Jack Donnelly – best known as heroic Jason in BBC1 fantasy drama Atantis – plays a treasure hunter embroiled in a murder case in Thursday’s Death In Paradise (BBC1).
Here he talks about family secrets, diving for silver and his ‘bromance’ with co-star Lorcan Cranitch…
What can you tell us about the character you play in Death in Paradise?
“I play a guy called Sam Walker, who’s a marine salvage hunter, so he basically dives for treasures that have been lost on ships. He works in partnership with his dad, Tosh Walker, played by Lorcan Cranitch. They have a father-son business where they go around and hunt for buried treasure. But when Tosh is murdered, Sam ends up being a suspect…”
How come? All the evidence suggests that Tosh was killed by a rival treasure hunter called Newton Farrell (Roger Griffiths)…
“It does! There’s a key suspect right there and it seems like a very open-and-shut case. But DI Humphrey Goodman (Kris Marshall) thinks about it a little bit harder and, for him, things don’t add up. It’s all too easy.”
So what do we find out about the relationship between Tosh and those closest to him, including wife Naomi, played by In The Club star Jill Halfpenny?
“You soon find out Tosh wasn’t the nicest guy in the world. He was difficult to work for, he wasn’t a great father, and he was an unsupportive husband. This throws a fresh light on the other people closest to him and whether or not they had a motive to kill.”
Were Sam and Tosh close as father and son?
“There’s always that interesting dynamic between fathers and sons; with the son being in the dad’s shadow and wanting to make him proud. Tosh was a hardened man, who’d go to any lengths to be successful, whereas Sam is more sensitive and not as impulsive. Sam wanted his dad’s respect and wanted him to be proud of him. But it seems that maybe those expectations had put a strain on their relationship.’
The whole idea of digging for treasure is fun. Did you ever fancy going down to the seabed for real to find out what riches might be hidden there?
“Absolutely! I remember one day on set thinking: ‘Ah, I wish I could just go into the sea and do all this for real’ and, as I was thinking it, I looked round and suddenly half the crew had dived into the water. Death in Paradise is one of those jobs where, as soon as there’s a break in filming, everyone’s in the sea. It’s amazing.”
So, did anyone find any treasures down there?
“Nah! I reckon if anyone has found anything, they would have found it about three seasons ago! If you go into the crew’s hotel rooms, it’s just loaded with pirate booty – there’s nothing left for the guest stars!”
Did you get to keep any of the Santa Ana silver coins featured in your episode?
“No, I didn’t get to keep any of the coins and, to be honest, I don’t know how valuable they actually were. They may have looked good on camera but, close up, they may as well have been smashed up bottle caps. If anyone from props reads that they’re gonna hate me!”
You acted opposite Lorcan Cranitch when he played Cilix in Atlantis. Did you enjoy reuniting with him on Death in Paradise?
“Definitely! The bromance that started when we worked together on Atlantis really blossomed on this. We went driving up a mountain, went to see turtles hatch and watched the sunset every night. It was all rather romantic!”
Death in Paradise is a very laid-back drama – how does it compare to being on an action-packed show like Atlantis?
“Ha, ha! Well, in a nutshell, Atlantis was filmed in a Tesco’s warehouse in Chepstow. You’re supposed to be in this wonderful place, and you’re acting like it’s hot the whole time when really you’re freezing. Whereas Death in Paradise is actually filmed IN paradise! Where it really IS sunny and there really ARE clear blue waters – and no one’s running at you with swords!”
You must have been upset when Atlantis got cancelled…
“Yeah, I was disappointed. I thought really good work was done on the show and I was sad mostly because I wouldn’t get to see all those people in that situation again. But it’s one of those things. It happens and, with the way TV’s going now, I think this stuff will happen more and more – but I had a great time doing it and I’ve got really good memories.”