Doc On The Box – Beyond Paradise Series One

Humphrey Goodman spent a good few years solving crimes on the island of Saint-Marie, but left when he met the love of his life, Martha, to rejoin the Metropolitan police in London. Now they have relocated to Martha’s home town of Shipton Abbott in Devon, looking for a more peaceful life as they try and start a family.

Needless to say, Shipton Abbott has its fair share of local eccentrics to deal with, along with all manner of odd crimes to deal with. Well, I say “all manner”, as there’s one crime in particular that never seems to happen in the town…

When the first episode aired, a few people did ask me to review it, knowing how much I love Death In Paradise, the series that this is a spin-off from (in case you didn’t realise). I didn’t at the time for two reasons – firstly, I wanted to give the series a look at as a complete entity but also because I really didn’t know what to make of it. Because, dear reader, this is not simply Death In Paradise translated to the south west of England. And not least because of the lack of much “Death”.

I figured this was always going to be a little different, as by having the co-lead (Sally Bretton as Martha) having nothing to do with the investigation side of any plot, there would have to be other, more soap-opera-esque plots to involve her. Bretton and Kris Marshall do a very good job at the emotional stuff, with solid support from Barbara Flynn (Martha’s mum) and Jamie Bamber (Martha’s ex-boyfriend). There’s a decent arc throughout the series and while the resolution in the final episode is hardly a surprise (apart maybe for the location of it), it works well.

The police team is good value too. Zahra Ahmadi as DS Esther Williams is the focal point, an effective foil for Humphrey and Felicity Montague as Margo, the office manager, is great fun. Dylan Williams (Kelby) isn’t given much to do – basically every episode he doggedly finds a clue while not being particularly bright – but he does a good job with what he’s given.

However, here’s the sticking point. The producers – Tony Jordan and Robert Thorogood (although all the interviews I’ve seen have been with Jordan) – seem to have made a decision that the crimes are all going to be mostly small-scale. OK, there’s an off-screen sexual assault in one episode and one death which maybe could have been prevented, but generally we’re looking at odd occurrences – a family disappears from their cottage a la Mary Celeste for example – but generally with not a lot of harm done by the end of things. That’s not the problem, what the problem is that the “puzzles” are generally not desperately puzzling…

Now I know that I’m a dab hand at this sort of thing, but Death In Paradise often fools me, or misdirects me. Here, I don’t think the puzzle in any episode puzzled me for very long. Take the final episode, where evidence of a burglary points to an individual who was in the police cells at the time of the break-in. It’s a decent enough solution but with no effective misdirection or alternatives, the solution wasn’t hard to spot.

Credit though to one innovation, namely how the truth is explained by Humphrey. Given the nature of some of the stories, gathering the suspects would hardly work here, but the show recreates the events with Humphrey and Esther appearing in those events explaining what happened. It’s a really nice idea that works well.

So, all in all, it’s a diverting series with some charming leads. It certainly passes the time, but please, can we have something to tax the little grey cells a bit more next time?


  1. I respectfully disagree with your review.

    The plots were silly and – like you – I guessed the suspects very soon. But what I thought was that the story-arc with Martha (Sally Bretton) was so toe-curlingly bad that I actually zapped away until I hoped the scene was over. Besides, they aren’t even married and he just turned 50 this year (though he might play a younger version of himself).

    Bretton played Martha with a smile that irritated me to the core. A sort of fake smile that was plastered on her face and did not suit the scenes at all.


  2. Yes, the sentimentality was excruciating. The stories seemed to have been written by people with very little real-life knowledge of how men and women actually behave.


  3. I’m so in love with Death in Paradise – and was excited at the idea of a spin-off but I was bitterly disappointed. If there is a series two, they’d better pull their mystery socks up. I was happy when the couple split as I think they are awful together – really disappointed they got back together.


  4. I have to agree with you re Beyond Paradise. It is diverting enough and Humphrey is interesting enough and he is eminently watchable but the plots are not as interesting as in Death In Paradise.


  5. Did not like the soap opera (have not seen the last two episodes but am 99% confident that I can guess how it ends) but I do applaud a detective series that realises other crimes than murder can be just as mysterious.


  6. A very fair and balanced review. It was a pleasant enough diversion, but the one thing that bugged me about the emotional arc between Humphrey & Martha is how the word “adoption” never came up even once in any of their discussions. The whole thing was entirely binary, as if there was no other option. That struck me as feeble


  7. I finished watching the full Series One of Beyond Paradise and agree with your review: dial up the quality of the mysteries and dial down the amount of personal melodrama.

    That said, I will watch Series Two when it comes hoping for improvements on the puzzles, lack of misdirection, etc. I do like the supporting characters, the Devon / Cornwall setting for the fictional town of Shipton Abbott is spectacular and Kris Marshall remains excellent as Humphrey Goodman. There is potential here.


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