Kris Marshall is back this week to play DI Humphrey Goodman on the Caribbean Isle of Sainte Marie in BBC One’s sunny police show, Death in Paradise.
David Bedwell catches up with Kris to talk about the show ahead of the fourth series.
For those crazy people out there that haven’t watched Death In Paradise yet, how would you sell it to them?
There are people that haven’t seen it? Shame on them! It’s murder with lovely hair! It’s like a mash up of The Rockford Files, Columbo, Scooby Doo and Cluedo. It’s great fun and making murder funny. It’s one of those rare shows that you can watch with all the family. Certainly no bad dreams after it! We want to make you smile and laugh. There’s great music and we don’t go anywhere near tunnels or bridges or anything dark!
You took over the male lead role in the third series from Ben Miller. How nerve wracking was it joining an established show, and how much of a relief was it to actually appear in the highest rated series so far?
Well the BBC graciously handed the reigns over and while it was a risk, I was daunted but not really concerned. As with anything, if I didn’t think I could bring something new and unique to the show then I wouldn’t have done it. It’s nice to work in the Caribbean, so you don’t need to think much about taking that job, but I like a risk and bringing my own spin to an already established show. I clearly didn’t destroy too much thankfully. Ben was fantastic and nailed that part and made it into a popular show, so I couldn’t come in similar to him. I knew I had to take a different angle.
Can you tell us a bit about series 4, what we can expect and how you’ve developed Humphrey as a character?
I was really relaxed for the first week then it hit me like a train. I remembered how hard it was. Yeah no pressure! Then, “Oh my God so much pressure.” So really I was a bit unprepared as in many ways it was harder as I wanted to move the show on. There’s a lot of storyline and interplay, and you don’t want to sit back on your laurels. There are two new characters on board also which keeps things interesting and fresh.
Humphrey has very keen feelings for Cam and she doesn’t know that. He has a journey with their day to day relationship and there’s a lot of stuff for him to deal with personally. We see how he manifests those feelings and it’s an interesting time for him. He’s moved on in himself, established himself there and gets more comfortable in his own skin. I’d say he’s a much better policeman for it also, even though he still has his manic moments, he’s not so much a bull in a china shop this series.
How is it working with other established names like Danny John Jules and Don Warrington? Is it as fun as it looks?
What you’re getting is real class and gravitas. These are guys that are really easy to act with. We’re also very lucky to have such a fantastic guest cast from series to series so it’s all very natural and enjoyable every day.
While you’re often recognised for My Family and the BT ads, you’ve had a highly varied career over the years from films to US TV to theatre. How important is that to you as an actor?
It’s the Raison d’être for me. As much as I’m pleased for the popular jobs that I’m recognised from, it’s the other stuff I love as it’s usually more challenging and rewarding in different ways. I still get to make films and go back on stage and I’m lucky to have that variety. I love playing all sorts of characters otherwise I get itchy feet.
I’m definitely looking forward to getting back on stage again in the near future. From around the late 90s I didn’t do it for something like seven years and God I was shaking when I returned to it. You get the fear. So I need to get back there ASAP or else!
And when will we have the pleasure of Death In Paradise on our screens again?
We’ll be back around early January when the nights are dark and every one is fat from Christmas. So when the credit cards are all maxed out, we’ll be back to brighten their lives!
Death In Paradise returns to our screens on Thursday 8th January at 9pm on BBC One.