A COLCHESTER screenwriter has said he “quietly burst into tears” after stepping on the set of his hit television show for the first time.

Robert Thorogood, 48, was born and raised in Great Horkesley and attended the Holmwood House Preparatory School, in Lexden.

His dad ran a bakery and a pub in the area for many years, as well as the restaurant within the Mercury Theatre, where Robert and his brothers sometimes performed.

After moving with his family to Bures, talented Robert eventually went on to read History at the University of Cambridge.

But despite his initially more academic path, his burning passion for the arts never subsided and after leaving Downing College, he founded and toured with a theatre group.

For many years he consistently struggled - albeit persistently - in his pursuit of a career as a screenwriter, repetitively failing to see his work commissioned.


But then in 2009 Robert’s life completely changed when his script idea for Death In Paradise - the now hit BBC show - was finally picked up after two years of pitching.

“It was my big break,” said Robert, who now lives in Marlow.

“I had been writing loads for years and years, but nothing was coming off.

“It took a lot of commitment and belief and support from my wife Katie, who helped me enormously.

“I entered a screenwriting competition and got to pitch to writer Tony Jordan who has done loads, including EastEnders.

“He backed it and then the BBC really liked it.

“For a good 15 years I had been pretty unsuccessful and it had been really challenging, but then suddenly I had my very first TV show.”

The light-hearted crime drama, which follows detectives as they try to solve murders in the Caribbean, has since become one of the top three most popular shows on British television.


Everyone from Ben Miller and Ralf Little to Kris Marshall have brought Robert’s fictional characters to life, and the show’s tenth series will air later this evening.

“I said at the time, if we got to a second series I would be happy, but Tony Jordan said it would run for years and it has,” added Robert.

“Seeing people first take it seriously was surreal and unbelievably exciting and really overwhelming.

“When I arrived in the Caribbean for the first time to where we were building the shack, I quietly burst into tears.

“It was really moving and knee-wobbling and realising it was happening was amazing.

“Weirdly, when the show went out it was exactly how I imagined it.”

Since the premiere of Death In Paradise, Robert has gone on to write four standalone novels featuring the first detective, DI Richard Poole.

But his most recent work, a murder mystery book series, called The Marlow Murder Club, follows a more unlikely sleuth.

Protagonist Judith Potts, is a 77-year-old woman who lives in a mansion on the banks of the Thames.

One evening she witnesses a brutal murder and sets out to solve the crime with the help of three friends.

Robert added: “Having travelled a lot for work, there was a part of me that wanted to do something a bit closer to home.

“I really wanted to write a series with female heroines.

“So, I thought, how about I do something new instead of another Death In Paradise?”

Although the series’ narrative takes a slightly different turn, the genre very much remains the same - a literary love Robert will always struggle to move away from.

“Once I started on the murder mystery route, there was no saving me and I’m now in this ludicrous hall of mirrors,” he added.

“You become obsessed with perfecting the puzzle, so I just guess my heart always responds most to a proper mystery.”

l The Marlow Murder Club is out now.

l Death in Paradise is at 9pm on BBC One tonight.