Saturday, 10 February 2018

Harry the lizard

If you like watching BBC1's police-detective series set in the Caribbean, Death in Paradise, then you must have noticed that a small creature regularly makes an appearance at The Shack, which is the beach residence of the current Detective Inspector of the tiny police force on the island of Saint Marie. This creature is Harry, the resident lizard at The Shack.

He's perky and green, and seems to enjoy the company of his 'owners', who have all taken him on in succession, and made sure that he is fed and watered. The Inspector in Series One and Two (and episode one of Series Three), Richard Poole (played by Ben Miller) took that duty very seriously, and actually kept a book - secretly - on how to care for a pet lizard in his work desk. His successor for Series Three to Six, Humphrey Goodman (Kris Marshall) also had a great relationship with Harry, and liked talking to him, though he sometimes had reason to deliver an admonishment. For instance, for unsympathetically munching a juicy moth while Humphrey soliloquised about his agonised love-life; for attempting to eat vital forensic evidence (a Martinique cockroach); and for scaring his visiting father as he slept.

The latest DI for a bit of Series Six, and all of Series Seven, Jack Mooney (Ardal O'Hanlon), has developed a really soft spot for Harry. He is terribly concerned when the little fellow falls ill in a recent episode. All is well by the end, though, with Harry restored and duly grateful, but keen to leap off into the rafters in search of insects. Here he is, back from the vet and getting a fuss from Jack and his DS, Florence Cassel:


In earlier series of the programme, Harry didn't always look quite so uniformly bright green. Perhaps lizards change colour with age! Here he is back in Series Three and Four:


Mind you, there really are Caribbean lizards, and some of them are bright green like this. The programme-makers did their homework. Such a lizard is found in the Eastern Caribbean (where Saint Marie is supposed to be - it's actually filmed on Guadeloupe), and is called the Guadeloupean anole, or Leopard anole - anolis maramoratus. Here's a Wikipedia link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leopard_anole. If he remains well looked-after, and doesn't get murdered (as so many do on Saint Marie: the slaughter is awful, and I'm surprised there is any tourist industry there at all), Harry might easily live for fourteen years. So when Death in Paradise finally comes to its natural end, there may be a spin-off series about Harry in later life, by then a TV legend.

Harry isn't a real lizard, given to clever acting right on cue. This YouTube video explains his true nature: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWB6ESuarwY. But it's so well done, I find Harry entirely believable as a character, and in his own way very endearing. 

I've always had a fond regard for little lizards, but that's another story, about three weeks in a farmhouse in France during the mid 1990s...

1 comment:

  1. I have just discovered this show and find it delightful. Harry adds a bright spot, for sure.

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