Newcomer Shyko Amos joins the team as Officer Ruby Patterson in series eight, described as “a bundle of joy” and a “whirlwind”.
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Here’s what you need to know…
Who is Death in Paradise newcomer Shyko Amos?
“It’s been a dream. It really has, it’s just been a dream,” says Death in Paradise’s latest police recruit Shyko Amos – and you can see why. The young actress is a complete TV newcomer, but she’s just about to make her debut in one of the BBC’s most popular primetime dramas.
Though she has appeared on stage in the UK and America in productions of Mamma Mia!, In Time, Dolphins and Sharks, and Once On This Island, her small-screen role as Officer Ruby Patterson in Death in Paradise is a huge break. Her only other TV credit is A Very English Scandal, where she made a brief appearance as Bronte Bisama (“I had two lines, it was tiny!” she says).
It was “serendipity” that brought her to the attention of casting director Sacha Green, Amos says.
“They’d already done a trawl of auditions and I was newly signed onto my agent, and she just saw me and said, ‘Oh this is a new person, can I just see her?’ And I think I was right at the end; I was one of the last people that they saw, and yeah – it happened to be me.”
She adds: “I’m going to watch it like it’s a horror movie, not because it’s bad but hey, it’s the first time I’ve ever seen myself on TV!”
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Who is Officer Ruby Patterson?
It’s very hard to describe the force of nature that is Ruby Patterson. “How does she fit into the team?” muses Shyko Amos. “Let’s just say, she doesn’t fit into anything. She’s her own thing! She definitely brings a different vibe.”
Ruby is actually the niece of Commissioner Selwyn Patterson (Don Warrington), who she calls “Uncle Selly”. It is the Commissioner who recruits her as Officer Dwayne Myer’s replacement and sets her up with the job at Saint Marie police station, and he has unwavering confidence in her talents.
Amos tells us: “She’s basically spent a lot of her life running around the island, having a really good time. She’s a Caribbean girl through and through and she’s had a lot of different jobs. But really, Ruby’s all about fun, and her uncle basically says to her, ‘You know, it’s time for you to settle down, and try and find your passion.’ And so he gets her this job at the police station, as a rookie police officer.”
She adds: “She’s her own whirlwind of a person, and she brings that into Saint Marie. I think throughout the season you really get to see how this person who just thought, ‘Oh I’ll do this for a couple of weeks and then I’ll leave this job,’ actually ends up finding her place and discovering that she really does enjoy being a policewoman.”
In Dwayne’s absence, it’s Officer JP Hooper (Tobi Bakare) who steps up to train this rookie. He’s particularly keen to make a good impression on “Uncle Selly” and is determined to be on his best behaviour – but when she turns up, Ruby is not what he expects.
“I think at first, JP just doesn’t know what has hit him,” Amos laughs. “Tobi described Ruby as a puppy without a leash. And by the end of it, I think he thinks that he’s just about got the leash on her. But I don’t know about that!”
Ruby quickly bonds with DS Florence Cassell (Joséphine Jobert) as the two female officers develop a “camaraderie,” but it is in DI Jack Rooney (Ardal O’Hanlon) that she perhaps finds her kindred spirit.
O’Hanlon explains: “He’s understanding of her differences and he’s understanding of her not being the cookie cutter mould, whereas JP finds that a bit more challenging. Actually, they kind of become fans of one another. She’s definitely a fan of Inspector Mooney, because he’s so quirky and she loves that, and I think that’s what helps her to actually think, ‘Well this is a place that can hold a personality.'”
As for Jack, O’Hanlon says, “He’s drawn to misfits and oddballs anyway, and I think Ruby certainly fits that description.”
And what about her love life? Amos won’t give away any spoilers, but she does hint: “She loves the bad boys…”
What is it like to replace Danny John-Jules?
Although Shyko Amos admits she felt “pressure” coming in as Danny John-Jules’ replacement, the fact that Officer Ruby Patterson is so different from Officer Dwayne Myers made it a lot easier.
“Danny is such a loved member of the show, and Dwayne, the part that he played, is so loved that anyone would be on a hiding to nothing to come in and try and recreate what he has done and brought to the show,” she explains.
“So by having a young female, a young woman, it took the pressure off and it meant that actually, nobody has to replace Danny. With Ruby, they just get to fall in love with a completely new character.”
Reflecting on John-Jules’ exit, fellow Death in Paradise star Joséphine Jobert says, “Every time there’s a new addition to the show or someone leaving, it changes the whole dynamic, the whole thing.
“But I think they’ve found the best person to take his place. She’s perfect, her character is hilarious, she’s really funny, she’s adorable. I’m pretty sure people are going to love her so much, and it already feels like she’s been on the show forever.”
She adds: “And for Florence, my character, too – finally a new woman! Girl power!”
DI Jack Mooney actor Ardal O’Hanlon says it was no problem adjusting to Dwayne’s exit and Ruby’s arrival.
“You kind of take it in your stride, to be honest with you,” he explains. “You’ve so much to be getting on with, and you’re so busy, you kind of go, ‘Okay okay. So Danny’s not here, we just deal with that, and Oh! here comes Shyko, and we deal with that.’ So it’s the nature of the show.
“Danny was a much-loved character, clearly, but I really do believe Ruby’s going to be a much-loved character over time as well.”
Death in Paradise airs on Thursdays at 9pm on BBC1