There are certain genres of television that generate a disproportionate amount of snobbery from certain quarters. The most obvious victims are reality shows, cosy Sunday night dramas and those documentaries about people with horrific medical conditions that some bright spark has condensed down to a snappy title that invites us all to gawp. Truth be told, I do avoid this latter category because I am never convinced that the people taking part are treated much better than an exhibit in a freak show.

There is another category that generates snobbery, one where such feelings are unjustified and the result of what happens when viewers of BBC4 accidentally find themselves on BBC1, or even more horrifically, ITV. It is the genre of ‘cosy crime’. The victim is some rotter either sexually or financially, killed in an esoteric manner and the motive is something buried in the past.  Midsomer Murders long seemed to be ruling this genre unchallenged until the BBC commissioned Death in Paradise. Set on a fictional Caribbean island, the premise is that a fish-out-of-water English detective winds up there, usually to begin with to solve the murder of his predecessor, aided by the local police force.

Every episode follows a set pattern. Someone is killed (not always the generic rotter we see in other series of this type) and roughly four or five suspects are in the same. The crime is solved when either one of the police officers or another sub-character makes a chance remark which leads the detective to a revelation. Everyone is gathered together and the suspect with the strongest alibi or weakest motive is revealed to be the killer. Essentially, the show asks nothing of the audience except to play along, so we expect nothing except a story worthwhile following. Hence why it so popular with millions, whilst mocked by those who have been spoilt by the influx of Nordic noir dramas.

However, there are murmurings of discontent with this latest series. Ben Miller, the original star, decided to quit at the end of series 2, and has been replaced by Kris Marshall. In order to demonstrate just how different the characters are, the team have replaced Miller’s suit-wearing, tea-drinking, borderline-OCD DI with Marshall’s clumsy, messy and easy-going persona. Personally, I am untroubled by this, yet many seem unimpressed with the change. Maybe it is a genuine love for Miller, or maybe it is just that Marshall was so annoying in the BT ads he did for years on end the public just cannot forgive him. The only thing I find concerning is that he has barely aged in the 20 years since he was in My Family. Seriously, gents, we need to be asking him what his skincare  routine is!

Death In Paradise is never going to stretch us intellectually. It is a daft, enjoyable ride that makes the grim winter outside. I know that ‘real TV’ lovers are supposed to obsess over gritty streets, violent kills and subtitles, but really, what’s wrong with sunshine, sand and sea with our murder? We can face reality whenever we want. Let’s have an hour where we can bask in a bit of cosy death.

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