Filmed on the French-Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, the eighth series of the award-winning drama Death in Paradise will continue to keep audiences guessing with intriguing mysteries, cunning plot twists and a star-studded array of guest cast.
Ardal O'Hanlon's Detective Jack Mooney has now settled in to life on the beautiful Caribbean island of Saint Marie and is all ready for yet more sunshine and murders.
But how much do you know about the show's leading man?
Who is Ardal O'Hanlon?
Now, there’s a new DI in Saint Marie as Jack Mooney, who was introduced at the end of the last series, knuckles down to his new role on the island – so it’s the perfect time to learn more about Ardal O’Hanlon, who plays him.
He’s suffered terrible stage nerves
Ardal’s many fans know he’s hilarious, but the comedian admitted he had a tough time believing it earlier in his career.
He told The Guardian: “I would get into bed (before doing stand-up), I’d be sick, I wouldn’t be able to eat or read or concentrate on anything – it would go on for hours. So for about 15 years I had a reputation – much-deserved – for being a nervous wreck before shows.
“I had an epiphany about five years ago – almost overnight – and I’ve been fine ever since. I just thought, why do I put myself through this agony? It’s supposed to be fun, and it’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t go well.
“Fundamentally, I was a very shy and quiet person growing up, so it was just really difficult getting up on a stage. It was a perverse career choice really.”
His dad is a former politician and minister
The Father Ted star’s career couldn’t get much further removed from his father’s.
Rory O’Hanlon is a former politician for Fianna Fail and his roles included serving as Minister for the Environment, Minister for Health, and Minister of State for Social Welfare Claims.
Ardal is one of six children and has a brother and sister who have also served as politicians.
He rewrites the Irish parts of his roles
No-one writes Irish quite like the Irish, as Ardal told the Radio Times: “In every show I’ve been involved in I read the script, take out the Irishisms right away and say, ‘I’ll supply those’.
“Father Ted was written by Irish people, so that was fine, but around the time we were shooting it EastEnders went to Ireland and represented it as this terribly backward society where people were going around with one eye and drunk.
“That outraged people in Ireland. But that will happen from time to time, we were brought up with that.”
He has some grisly ancestry
When Ardal took part in an episode of Who Do You Think You Are?, what he discovered about his relatives may have been unwelcome news.
The programme showed that his grandfather Michael O’Hanlon joined the IRA during the Irish War of Independence and had even been a member of Michael Collins’ squad which assassinated British secret service agents on Bloody Sunday.
He gets very odd fanmail
Ardal’s wide fan base comes from all walks of life, as he told The Mirror.
“I get a lot of stuff from prison,” he said. “They like [Ardal's noughties sitcom] My Hero. What that says about the show I don’t know. I’ve had a few death threats as well. I got an unusual one from a remote part of Ireland.
“I was able to trace him just by the postmark. I knew someone who went there on holiday and he was like, ‘Yeah I know who that is. He’s the only one who has a typewriter.’”
Ardal on series 8
Death in Paradise is back for an eighth series! What can we expect this time round?
More murders! Loads of murders, some great puzzles. The best part of this series is the interesting settings for the murders. We have one set on a bus, which obviously posed a logistical set of issues but turned out really well, really good fun. We also have one set in a local zoo, a family run zoo and that was great! The one that probably provided the most fun for the crew is one featuring a television crew in Saint Marie making a holiday programme when the presenter is bumped off!
Tell us where we left DI Jack Mooney at the end of the last series and where we find him at the beginning of series eight.
Jack had settled in reasonably well by the end of the last series. He had relied very heavily on his police team who provided a great support network for him. Jack was still coming to terms with the passing of his wife, and his daughter, Siobhan, who departed the island to go to university in the UK. We left Jack at a mid point in his evolution but at the beginning of series eight he’s very integrated. We find him very much part of the fabric of the island and he’s really beginning to relish it a bit more. He knows the locals better, he knows how things work on the island and he knows how to work the commissioner a bit better. This year, Jack gets involved in local activities such as bingo calling and he dabbles in crab-racing so he’s very involved in that sense!
There are some changes in the team this year with Dwayne travelling around the world with his dad. How has this affected Jack’s relationship with Florence and JP?
Certainly with Florence the relationship is very warm, they’ve become good friends. Jack has come to rely on her a lot and he absolutely trusts her. She’s a good cop and she’s a very good emotional support for Jack. As for JP, he has stepped up and really proven himself to be a very thorough and resourceful police officer and Jack has a big soft spot for JP in kind of a fatherly way. He respects him a lot; JP has earned his respect.
What does Jack think of the newest recruit, Officer Ruby Patterson?
Jack’s a little bit bemused by Ruby at first. He’s very wary for a start because she’s clearly related to the commissioner, so it’s like having a cuckoo in the nest. Jack doesn’t quite know what to make of her to begin with, plus she’s quite outrageous in many ways. Ruby is not a conventional police officer so it takes a bit of getting used to, but by the end of her first case they realise that she has something to offer. Ruby’s coming at things from a slightly different way than they’d be used to but she’s a valuable member of the team
What is Jack’s relationship with the commissioner like? How has having his niece, Ruby, on the team affected this?
Jack’s relationship with the commissioner is an interesting one because there is a mutual respect there even though they circle each other like wolves every time they meet. The team don’t know much about his personal life and they’ve always been trying to guess what sort of man he is and who is he when he’s not in his uniform. The fact he has a niece gives us some little glimpse into his humanity, into the softer side of the commissioner
In one episode, a murder is committed on a bus full of passengers in the middle of the journey. How does Jack solve a case, when the suspects were all together on the bus surrounding the victim?
Usually in most episodes, when they’re examining the body, Jack would find a minute clue that nobody else spots. Jack just has an inkling of an idea that these objects might be a clue in some way, and later on in the episode he unlocks another vital clue
Harry the lizard has become a fan favourite. Do we see more of him this series?
Yeah we see a bit of Harry, Jack has a soft spot for him. The lizard is very much part of the furniture. I don’t know how anyone knows it’s the same lizard but he seems to answer to Harry, one assumes that it’s Harry every time, but maybe all lizards answer to Harry I don’t know
The scripts for each episode of Death in Paradise are full of twists and turns. Do you ever guess correctly who the murderer is without peeking at the end? Who is the best at working out who did it?
The law of averages would suggest I do get it right once or twice a series but I think the writers are clever; they will always try and wrong foot you. That’s one of the beauties of the show is they will always have another twist or another surprise in store for you
What was it like returning to Guadeloupe for filming? Do you ever get bored of the sunshine?
I really relished going back to Guadeloupe this time because I knew what the island had to offer. I also knew the pitfalls, so having had a year and a half’s experience out there, a series and a half, I was ready for it. I was really braced for whatever it threw up and it will throw up surprises. That’s the one thing guaranteed on the island. I really, really enjoyed it. There were still lots of places I hadn’t explored on the island, which I got to do this time round. My character is in pretty much every scene so I do have to work incredibly hard, so the little bits of downtime I do have I absolutely treasure and I make the most of them. There’s always a new waterfall to find, there’s always a new little trek to go on. Particularly this year I got into the history of the Caribbean, not just Guadeloupe but the Caribbean generally learning about the sugar trade and its heritage. That was really enriching and it made the whole experience richer and deeper. I went round to all the plantation houses and got to know the place better I suppose.
What were the biggest challenges you all faced during the shoot?
The sheer amount of dialogue I have to learn. I’m always trying to give my lines to the other actors. There are a lot of scenes to get through so the scheduling is always tough, but of course I enjoy the work. I enjoy preparing for the scenes, I enjoy doing the scenes, I enjoy the company of the guest actors and I enjoy the island. I suppose the hardest part is maintaining your energy, managing your energy and knowing when to go out and when not to go out.
What do you get up to in your spare time when you’re not filming? Does everyone hang out together?
I love the walking in the rainforest, I love swimming in waterfalls and the pools at the bottom of the falls, and I love the sea. I borrowed a piano when I was out there, a digital piano, so I was playing that in my spare time. I was experimenting with vegetables quite a lot because the diet out there is largely meat or fish. You don’t get a great deal of vegetables during the day when you’re working, or even when you go out in the evenings, so when I was at home in the evening, I would just prepare vegetables in a way I don’t do at home and I had fun with that. I even pickled my first cauliflower out there. I made good use of my time and learned more about the Caribbean’s history.
What are you most looking forward to the audience seeing this series?
The stories are strong. Since I’ve arrived here, the stories are probably stronger than they have been so I’m quite pleased with that. They’ll enjoy the new characters and the variety of locations that we’ve used this time as well. There’s plenty of fresh material for them to enjoy!
Death in Paradise has cemented itself as one of BBC’s most popular dramas. What is it about the show that audiences love?
Obviously they love the backdrop, the scenery. It appeals to people’s escapist fantasies. The show’s slightly larger than life murder mysteries have such a charm to them, it’s like a televised game of Cluedo, and it reminds you of your youth reading an Agatha Christie novel. There’s something very escapist about it that’s really its main attraction.
Death in Paradise continues on Thursdays at 9pm on BBC One.
Missed an episode? Catch up on BT TV via the BBC iplayer app.