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TV Interview

'Death in Paradise' Sara Martins interview: 'Ben Miller is my hero'

By
Sara Martins

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A rather unusual new cop show kicks off on BBC One this week - Death in Paradise finds stuffy British policeman Richard Poole (Ben Miller) transported to the sunny climes of the Caribbean, where he is partnered with the sultry Camille (French actress Sara Martins) and must learn a new way of working.

Digital Spy caught up with Sara to chat about her UK television debut, working with the multi-talented Mr. Miller and how filming Death in Paradise left her walking around on crutches!

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What can you reveal about your character in Death in Paradise?
"My character is named Camille Bordey - which is a very French name! Her mum is French and she's been living in Paris. She's a young woman with a strong sense of justice, and she likes to be out in the field, which is why she chose to be an undercover cop - as you learn in the first episode.

"She's very spontaneous, enthusiastic and she's very happy working in the Caribbean, which is a different way of working as a cop [as opposed to] working in Europe. She really likes people and she's good at relationships, like reading into people's way of being."

And what is her relationship like with Richard Poole (Ben Miller)?
"Well, at first, it's of course a relationship with some sparks, because she has to deal with someone so different from her - in the way of working and even in the way of dealing with people.

"He's not very interested in people and he seems like he has no empathy. But he's really brilliant, so she has to admit that he's a good cop too. So that's the strange thing about this couple - they're so different, but they make the perfect team!"

They're a perfect working duo, but is there any potential for romance between them?
"Yes, it could be! Some of the best cops who are so different [from each other] can find in each other what they don't have themselves, and why not [a romance]? But they have a long way to [go to get to] that!"

How was it for you working with Ben Miller?
"It was easier than the relationship that Camille and Richard Poole have! Working with Ben is so easy, because he is not at all cold, like his character can be. He's very funny of course, but he's also such a great partner because he's not just an actor - he's a producer and he's a director.

"So when he's working, he knows everything! He's my hero! For me it was great, because I've never dealt with comedy before, so on that, I just had to lean on him and follow him, and that was easy."

So what was it that attracted you to Death in Paradise?
"Five months in the Caribbean! No, no, not only that of course! The scripts were also really good, and like I always say, we've seen so many cop series. This one is not about the expert cops, running after the bad guys and dealing with DNA and stuff like that.

"It's the Caribbean, so they have to work in an old-fashioned way. It's very much about the power of the deduction. Also, it's a brilliant cop series, but it's not only about that. It's of course about the character Richard being a fish out of water, so that was the big deal of it [for me]."

Death In Paradise: Sara Martins and Ben Miller
You also injured yourself while filming the series…
"Yes! I'm so ashamed of that! On the episode, there was a stunt we had to do where we were running and jumping onto a boat. At first, they said that Gary Carr - who's playing Fidel - had to do it, and I was envious of him for that. Then they decided that I would do it, and I was happy, and then they went back to him doing it - it was like a little war!

"But I said, 'No, I want to do that, let me to do it, I'm so good at doing this stuff, I want to do the stunt!' - I just had to run, and I was so good that I fell and broke my Achilles tendon! So then of course it was more complicated for the director - how can you film if your actress is not moving? It was a difficult situation."

Were you banned from performing your own stunts after that?
"Well, I couldn't - I had my crutches! But I really hope that it will not be a problem for me, and that [in the future] they will trust me in doing some stunts. I really hope!"

Most of your past work has been in French television, so how does working on a British show differ?
"Well, when you're filming, it's the same - you have to learn your lines and do the stuff you're supposed to do. But, like everyone says, the British are really hard-workers - I've learned that. The only thing I'm not used to is, in France, you never say 'Action' if you don't have all the scripts.

"With British TV, the scripts are coming quite slowly sometimes, so it was quite difficult for me to learn the text in another language. It takes me more time. But after that, it's just the same. You're working for television, so you're working in a rush. You do the job properly, but you're running against the time, always."

Would you like to work more in British television in the future?
"I've proved to myself that I was able to, so of course, why not? This show was an opportunity and a big challenge, because before that, I knew I could speak English. But working in English, I hadn't done. Now that I know that I can do it - as long as they don't ask me to lose my French accent - then yes, of course!"

And would you be interested in a second series of Death in Paradise?
"Oh yes, of course, of course! The thing is, I realised how French I was doing that [show] and all the stuff we French are always criticised about, when you work somewhere else, you finally discover that it's a [good] quality! So it was really a great experience."

Death in Paradise begins on Tuesday at 9pm on BBC One.

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