Danny John-Jules (‘Death in Paradise’) interview

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Starring Danny John-Jules (Red Dwarf) as laid-back police officer Dwayne Myers, Death in Paradise is a fish out of water story about a quintessential English cop (Ben Miller) posted to the Caribbean island of Sainte Marie.

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Written by Robert Thorogood, the eight-part series begins on BBC One later this month.

CultBox caught up with Danny to find out more…

Are you looking forward to the launch of Death in Paradise?

“It’s going to be great. I’ve seen the footage and it looks amazing.”

What attracted you to the series? Filming in Guadeloupe must have made it very appealing!

“My parents come from Dominica, which is the next island along, so I visited my dad and I introduced my kids to him, I hadn’t seen him for seven years. So with all that in mind, the biggest thing was that there was a character in the script that had room for development.

“Even during the first series, the character develops immensely. I really enjoyed playing him and hopefully he’ll continue to develop in the potential second series.

What’s coming up for character Dwayne in the series?

“At one point, the two main detectives aren’t around and he ends up taking over the reins and doing the old Poirot bit. Initially he doesn’t think that Ben Miller’s character is up to much and he has to prove himself to his workmates. Slowly but surely, we end up calling him ‘chief’, which is when he’s made it!”

How long were you filming in Guadeloupe for?

“Four and a half months. Everything was shot there: no studio, it was all on location. My family came out for the last month and we all flew home together.”

What was the experience of shooting in Guadeloupe like?

“The main crew were taken over [from the UK], but it was a British/French co-production and Guadeloupe is considered French, so there were a lot of locals involved who worked above and beyond the call of duty. Everyone had a brilliant time.

“They were working with some of the top technicians in the business and to learn from guys who’ve done everything from Hollywood to British dramas; it was great watching these guys learn”

So the series will also be shown in France?

“Yes, I’ll be dubbed, I’ll be French! I’ve not heard myself in French yet, but I’ve heard myself in Japanese in Red Dwarf – and in Spanish and Czech!”

The series has a fantastic cast – Ben Miller, Lenora Crichlow, Hugo Speer, Don Warrington, Sean Maguire – what were they like to work with?

“Everyone that came out was really nice. Some I’d worked with before, some I knew: Mona Hammond, Frances Barber, Colin Salmon, Robbie Gee, Ray Fearon… ‘Oh my God, is he coming? Wow!’ And I made some new friends!

“Lenora [Crichlow] was fantastic. Funnily enough, I’d met Lenora at her father’s funeral but didn’t realise she was the actress. Her father was an activist in Notting Hill, where I grew up.

“It was weird, I was at his funeral and then, sitting next to her at the reading, I realised! And then I thought ‘wow, she’s a really good actress!’”

What were your favourite moments from filming?

“It was great riding the motorcycle and side-car. It’s such an integral part of my character now. As the show went along, they started writing in scenes involving the side-car! I was riding that myself, I’ve been biking for 14 years, and that’s Ben Miller in the side-car – no stuntmen there!”

Would you like to do a second series?

“I mean, I would obviously want the character to develop. I’d find it a little long to be repeating what I’d already done if the character didn’t move forward, that’d be very difficult. It’d be a shame to read scripts for the second series and think ‘I’ve sort of done this’.

“That’s what I loved about Red Dwarf; it was always another level to go for with each series.”

How’s the preparation for your charity bike ride going?

“Very well, we’re all ready! We did a test run at the British superbike final at Brands Hatch at the weekend to warm up the bikes and the outfits. It’s going to be really good fun! We’re filming it and we’ve got a few people interested.”

The route includes some amazing places: the Champagne region, Beaujolais, Montpellier and Barcelona. Where are you looking forward to most?

“I think the Chateau should be quite interesting – and the champagne house! These old dears run the champagne house and they’re quite eccentric!”

> Read the second part of our exclusive interview with Danny, where he discusses Series 10 of Red Dwarf.