TV&Satellite Week catches up with ex Death in Paradise star Ben Miller, who plays a whistleblower, Daniel Hern, seeking refuge in a London embassy in a new  BBC comedy, Asylum (BBC4, Monday)…



How would you describe Dan?

“He’s a budget Julian Assange. But while Dan stands for freedom and governmental responsibility, he’s not likeable, doesn’t get on with people and has a high opinion of himself. He’s been in the embassy a year and is trying to raise his profile again because he is old news.”

 

What research did you do?

“I am a fan of Wikileaks so I knew the background story to Assange, but for the character of Dan I was leaning towards Ed Snowden, too. I watched a fantastic interview that he did at a hotel in Moscow.”



How would you cope in that situation?

“I don’t know how Assange does it. Asylum shows how everything about an embassy suggests stateliness and comfort, but you are inches away from arrest. I came to the conclusion that he must nip out at night in disguise.”



Did you film in a real embassy?

“We filmed next to a real embassy in Fitzroy Square in London. Two or three locals looked very puzzled at the fake policeman on the door.”



Did the series make you think about personal freedom?

“Yes, it feels very of the moment. Is the internet going to be a place for governments to keep an eye on us or a playground for ne’er-do-wells? We take freedoms in our society for granted, but there are people being shot for publishing cartoons. It’s an interesting debate.”



Do you still watch Death in Paradise?

“I do, I love it. Kris Marshall is brilliant and the new series has a whole new lease of life because of the romantic dynamic. I miss Guadeloupe where we filmed though.”



Would you like to work with your former comedy partner Alexander Armstrong again?

“I’d love to and I’m sure we will do something. Danny John Jules from Death in Paradise and I went on [Pointless] for Comic Relief and we went out in the first round, not before having been mercilessly teased by Richard, so I don’t think I’d go back again.”



Is it true you were confused with Ben Stiller at Cannes?

“I went there to promote a film, got met at the airport by a limo, was led into a penthouse full of champagne and then I saw an envelope that said, ‘Welcome to the Carlton Hotel Mr Ben Stiller’. So I called all my friends who were in Cannes and got them round. I’ve a horrible feeling Ben was shown my little room with a pull-down camp bed.”



Do you still get people thinking you are Rob Brydon too?

“I long ago stopped correcting them. If someone comes up and congratulates me for one of Rob’s performances, I just say ‘Thanks’. Why burst their bubble?”