Best in Paradise
(no, that’s not a typo)
The safest way to soak up some sun, sea and sand this summer
One of my (more recent) embarrassing moments started when I received an email from the lovely Madison at the BritBox press office in New York. She was excited about a new exclusive BritBox offering called Best in Paradise. That’s not right, I thought to myself, must be a typo.
“You mean Death in Paradise,” I politely corrected her.
No, she even more politely corrected me, this is a special treat for fans of the Caribbean crime series; the cast sharing their favorite episodes (that’s where the “Best” comes in).
Oops - the perils of a pun!
As aforementioned fans of the show will know, the tropical island of Saint-Marie has much in common with fellow fictional Midsomer and Carsley: seemingly idyllic, but the body-count per episode makes you think twice about wanting to live there. At least there’s some reassurance that when you are murdered in paradise, a team of provincial police officers led by a fish-out-of-water English/Irish detective will investigate and ultimately solve the mystery of your demise.
All nine series of Death in Paradise have proved hugely popular in the UK, regularly pulling in TV audiences of more than 8 million, and earning another spot in the top 10 most-watched programmes for the BBC. The show’s winning formula includes gentle cultural stereotypes (the bemusement of the laid-back locals towards the procedure-stickling, quirky Britishness of the DI), likeable characters, a lighthearted tone and crimes that are oh-so clever and complicated in a Columbo-esque sort of way.
Best in Paradise is a bit like a greatest hits pick (for us oldies) or a cast-created playlist (for anyone under the age of 40). It features the stars introducing a selection of their favourite episodes, spilling the beans on working with guest stars (look out for Neil Morrissey, Hugo Speer and Rupert Graves) secrets behind the stunts, and the real reason Kris Marshall had to cut his hair.
Having missed out on our summer hols this year, we’re all in need of a pick-me-up. What better way to escape reality and get a much-needed dose of sun, sand and sea. Binge the best bits of Death in Paradise and take a TV trip to gorgeous Saint-Marie (without the risk of actually being murdered).
Best in Paradise is streaming exclusively on BritBox.
Agatha Raisin on Acorn TV -
Miss Marple for the 21st Century
If you are a Brit telly addict like me, you’ll know full well that sleepy, picturesque English villages are a veritable hot hub of mystery and murder. Given that Midsomer has a higher homicide rate than downtown Chicago, it’s no surprise to discover that another fictional hamlet, Carsley, is the new crime capital of the Cotswolds. But only since Agatha Raisin set up shop, of course.
As a fan of detective shows, I must admit to really enjoying the wonderful Ashley Jensen in this quirky crime series, which has a refreshing dash of comedy too. With a subtle nod to the queen of mystery Agatha Christie, Ms Raisin is a bit of a modern-day Miss Marple, twenty-something years younger with fab hair, fab lipstick, fab outfits, fab shoes and even more fab handbags.
Agatha Raisin is a PR exec who, in true Escape to the Country style, quits her high-flying career and glam London lifestyle for early retirement and relocation to rural bliss. Once amongst the cute cottages, country pubs, cream teas and church fetes, Agatha befriends an eclectic collection of characters including eccentric villagers, the vicar and his wife and a rather charming aristocratic lord of the manor. She soon becomes an amateur sleuth solving murder mysteries that unfold around the annual quiche-making contest, rambler associations, bell-ringing groups and of course the WI, to name just a few.
The gentle humor, occasional slapstick and gorgeous scenery reminds me of Death in Paradise (minus the sun, sand and Caribbean Sea, of course). It’s all a bit camp, as sassy Aggie and her chums investigate mischief, mayhem and murder in a street-wise-savvy sort of way.
Agatha Raisin is a contemporary, witty whodunnit series that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
And that’s probably why I like it.
Agatha Raisin (series 1-3) is streaming exclusively on Acorn TV.
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