If you have made a note in your diary to watch the Christmas special of Death in Paradise this year, expect “a lot of surprises" according to one cast member.

BBC viewers will soon be transported to the idyllic Saint Marie for the festive feature-length edition where there is a murder mystery to solve and plenty of family drama in between.

DI Neville Parker (Ralf Little), is facing trouble from all angles this Christmas while he’s working on cracking the case of a mysterious death.

As an entrepreneur and family man has been found dead in a ravine, DI Parker’s “larger-than-life” mum Melanie (Alan Partridge and Plebs star Doon Mackichan) arrives on the island to spend Christmas in the sun with her son.

Melanie who is described as “the opposite of Neville” soon strikes up a friendship with Catherine (Elizabeth Bourgine).

“The mystery is great, but I think it’s more about family values. I think it’s about what family means and centring around family and Christmas,” Little told PA news agency.

Bourgine added that people love Death In Paradise’s contribution to their Christmases because “it’s a lovely game, it’s a challenge”.

“And then because they will be part of our lovely family, because we live a dream in Saint Marie, so they will be happy to join us.

“They will have a lot of surprises, because they will see your mother, Neville!”

Worcester News: Are you counting down the days until the Death in Paradise Christmas special on BBC One?Are you counting down the days until the Death in Paradise Christmas special on BBC One? (Image: BBC / Red Planet / Denis Guyeon)

Commenting on the character of his TV mum Melanie, Little said: “It’s funny because, you know, on some level, Neville being like he is was because he was a little bit coddled when he was a kid, because he was allergic to everything … So his mum had to look after him, in a way.

“But the character that arrives in the show is kind of almost the exact opposite of what you’d expect. She’s really loving and free spirited.

“And actually, she’s a little bit like ‘Neville, come on – maybe when you were a kid you needed to be a little bit more insular, but it’s time to live life a bit more’.

“She’s kind of the antithesis of him, and the antithesis of what you might expect.”

Little said having Mackichan play Neville’s mother, Melanie, was “a joy” as he’s been a huge fan of the comedic actress’s work since he was a teenager.

“I was so delighted when they told me that Doon was coming to do it,” he revealed.

“She and I have crossed paths a few times over the years – we’re not big old friends, but we know each other well enough, and we’ve always really enjoyed each other’s company.

“But also, I’m a massive fan, I was a massive fan from way back when – Alan Partridge, Knowing Me, Knowing You.

“I literally watched that again in between the last series and this series, and I was like ‘ah, Doon’s great, I must send her a text…’ and then here she is, coming out here! I was so, so delighted to have her out here, and to come and play my mum.

“And no surprise whatsoever, she was absolutely brilliant. She was fun off screen, on screen."

“She’s always been a hero of mine, so then for her to come out and say ‘oh, I’m so glad to be doing this with you’… I was like ‘are you kidding? This is a dream for me!’,” he added.

When is Death in Paradise Christmas special 2023 on TV?

The Death in Paradise Christmas special will air on Boxing Day on BBC One and BBC iPlayer at 9 pm.

Some of the guest stars include Patsy Kensit (EastEnders), Youssef Kerkour (House of Gucci), Geoff Bell (The Curse), Bronagh Waugh (Ridley), Amelia Clarkson (The Last Kingdom), Freddy Carter (Shadow and Bone) and Leila Khan (Heartstopper).