Kris Marshall reckons that Death in Paradise is just the kind of drama people want to watch during the cold winter months.

The actor reprises his role as bumbling DI Humphrey Goodman as the sun-kissed crime drama – set on the fictional island of Saint-Marie in the Caribbean – returns to BBC1 for its fifth series on Thursday night.

Asked why he thought the show was still popular after five series, Kris told whatsontv.co.uk: “People love a crime genre show, especially one that is a bit tongue-in-cheek, doesn’t take itself overly seriously and is very beautiful looking, people can escape for a while.

“It’s on at a time of year when people are broke and feel a little over-indulged from Christmas and are back at work and maybe not feeling their absolute best. It’s a nice bit of escapism for those cold, dark nights.”

He went on: “There aren’t any other crime dramas like it really. You have your dark shoot-down-a-Danish-alleyway Borgen-type dramas but I think what Death in Paradise does best is it’s a bit of fun; it’s a bit like the old style Columbos’ and Rockford Files. It’s murder with nice hair!”

In the opening episode of the new series, Humphrey buys a boat – is he all set for a life on the ocean wave?

“Humphrey’s eager to spread his wings,” says Kris. “I’ve always said that Humphrey’s a study in loneliness. He’s not maudlin about it but he’s quite a lonely person – he’s a man who lives on his own with a lizard on the beach, as idyllic as it sounds, it’s quite lonely for him.”

Is there a chance romance could be on the cards for Humphrey? “We do have a wedding this series,” teases Kris. “I can’t tell who it is that gets married but romance blossoms in some area or another.”

Death in Paradise returns on Thursday, January 7 at 9pm on BBC1.