A star rating of 3 out of 5.

Warm and cosy detective series Death in Paradise returns with a special seasonal episode, and if your yuletide spirit is waning after one too many festive-themed shows (it's beginning to feel like Netflix's Jeffrey Dahmer series is the only one without a Christmas episode) it may be the perfect antidote as it's not that Christmassy at all.


There is a subplot involving Neville's (Ralf Little) mum packing parsnips and sprouts in her suitcase so her son can have a traditional Christmas dinner, and there's a big tree ready to be decorated at the police station, but otherwise it is business as usual for the team when a woman is found murdered.

True crime podcaster Jennifer (Derry Girls' Siobhan McSweeney) is on the island of Saint Marie looking into a cold case – the mystery of the disappearance of nine-year-old Linus Peters, who went missing on Christmas Eve in 1977, a case that Commissioner Selwyn Patterson (Don Warrington) worked on but was unable to solve more than 40 years ago.

However, Jennifer is found dead from a gun shot wound near Linus’s childhood home, and things get decidedly spooky when the police listen to her final recording and hear her call out to Linus and receive a ghostly reply.

Jennifer Langan talking to Jennifer Langan across a desk
Jennifer Langan (Siobhan McSweeney) and Commisioner Selwyn Patterson (Don Warrington). Red Planet Pictures/Denis Guyenon

As you’d expect, there are a handful of people – including the Commissioner, of course – who have ties to the case, from Linus’s brother Marvin (Hakeem Kae-Kazim) to a psychic named Danny Sheridan (Les Dennis), and it takes a scary night for Officer Marlon (Tahj Miles) at Marvin’s home and some dogged police work before the killer – real or ghostly – is uncovered.

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While Death In Paradise can be rightly criticised for being formulaic, that’s also part of its charm, especially at Christmas as we’re just as comfortably certain that Neville and co will catch the killer before the end credits as we are that Granny will fall asleep halfway through watching the episode after having one too many Baileys. (And the plot is simple enough – in a good way – that if she wakes up before the end, she’ll figure out what is going on).

Darlene Curtis (Ginny Holder), Naomi Thomas (Shantol Jackson), DI Neville Parker (Ralf Little), Commisioner Selwyn Patterson (Don Warrington) and Marvin Peters (Hakeem Kae-Kazim, Red Planet Pictures/Denis Guyenon

The show has always been as much about the fun performances as the crime that needs to be solved, and, while Ralf Little is somewhat sidelined with an annoyingly obvious swapped suitcase plot, regular cast members Tahj Miles, Ginny Holder (as Darlene) and Don Warrington all deliver enjoyable moments on screen in this episode.

Best of all, however, are the guest stars. Doctor Who star Jo Martin – while criminally underused – is terrific as Marvin’s best friend Rakesha, while Les Dennis is deliciously hideous as the deep-tanned, arrogant psychic who had contact with Jennifer before she died.

All expressive hands, grimaces and mischievous looks, he makes the most of every scene he is in and is so good at being a little bit naughty that our Christmas wish is that a casting director spots his performance in Death In Paradise Christmas Special and gives Dennis a truly nasty dramatic lead role that he can sink his teeth into in the New Year.

The Death in Paradise 2022 Christmas special will air on Monday 26th December, with season 11 available to stream on BBC iPlayer. Check out more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to see what's on tonight.


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