Entertainment: Death in Paradise deserters: Why everyone quit the show

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It's BBC One's warm blanket in winter, a detective series set on the fictional Caribbean island of Saint Marie with weekly murders and a helping of sun to keep you watching.

Death in Paradise has become one of the channel's top performers, pulling in big numbers every year – and in 2021 it celebrated its 10th anniversary.

The series is one of those rare things on TV: a show that has recast its main lead and continued to be a success. And since it began in 2011, the entire cast has changed almost completely. They just keep leaving.

In celebration of its big birthday milestone, a few familiar faces came back for series 10.

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But, with such a revolving door of talent, we've always begged the question of why would anyone want to leave such a seemingly dream job in such a dream location?

Below we look into the reasons why.

1. Ben Miller – DI Richard Poole

Ben Miller in Death in Paradise © BBC Ben Miller in Death in Paradise

Watch Now Death in Paradise seasons 1-8

The comedic actor left the sunny climes of the Caribbean and his role as DI Poole in 2014, when Poole was killed off during the first episode of the third series.

As it turns out, Miller had a very understandable reason for leaving his new hit show – he was about to become a dad and wanted to save his relationship. Quite the double-whammy.

"Two weeks after I arrived in the Caribbean, Jessica found out that she was pregnant," he revealed. "I've just got divorced and I've finally met somebody and now I'm on the other side of the world and we're having a baby. That's a proper curveball to be on the end of. So I knew what I had to do to get my wife back – quit Death in Paradise!"

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Miller didn't rule out a return, though. When asked by Digital Spy in 2016, he commented, "Yeah, of course I would. It would be great fun! I love the character, he's fantastic fun to do. But there's no talk of that whatsoever, to be honest with you. It was pretty final, I thought!"

Clearly, that conversation did end up happening. Despite his character's demise, Miller couldn’t resist being part of the 10th anniversary and bagged himself a series 10 cameo.

2. Gary Carr – Fidel Best

Gary Carr in 'Death in Paradise' © Red Planet Pictures Gary Carr in 'Death in Paradise'

In the series-four opener, DiP fans discovered that Fidel had been promoted and got himself a job on the neighbouring island of St Lucia. No brassy farewell for Best.

Carr hasn't actually gone into detail about his decision to leave the show after three series as the protocol-obsessed Fidel but co-star Kris Marshall wasn't surprised when the actor didn't return for series four. "It wasn't a shock," he told Digital Spy.

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Marshall, who would go on to leave the show in 2017, explained that Carr just wanted to "move on" from the role: "I understand where he is coming from. I was just the same when I was younger. He wants to move on."

The former Downton Abbey actor went on to play pimp CC alongside Maggie Gyllenhaal on HBO's porn drama The Deuce.

3. Sara Martins – DS Camille Bordey

Ben Miller and Sara Martins in Death in Paradise © BBC Ben Miller and Sara Martins in Death in Paradise

Martins bridged the transition between leading men Ben Miller and Kris Marshall as their partner, the spontaneous detective Camille. She left during the fourth series when her character bagged an undercover job in Paris, though the decision was down to her.

The Portuguese actor told What's On TV? that it was "tremendously hard" leaving the show, explaining: "But the only way to grow in life is to take risks, even if it means losing something you love, or leaving a place that's comfortable. You should always go forward and take new challenges."

But we didn't ever rule out a return for DS Bordey – Martins also said: "We wanted to make the best exit, and they didn't want to kill me off, there was no reason to. And who knows? There's always the possibility I can come back."

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Sure enough, it was announced that Martins would be reprising her role in celebration of a decade of Death in Paradise.

"There are some characters that never leave you and I'm still Camille, wherever I go," Sara said once the news was revealed by the BBC. "After many years, people still reference and send their love to me as Camille, so it was obvious that I had to go back and the 10th anniversary is the perfect opportunity! I want to celebrate the longevity of Death in Paradise. It was life changing for me and I'm so grateful to the show. I feel like I'm going back home with new folks and old, to bring more fun and joy."

4. Kris Marshall – DI Humphrey Goodman

Kris Marshall and Sally Bretton in Death in Paradise © BBC/Red Planet/Steffan Hill Kris Marshall and Sally Bretton in Death in Paradise

Kris came in as Ben Miller's replacement at the start of the third series in 2014 and stayed until 2017, when his character exited for love in London.

While it was rumoured heavily that Marshall had left Death in Paradise to become the new Doctor in Doctor Whoor even her new companion – it was actually more down-to-earth reasons that brought an end to his time in the Caribbean.

Speaking to the Radio Times, the actor explained that he and his wife had agreed he could do the show for a "few years" until raising a young family "became impractical" for the couple.

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"It's something my wife and I discussed three or four years ago," Marshall said. "When I was first offered the job, my son was six months old and my wife wasn't working, so it was a very easy decision. We decided I would do Death in Paradise for a few years until it became impractical.

"It was always quite a finite thing. I certainly didn't hide it from anyone I work with. I'm going to miss it terribly. There have already been times when I've thought to myself, 'Have I made the right decision?'"

As always, rumours and speculation of a possible return have plagued the actor ever since.

5. Danny John-Jules – Dwayne Myers

Danny John Jules, Death in Paradise © BBC Danny John Jules, Death in Paradise

When Death in Paradise returned for its eighth series, it was without one of its beloved stars, Danny John-Jules.

Danny, who went on to dazzle on the dancefloor on Strictly Come Dancing, told TV Times: "I left Death in Paradise because I wanted to get back on stage. I needed a bit more razzmatazz in my life, and then along came Strictly!"

His exit from the Caribbean island might not be as conclusive as fans once thought though, as the actor has also revealed that he'd like to do a Dwayne spin-off.

"I have an idea, but I just need to meet up with the producer, Tony Jordan, to touch base and run it past him," he teased.

6. Joséphine Jobert – Florence Cassell

Death in Paradise, Josephine Jobert © Denis Guyenon - BBC Death in Paradise, Josephine Jobert

Jobert, who'd been on the series since 2014, departed Saint Marie midway through series eight.

She said she chose to leave for "personal and professional reasons" but added it was a "tough" decision to make, thanking viewers for all their "love" and "support".

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On screen, Florence decided to leave Saint Marie following the murder of her fiancé Patrice (Leemore Marrett Jr) and a near-death experience of her own.

Joining former DiP cast members Ben Miller and Sara Martins in series 10, Jobert's character is back in paradise.

"She's been through a lot," she recently said of Florence. "She's lost her fiancé... And I was really interested in how she would come back, how is she going to feel... is she going to be okay – I was a bit worried about her, honestly."

Jobert continued: "She's a strong woman. When she gets a call from the commissioner, asking her to come back, I believe she didn't hesitate one second to see the crew again, to see her island, which reminds her of a lot of difficult moments but also lots of wonderful moments she spent with the team. So I was very excited about this and I'm really proud of her."

7. Jack Mooney – Ardal O'Hanlon

Death in Paradise - series 8, DI Jack Mooney (ARDAL O’HANLON), JP (TOBI BAKARE) © BBC/Red Planet Pictures/Denis Guyenon Death in Paradise - series 8, DI Jack Mooney (ARDAL O’HANLON), JP (TOBI BAKARE)

The third British detective to fly in and then out again was Father Ted's Ardal O'Hanlon, who was replaced by Ralf Little.

"I've spent the last four summers in Guadeloupe playing DI Jack Mooney, solving over 20 murder cases in my time there!" he said at the time. "It's been a hugely rewarding and unforgettable experience, working with incredibly talented actors, directors, and crew while discovering a magical part of the world."

DI Jack Mooney's final scenes aired in January 2020. There's no official reason given for his departure, but this comment gives a hint: "It's time to move on and explore other opportunities – preferably nearer the Arctic Circle."

So it turns out maybe it was the weather, after all?

O'Hanlon has scuppered any hopes that Mooney might come back to the island. In an interview with Hello! (via The Sun), where he was asked whether he would consider a return, he said: "I can say definitely not."

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"I really feel a real sense of closure as an actor, but also as a person, a real sense of completion," O'Hanlon added, before noting the "wonderful", "varied" and "incredibly busy" time he'd had on the BBC crime drama.

8. Tobi Bakare – JP Hooper

Tobi Bakare was one of the show's longest-standing cast members, having joined the mystery series in season four and left seven years later.

His character, police sergeant JP Hooper, accepted a new job as the head of the Police Training Programme and left Saint Marie with his young family back in February 2021.

Explaining his exit, the actor revealed he'd known since 2017 that he would leave at the end of season 10 – but insists the show's on-location filming demands isn't the reason for his departure. He instead credits this to a chance experience he had in church while filming on location in Guadeloupe.

"The preacher mentioned seven years in a message," he said at the time of his exit. "As soon as he mentioned seven years, I don't know what happened. It just clicked. It was like a moment of realisation. I had three more years left. It was three more years until it would be seven years, but it just hit me so hard.

"At this time, my wife was in the UK, and I told her that I know when it's going to be time for me to leave the show. But I wanted her to go away, pray about it, and think about it. She'd done so, and called me up the next day, and said, '2020'. So the exact time of the seven years. So we were like, 'Yeah, that's the time.' That's the actual reason."

Death in Paradise airs on BBC One.

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