever guess correctly who the murderer is without peaking at the end? Who is the best at working out who did it?
I unfortunately have never quite succeeded in doing that. I would love to say I am the best at working it out, but I’m not. It’s tricky because you kind of get a vibe but then it’s the ‘how did they do it?’ that sort of trips you up.
What was it like returning to Guadeloupe for filming? Do you ever get bored of the sunshine?
Guadeloupe is solace in a sense. I’m born and bred in London, and the city’s very busy so to be on an island away from everything and not to have the extra responsibilities is nice. It kind of offers up a sense of peace that maybe you might not entirely find when you are in London, so Guadeloupe is great for that reason. Do I get bored in Guadeloupe? Not bored, there’s so many ways to use the time and it forces you to get deeper into character, forces you to do other things that you maybe don’t get the chance to do.
JP handles the forensic analysis of each crime scene – did you have to learn any forensic science for your scenes?
When I don’t understand something I do my research. We’ve got some fantastic people who work in the props department and they are always at hand to say ‘ok the way this would be done is like this’. Otherwise a lot of it is based on a lot of the criminal shows I’ve watched in the past.
What were the biggest challenges you all faced during the shoot?
Change is a tricky thing. It takes you out your comfort zone but then brings you back in to it again. I think that was the main challenge for me, I found tricky but we were all kind of kindred partners in crime or solving crimes.
Are there any anecdotes you can tell us about during filming?
Every year there’s something! Ardal and I were meant to go snorkelling on a nice little cove beach, but when we got there we ended up meeting a fisherman and just watching him bring in the catch. It was really strange, we had all intentions to snorkel but ended up people watching instead!
What do you get up to in your spare time when you’re not filming? Does everyone hang out together?
There’s a slight gym culture in Death in Paradise, everyone went gym crazy at one stage. Josephine loves the gym so we would go work out and then chill out. We always go out with the guest artists to either welcome them in or send them off once they have finished filming their episode. I like getting to know the guest cast and showing them new places, giving them new experiences, and in turn giving myself new experiences. I go to a church out there on a Sunday and we do different activities, such as table tennis or basketball. There’s always something to do.
What are you most looking forward to the audience seeing this series?
I think I’m looking forward to seeing how the audience receives JP and his new partner, Ruby. That’s going to be an exciting thing and to see along with the new dynamic that she brings to the police station.
Death in Paradise has cemented itself as one of BBC’s most popular dramas. What is it about the show that audiences love?
Sea, sun, sand, me (I’m joking!). It’s a getaway for the audience, and the narrative keeps you locked in because you’re constantly trying to solve the case. The island is a great setting to do that in, as you can literally transport yourself. We have so many people that actually come out to Guadeloupe to watch us when we’re on set. They love it!