EastEnders star named as next Death in Paradise lead detective

Don Gilet as Lucas in Eastenders
Don Gilet played Lucas Johnson in Eastenders [BBC]

Former EastEnders star Don Gilet is swapping Walford for idyllic Saint Marie, as he is named as the new lead detective in BBC's hit show Death in Paradise.

Known for playing the villainous Lucas Johnson in EastEnders, the British actor will play Detective Inspector Mervin Wilson, which he said is like being given an "incredibly precious jewel".

Death in Paradise was the second most watched drama in 2023, with 8.3 million viewers.

Gilet will make his debut in this year's Christmas special.

"This is a big show, with a big heart and the love continually grows for it," Gilet said.

“Being offered the new lead role in Death in Paradise feels like a deeply loved and incredibly precious jewel has been placed in my hands."

Gilet - who has already begun filming in Guadeloupe - said he intends to remain "grateful, humbled and dedicated" to the programme.

"Even during those testing times when every sinew is screaming at me to run off the set and dive into the sea, swimming pool or an ice-cold beer – whichever happens to be closer at the time!”

The detective drama, set against a backdrop of shimmering seas and sun-soaked beaches, will air its 14th series on BBC One in 2025.

Gilet's character, DI Wilson, will arrive in the fictional island of Saint Marie from London, and is said not to be "overly pleased with his new surroundings", according to the show's press release.

He takes on the role of lead detective following the exit of Ralf Little's DI Neville Parker. He will be the show's fifth lead detective, also following actors Ben Miller, Kris Marshall and Ardal O'Hanlon.

The 57-year-old actor has already made a guest appearance in the show's fourth series as another character, when Marshall's DI Humphrey Goodman was the island's lead detective.

Gilet has also starred in Holby City, Silent Witness, Doctor Who, Shetland and The Stranger.

Produced by Red Planet Pictures, Death in Paradise has been licensed to over 230 territories by BBC Studios. Following last year's successful spin-off Beyond Paradise, the show makers announced another spin-off series - Return to Paradise - this time set in Australia.

Who has played an island detective?

Ralf Little as DI Neville Parker
Ralf Little as DI Neville Parker, the show's most recent lead detective [BBC/PA Wire]
Ardal O'Hanlon reprised the role of DI Jack Mooney
Ardal O'Hanlon took on the role of DI Jack Mooney from 2017-2020 [Getty Images]
Kris Marshall played DI Humphrey Goodman
Kris Marshall played DI Humphrey Goodman across four series, leaving in 2017 [Getty Images]
Ben Miller was DI Richard Poole in the detective drama
Ben Miller was lead DI Richard Poole in the detective drama's first few series, starting in 2011 [Getty Images]