Death in Paradise boss reveals BBC/French clash over goats in the very first episode!

Ben Miller suited and booted in sunny Death in Paradise.
(Image credit: BBC)

Death in Paradise executive producer Tony Jordan has revealed that the BBC was worried about a scene in the show's first-ever episode that featured two goats in a police cell — while the French public broadcaster wanted more goats!

The first series of the long-running hit was a co-production between British public broadcaster the BBC and French public broadcaster FTV. And Tony laughs that ironically the French wanted more goats in the police cell.

"We were getting notes from both public service broadcasters. I remember in the first episode, I had a note from the BBC saying: 'You have goats in the police cell. I'm not sure that's very… You know, is that the kind of… is that what we want to be saying about the police service? You’ve got two goats in there in a police cell.' And then from the French broadcasters, I got a note about the same scene: 'Could we have more goats in the police station, please?'"

Obviously, the French won that debate as the goats stayed in the first-ever episode!

Goat in a police cell in Death in Paradise

A goat in a police cell in the first ever episode of Death in Paradise (Image credit: Goat in a police cell in Death in Paradise)

Tony was recalling his experiences of making the drama along with Don Warrington, who plays Commissioner Selwyn Patterson, in a BBC4 documentary called Don Warrington and Tony Jordan Remember… Death in Paradise

Tony also explained that the idea of the show's original detective, DI Richard Poole (Ben Miller), looking horribly hot on a Caribbean beach in his suit and carrying a briefcase is what helped get it made.

"When I remember taking the series out to pitch to broadcasters, literally one thing sold it, which was the image of a man in a suit, shirt and tie, with a briefcase on a Caribbean beach because you've got the whole thing in that one image." 

In the must-watch for Death in Paradise fans, Don talks about how the character of Selwyn has been developed over the years.

Commissioner Selwyn Patterson (Don Warrington) standing in his uniform with a canopy of green trees in the background, with a concerned look on his face

Don as the Commissioner (Image credit: BBC/Red Planet Pictures)

He also ponders what the secret of the show’s success is. "People ask me, they say 'What’s the secret? Why is it so successful?' And I say, 'I have no idea'. But there does seem to be something, there does seem to be some chemistry in it that catches the imagination of young and old, because surprisingly enough — and it is a surprise to me — young people, I mean like teenagers, love it, really."

Don Warrington and Tony Jordan Remember… Death in Paradise is available to watch now on BBC iPlayer. Death in Paradise season 14 returns next year. 

David Hollingsworth

David is the What To Watch Editor and has over 20 years of experience in television journalism. He is currently writing about the latest television and film news for What To Watch.

Before working for What To Watch, David spent many years working for TV Times magazine, interviewing some of television's most famous stars including Hollywood actor Kiefer Sutherland, singer Lionel Richie and wildlife legend Sir David Attenborough. 

David started out as a writer for TV Times before becoming the title's deputy features editor and then features editor. During his time on TV Times, David also helped run the annual TV Times Awards. David is a huge Death in Paradise fan, although he's still failed to solve a case before the show's detective! He also loves James Bond and controversially thinks that Timothy Dalton was an excellent 007.

Other than watching and writing about telly, David loves playing cricket, going to the cinema, trying to improve his tennis and chasing about after his kids!