Beyond Paradise episode 4 spoilers follow.
Archie (Jamie Bamber) threw all his cards on the table in this week's episode of Beyond Paradise when he attempted to kiss Martha (Sally Bretton).
For his efforts he received a very firm slap. However, despite the eventual clear message from Martha – which reads 'back off, I'm taken' – fans have every reason to be concerned about hers and Humphrey's relationship.
At least according to Bamber. The actor behind the advancing lips revealed Humphrey (Kris Marshall) should watch his back.
When asked, during an exclusive interview with Digital Spy, how worried the eccentric detective needs to be about his fiance's ex-fiancé, Bamber said: "Very. Very, very." That's three "very's" folks, which spells a tripling-down of trouble.
Beyond Paradise may have been billed as Humphrey and Martha's happily ever after but they may need to review their definition of paradise because this ain't it. Rocked by their miscarriage and growing ever the more distant by their differing visions of their future together, things aren't looking so rosy for the pair and evidently Archie means to capitalise on that.
"[Archie] genuinely thinks the only mistake he's ever made in his life was letting that relationship [with Martha] end," explains Bamber. "She ended it, but he allowed that to happen in his mind. Archie is not someone who thinks of himself as reactive in life – he's someone who creates his life every day. The fact that that relationship was allowed to end, even though that was her decision, he regrets, and he regrets it as soon as he sees her."
While the gulf between Martha and Humphrey has been growing episode by episode, she and Archie have been enjoying an innocent bond. At least it's been innocent on her side (on the surface).
Whether out of impulse owing to a rush of affection towards Martha, or calculated, one thing's for sure, Archie meant to test the waters of their rekindled relationship. Opening up about what that kiss meant, Bamber cheekily states: "[Humphrey and Martha] are not married. They have no family. They are not going great. He can see that this relationship is going through some tricky moments. I don't think he's doing anything wrong. Certainly that's the way I played it."
Pah, we beg to differ.
Bamber added: "He's not getting younger. She's not getting younger. It's now or never. This is his moment. He misreads the tea leaves, but he can't be blamed for that – I hope. That was the key to that scene, when he tries to kiss her, he genuinely should have signalled that he misreads. And that's no crime."
The signals Bamber refers to have been building over the episode, at least in his mind. Most notably when Martha has a crisis of confidence over the imminent arrival of a food critic to her, sorry their, new café.
We probed deeper trying to find out what the subtext behind that moment was in which Archie comforts her, to which Bamber playfully replied: "What do you think?"
Our consensus was that Archie is just trying to communicate his feelings for Martha and his care. Whether or not he thought she felt the same at that moment. He was testing the grounds.
"Essentially – you're dead on," Bamber confirms. "What he says is: 'Be yourself. Don't try to be something you're not. Cook what comes naturally.' She's basically asking him: 'Is this menu fancy enough? Am I attractive enough?' And he says: 'Yes.' So that's the subtext and there's a deeper subtext, which is: 'Who are you really, Martha? I've known you since we were kids. I know you better than anyone.' Which he does."
This human-sized wedge between Martha and Humphrey may be grating on the nerves of those who have been shipping the pair since their Death in Paradise days. However, if you've secretly been finding him somewhat charming don't feel too guilty. It turns out, we're not actually supposed to hate him.
When creating the character, Bamber engaged in a series of conversations with the creators which he divulged with Bretton.
"I shared with her that I was having a talk with the writers and producers: 'Should we like Archie? Or is he a baddie? Is he a smarmy cheese ball? Is he Hugh Grant in Bridget Jones? Or is he a viable alternative? Do we want to think, actually, that there genuinely is something she can benefit from in a relationship with Archie?'"
Could there be a love interest outside of the idiosyncratic Humphrey? A path untaken? Brace yourselves, the answer may be difficult to swallow.
"The producers were quite specific with me. They said: 'No, we don't want to hate him. We want to like him.' So I shared my conversation with the producers with Sally, just so that she was aware of the different options I had as an actor, and the one that we were going for and I thought that was quite important.
"I just wanted her to know that this guy is not a bad guy. He's someone that genuinely cares for her, and has cared for her in the past. The show is about those two [Humphrey and Martha]. Everyone is going to love those two."
"My challenge was to propose a viable alternative – a threat to those two – whilst also hopefully being someone that the audience kind of understands, and enjoys watching him trying to navigate his way."
So if he's a viable option that implies that all important non-kiss may soon materialise into an actual full on snog. As Martha perhaps begins to wrestle with reemerging feelings for her ex while simultaneously questioning her and Humphrey's relationship, a connection between her and Archie could become palpable.
It's not too wild a thought. Even her own mother has begun to suspect that her daughter is falling for Archie all over again and it's no secret she's not totally enamoured with Martha's current beau.
Up until now Archie has been a little bit of a pest but it's possible there could be a genuine competition heating up.
"[Archie is] different from Humphrey. He's confident. He's got means. He's got options. The world's at his feet and Humphrey is more eccentric. He's lovable in the sense that he wears his vulnerabilities on his sleeve – and Archie doesn't. Archie's vulnerability is his invulnerability, weirdly. His overconfidence is kind of his Achilles' heel, whereas Humphrey is a lot more open about the things that challenge him."
The polar opposite to Humphrey, Archie could provide Martha a bit of reprieve from the strain and heartache that has been weighing down her current relationship. The very lightness and excitement she's no doubt in need of.
There's a proper love triangle beginning to take shape here and if Bamber is right about Archie's intentions and the strength of his feelings for Martha, Humphrey had better be on guard.
Beyond Paradise continues Fridays at 8pm on BBC One, and is available on BBC iPlayer.
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