There’s no getting away from it, the month of January can be a bit like one long post-Christmas hangover. The ‘season to be jolly’ is over for another year and we’re spent-up, fed-up and the weather’s awful.
Thankfully, TV drama at this time of year can help alleviate the gloom and no show does it better than Death in Paradise. BBC1’s smash-hit crime drama filmed on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe has returned for its sixth series and actor Kris Marshall, who plays clumsy but clever DI Humphrey Goodman, certainly thinks it can help cure the January blues.
“It’s absolutely the antidote to them and I think the BBC in its infinite wisdom may have planned it that way,” he smiles. “It’s exactly what people want to watch at this time of year – everyone is broke, back at work, on a diet and doing a ‘dry’ January!
“But they’re also looking forward and thinking about booking holidays in the sun for the summer, so Death in Paradise, with its fabulous tropical setting, just about ticks every box. It’s not just the sunshine, sea and sand factor, though. There’s a tongue-in-cheek element to the show and I think it’s just as good as all those Nordic-Scandi crime shows out there.
“Death in Paradise pokes fun at them a bit – the gloomy expressions and gravelly voices – and I think that’s what people like. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, yet we still honour the genre of crime drama. And it’s not just viewers in cold countries who love Death in Paradise. Its appeal is global and after Sherlock, we’re the BBC drama that sells to the most territories.”
For an actor, the show is surely one of those ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ gigs.
“Oh it is,” Kris agrees. “It’s a wonderful job. I get to swim in the sea every day, it’s a ten-minute commute down the road and I go to work in flip flops. But we only show the best bits. We film from April to October, which is hurricane season. It’s sometimes 40°C of searing heat with 85 per cent humidity. There are lots of insects including mosquitos, which means mosquito-borne diseases.
“One year, dengue fever swept through the crew and this year there’s been the zika virus, which some people went down with. When you’re there for six months you also miss things – British TV, just being able to go to the pub or the pictures and, of course, your friends and family.
“Loved ones come out and see you, but it’s not the same as being on holiday together as you’re working.”
In previous years, Kris has been joined on location by his wife, Hannah, and their young son, Thomas – but not for this latest series.
‘We now have a baby girl who was born last January – two-and-a-half months before I left for Guadeloupe,” he explains. “We decided it wouldn’t be a good idea for them to come out because of the humidity, heat, mosquitos and zika virus.
“It was tough leaving them behind, but I got to come home every six weeks for four or five days. If the show is picked up for another series, we’ll definitely all go out. After that my son will be starting school, so I don’t know. Yes, the separations are hard, but a friend of mine, another new dad, is in the Navy and he’s been sent to the Persian Gulf to sit on a destroyer for six months with no alcohol and 600 men for company. I know which working conditions I prefer, so I’m not complaining.”
Kris (43) first came to our attention playing hapless Nick Harper in Noughties sitcom My Family, and then there were those famous BT commercials in which his character Adam finally married his single mother girlfriend Jane. But perhaps he’s best known for playing looking-for-love Colin Frissell in the Richard Curtis film Love Actually.
“Love Actually was released in 2003, but I still get recognised for it all the time, in fact it‘s a bit like being mobbed – especially if I go to America where they still go absolutely nuts for the film,” Kris laughs. “It’s the same in Australia, too. I’m no Robbie Williams but when I was in Perth making a film a few years ago, I was just walking down a road when two girls started shouting, ‘Colin! Colin!’ from a passing car. How they recognised me, I don’t know.”
- The new series of Death In Paradise continues on Thursdays at 9pm on BBC1
- There's more star chat in every issue of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday