TBB Talks To… Shantol Jackson & Joséphine Jobert Stars Of BBC’s Death In Paradise

Death In Paradise is a crime drama television series filmed on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe.

Set on the island of Saint-Marie where the lead Detective Inspector and his team solves the case using a series of clues that lead to a lightbulb moment revealing the killer.

The series which has been running for over 10 years and is currently in its 11th series is a hit with audiences with season 12 already commissioned.

We spoke to Shantol Jackson who joins as brand new police recruit Sergeant Naomi Thomas and Joséphine Jobert who reprises her role as DS Florence Cassell.

Both: Please introduce yourself…

SJ: Waa gwaan Blacklist! My name is Shantol Jackson and I’m the newest recruit to the BBC series Death In Paradise.

JJ: Hello, I am Joséphine Jobert. I am a French actress who notably plays the main female
character in the BBC series Death in Paradise.

Both: What word or sentence best describes your life right now?

SJ: Exhilarating!

JJ: Not easy to give a short answer! I would say “renewal” and also trying to keep my ‘Joie de Vivre despite the crazy and sometimes nonsense and insane period we are going through. Enjoy the good, simple moments in life. To create and to go get what you want without being afraid. Hope and Love.

Josephine Jobert & Ralf Little – Image Credit: BBC

Josephine: Death In Paradise is now in its 11th series, and you are among the amazing 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?

It’s funny because, since I live in France, I don’t always know the English actors who are famous in England. Sometimes the English team are super excited when certain people arrive on set when I am a bit lost. Sometimes I prefer it that way because I have certain expectations. I meet the person and not the famous actor. Although fundamentally it wouldn’t change the way I would behave with them, obviously.

It’s great to play with so many different actors. They are all very talented and nice. It is also a pleasure to tell them about the island, to advise them on what to do and see. We always have a good time. And to speak of Guadeloupe, I believe that the images speak for themselves. It is a very beautiful island and we are privileged to be able to enjoy it in our free time.

Shantol: You have already worked on a British production, you starred as Yvonne in the Idris Elba-directed 2018 crime drama Yardie, what did you take away from that experience and how has it helped prepare you for working on this, another British led production?

My biggest lesson from doing Yardie was “learning to be comfortable while being vulnerable.”

Yardie allowed me to see and experience working on a production set in the UK. I was exposed to that pace and culture, and so coming into Death In Paradise I could quickly jump in and adjust to the pace of the production.

Joséphine Jobert: 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?

Yes, of course, we get the full scripts, but when I read them for the first time, I don’t even try to guess who did it and even less how and why they did it. I don’t even think about it because I never find it anyway!! I prefer to be surprised at the end.

Shantol: Can you tell us about your character Sergeant Naomi Thomas?

Naomi is a young, driven, ambitious Sergeant who was transferred to Saint Marie to fill her very first Sergeant post. She’s from the tiniest island in the Caribbean that has experienced little to no crime, so as it relates to solving murders, she has zero experience. She is however determined to learn and prove herself as a worthy member of the team.

Shantol Jackson – Image Credit: BBC

Shantol: So your character is ambitious, wanting to prove herself, she follows the rules by the book whereas Marlon (Miles) is a little more laid back how do the characters chemistry develop as they work together?

Haha! Marlon drives Naomi a bit crazy initially and vice versa. As you said she’s very calculated and to the books and he is very easy going and a bit casual. They knock heads a bit in the beginning but eventually they learn how to work together and make an effective team.

Shantol: Last year Tahj Miles was the newbie and said that Tobi Bakare took him under his wing, has he done the same for you? How has the rest of the cast helped you to settle in?

Aww, the entire cast and the crew were so nice and welcoming. It really warmed my heart. Tahj and I hung out all the time, but I spent most of my time with Joséphine. We trained together frequently, and she really checked for my well-being. She was extra lovely.

Both: As the two female leads in the show will we see your characters form a sisterly relationship or will we see a rivalry develop as we see Sergeant Naomi Thomas strive to become a detective?

SJ: Good Question! But you’ll have to wait and see!

JJ: Absolutely no rivalry! It’s all the contrary. There has never been any rivalry between the main characters in the series. The only one who was maybe a little competition at times was Dwayne. But it was always in a funny way. Besides, Florence is not someone like that at all. She’s quite the opposite, and that’s part of what I love about her. She will be very happy to welcome Naomi to the team and proud to have a motivated and competent woman working with her.

Shantol: Coming from Jamaica you have an experience of Island life how does Guadaloupe compare?

The atmosphere and landscape of Guadeloupe are very much like that of Jamaica. In fact, where we were staying reminds me of a Parish in Jamaica that I love to visit. I’d say the biggest difference between the two is the language barrier. Jamaica is English speaking and Guadeloupe is French Speaking.

Death in Paradise Series 11 episode 2 – clip Credit: Courtesy of BBC and Red Planet Pictures

Joséphine: The end of season 10 left us with a cliffhanger leaving audiences wondering if DI Neville Parker (Ralf Little) declared his love to Detective Sergeant Florence Cassell, is there a romantic relationship on the horizon?

Ahah that’s the big question everyone is asking and that’s understandable. I have to admit that the end of series 10 was a bit “cruel” to the audience but so great! Despite the fact that I read the script, shot the scene and even saw it in post-production while doing voiceovers, I was still shocked when I saw the episode live. I really put myself in the shoes of the spectators and I said to myself ‘what? It is not possible to leave us on this end!’ The production and the writers hit hard. And you’ll notice I’m beating around the bush a little bit for not answering the question because I can’t reveal anything. It would spoil the whole
series. All I can say is that there is a lot of love between the two characters, for sure. I think they’re on a very fine line between love and friendship. Is Florence now ready to be in a serious [love] relationship again? Would that be too much because they are already friends and colleagues? You will find out by watching the series!

Josephine: Florence goes undercover in episode four – what can you tell us about that?

It’s going to be part of a story that runs through multiple episodes (I really like it when the writers do that). It will be the very first time for her as an undercover agent. She will hesitate for a long time because she is being held back by some demons who still haunt her. There’s a really nice scene between her and the commissioner (Don Warrington) about it. This is, I think, my favourite episode of this series because you can feel the danger and the tension that builds up throughout the episode.

You will see that Florence will also change her style (I loved that!) It was a great experience because I finally had the chance to work more with the guest actors and particularly with Victoria Ekanoye and Naana Agyei Ampadu who are just superb. They are very beautiful actresses and wonderful women. They made these weeks of filming an incredible experience. Lots of energy, sharing, laughter, discussions, mutual help and support. It’s a great episode and I hope the audience will enjoy watching it just as much as I enjoyed shooting it.

Both: Do you have anything coming up in the next year we should be looking out for?

SJ: I’ll definitely keep you posted!

JJ: Right now, while I’m waiting for the next project to shoot (actor’s life!), I’m focusing on writing projects that I’m working on with my mom. We’ve finished writing a short film, we’re soon finishing a series whose story takes place between London and Paris and then we’ll be finalising an adventure feature film. We still have a lot of great ideas for movies and series in our heads. We are unstoppable! I also want to write and produce (artistic production). I really like it. So, this is a case to be continued (and maybe solved).

Getting to know you…

A book you have to have in your collection?

SJ: Two actually, The Young Warriors and The Richest Man In Babylon

JJ: The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. It’s about gratitude, visualisation and positive energy.

A song/album that defines the soundtrack of your life to date?

JJ: So hard to choose only one… But I will go with I’m free by Stevie Wonder.

SJ: ……pending…..

A film/TV show that you can watch/have watched repeatedly?

JJ: There are so many! To pick just a few I would say when I was little: Disney movies like Aladdin, The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Beetlejuice. As a teenager, one of the movies I saw a thousand times was Scream. I knew every single line of the script. Yes, I know, I sometimes have dark tastes when it comes to films …

SJ: Titanic

The first stage production you saw and what it meant to you?

JJ: I remember the very first play I saw. It was The Little Shop Of Horrors my mom played in and one of the characters was a huge carnivorous plant. I was very young, and I was very afraid that my mom would be eaten alive! It sounds terrible I know but that’s what it was. Maybe that’s why I naturally choose acting in front of the camera rather than at the theatre (laughs).

SJ: Jamaica to Rahtid – by the late Aston Cooke. I knew that the stage is where I wanted to be.

What’s made you sad, mad, and glad this week?

JJ: Sad: Sad is maybe a bit exaggerated but to have come back from my trip in Portugal. I wish I could have stayed a bit longer. Mad about something I heard on the news about an old man who was dragged by young people in a car for several meters. I cannot accept cruelty. It also made me very sad. Glad to have regained energy and motivation and to have returned to sport. In particular, running with a friend and my stepfather.

SJ: Visiting the Gate of No Return in Jamestown made me sad this week. I don’t get mad easily. I’m a cool cucumber lol. Nothing got me mad this week. Seeing all the responses to the premiere of the show made me glad this week.

Death In Paradise airs on Fridays at 9pm on BBC One.


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