Ardal O’Hanlon reckons filming in the Caribbean is pretty tough. Yes, honestly, that’s what he told us: he’s scared of the hurricanes and the centipedes.
His co-star Joséphine Jobert disagrees. She explains why Guadeloupe is as gorgeous as it looks.
Where exactly is Death in Paradise filmed?
Guadeloupe’s two main islands [part of the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean] are shaped like a butterfly’s wings and we film on the left one, Basse-Terre. It’s a bit wilder and not very touristy. We stay in villas in Deshaies – I have a terrace with an amazing view over the town.
This is your fourth year playing DS Florence Cassell. Have you tired of paradise yet?
Impossible! You can explore the waterfalls, swim with the turtles, go fishing, ride horses… And I will never tire of the sunsets.
So Guadeloupe is as idyllic as it looks?
It is a dream. I’ve known Guadeloupe for a long time because I used to go there on holiday when I was a child. My father would rent a fantastic villa with a pool, but what I remember most is scuba diving when I was about ten – the fish were so beautiful.
Does the French spoken on Guadeloupe sound different?
No, but everybody also speaks Creole. My grandmother is from Martinique, so sometimes I’m ashamed that I don’t speak Creole. But constantly switching between French and English on set is tiring enough. There are days when I’m like: “Don’t talk to me, my brain is confused!”
Do the cast and crew hang out together?
They do. But I don’t. I’m surrounded by people all day long so I like to stay by myself at the weekend. I need to be alone to learn my lines – and to lie down in the sun and just enjoy!
Which is your favourite beach?
For me, the most beautiful beach on the island is called Grand Anse – it’s endless and so soft. The beach where DI Jack Mooney [Ardal O’Hanlon] has his shack, La Perle, is also like a postcard. What you see on screen is no lie: the colours are the same in reality.
And your beachside snack of choice?
You can eat very well in Guadeloupe, but the thing I love most is fresh coconut. They make a hole so you can drink the milk straight from the coconut, then they cut it in two for you to eat the flesh.
Filming on a beach can’t be as much fun as it looks. How do you cope with the heat?
I’m lucky because I wear shorts – it’s more difficult for Ardal in his long trousers! I have a half-wig that I wear to control my hair because it curls in the heat. Sometimes I do wish we were filming in studios with air-conditioning.
Do fans of the show turn up in Deshaies?
Lots. They come from Australia, France, the UK, America, because they’re huge fans and want to discover this small French island. When they find the set, they’re very respectful and we say hello.
Do the islanders watch the show?
They do. They’re very proud of it because they’re proud of their island – and of course they recognise it and the people who live there in what we film.
Death in Paradise is on Thursdays at 9pm