Death in Paradise star Ardal O’Hanlon: “I’m terrified of the creatures”

It’s a tough life filming on a Caribbean island. No, really…

Death in Paradise – Ardal O'Hanlon as Jack Mooney

What are you watching on TV in your villa in Guadeloupe?

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My internet is patchy, so I don’t get TV in the evenings. I watch a lot of movies, and a fair bit of Netflix. The series I enjoyed most was Big Little Lies. I absolutely loved that.

No detective show for tips?

Actually, I’ve always loved detective shows, right back to Columbo, The Rockford Files and Starsky & Hutch. I loved Agatha Christie as a kid, The Hardy Boys/ Nancy Drew Mysteries. I’m really drawn to that sort of stuff.

Are you relieved that people liked your arrival in Death in Paradise?

Did they? To be honest, I hide from reviews and any sort of social media feedback. I try to be out of the country when things I’m in are on TV. But people love the show so much; you’d have to do something really radical to upset them.

The Caribbean was hit by terrible hurricanes last year…

We were lucky that the worst of the storms missed us. We had Irma, a nasty one called Jose and then Maria, which was the real monster. It wiped out nearby Dominica, which was really sad. But the team is prepared for it: there are people tracking the hurricanes very closely.

Were the hurricanes frightening?

Yeah, when they come you bunker up in your villa with some rum. A lot of the roofs are made of corrugated iron, so it makes quite a racket. It’s unlike anything I’ve experienced before.

Your career has featured two fictional islands, Saint Marie in Death in Paradise and Craggy Island from Father Ted – how do they differ?

For a start you don’t leave the house unless it’s absolutely necessary on rainy Craggy Island. In Ireland, generally, I sit at home, read, watch box sets and I walk the dog from time to time, wrapped up in about eight layers. In Guadeloupe, I go swimming with turtles and climb volcanos.

Do you mix with the islanders as well as turtles?

We do meet a lot of local people – they are lovely. At home, you can easily get sucked into this sort of striving that we all do. It’s not like that on Guadeloupe; their attitude to life is very different. This year we had the first ever Death in Paradise Festival, which was geared towards local people. And you meet people just hanging around in the town on a Friday night. We all go to the bars in the village we’re based in.

So, wild, rum-soaked nights?

You can imagine. Brits abroad. When you’ve got 90 people away from home for six months it does get a bit delirious, particularly as the summer goes on. I did do incredibly silly dancing over the summer. I developed muscles in places I didn’t know I had them.

You can always relax by the pool at your villa…

There is a pool and a lovely view, but I don’t get the opportunity to really enjoy the benefits of having a beautiful villa in the Caribbean. We work 12 hours a day. You come in, it’s already dark at 6.30pm, you’re learning your lines for the next day. In the evenings I might read a little bit or go out a few nights a week for dinner and stuff. Then there’s the creatures. I’m terrified of the creatures.

What are we talking here – snakes? Sharks? Bats?

The scolopendra. It’s a sort of vicious centipede that can go up walls really fast. I haven’t been bitten by one yet, but I did have an infestation so I was actually terrified of going home to this beautiful villa. I couldn’t sleep properly; I was constantly alert.

All in all, making Death in Paradise sounds quite tough.

I hope you don’t feel this is a facetious comparison, but it’s my Vietnam.

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Death in Paradise is on Thursdays at 9pm on BBC1