Sainte-Marie might seem like a tropical paradise, but it soon becomes a hotbed for murder this evening after BBC Worldwide and France Télévision’s joint venture Death in Paradise hits our screens. If the first episode of this sun-soaked whodunnit is anything to go by, you we’ll be still be guessing who pulled the trigger in eight weeks time.
This new drama opens with prototypical Englishman Richard Poole, played by Ben Miller, a straight-laced DI finding himself thrown into an investigation of the murder of a British cop in the Caribbean. His team consists of police officers Dwayne Myers (The Cat / Danny John-Jules) and Fidel Best (Gary Carr) whose laid-back approach to crime fighting clash with Poole’s methodical style.
Miller, who has also starred in The Armstrong and Miller Show as well as Primeval, delivers brilliantly as a fish out of water. We can only hope that as his character gets accustomed to the island surroundings (and his luggage turns up) the show does’t lose its humorous element.
John-Jules (best known for his iconic stylings in Red Dwarf) stands out as the laid-back cop Dwayne and he serves as the perfect foil for Poole. The two have a lot to learn from each other and as Poole adopts a bit of the Caribbean lifestyle, perhaps Dwayne will begin to take his job a little more seriously.
The supporting cast also includes French star Sara Martins, who plays Camille Bordey. Clearly there is more to her than meets the eye and Poole is doubtlessly going to need someone like her in the episodes to come. The two couldn’t be more different, so obviously it’s only a matter of time until they get together.
But Death in Paradise’s true star is the plot, which keeps you guessing throughout. A feat that is made even more impressive when we discover that creator Robert Thorogood had no previous television experience and was discovered in a competition seeking out new talent. In addition to the top-notch suspense, the show captures a great Caribbean feel with a brilliant soundtrack and great island views (since the island of Sainte-Marie doesn’t actually exist, it’s really filmed in Guadeloupe).
With a charming protagonist, a strong supporting cast and above all, excellent writing, this series opener has much going for it and sets itself up well to find a fresh angle on the detective genre, with a realistic setting and an original plot. The potential for growth on Poole and his colleague’s part is there and if Thorogood can keep the mystery on par with this episode, Death in Paradise can’t go wrong.