Emmerdale star Jason Merrells talks to What’s on TV about his guest turn in Death in Paradise, and why he doesn’t mind being branded a telly baddie!
Does Death in Paradise seem like the best job in television?
“It certainly does! It was a very easy job to say yes to. I’d only finished Emmerdale a couple of weeks beforehand, so it couldn’t have come at a better time, really. The Death in Paradise producers I talked to tell me most people say yes when they’re asked to be on the show! It’s quite a nice experience doing Miss Marple in the Caribbean.”
Was it stressful going straight from your high-octane exit in Emmerdale to a completely different production far from home?
“No, because of the nature of the show, it was fine. Inevitably on Death in Paradise I had a few days not working, which gave me downtime to explore the beautiful island of Guadeloupe. So, I’d a few days off to swim, surf and mooch. I welcomed it after the intense Emmerdale schedule, playing baddie Declan Macey!”
Despite the sun, sea and sand, were there any challenges during the filming of Death in Paradise?
“We had one hairy night’s filming! Because our storyline involved a trekking-boot camp scenario we had a scene that involved pulling one of the characters out of a gorge. We were filming during rainy season, but on that particular night it wasn’t raining… typical! So it was quite tough at 3 o’clock in the morning, on a slope in the middle of a rainforest, under a rain machine – even though we were in paradise!”
What can you tell us about your Death in Paradise character, Stuart Howe, and the murder case he’s involved in?
“I play travel company executive Stuart. Kaye Wragg (No Angels) plays my wife Izzy, and Michelle Collins (EastEnders, Coronation Street) plays the company’s CEO, Annette Burgess. Annette also happens to be Izzy’s sister and Stuart’s sister-in-law. We’re all on a team building exercise in the Caribbean to test out a new trekking product when Michelle’s character Annette gets bumped off!”
Is Stuart among the murder suspects?
“Yes, Stuart’s motivations for murder come out of the woodwork thick and fast! It emerges his successful idea was given to company newcomer Dominic, (Matthew Lewis, better known as Harry Potter’s Neville Longbottom). But everyone who worked for Annette have reasons to kill her!”
After Declan Macey’s violent rampage in your Emmerdale exit last year, your fictional body count must be rising?
“My fictional body count went up so much after my time in the Dales. And who knows, there could be one more now after Death in Paradise! It’s always interesting to play someone with few redeeming features, as they often carry the twists and turns of the plot.”
The Emmerdale door has been left open. Would you consider a return to the Dales?
“They have left it open, but it’s not something I’m planning, as I’m currently in the process of finishing a novel. And I think Declan would have to do at least nine years in prison before I could ever return to Emmerdale!”
Catch Jason Merrells, Michelle Collins, Kaye Wragg and Matthew Lewis in Death in Paradise’s penultimate episode of the current series on BBC1, Thursday, 19 February at 9pm.