Tahj Miles is the much celebrated new-face on series 10 of Death In Paradise.
The young TV and theatre actor has been steadily making a name for himself beginning his career in the West End. As a child, he performed in numerous productions including The Lion King and the RSC’s Matilda the Musical before making the move to TV in CBBC’s Class Dismissed. Now as a.young adult Miles has worked with Oscar-winning director, Steve McQueen in Small Axe.
Now Miles joins BBC’s long-running crime series Death in Paradise as 18-year-old petty criminal Marlon Pryce, a ball of energy who thinks he knows it all. But when he runs into Sergeant JP Hooper (Tobi Bakare), his life takes an unexpected turn and he finds himself looking at a very different future to the one he expected.
We spoke to him about his new role, filming in paradise and his career so far …
Please introduce yourself…
I’m Tahj Miles, British born actor and writer of Caribbean – Jamaican, Dominican and St Lucian descent.
What word or sentence best describes your life right now?
I would say, “It is what it is“. I’m taking each day as it comes, I’m lucky to be working during a pandemic but I know things can change at any moment so I’m just living and enjoying when I can.
So the latest series of Death in Paradise marks its 10th anniversary and you are among some amazing people cast for the show how has the experience been for you not only filming with some of the best British actors but also filming on the beautiful island of Guadeloupe?
Filming the 10th series was a surreal experience for me, the biggest role of my career so far, in a country I’ve never been to before, working with actors I admire and respect. It honestly is the best job on earth. You’re on set with an amazing group of people having fun and creating brilliant work on screen, then once that’s all over you go back to your villa and jump in your pool or you go for a dip in the sea.
Can you tell us about your character Marlon Pryce?
Marlon is a street hustler who lives by his own set of rules, which are not set in stone. He’s been caught many times by JP and always manages to charm his way out of his cell, but when we meet him in episode 2 his luck has run out. He’s offered an opportunity to avoid prison time, but the catch is he has to become a police officer. Marlon agrees, but his lack of seriousness and maturity make it difficult for him to get the job done. He’s a very fun carefree young man who just wants to enjoy himself, and he brings that energy to the job.
So Marlon goes from a petty criminal to being mentored by D.S. JP Cooper played by Tobi Bakare – how was it working alongside Tobi, did he take you under his wing as his character does yours?
Tobi is an absolute legend. He taught one of my classes at drama school (Identity), so we were already acquaintances before we worked together. It being my first year and Tobi’s seventh, he really took me under his wing and not only showed me the ropes on set but also took me around the island and showed me where all the best spots are to eat, swim etc.
With all the plot twists and the who-done-its in the show do you get to read the whole script or do you have to wait to find out at the end who commits the murders?
We get the full script so we already know who the killer is before we shoot the episode, however sometimes I don’t read the final scene and leave it as a surprise.
You played Kendrick Manning in Mangrove part of the Small Axe series how did it feel to be a part of a body of work that has been and will be a significant part of telling the story of British Black Culture?
Filming Mangrove/Small Axe was one of the best experiences of my life. I’d heard about the Mangrove Nine before I booked the role but I was still very uninformed. So to be learning about their story whilst also reliving it on set every day was a great experience, the thought of watching real-life events actually being recreated 30/40 years later. Mangrove is really special to me because my grandad used to go to the restaurant when it was open. I do what I do to make my family proud, so to be a part of a project that tells a story that he experienced himself and to also play a character he could relate to was a really special moment for us all.
You are in the infancy of your career your first role was in the CBBC mockumentary Class Dismissed which led you onto Flunked on BBC iPlayer. You then went onto Mangrove and now Death In Paradise, is it safe to say that the BBC is very supportive of your career, or is it just sheer luck?
My acting career actually started when I was 8 years old, I worked in the west end theatre for a long time as a child actor before I did any TV. I’ve auditioned for lots of networks; Netflix, Sky, HBO, and many more, it’s just a coincidence that I book the BBC jobs, I don’t know if that’s on purpose or luck but I’m grateful regardless.
How was it filming during lockdown did you experience any of the restrictions we have here?
There were guidelines we had to follow in Guadeloupe, but it didn’t affect the filming process that much. The hardest thing was probably keeping 2 metres distance when we were shooting as it can really affect your performance, but it didn’t take us long to adapt to it. The guidelines for socialising were much less strict than they are in London, mainly because of the difference in active case numbers. So coming back home from the sunny Caribbean straight into a full lockdown in cold London wasn’t great at first and it took me time to readjust. But at the end of the day, I was really happy to be back home with my family, and that’s all that mattered.
Do you have anything coming up in the next year we should be looking out for?
Away from acting, I have started a podcast called The Table Read where I speak to upcoming and established actors and creatives. I post all episodes on Spotify and my YouTube channel Dinero Visuals.
GETTING TO KNOW YOU…
- A book you have to have in your collection? – Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
- A song/album that you listened to while on location in Guadeloupe? – Take Time by Giveon
- A film/TV show that you have watched/can watch repeatedly? – The Pursuit of Happyness
- If you could only choose 1 actors catalogue of work to watch for the rest of your life whose would it be? Will Smith What’s made you sad, mad and glad this week? – Sad – watched the film Soul for the first time, I cried a little I’ll be honest. Mad – Man United drew with Everton. Glad – I finally finished a script I’ve been writing for 6 months.
Death In Paradise is available to stream on BBC iPlayer