As series seven of Death in Paradise arrives on BBC1, Ardal O’Hanlon has been waiting nervously to find out if audiences will fall in love with eccentric detective Jack Mooney.
“For me the real pleasure is just being there and working with great actors, great directors and interpreting scripts and trying to work out the best way of doing it,” he says.
“Whatever happens after that terrifies me. Are people going to like it? Are people going to hate my character? Are people going to continue to watch it?
“I’m so aware that it’s a big show and people love it and you don’t want to do anything to let the side down or to let the viewers down.”
We’ve already seen Jack in action, when he replaced DI Humphrey Goodman (Kris Marshall) at the end of series six. The Irish detective arrived from London and immediately began solving murder cases in his own unusual style.
However, with Marshall out of the picture, this will be O’Hanlon’s first full series as the star of the show.
“But I think the show is bigger than any character,” he protests. “That’s the thing about this show: the island is a character in this show, the scenery is a special part of this show, the ingenious puzzles at the heart of the show are really what make it,” he says. “At least, that’s what I tell myself. It’s not my fault! It’s not down to me!”
In this series we’ll see Jack settle in to his new life on the island and slowly find his feet. A recent widower, he’s still dealing with the grief of his wife’s death – so there won’t be any romantic storylines any time soon – but he finds satisfaction in his job as a Detective Inspector.
“He is a little bit sad and lonely and melancholy,” O’Hanlon says. “But he very quickly forms good relationships with his team, Florence and JP and Dwayne. He has a pretty awkward relationship with the Commissioner as well, Selwyn Patterson, which is kind of amusing.”
And now O’Hanlon has arrived in the sunny Caribbean, how long is he planning to stay?
“Twenty years at least!” he says. “Maybe 30. I don’t know. If I can be commissioner for the last ten years I’ll be happy enough, and let someone else take over the detective role…”
Death in Paradise airs on Thursdays at 9pm on BBC1, from 4th January