Series ten sees the return of D.S. Florence Cassell played by Josephine Jobert in Death in Paradise.
How was it returning to the show, especially for its tenth anniversary series?
It was surprising, I never expected to come back to the show but I had a year off and I’m so happy to be here on the island, see the crew again and to be reintroduced to my character. Florence has been through a lot and I’m very excited! It’s been a big surprise for me, 2020 has been so unexpected so I’m glad to be back in the series and especially series ten. It’s been ten years, that’s incredible for a series like this. It’s a blessing so I’m really happy to be back.
What can we expect to see from Florence in this series?
As you know, Florence has been through a very difficult time in her life. She lost her fiancé in a terrible accident and that’s why she left the island and that’s why I left in series eight. So she’s back, she’s still sad and weak in a way because that terrible drama that happened, you can’t just forget it and move on quickly. She’s a strong woman so when Selwyn asks her to come back, obviously she says yes because she loves her job and colleagues. Through the series we see how hard it still is for her to live with the pain, we will see how strong she is. She is still a woman and has feelings, she is trying really hard to move on. It’s a part of my character that we’ll see more of this year, not really her weakness but the fact that she’s not just a D.S. but she’s a human with feelings and she struggles.
Have you missed being part of the police team during time away? For sure. It was a very tough decision for her to leave the island, but she had to because everything on the island reminded her of Patrice. She had to make a choice and decided to leave and take time off. It was a difficult decision for her to make because she loves her job and she is good at it, but that’s why she came back. Even though she’s still sad, it’s because she loves her job so much.
A lot has changed since Florence left the island, including the Detective Inspector. What does Florence think of D.I. Neville Parker when she first arrives?
She has worked with a lot of crazy, weird detectives so I guess she’s used to it! They’re all weird in their own way but this one is particularly special. He’s scared of everything, he’s never been swimming, he’s scared of mosquitos, being sick, people even! They’re so different but he’s a good detective and she knows that but episode after episode they’ll get to know each other a bit more and she will see different sides of him. They get along well together.
JP has been promoted to Sergeant whilst Florence has been away. How does she react, do they pick up where they left off?
JP and Florence have always had a good relationship so the fact he’s been promoted is pretty normal, he does a good job and is an amazing officer so she’s really happy to see him again. I guess for her it was just the next step for JP to be promoted.
What can you tell us about some of the cases that the team are faced with?
I really like the cases which go through two episodes. There is one of these through this series – episodes five and six which I particularly like. Every case is complicated and surprising, but I like this one because we see new characters. You think we’ve found a solution but something new happens and then we have to go in another direction.
What was it like working with Ralf Little for the first time and working once again with Don and Elizabeth?
Elizabeth is a Queen and Don is a legend. Elizabeth is French so we have a lot of things to talk about, it’s always reassuring to have someone who speaks French and who is a woman. We’ve been working together for a long time and she’s just the sweetest person on earth, funny and elegant, I love her. Don, we call him ‘The Don’ because there is nobody like him. He’s a legend, so calm and professional and his character is hilarious. He’s not supposed to be, but the way he plays it is just perfect. I really appreciate Don, I have so much respect for him. Working with Ralf was new for me, we got along well together. He’s a very intelligent man, he speaks very well. He speaks brilliant French, I was so amazed! He said he learnt it during lockdown, it was really good. He plays his character very well, it’s a pleasure to work with the cast and I can’t complain!
You’ve now worked with three out of the four detectives in the series! What is your favourite thing about working with each of them?
Kris Marshall was my first partner in the series so he’s very special to me because he helped me a lot, he was there for me when I was struggling and a bit scared and he was so nice with me on set and so funny. His French was pretty amazing too. That’s why Kris is special in my heart because he was the first. Ardal is a dream. I really miss him. He’s a father and really calm and quiet and always so nice, gentle and polite. Ralf is a bit different, a bit younger and they are all so funny in their own kind of way. It’s nice to work with different people like this. I learn a lot.
How did you find it working under the current Covid guidelines and measures put in place throughout production?
I feel blessed and so lucky to be able to work, first of all. It’s incredible. It’s weird because we have very strict rules we have to follow on set, we wear masks and get tested approximately every two weeks. We have a Covid supervisor which we’ve never had before, who was watching we weren’t too close in our scenes or touching. At the beginning it was weird because we’re not used to it, but it’s like everything, you get used to it and learn to work with it and we never complain because I know we have to do this to be able to work. We’re so lucky to be able to work so, if we have to do this, it’s easy to do it and not complain and just enjoy our time here.
Do you have a favourite memory from your time as a whole on Death in Paradise?
Apart from the fact that I really enjoy being on set and working and filming, during the weekends we have the opportunity to travel round the island and see beautiful things. I’ve done a lot of things so it’s difficult to pick one. I’ve seen so many beautiful waterfalls and been on so many different islands and this year I’ve made so many friends, wonderful people from props, costume, make up and we get on well together. We do brunches, we go shopping and I think being away from home for so long on a small island with a time difference, it’s important to find people on the island you can rely on and speak to and have a good time with. My favourite memories would probably all be the moments I’ve had with the crew, during weekends and at nights. It’s difficult to pick one as we’ve been through a lot in six years.
Do you have a favourite guest actor who you’ve worked with on your time on Death in Paradise?
I’ve worked with so many and there’s four to six guest actors per episode. The funny thing is there’s apparently very famous UK actors that come on set but I don’t always know who they are! So I have that relationship with them where I don’t see them as famous, I just see them as human. It’s always so funny as everyone is so surprised when I don’t know them. They’re all so happy to come and film on the island and spend two weeks with us. When they arrive there’s always good vibes, smiling, they’re happy to be on the island and I think the casting is so well done. They fit so well into their characters and they’re so professional, so it’s impossible for me to pick one, I’m always so impressed with their performance. I’ve never had a bad experience with the guest cast.
Do you have any favourite moments from in between takes on set? Any funny stories that you can share with us?
All the time. For example, at the police station, I like to bring my speaker so we listen to music in-between takes and we dance and people sing and it brings a good vibe. The police station isn’t always easy, it’s usually long and there’s a lot of information and very hot. So I think putting some music on helps people go through the day easier. Tobi’s really funny, he always jokes around, sings and dances. The stories are much crazier outside the show than in the show, if only people knew what happens in between takes and during the weekends! They would never believe it, but in a good way!
Why do you think Death in Paradise has been able to continue over ten series and maintain huge ratings globally?
First of all, because it’s a good show. People get used to it and year after year, it’s like a rendezvous. We have beautiful scenery, it’s a beautiful island. So, people in the UK in the winter can travel and escape the bad weather when they watch Death in Paradise. The cases are always impossible to find the killer, even when I read the script, I can’t say who did it. Some people say, ‘I knew’ but no, it’s impossible. You guessed, you were lucky – it’s impossible for you to know who did it. There’s always new actors and characters so it’s impossible to get bored added to the fact that the detective has changed. To me, it’s not a bad thing because there is always something new and it gives a new energy to the show. It’s funny, it’s pretty and it’s a good show and that’s why it works so well.
Catch up on iPlayer series 10 is on BBC One at 9pm on Thursdays.