A star rating of 4 out of 5.

Death in Paradise's favourite Detective Inspector – sorry to the other three DIs, but he is – Humphrey Goodman (Kris Marshall) returns for a new series, but in Beyond Paradise he has traded the palm trees and sunshine of Caribbean island Saint-Marie for a cloudier, but no less picturesque, Devon.


He's there with fiancée Martha (Sally Bretton), whom he memorably and rather adoringly followed back to London in 2017. The pair are now making a new life in the (fictional) town of Shipton Abbott where Martha grew up and where her mother Anne (Barbara Flynn, who is a twinkly-eyed joy here) still lives.

Martha's plan is to open a café, while Humphrey is joining the local police force, which is made up of enthusiastic young PC Kelby Hartford (Dylan Llewellyn), office support Margo Martins (I'm Alan Partridge's Felicity Montagu) and an extremely driven DS Esther Williams (Zahra Ahmadi), none of whom are quite sure what to make of their new DI and his unconventional way of investigating crimes.

While the series is technically a spin-off from Death in Paradise, and does share some similarities with the hugely popular crime show, there are notable differences from the outset that actually improve on the original's format.

First off, there is that title, Beyond Paradise, which is missing the word 'death', a move that allows the writers to feature all manner of crimes, and doesn't tie them to the murder-a-week format of the original series (the first episode, for example, features a woman who almost dies – but doesn't – falling from a ladder, but who might have been pushed).

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The way Humphrey brings the crime of the week to its denouement has changed, too. Fans of Death in Paradise will know that each episode reaches its conclusion with the DI gathering all the suspects together and revealing who has committed the crime, whereas here there is a nice little twist on the crime solving – as Humphrey describes the events leading up to the whodunnit, he (and whomever he is talking to) is dropped into scenes from the crime itself, so we can see how the action unfolds with him (and his reasoning) right there to explain it all.

Humphrey stood in his office with his hands pressed together
Kris Marshall as Humphrey in Beyond Paradise. Red Planet Pictures/Craig Hardie Red Planet Pictures/Craig Hardie

The biggest difference of all, however, is that it's clear from the start that this series is going to be more about the regular characters than the murder crime of the week.

In the first episode, we meet Humphrey's team well before the man himself makes a memorable first impression on them (which we won't reveal here as it is just too perfect to spoil), and they all have the potential to be both interesting and great fun, especially Montagu's deliciously sarcastic Margo.

But the true heart of this show is Humphrey and his relationship with Martha, and focusing on that turns this from a light-hearted crime-of-the-week series into something of a sweet romantic drama, too.

Kris Marshall may have been away from the part of Humphrey for more than five years – during which time he portrayed the equally memorable Tom Parker in ITV's Sanditon – but he slips effortlessly back into the role of the occasionally bumbling but always astute DI that Death in Paradise viewers so adored, and gets room to do so much more as the story delves into his and Martha's relationship (again, no spoilers, but there is sadness as well as lighter moments ahead for the couple).

Humphrey and Martha sat at a table outside with a bottle of wine between them, and lights and bunting
Kris Marshall as Humphrey and Sally Bretton as Martha in Beyond Paradise. Red Planet Pictures/Craig Hardie Red Planet Pictures/Craig Hardie

With the pretty coastal surroundings (the Devon and Cornwall borders where Beyond Paradise is filmed should expect even more tourists this year) as a to-die-for backdrop, and Death in Paradise’s Tony Jordan on board as showrunner, this has the scenery and mix of humour, drama and complex crimes that fans were hoping for.

But it's the welcome addition of romantic and personal stories that could, in the long run that it surely deserves, make Beyond Paradise even better than the series it has been spun from.

Beyond Paradise airs on BBC One and BBC iPlayer on Fridays at 8pm. Classic episodes of Death in Paradise are available to watch on BBC iPlayer and on BritBox – you can sign up for a 7-day free trial.

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