Thursday, 27 October 2011


Death in Paradise - Episode One. The Brit chief of the police force on the Caribbean island of Saint Marie is found dead in mysterious circumstances. Detective Inspector Richard Poole arrives from London to investigate.

He's the best for the job except he hates sun, sea, sand and can't stand heat. And the airline has lost his luggage

« French, great. Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse. »

Created by Red Planet Prize finalist Robert Thorogood, Death in Paradise is the writer's first television screen credit and stars Ben Miller (The Armstrong and Miller Show, Primeval). This new procedural is set in a fictional Caribbean island and actually filmed in Guadeloupe. It is a co-production between Red Planet Pictures and Atlantique Productions (a Lagardère Entertainment company) in association with Kudos Film and Television, for the BBC and French pubcaster group France Télévisions. BBC One aired on tuesday the premiere of this 8 X 60-minute series.

Written by Robert Thorogood and directed by Charles Palmer (Doctor Who), the first episode of Death in Paradise introduces Miller's character, Metropolitan Police DI Richard Poole. London assigns him the case of DI Charlie Hulme (Hugo Speer), the beloved chief of the Saint Marie police, found dead in the locked panic room of a mansion belonging to the wealthy James Lavender (Rupert Graves). As brilliant as Poole is, the island is the last place on Earth where he wants to be: literally "unsuited" to the Caribbean way of life, he hates the sun, sea and beaches, and his methods are incompatible with the local style of policing.

« This is not going to go well. »

The cops of the resourceless Honoré Police station are laid-back and clueless beyond cliché, with the exception of Sergeant Lily Thomson (Lenora Crichlow with her best Rihanna accent) and Commissioner Selwyn Patterson (Don Warrington). Dwayne Myers (Danny John-Jules, the legendary Cat from Red Dwarf) fraternizes with suspects and Fidel Best (Gary Carr) shows his expertise in goats - the animal ends in a cell. Think Cascara, the island in the 1985 comedy Water, but without the singing rebel. Not the ideal workplace when you rely heavily on computer equipment, forensics and a laser tape measure for your investigation.

Ben Miller plays a Doc Martin version of Primeval's James Lester, CGI lizard included. With his homeland bins problem Poole could even easily fit in Armstrong & Miller. The "quintessential English" detective needs urgently to evolve outside of the patronizing idiot abroad he looks like. Also he can't stretch his aversion to "paradise" eternally, now that he must stay and team up with French undercover cop Camille Bordey (French actress Sara Martins). And to avoid flirting with embarassment Saint Marie should be more Portwenn or Jersey and less Cascara or San Pietro. Remains a light-hearted old school crime mystery; people like classic whodunnits with seemingly annoying sleuths - this episode attracted nearly 6m viewers.

Death in Paradise (Meurtre au Paradis in French) is certainly not original but neither was Murder, She Wrote. It sails in the Midsomer Murders comfort zone minus the gruesome, and tourists will helpfully contribute to the body count while citizens of Saint-Marie kill each other. Please spare the goat and the lizard.

Next week: Give him a cup of tea, for God's sake!

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