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Who will replace Ralf Little on Death in Paradise?

From Tom Brittney to Simon Bird, here's who we think could take over as the new lead detective

Nicola Walker, Ralf Little, Tom Brittney split image
Nicky Morris
TV and film writer
25 March 2024
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Ralf Little left fans devastated when his Death in Paradise departure was revealed on Sunday night. The actor, who has starred as DI Neville Parker in the BBC crime drama for four years, said it's been "an absolute privilege" to play the role. 

But now that Neville has left Saint Marie for good, who will take over as the new detective? Here are some famous faces we think would be a great fit.

WATCH: Ralf Little breaks silence over Death in Paradise exit

Tom Brittney

Tom Brittney as Will Davenport in Grantchester© MASTERPIECE/PBS
Tom Brittney is best known for playing Will Davenport in Grantchester

The actor rose to fame as Reverend Will Davenport in ITV's Grantchester back in 2019, but now that he's left the show, it could be the perfect time for Tom to take on a new lead role. 

In Grantchester, Tom was one half of crime-solving duo vicar Will and DI Geordie Keating (Robson Green). Signing up as the new detective in Death in Paradise would give Tom the chance to be the sole star - plus, the transition would be effortless given his experience with detective dramas. 

Simon Bird

simon bird
Simon Bird is known for his comedy work

The Inbetweeners star Simon is the bookies' favourite to take over from Ralf – and it's not hard to see why. Having made a name for himself as bumbling teenager Will McKenzie in the Channel 4 sitcom, Simon has proved that he can play awkward yet lovable with ease.

With his comedy background, having starred in shows such as Friday Night Dinner and Everyone Else Burns, we think Simon would be a great fit. 

Nicola Walker

Nicola Walker as DI Annika Strandhed as Annika© UKTV/Alibi
Nicola Walker is no stranger to detective dramas

If Death in Paradise bosses decide to shake things up with a new female lead, then add Nicola to the list. Not only is she missed in her role as DCI Cassie Stuart in ITV's Unforgotten, but she's also loved for her parts in Annika, The Split, and Last Tango in Halifax. 

READ: Nicola Walker dramas that are a must-watch: Annika, Unforgotten, River & more​​

Douglas Henshall

Douglas Henshall, as DI Jimmy Perez
'Shetland'© ITV/Shutterstock
Douglas Henshall left his role as DI Jimmy Perez in Shetland in 2022

Like Tom Brittney, Douglas recently stepped down as the lead of a major drama when he left BBC crime series Shetland in 2022. While Douglas has been fairly busy since leaving the show, appearing in Netflix's Who Is Erin Carter?, and the BBC's Agatha Christie adaptation Murder is Easy, could he be swapping the cold climate of the Shetland Islands for sunny Saint Marie? 

Diane Morgan 

Diane Morgan in Motherland © BBC/Merman
Diane Morgan is well-loved for her role in Motherland

Another of the bookies' favourites to step into Ralf's shoes is actress and comedian Diane. She's well-loved for her roles in Motherland, After Life, Mandy, and of course for her iconic character Philomena Cunk, and has proved she can do both comedy and drama. We'd love to see her as the lead.

Stephen Merchant

four lives stephen merchant© Photo: BBC
Stephen Merchant in Four Lives

While he's chiefly known for his comedy work with The Office and Extras co-creator Ricky Gervais, Stephen can do serious drama, too. He gave a chilling performance as serial killer Stephen Port in the 2022 BBC miniseries Four Lives. He's also no stranger to comedy-crime dramas, having co-wrote and starred in The Outlaws.

Martin Clunes

Martin Clunes wearing a black suit. © Getty
We think Martin Clunes would be a great fit

Having bowed out of the long-running comedy-drama Doc Martin back in 2022, it's about time we see Martin back on our screens as a leading man.

With a long list of both comedy and drama credits behind him, Death in Paradise would be in safe hands with Martin at the helm.

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