Merlin and Versailles star Alexander Vlahos takes on the role of artist’s muse Max Newman in the latest episode of Death in Paradise – and after his famous girlfriend dies in mysterious circumstances, this “arrogant” and “fiery” young man finds himself under suspicion.
“Max is the boyfriend and four-year partner of the victim of episode two, Donna,” Vlahos explains. “They are madly in love but it’s kind of a tempestuous and turbulent relationship, full of fireworks and passion. Max is an ex-model from London, who’s now sort of resting on his laurels I suppose with Donna. He’s sort of free-boating off her artistry and success.”
Donna Harman, played by Sherlock’s Louise Brealey, is an acclaimed artist and former party-girl who lives on energy drinks and cigarettes; but she is found dead in her studio one afternoon after apparently drinking a can spiked with cyanide.
Max is immediately under suspicion, with DI Jack Mooney (Ardal O’Hanlon) also sizing up art dealer Patti (Barbara Flynn), assistant Anthony (Caleb Frederick) and arts centre boss Sandrine (Vivienne Acheampong) as potential killers.
But with Max’s face and torso covering so many canvases, the team soon notice something interesting.
“Max has got an incredible scar running down his body which was from a previous fight between the couple about a year prior to Donna’s demise,” Vlahos says. “The detectives pick up on that and they pick up on the fact that on the day he’s questioned by the police, his knuckles are wrapped in a bandage.
“Also, Max acts quite shaky and he doesn’t do himself any favours at all. It’s a non-drinking house but he carries around his own personal flagon.”
He adds: “Max is quite arrogant, overconfident and a fiery person but also incredibly relaxed and languid.”
Vlahos also enjoyed the chance to film with his on-screen girlfriend.
“I was very blessed to have Louise Brealey too,” he says. “She’s a firecracker and a fantastic actress to work with. We had so much fun doing all of our flashback scenes together – she’s just such a pocket rocket and a big bottle of energy that lit up the room.”
Alexander Vlahos’s episode of Death in Paradise airs on Thursday 16th January at 9pm on BBC One