Detective’s change of pace a real sea change

Ardal O'Hanlon stars as DI Jack Mooney in season seven of the TV series Death in Paradise.
Ardal O'Hanlon stars as DI Jack Mooney in season seven of the TV series Death in Paradise. Dan Goldsmith

ARDAL O'Hanlon has big sandals to fill on Death in Paradise.  

The Irishman is the third actor to play the lead role of detective inspector in the tropical murder mystery series, now in its seventh season. The father-of-three says he was surprised when the offer came "out of the blue".  

"I met with one of the producers and he thought I might be an interesting choice," he tells The Guide.

"They felt they'd done the stiff upper lip English guy - that fish-out-of-water thing - and it would be interesting to have an Irish guy there."  

Ardal O'Hanlon as DI Jack Mooney in a scene from Death in Paradise.
Ardal O'Hanlon as DI Jack Mooney in a scene from Death in Paradise. Denis Guyenon

The Father Ted star soon warmed up to the idea of taking over the reins of the popular series, which averaged nine million viewers in the UK last year.  

"It is a proper whodunit and it is a cop show, but it's clearly a lot lighter than a lot of the shows out there," he says.

  "There's no blood and guts. One of the important qualities in the show is the humour and, given my background in sitcom and stand-up, I thought I might be able to bring something to it.  

"I was aware that it's a hugely popular show in the UK and Australia. Audiences are very passionate about it... but the show is about so much more than the lead man. Ultimately it's about the place and the puzzle itself. People like working it out."  

While filming on Mexico's Guadalupe Island, which doubles for the fictional Caribbean Island of Sainte Marie, for five months sounds like a plumb job, it comes with its challenges - about which outgoing star Kris Marshall warned O'Hanlon.   

Ardal O'Hanlon and Josephine Jobert star in season seven of Death in Paradise.
Ardal O'Hanlon and Josephine Jobert star in season seven of Death in Paradise. Denis Guyenon

"As soon as you get off that plane, the heat and humidity hits you. You're just soaking wet for five months and there's really no way to cool down," he says.  

"It was a wonderful change of pace from my daily life. I live in the suburbs of Dublin; we don't go outside for 10 months of the year."  

He describes his character DI Jack Mooney, who opts for a short-sleeve shirt and tie rather than Marshall's iconic linen jacket, as a melancholy soul. Recently widowed, he finds himself alone for the first time when his daughter goes off to university.  

"He's at the bottom of it all. He doesn't know how to look after himself. This new life he has on the island, which he stumbled upon, is the best thing that ever happened to him," he says.  

"He's quite warm and friendly and quite genial with a twinkle in his eye. People will underestimate him and not take him too seriously and that's when he'll nail them."  

Season seven of Death in Paradise premieres on BBC First tomorrow at 7.30pm Qld, 8.30pm NSW.

Topics:  ardal o'hanlon bbc first death in paradise father ted television

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