BBC's Death In Paradise unveils new lead detective as EastEnders star takes over from Ralf Little

Don Gilet is the new lead detective of the hit BBC show Death In Paradise
Don Gilet is the new lead detective of the hit BBC show Death In Paradise -Credit:PA Archive/PA Images

EastEnders' Don Gilet has been unveiled as the new lead detective on BBC's Death In Paradise, taking over the investigative reins as DI Mervin Wilson.

Gilet, famed for his portrayal of the notorious Lucas Johnson in EastEnders, is set to leave the streets of London for the sun-soaked shores of Saint Marie, albeit with a character who isn't too thrilled about his new posting. Ralf Little, known for his roles in Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps and The Royle Family, passes the baton to Gilet after his own successful stint on the show.

On landing the coveted role, Gilet expressed his excitement: "Being offered the new lead role in Death In Paradise feels like a deeply loved and incredibly precious jewel has been placed in my hands." He continued, acknowledging the show's enduring popularity: "This is a big show, with a big heart and the love continually grows for it. It is my intention to never lose sight of that and to remain grateful, humbled and dedicated."

Gilet humorously added a caveat to his dedication: "Even during those testing times when every sinew is screaming at me to run off the set and dive into the sea, swimming pool or an ice-cold beer whichever happens to be closer at the time." The actor's impressive resume includes credits in Holby City, Silent Witness, Doctor Who, Shetland, and The Stranger.

Ralf Little extended his congratulations to Gilet via Instagram, wishing him the "most magical experience" and expressing confidence in Gilet's upcoming performance: "I wish you the best of luck. I'm absolutely sure you're going to be magnificent." Gilet made a cameo in series four of Death In Paradise, featuring in the episode Stab In The Dark as Andre Morgan when Kris Marshall was playing the role of DI Humphrey Goodman, the chief investigator on the island.

Currently, Gilet is filming in Guadeloupe and is set to appear in a special feature-length Christmas episode later this year, followed by the 14th series in 2025. Tim Key, Red Planet Pictures executive producer, expressed delight at Gilet's addition to the cast: "Don is an amazing actor and we're delighted that he's joining us as the show enters another exciting new era."

"We've got huge plans for the new series and beyond, and I can't wait for the audience to meet Mervin and to see what we've got in store." The role of lead DI has been previously played by well-known actors including Father Ted star Ardal O'Hanlon and Bridgerton's Ben Miller.

Lauding Gilets onboarding, Lindsay Salt, director of BBC Drama, expressed: "We could not be happier to welcome Don to the series. Already known to BBC viewers from the likes of Sherwood, EastEnders and Doctor Who, he's long been one of the UK's most exciting actors. Death In Paradise is in brilliant hands roll on Christmas."

In related news, an Australian spin-off, titled Return To Paradise, has been commissioned by the BBC, and Beyond Paradise, featuring Marshall reprising his role as DI Goodman in the UK, has been renewed for a third season.