wed 29/05/2024

Death in Paradise, Series 3, BBC One | reviews, news & interviews

Death in Paradise, Series 3, BBC One

Death in Paradise, Series 3, BBC One

Story tremors rock island idyll as staid detective drama surprises

Making his mark: Kris Marshall as newcomer DI Humphrey Goodman, aided by Sara Martins as DS Camille BordeyBBC/Red Planet Pictures/Denis Guyenon

Well, that was a shock. I can’t remember seeing many crows around on the Caribbean island of Saint-Marie that is the location of Death in Paradise, but assuming there are some they should by now be appropriately stoned.

(Of course, they may have been stoned already, but that would have been because of a certain relaxing something in the air rather than anything like the locals casting a first one.) This is as peaceful place as you’re likely to find anywhere – unless you’re arriving there as a visitor that is, in which case your likelihood of being bumped off must rank disproportionately high. But it’ll be at the hands of a fellow visitor.

This first episode of series three started off along familiar lines. Then it threw a surprise at viewers on a scale up there (almost) with Agatha Christie in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, and followed up with an (almost) classic locked-room case, in which the victim would play a key role in the investigation.

The time for the spoiler alert has arrived. Television drama has long been used to rubbing out characters when an actor decides new career directions must be pursued, but you might have felt that in this one Ben Miller as DI Richard Poole was so crucial that it would have been easier just to scratch the show. Which presumably its creators, led by writer Robert Thorogood, were reluctant to do, given those impressive audience ratings. In addition, given that the curmudgeonly Poole had always kept threatening to return to Blighty and his fantasy world of warm bitter and Antiques Roadshow, the issue of handing on the detective gauntlet must surely have already been considered.

But it was a cruel blow to make Poole his own final victim (and an even crueller one to catch his very last moments in close-up – "the horror! this script!", he might have been  thinking). Seemingly by chance, he’d encountered four old university friends who’d arrived to celebrate an anniversary on the island. Even at his best Poole was hardly the life and soul of a party (Ben Miller enjoying his final cup of tea, above right), but this time he’d clearly found something to alarm him in the apparently happy coincidence of their meeting.

The shock of finding their much-loved boss with an ice pick in his chest threw the supporting police cast considerably, particularly the adorable Sara Martins as his assistant Camille Bordey. She’d always shown considerable fondness for the emotionally clumsy Poole, which made her far from receptive to the immediate arrival of DI Humphrey Goodman (Kris Marshall) to assist with enquiries. It'll be a hard record to match, but Goodman already looks as accident-prone as Poole ever was, admitting “there’s a whole list of things I’m not very good at” even before his first fall out of a window. The fine thespian tradition of gallumphing looks to be in good hands.

Though clearly well-endowed on the grey cell front, Goodman seemed less sure how to wind it all up

"I’m not here to take Richard’s place, I’m not here to be him,” the rangy, absent-minded Goodman insisted to Bordey. Gradually he won over the loyalties of the other two stalwarts of the local station, Dwayne and Fidel, not least because he proved a very good detective in completing the investigation which Poole had indeed begun. Though clearly well-endowed on the grey cell front, Goodman seemed less sure how to wind it all up: Camille practically had to go all meta- and remind him, with the suspects brought together at around the traditional 50-minute mark, “this is the part where you expose the killer.” 

But we’ll remember this new series for much more than just Poole’s demise. After 16 episodes that suggested that he had little more of an emotional life than, say, your average small crustacean, it came out in the company of these old friends that there had been a time when Poole had loved and been loved (sadly, it wasn't the same woman). Throw in an end-of-episode revelation that Goodman’s stay on Saint-Marie is likely to be more bachelor than he’d expected, and the island's emotional temperature looks like it may rise several degrees.

The shock of finding their much-loved boss with an ice pick in his chest threw the supporting police cast considerably


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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