Kris Marshall has quit Death in Paradise after four years as DI Humphrey Goodman.
He’ll be replaced in the lead role by Father Ted actor Ardal O’Hanlon, who is introduced in tonight’s episode as DI Jack Mooney.
As the comedy drama leaves the Caribbean island of Saint Marie for the first time so Humphrey and his team can pursue a murder inquiry that leads them to London, news has broken that Marshall will be saying goodbye at the end of the double bill.
“It’s sad that the news has been leaked,” the actor, who previously replaced Ben Miller on the show, told Susanna Reid and Ben Shephard on Good Morning Britain.
“But it’s one of those things. I’ve done four years, it’s been an absolutely amazing show, I’ve loved it, but it’s time to move on and give someone else a chance to enjoy some sun.”
Marshall said he was giving up his starring role so he could spend more time at home with his young family.
“For the previous years I’ve been able to take my family with me,” he explained.
“But we had a daughter this time last year, and so bringing her and my son – and he’s about to start school – it all became a bit of a juggling mission, so that was really the reason behind it. So this last series I did do on my own, which was quite hard.”
But he admitted the weather in London had given him second thoughts.
“I’m still wondering whether I’ve made the right decision,” he said. “I’ve been filming in London since, and there is a moment where you stand in the freezing cold in a large puffer jacket and go, ‘Why am I not in flip-flops? Why am I still not in the Caribbean? What have I DONE?”
As he passed the baton on to O’Hanlon, Marshall added: “We meet him actually for the first time tonight, so he arrives on the scene as our colleague in London.
“He’s fantastic and I’m sure he’ll really run with it.”
In a statement, O’Hanlon commented: “I am delighted to be joining Death in Paradise and exploring what’s made Mooney up and leave London for a life in the Caribbean.
“I’ve already had a taste of filming in Guadeloupe and can’t wait to get back.”
The Irish actor will take on the lead role when the team returns home from London. He will remain the resident Caribbean cop for series seven, due in 2018.
The show’s creator Robert Thorogood teased on Twitter that the Doctor Who-style “Inspector Regeneration” would begin tonight.
The Death in Paradise London double bill begins at 9pm tonight on BBC1