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TV Interview

Danny John-Jules talks 'Death in Paradise', 'Red Dwarf' comparisons

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Danny John-Jules has reprised his role as laid-back police officer Dwayne Myers for the second series of detective drama Death in Paradise.

Digital Spy sat down with John-Jules to discuss the show's reception, its ensemble cast, and its parallels to Red Dwarf.

Danny John-Jules

© BBC Pictures

Death In Paradise: Sara Martins and Ben Miller














Were you happy with the way the first series was received?
"Yes, it was huge, very quickly. It was pretty much on that scale of Red Dwarf really, because on that first series we were these reprobates on a mad roller coaster ride, where it was, 'Yes! My first TV show!' and then, 'Oh, electricians' strike at the BBC, we're not gonna film it'. And then, 'Hey, we've remounted it again', and halfway through the filming of the first series we were recommissioned. It was bizarre. And Death in Paradise was nearly as rapid as that."

What do you think appeals to audiences about Death in Paradise?
"I think Red Dwarf and Death in Paradise are very similar because of the ensemble feel. Even though Ben [Miller] has got a huge amount of work as far as taking the lead, and lots of dialogue, it still has that ensemble feel. Even if you've got three lines, it seems like you've been in the show for the whole episode. That was often the case with the Cat, people would go, 'Hang on, we're 11 minutes in and we haven't seen the Cat yet' - I don't come in until 20 minutes into the first episode. But even if you're seeing a character for 50% of the show or whatever, you don't miss them, because you know the cast is all for one and one for all at the end of the day."

What's coming up in series two?
"More of the same, but I think it's more in-depth, and the characters are more settled and I think we know now when it's working. The characters are bouncing off each other a lot better. You want it always to seem to be moving forward, and that was definitely felt, and I think the audience will get that sense. That's what they're asking for - on social media, now that Red Dwarf is finished, it's, 'When is Death in Paradise coming on?'"

Does Dwayne change much as a character in the new series?
"There's more where he's questioning, and getting stuck into solving cases. He can't take the lead too much because he's the lowest rank on the team - it's a bit like Rimmer. Every time he takes the lead it goes disastrously wrong. Rimmer desperately thinks he's captain material, whereas Dwayne knows he's not captain material, he's not going to try and kid himself that he could actually lead the case and solve the crime on his own.

"Whereas Fidel's [Gary Carr] character is very much, 'I could do this, when am I going to get to lead a case, I want to be a sergeant!' And Dwayne's like, 'Calm down, son. Will you be quiet? You're just gonna get us more work to do!' Fidel's like the Rimmer character, and I'm the Lister character, in Death in Paradise. That's the comparison I could make between the two shows. Fidel and Dwayne are like Rimmer and Lister."

Danny John-Jules

© BBC Pictures

Red Dwarf X: Cat

© Joel Anderson



Do you think there's much crossover between fans of Red Dwarf and fans of Death in Paradise?
"Yes. I always explained the appeal of Red Dwarf as 'people enjoy watching the actors enjoy it'. They actually enjoy the actors enjoying playing those characters, and I think Death in Paradise has a bit of that element. Red Dwarf fans are not the type of people who are gonna watch a show just because I'm in it, or Craig's in it or Chris is in it. They're very critical people, and you know they will be brutal if there's something in our show that they don't like. And so for them to then say 'When's Death in Paradise coming on?' is amazing.

"[Red Dwarf co-creator] Doug Naylor came up to me and said he'd really enjoyed Death in Paradise, and he said, 'Your character was great Dan, it's so different'. And Doug is just, he's sort of… zero tolerance on everything, he'll just come out and be like, 'Nah, it's not funny Dan'. And that's talking about me in his show! We used to laugh at them [Naylor and co-creator Rob Grant] because they would be so blatant. Or they would say, 'It's not working, it's not funny. It's not you guys, it's us this time'. So I know that if he says it he means it. I'm used to being told, 'You're not being funny, Dan. Were you up late last night?'"

Were you consciously looking to play a character who's so different to the Cat?
"Yeah, because Dwayne's not that fast-cracking, joking character - quite the opposite in fact, he's very much laid-back and the comedy comes out of his laziness and lack of enthusiasm for the job - for the fans to like that is a big boost for me. I've been very lucky as far as my characters that have run in tandem with Red Dwarf. It's very easy for your fans to do, 'Oh god, why did you do that?' But I've been lucky.

"The Story Makers, MI High, Maid Marion, all these characters that they've followed and embraced, and now Dwayne. A Dwayne character again! Everybody made [the Duane Dibley] comparison, like, 'Did they write that for you?' Most people think that character was written for me, and I was saying, 'I promise you, it was not!' If it was, I certainly wouldn't have had four auditions!"

Series two of Death in Paradise debuts on January 8 on BBC One.

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