Death in Paradise creator reveals the real-life cricket tragedy that sparked the hit series

Death in Paradise DI Richard Poole
(Image credit: BBC/Red Planet)

How the idea for Death in Paradise came about...

Death in Paradise creator Robert Thorogood has spoken about how the death of cricket coach Bob Woolmer sparked his idea for the hit series.

In 2007 the Cricket World Cup was being played in the West Indies and Bob Woolmer was the coach of Pakistan, who exited the tournament after a shock defeat to Ireland.

Woolmer later suddenly died in Jamaica as the competition continued, sparking wild rumours about how his death might have occurred.

A British detective was then sent over to investigate his death and this led Robert to have the idea for Death in Paradise.

“The idea came about when Bob Woolmer, the Pakistani cricket coach, died in suspicious circumstances during the Cricket World Cup of 2007,” explained Robert.

He added that we sent over a British copper “because he [Woolmer] had a British passport. I thought that there could be a show in that.”

A jury in Jamaica later recorded an open verdict on the death of Woolmer, after they found insufficient evidence of either a criminal act or death by natural causes.

Robert was certainly right in the fact that sending a British cop over to the Caribbean would make a great show. The first series, starring Ben Miller, went out in 2011.

Death in paradise season 10

Series 10 is about to start!

Indeed, Death in Paradise season 10 is about to begin shortly and Robin says he could never have imagined how popular it would have become.

“No. I remember saying, if we could just get to series two, I’ll be happy. It has a lot of elements that are popular – a sunny location, fish out of water story, a light-hearted murder mystery. I knew all the elements were very commercial, but I had no idea that it would become such a long running show.”

After so many murders does Robert ever think he will run out of ideas?

“No. Yes. I have a notebook where I write down motives that I bump into over the course of the year or a newspaper article of a crime or murder. My wife and friends send me murders or crimes, motives, and surprising deaths all the time and I collect them, sit down and go through my notes.

"There’s not a writer who doesn’t wake up every morning and think ‘what if today’s the day nothing comes’. The fear we’re going to run out of ideas is constant and present, but you live with that fear and that’s normal for a writer. We haven’t run out yet and as long as the team remains as committed as we are and always have been, I don’t think we will.”

Death in Paradise returns on Thursday 7th January on BBC1 at 9pm.

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 on 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 on 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!