Death in Paradise returned to our screens tonight as this light-hearted BBC TV cop show began its third series. More than two years ago, I reviewed the first episode of series one and gave it a cautious welcome. I watched most of the episodes of that series, and found the plots enjoyable, but I continued to find some of the humour forced. I gave series two a miss, but a number of friends told me they found the show a refreshing change from Scandinavian serial killers, and so I decided to take a look at the new series.
Because I'd not kept up with news about the show, I was completely unaware that Ben Miller was being written out as the British detective who bumbles around a lovely Caribbean island solving apparently impossible crimes. So when he turned up at a reunion of some of his chums from student days, and was stabbed to death with an ice pick before the credits rolled, I was slightly taken aback.
I soon got over my sense of loss, mind you. Miller was replaced by another bumbling but clever British cop, played by Kris Marshall. Marshall's an engaging actor,and is well equipped for the light comedy (still sometimes a bit forced, it seems to me) that is one of the ingredients of the show. Sara Martins continues to provide stunning support as the detective sergeant, and the excellent Don Warrington, who was so good in Rising Damp many years ago, plays the senior officer with his customary suavity.
Death in Paradise is a very popular show, and the high ratings demonstrate the appetite of viewers for classic whodunits, brought up to date. Here, the clues were so generously supplied that it was easy to figure out the culprit, but it's decent light entertainment, perhaps a notch or two ahead of Father Brown. I still don't regard it as a must-watch, or as in the same class as Jonathan Creek, which was funnier and cleverer, but I'm glad that it this has done well enough to give us another glimpse of the sun in the depths of winter..