Death in Paradise co-stars Josephine Jobert and Shantol Jackson are living proof that you really can find your tribe anywhere in the world. The actresses only overlapped for a handful of episodes in series 11 – with Shantol joining as newcomer DS Naomi Thomas and effectively taking over Josephine's role as DS Florence Cassell – but they quickly formed their own sisterhood.
"I love Shanty. I always say she's like the sister I never had," Josephine told HELLO!. "You have me! I'm the sister you have," Shantol insists.
WATCH: Josephine Jobert admits she felt she 'abandoned' Shantol Jackson after leaving show
"I was very sad to leave her," said Josephine. "I felt like I was abandoning her, but when she took over and I watched the episode, I was really, really proud of her. She's perfect. She's a queen."
In an exclusive chat for our International Women's Day digital issue, the TV stars open up about their friendship off-camera, what their actual first impressions were, and what it was like saying goodbye to each other (spoiler alert: lots of tears!).
Josephine and Shantol, what were your first impressions of each other?
Shantol: "My first impression of Josephine was, first of all, because I looked up the show from before I joined so I knew everyone but then to see her in person, I thought she was so beautiful, she was so kind and I was starstruck. She just really wanted me to be okay and offered to teach me French. But my first impression was being starstruck."
Josephine: "I was very excited to discover who the new girl would be. So I must admit, I Googled her, we all do this and I was so excited to meet her. I thought she was absolutely beautiful. I remember I sent Shanty a WhatsApp message, just to welcome her because I know how it feels like to be the new person on set in a show that's been running for so long, it's like a family already.
"I always say she's like the sister I never had," said Josephine of her co-star
"Shanty was so cute. She was a bit shy at first which was normal because she didn't know anybody. And I remember she was just reading her book in between takes, very shy, very lovely. And then… I discovered the real Shanty, who I love!
"The real Shanty is crazy. She's hilarious. This girl is so funny, you have no idea. She's really talented, she's really into her work. When she's on set, she's really serious and that's what I like about her. She's a superstar. She's a strong woman and she's younger than me, but she's a really mature person."
When did you first realise you had a friend for life?
Shantol: "On my first few days on set, Josephine would come over. As she said, I sort of kept to myself a bit, I was trying to feel out the place. But she would come over and ask if I was okay, frequently. And one day I said, 'I'm okay, why do you keep asking?' And she said, 'I just really want you to be okay, and I really want you to have a good time. I want you to have fun and enjoy the process. And I want you to know that I'm here for anything.' I thought that was really sweet.
"I also started using this baby app called Duolingo to help me learn French and I told her about it. And so when we'd come on set, she'd insist sometimes that I have to speak in French and she would help me with my French. That's when I thought, she's really nice, she's really chilled, she honestly wants to help me and you can sense when someone wants you to do well and be your best. And I got that from her instantly. The fact that I was there by myself, I thought, 'Wow, I can find family anywhere,' and that's what she became. From then on, she kept checking in.
"It was very early on that I realised that she would be my partner out here and it was very sad when she left."
"I was very sad to leave her," said Josephine. "I felt like I was abandoning her"
Josephine: "I was very sad to leave you. I felt like I was abandoning you. I mean from the first time I saw Shanty… I'm really sensitive about people's energies and I felt that Shanty's was just so positive and pure. I love women and I'm a real 'girl power' girl. In this industry, it's very difficult because there are a lot of men. We're far away from home for so long. I've been through this before so I know what it's like. Sara Martins, who played Camille before me, helped me too so I felt like I had to do it for someone else.
"The first time I saw Shanty's face, I became obsessed with her! We started to talk to each other more, and I really wanted to find her a little nickname, which is now Shanty, I wanted to build a friendship. When we started exercising together, that's when I discovered her real personality, the strong woman she was. And gradually she became more comfortable on set, opening up to people more and I'm really happy that she did that and she had a good time. It was very important for me."
Describe a time you were most proud of each other.
Josephine: "When I left Death in Paradise, she took over and she became the new detective and I watched the episode and I was really, really proud of her because she does really well. She's perfect. I thought, 'Oh my God, my baby has become a woman!' I'm really happy for you and really proud of you Shanty."
Shantol: "My proudest moment, and I was there in person and then I watched it, was when Josephine was doing her goodbye scene. I just thought, 'Wow, this girl is really good.' I know how hard it was for her to do that scene and she killed it, she absolutely killed it, and something she always said to me was, 'Listen, no matter what's going on, no matter how you're feeling, just go on camera and look your best. Do you and be your absolute best.' So that was my proudest moment to see how she handled that, how beautifully she did it."
Josephine said Shantol is "perfect" as the new DS Naomi Thomas
What was the energy like on set, saying goodbye to Josephine?
Shantol: "Her last day on set was actually a scene that we did together and it was actually a retake. I remember how excited she was that her last scene was a scene with both of us, we were both so happy, but it was also bittersweet. I remember at the end, the producers came up and did a lovely speech. But I just couldn't look at her.
"She was going around hugging everyone and I said, 'No, leave me alone,' because I knew I was going into a scene after that and my eyes were already tearing up. I knew the moment she would come into my space, I would break down. And it would take some time for me to come back from that. I just said to her, 'Leave me alone. I'll see you later. We'll do this another time.' But when we said our proper goodbye, I was bawling."
Josephine: "I remember that! I was a bit frustrated, but I understood. She wouldn't even look at me!"
What is the best advice you've received from each other?
Shantol: "Josephine's advice to me was definitely to just shine on screen. No matter what's happening, because we do have some difficult days being away from home for a long time, but her thing was always to shine on screen. Always do your best even when you're feeling down or you feel like you're not good enough in the scene or you feel like you have to step back for whatever reason. She would say, 'No, step up and take command of the space. This is your space. You have a right to be here and do your absolute best.'
"And I saw that with her scenes. Everything that she said to me, I saw her doing it in front of me and I thought, 'Wow, it's just so beautiful.' She really, really empowered me and she left me with that gem. So when she left, I was able to keep going without having my backbone, which is kind of what she became."
"Josephine's advice to me was definitely to just shine on screen," said Shantol
Josephine: "You're going to make me cry! I learned a lot from Shanty. She's so strong. She looks like an angel, she has a pure face and she's so beautiful. But let me tell you, that woman is so strong inside. I love Shanty. I always say she's like the sister I never had."
Shantol: "You have me! I'm the sister you have."
Josephine: "Okay, fine! Shanty is also always so elegant, no matter what's happening around her. She just closes the door on bad vibes, she won't let anything bother her, and that's something that really impressed me. It's taken me time to learn this. She's younger than me and already knows how to handle this. She's a queen."
Like this story? Sign up to our What to Watch newsletter to get other stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.