January 12, 2020

COMFORT FOOD:

The weird phenomenon of Death in Paradise: One writer's mid-life crisis pipe-dream has birthed that rarest of things: the unkillable franchise (Ed Power, 1/12/20, The Independent)

The puzzle of Death in Paradise's appeal is, in fact, easily cracked. For all its impressive body-count, Thorogood's romp harks back to breezier and more innocent times. Each week a fresh crime is committed on Saint Marie, a fictional setting loosely based on the French-governed archipelago of Guadeloupe (where Death in Paradise is filmed).  

Enter Detective Inspector Mooney, that rare modern TV detective whose personal life is not a distracting mess. As with his two predecessors on the show - played in chronological order by Ben Miller and Kris Marshall - he disentangles the mystery, the killer is unmasked. All before the news and bedtime.  

To say I'm an obsessive Death in Paradise fan would be an exaggeration. I did not spend December counting down to the latest series. Nor did the revelation that Ardal O'Hanlon is moving on after three years - apparently the relentlessly sunny weather is too much - send me to the internet to vent my outrage. The news that he is to be replaced by Royal Family star Ralf Little wasn't a topic of conversation with my friends in the pub over Christmas. There is no Death in Paradise expanded universe to become immersed in. Once done, each episode immediately erases itself from your memory. 

But if it's on and I'm not doing anything else - such as meaningfully engaging my brain - then, sure, I'll watch. Such, I suspect, is the general feeling among its regular viewers. They, like me, may enjoy being reminded of such uncomplicated treats of yesteryear as Bergerac, Lovejoy or Murder, She Wrote​. The world is angry and frightening, full of people shouting at one another on Twitter. Death in Paradise presents an irresistible weekly escape hatch. 

It has a charming backstory too. In the mid-Noughties, Thorogood was nearing 40 - a struggling writer beginning to suspect he was wasting his life. His wife, a broadcast journalist with Classic FM, was supporting the family. His days were spent knocking around in his pyjamas writing scripts he knew would never amount to anything. 

Then, one morning in 2007, he happened to switch the radio on and hear a news report about the suspicious death of Pakistan cricket coach Bob Woolmer at the Cricket World Cup in Jamaica. The detail that intrigued him was that local police had brought in detectives from Scotland Yard to help with the murder investigation (it was never proved conclusively whether or not Woolmer was the victim of a crime). In his bedroom office, where he was wrapped in his dressing gown and feeling slightly sorry for himself, a light-bulb went off.  

"I imagined an uptight and by-the-book London copper trying to solve a murder in the sweltering heat of the Tropics. There was a series in this. I was sure of it," Thorogood later told the BBC. 



Posted by at January 12, 2020 12:00 AM

  

« DOMINION IMPOSES RESPONSIBILITY: | Main | THANKS, UR!: »