HOW MANY SECONDS DID IT TAKE BEFORE SAYING ‘YES’ TO DEATH IN PARADISE?
It was definitely a second... with a split in front of it. Joking aside, the Caribbean is quite a draw. I did think about it quite keenly because I had never joined an existing show before; it was a new experience for me. It was quite a risky one. I don’t mind taking risks, but I didn’t want the BBC to hand me the reins to one of their flagship mid-week shows and turn it from a nearly eight million viewer show into a four million viewer show; that would have been dire, so I did have to think quite hard about it, but at the end of the day, the Caribbean wins through.
HOW HAVE YOU COPED WITH THE HEAT AND INSECT BITES?
Well you just have to manage it and hope for the best. Last year, the problem was dengue fever. This time it was chikungunya; there’s a big outbreak of that in the Caribbean at the moment. We would have at least two people off a week with it. Chikungunya is Tanzanian for ‘The contorted man’; it enflames your joints - the fever goes away after about a week, but up to six months later, you can have these really stiff joints, especially in the morning when you wake up, so we would have some of our crew hobbling around in the morning to shake off the effects, but luckily I dodged that bullet and my wife and son did as well. You just have to manage it really and hope for the best; you’re going to get bitten. Everybody does.
HAVING SPENT HALF HIS LIFE IN GUADELOUPE, IS YOUR SON THOMAS SPEAKING FLUENT FRENCH NOW?
He speaks a bit of French yeah; I speak French as well, but he won’t speak French with me. I go and pick him up from creche sometimes. He’s two-and-a-half so he’s not fluent in English or French, but I hear him speaking French and then I speak French to him and say: ‘You’re speaking French to your teacher, why don’t you speak French to daddy?’ [and he says]: ‘No daddy. English daddy. English.’
DO THE LOCALS KNOW YOU IN GUADELOUPE?
One of the only places I could go in the world where I wouldn’t get recognised was France, and Guadeloupe is French, so that’s all changed now because Death In Paradise is now really quite popular in France as well. When I first went out there , it was lovely because I wasn’t getting recognised for the six months that I was out there - and then this year it completely changed.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE INSTALMENT OF THE NEW SERIES?
Episode five because we just had such a brilliant cast. It was my favourite script as well; we just had great fun with it. And we had such brilliant actors; we had Nick Moran, Neil Morrissey, Sally Phillips, Francis Magee. It was an episode about a band so they were all playing old rockers - faded Nineties rockers; it was a great, fun script.
WATCHING LOVE ACTUALLY IS A CHRISTMAS RITUAL FOR MANY FANS. ARE YOU AMAZED BY ITS POPULARITY?
Yeah, amazing how successful it was. Eleven years ago now... and in America as well, they start bringing it out around Thanksgiving, so they bring it out even earlier than we do. It’s just one of those films that captured the zeitgeist, though I’ve not seen it for years.
YOU PLAY ONE OF THE BEST ROLES - A LOTHARIO SANDWICH DELIVERY GUY
Yeah, he wishes he were a Lothario - he’s a legend in his own lunchtime. The thing with Colin Frissell is he is not going to let reality get in the way of his dream.
I LOVED CULT BBC DRAMA FUNLAND. WHAT’S BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE PROJECT THAT DESERVED A HIGHER PROFILE?
My Life In Film, a show I did for BBC Two with Andrew Scott - long before he was Moriarty [in Sherlock] - many years ago. I thought that was a really fantastic funny, intelligent show. Some stuff you love which doesn’t work; you’re like: ‘Oh well. Never mind. Move on’. But I would have loved that to have done a bit better; it’s quite cult now. I love Funland as well; that was a great, great show to do.
FINALLY, TELL US ABOUT YOUR PENDING MOVIE, SPARKS AND EMBERS...
It’s a two-hander between me and a French actress, Annelise Hesme. It’s a really great script actually; it’s a story about a guy who gets fired from a record company and as he’s leaving, he gets in the lift and the woman who’s just fired him gets in the lift with him, and the lift gets stuck, and they can’t get out. It cuts to five years later, he’s in a bar and she walks up to him and she says: ‘I’m leaving you and moving back to France with someone else.’ So you know they got together and you know obviously they’ve broken up, but you don’t know how or what or who, so the story flashes between the two times: the time in the lift and sort of unpacks the story as you go along, and it’s all linked. It’s an independent film so it’s taken a bit longer than one would have liked to get it all finished, but it’s ready now; out in festivals at the moment.