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Death in Paradise star Ardal O'Hanlon reveals real reason he's leaving the show

The show is returning for its ninth series

Francesca Shillcock

He's set to return as DI Jack Mooney in the brand new series of Death in Paradise, but, sadly for fans, it'll be the last for actor Ardal O'Hanlon as he will be leaving the show. After confirming his departure last year, Ardal said in a statement that it was "time to move on and explore other opportunities", but now the actor has opened up on the real reasons for his exit.

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Ardal O'Hanlon is leaving the show after four years

In an interview with HELLO! and other reporters on the upcoming series, Ardal explained the reasons why he felt it was best he stepped down. "I would be very worried about overstaying my welcome", he began, adding: "When I started, I thought I'd be lucky to last a summer, and I kind of always in the back of my head [thought] you do three series and that's kind of it. [And] in terms of the character, I don't think there was any anywhere else for it to go really, there's a danger that you'll end up treading water and pulling out the same tricks time after time."

Ardal, who has appeared in other TV favourites such as Father Ted and My Hero, also opened up on the challenge of filming in the Caribbean for lengthy periods of time. "It's a very demanding job, you are away from home for huge periods of time. [I've spent] a huge chunk of my life in Guadeloupe away from my family and they need me." The actor continued, telling HELLO!: "Each successive summer it's harder and harder to part with your family, even though they get the opportunity to come out, something has to give."

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The actor and comedian as DI Jack Mooney

As well as finding it difficult to part with his loved ones, Ardal stated another personal reason for stepping down as the detective. "I really wanted to get back into stand-up comedy which is a kind of major passion of mine, I've been doing for decades," he explained, "and I'm going to tour again in the spring around the UK, so that was really important to me to dive back into that again."

Having been part of the series for over three years, it's little wonder that Ardal built up a rapport with his co-stars on the show, and in particular Don Warrington, who plays Commissioner Selwyn Patterson. "They were always my favourite scenes working with Don Warrington," he explained, "he's such a brilliant actor, he has such a presence, you don't have to act with him you just react you know he's so good. I will really miss those scenes."

Although the Irish actor and comedian will be waving goodbye to viewers during series nine, fans can look forward to a new face replacing him, actor Ralf Little. Ralf, who is best known for his roles in hit-sitcoms The Royle Family and Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, will be taking on the role of Detective Inspector Neville Parker. The new DI finds himself in Saint Marie to investigate the suspicious death of a woman.

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Ralf Little is replacing Ardal on the show

Of his new role, the 39-year-old actor said: "It took less than 0.005 seconds to say yes to playing the new DI! How could I not? Ardal has been wonderful in the last few series and to follow in his footsteps in a place as idyllic as Guadeloupe was a great honour and a dream come true. It is a joy to play Neville and I can’t wait for viewers to see him in Paradise this series."

Death in Paradise returns on Thursday 9 January at 9pm on BBC One.

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