We’re on the eighth series of Death in Paradise, what is the secret to keeping it fresh?
It’s important to walk that fine line between delivering what everyone loves about the show but also making changes to keep it fresh and surprising. Sometimes those changes are to do with the way we tell our stories, other times they are more significant, like introducing new characters. This year sees some big changes - Leemore Marrett Jr is joining us as Florence’s boyfriend Patrice, and we’re also welcoming a new regular cast member in Shyko Amos. Shyko’s character, Ruby, is a joyful burst of energy and fun, the team feels reinvigorated and excited and entertained with her in it. But the Death in Paradise ‘recipe’ remains the same, even with some fresh ingredients! Big name guest stars, puzzling murder mysteries and glorious Caribbean locations and weather. Although there are some huge shocks and twists as the series progresses...
Why do you think the show is such a hit with the audience?
It delivers exactly what it sets out to - fun, mystery, exotic locations, and famous faces. The puzzles are gripping and the stories are involving and moving, but the show doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s the perfect tonic when Christmas is over, the weather is grim and everyone has to go back to work or school!
What is the most challenging aspect of creating an ongoing series like this?
Keeping it fresh is always a challenge - making sure we’re giving everyone what they want and at the same time surprising them and moving the show forward. And of course, filming overseas in tropical storms can be tricky, but the sunsets and cocktails help to compensate...
Do we see a new side of any of our favourite characters this series? What does Shyko bring to the show?
All of our main characters develop this year - we learn more about Jack’s past and see JP take on more responsibility. Although JP is faced with his biggest challenge yet, in the face of new recruit Ruby Patterson. Shyko and Ruby are really very similar - they’re both great fun with huge energy! Shyko immediately felt like a true member of the Death in Paradise family, and we love watching her on screen. And of course, we see a new side to Selwyn, who is revealed to be Ruby’s uncle as well as the commissioner!
Yvonne Francas, Producer
What were the most challenging and satisfying aspects of filming this year?
The most challenging part of filming Death in Paradise is often the weather, the show is set in the Caribbean so audiences expect to see blue skies and sunshine, but because of the tropical climate it’s often cloudy and it rains… a lot! We also had a lot of fun with a scene where Jack has to climb a palm tree for a coconut, but it doesn’t go quite to plan. There were more meetings for that scene than any other, but no-one watching will ever know...
Please could you tell us a bit about filming episodes five and six? What makes them stand-out from the rest of the series?
All the episodes are stand out, but episodes five and six were written as a two parter and are particularly poignant because the death of one of the victims has such a big effect on our team. We rarely connect two episodes, but the events from the murder in episode five have repercussions that seep into episode six, so keeping a handle on those threads and making sure that an audience could follow the clues to the murderer from one episode to the other was quite tricky.
How do you prepare for any adverse weather conditions?
We learn to love a downpour! Seriously though, the only weather that usually affects the filming schedule is a tropical storm or a hurricane where we stand down. Safety of crew and cast is always the primary concern, but anything other than a storm or hurricane, we just wait for the worst of the weather to pass before continuing to shoot.
Which set is the most challenging to film in and why? Do you have a favourite set/location to film in?
The most challenging set depends on who you are. The actors find the police station challenging because it’s very hot, and there are a lot of scenes scheduled which are usually procedural and therefore include a lot of dialogue. The camera team find it challenging because it’s a relatively small space so there are only so many camera positions for filming, and it’s also very hot! The sound team’s main challenge is the noise from the cockerels, the tree frogs and the cicadas especially when it’s nearing dusk as a whole chorus of animals and insects start to make themselves heard.
The favourite location for most on set has to be one where there’s a toilet and running water, that’s what makes it a favourite location for me anyway! Aside from that, Jack’s shack is a lovely location as it’s on a beautiful beach and occasionally, if there’s time at lunch or when filming has finished, you can take full advantage of the refreshing, welcoming, turquoise sea. The perfect ending to a busy day’s filming!