Series 9, episode 8
We’ve already missed eight series of this undeniably popular show, so why now?
How did ‘Death in Paradise’ sneak into our living room?
The blame goes to our friend Liz, who pitched it as something harmless to watch for an hour when you’re waiting for something else to start.
A stress-busting visit to a sun-kissed Caribbean island would have sounded unconvincing, I’m sure. But it’s that, too. A little bit of sun-kissed Guadeloupe glowing in the corner (aka, Saint Marie).
The thing we were waiting to watch was Murder 24/7, a gripper that followed teams of real cops tracking down a vicious killer in the drugs underworld of Colchester. Then they moved on to investigate and prosecute a man who threw his frail mother from a first-floor balcony (you get to see the CCTV of him doing it).
The two series couldn’t be more different.
The ‘Death in Paradise’ we managed to slot in beforehand was the one in which Frances Tomelty plays a blind actress who “witnesses” her iffy husband getting shot dead on the beach.
Once our tenacious DI (Ralf Little) shaves the mystery down to the three suspects permitted in the narrative contract, the tension lifts slightly.
There then follows a brief pause before the DI assembles all suspects and those involved in the case for The Big Reveal stunt, as seen in countless Agatha Christie stories.
All I will tell you is that, despite being one of the three regulation suspects, it wasn’t Frances Tomelty. Though if this was Midsomer Murders, I suspect it might have been.
You knew that by now anyway. Her performance was far too good and she was on-camera too often to be the perp.
If one of the most irritating things about pre-‘death in Paradise’ Frances Tomelty was that her eyes overacted, there is simply no scope for that kind of nonsense when you’re meant to be blind.
So with the cold, darting eyes safely stilled, Tomelty actually turns in a decent performance.
One or two things bother me about ‘Death in Paradise’. The first is Madeleine, who despite her manifold attractions never seems to attract any interest from the lusty blades of Saint Marie.
Other characters are seen tangling with relationship matters. JP, who recently passed his sergeant’s exam, is married to his childhood sweetheart Rosey, who is forever on the phone asking when he’s coming home to put up a shelf.
And there is always a sexy undercurrent sloshing around bar-keep Catherine, who looks like she’s got her eye on every passing DI. Apprentice detective Ruby even got to snog an old boyfriend in a recent episode.
Maybe Madeleine is saving herself for a higher rank of bloke, a DI maybe? A dorky DI, with the name Neville (Ralf Little) maybe? The Daily Express certainly thinks so.
Ruby bothers me, too. I’m not sure she’s who we think she is. It’s her hair that offers the clues. In some of the episodes of DiP, at the end of the investigation, when the culprit is safely behind bars, the team are seen in relaxed out-of-office gear swigging rum and beer.
But for 3 episodes I thought a stranger had joined their table at the tavern, an interloper, a spy or a trusty informant never seen in any other context.
Then I realised it was Ruby, with her trademark afro bundled and primped, making her look like someone else entirely.
She might be. There’s a schoolgirl in Hackney who’s been banned from lessons for having an afro. Her name is Ruby.