Who Should Head to Saint-Marie Next for 'Death in Paradise'

Picture shows: Ralf Neville as DI Neville Parker

Ralf Little as DI Neville Parker.

© Britbox.

The charming Caribbean island of Saint-Marie in Death in Paradise has a murder rate that equals the fictional Midsomer County’s, keeping the Honoré police department extremely busy. For thirteen seasons now, Death in Paradise has followed a tight format of murder in the opening credits wrapped up in each episode, after we’ve been given a wealth of clues and red herrings woven in with the characters’ personal adventures. Timed to air in the UK each new year, the return of Death in Paradise is a welcome diversion from the cold, dark British winter, allowing audiences to dream of tropical escape, sun, and sea. Season 14 has been greenlit, but there’s a problem: Detective Inspector Neville Parker (Ralf Little) has left the series to join his love interest, DS Florence Cassell (Joséphine Jobert)

Little is the longest-running actor as DI in Death in Paradise, having clocked up four seasons, from the middle of Season 9 through the end of Season 13. As the fourth lead the show’s had, this is not the first time they’ve switched detectives, though it is the first time it’s happened at the end of a season. What will the show do? Invite back one of his predecessors? 

The original DI, Richard Poole (Ben Miller) (Seasons 1 to the beginning of Season 3), is out of the running. He met a grisly end at a Cambridge University reunion at the hands of a former student who stabbed him to death with an ice-pick when he threatened to expose an identity theft. (Besides, Miller happily stars in Professor T.) The second, DI Humphrey Goodman (Kris Marshall) (mid-Season 3 to mid-Season 6), is also out. Fans loved him galumphing around, charming and annoying his colleagues with his unorthodox approach and enthusiasm for his work; however, he fell deeply in love with his colleague DS Martha Lloyd (Sally Bretton), and the two now headline Beyond Paradise, where Humphrey alarms and delights yet another bemused police team in a small town in Devon. 

Picture shows Ben Miller as DI Richard Poole

Ben Miller as DI Richard Poole

© Britbox

As for DI Jack Mooney (Ardal O’Hanlon), who led the show from mid-Season 6 to mid-Season 9, he could return. Originally arriving on the island as a widower with his daughter Siobhan for what was meant to be a temporary assignment, he met up with newly-divorced Anna (Nina Wadia), a traveler passing through Saint-Marie, but decided to turn down a chance at romance and accompanies his daughter back to England. Friendly and unassuming, Jack was more than competent, often surprising his colleagues. Ed Power at The Independent defined Jack as, “that rare modern TV detective whose personal life is not a distracting mess.” There's just one problem: O’Hanlon is busy leading the Irish feature film Fran the Man.

Miller set the precedent for those who followed: an aversion to tropical life, the impossibility of getting a good cup of tea, a lizard as a housemate, and the laidback attitudes of his colleagues. Death is fine; a tropical paradise isn’t. Much of the show’s fun has always been seeing a rather uptight Englishman take on the challenges of climate, manners, and attitudes. But as the series heads into a decade and a half on the air, it seems like it's time to reconsider that.

No announcement has been made regarding Little’s replacement as the season ended its run on. the BBC and BritBox. There is, however, plenty of speculation, and surely it’s time for some diversity in the role. As the show's original lead, Miller has suggested that it’s time for a woman detective to head out to the island (Yes! I agree). His suggestion: Miranda Hart, best known to PBS viewers as Chummy in Call The Midwife from 2012–2015. She also played Miss Bates in the 2020 Emma

Midwife Joyce Highland (Renee Bailey) on her bike.

Midwife Joyce Highland (Renee Bailey) on her bike.  


Hart was included as one of two female candidates in a fan-led poll organized by The Express. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the former Doc Martin, Martin Clunes, carried the day with 30% of the vote. Hart, one of only two women in the poll, didn’t fare too well, but she has the acting chops and the turn-on-a-dime comic timing that could breathe fresh life into the series. 

Digging deep into the well of acting gold that is Call The Midwife, recent newcomer Renee Bailey, who plays midwife-in-training Joyce Highland, is a standout. She is strong, intelligent, and has a touch of toughness that would bring Death in Paradise fully into the 21st century. 

Irish actor Daryl McCormack has distinguished himself as the lead opposite Emma Thompson in Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, and as Isaiah Jesus in Peaky Blinders. We most recently saw him as Detective Colman Akande in The Woman in the Wall, starring Ruth Wilson as Lorna Brady. He has charm, charisma, and versatility.

Before we leave the digital casting room, here’s another suggestion: Gregg Sulkin, who played RAF pilot David in World on Fire. (My first choice was Blake Harrison, who played cheeky officer Stan Raddings, but unfortunately, Harrison appeared on Season 8, Episode 2, of Death in Paradise as Theo Roberts, and that might create problems in the acting space-time continuum. Doctor Who can pull that sort of thing off with Peter Capaldi because wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey. Not so much Death in Paradise.) However, Sulkin has looks, charm, and acting chops, and we’d like to see more of him. 

DI Neville Parker (Ralf Little) and DS Florence Cassell (Joséphine Jobert) on the beach.

DI Neville Parker (Ralf Little) and DS Florence Cassell (Joséphine Jobert).

© Britbox

However, there is one more question to ask: what Little plans to do next. Via his Instagram, he’s gone out on the road with his podcast, but that’s not a long-term move. The former footballer could move to sports ball, but more likely, he’ll be on the lookout for acting roles. Meanwhile, Death in Paradise is looking for more spinoffs. Beyond Paradise has been a hit for BritBox here in the States, and down under, Australia’s ABC is prepping the launch of Return to Paradise, a brand new series formed from the same DNA as the original series, just set in the southern hemisphere in Dolphin Cove. 

Our most recent DI Parker was a sorry mess when he first arrived at the island. A life-long sufferer of allergies, he found that Saint-Marie was possibly the worst place for him to live, although he understood why others loved it. A solitary only child, Parker became remarkably well-informed on the natural world through books, films, and nature documentaries, from which he stored a vast amount of trivia. Fans were delighted with his character growth as he fell in love with Florence Cassell. However, despite her efforts and the encouragement of their colleagues, it was unclear if the relationship would flourish, even as he left the island to follow her. 

Like DI Humphrey, DI Parker’s exit from the island sets up a perfect to-be-continued story as the couple heads someplace new to start a life together, with Parker taking his foibles to a new police precinct, which Cassell could easily surpass him in career. Should there be yet another spinoff into a new series? What should it be called? Paradise Found? What direction would you like Death in Paradise to take? Who would you like to see as the lead? I can’t wait to see who will take over in Season 14 and beyond.

All seasons of Death in Paradise and the Christmas specials are streaming on BritBox.

Janet Mullany

Writer Janet Mullany is from England, drinks a lot of tea, and likes Jane Austen, reading, and gasping in shock at costumes in historical TV dramas. Her household near Washington DC includes two badly-behaved cats about whom she frequently boasts on Facebook.

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