Don Gilet's rise to fame from EastEnders to Death in Paradise

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 18:  Don Gilet arriving at The National Lottery Awards 2017 at The London Studios on September 18, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by HGL/WireImage)
Don Gilet, pictured in 2017, will soon lead the BBC's beloved crime drama Death in Paradise. (WireImage) (HGL via Getty Images)

Don Gilet has been cast as the new lead for BBC's Death in Paradise as DI Mervin Wilson, replacing Ralf Little following his exit from the crime series after five seasons.

Read more: Death in Paradise fans confused as Don Gilet named as new detective

The actor may seem new to some viewers, but he has had a long and illustrious career for decades that ranges from soaps to Hollywood blockbusters. Before he jets off to Saint Marie to solve crimes in the BBC series, Yahoo will examine everything he has done to date and why it is so exciting he is joining the beloved franchise.

Death in Paradise s14,02-05-2024,Announcement,Inspector Mervin WiIson (DON GILET),Announcement,Red Planet Pictures,Philippe Virapin
Don Gilet's casting in Death in Paradise was first announced in May 2024, but he has had an impressive career in the lead up to it. (BBC) (BBC / Red Planet Pictures / Phil)

Raised in the West Midlands, Gilet launched his acting career in 1993 after developing an interest in the profession through his time at the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts.

He first began cutting his teeth on small parts in British TV staples like The Bill, Silent Witness and Casualty, before landing his breakout role in Babyfather in 2001. The actor went on to land a leading role in BBC detective drama 55 Degrees North, a suitable precursor to Death in Paradise one could argue.

The actor's venture into the world of soaps began with EastEnders, which he joined in 2008 as series regular Lucas Johnson. Gilet appeared on the BBC soap until 2010, and then returned to the series on an off-and-on basis between 2016 and 2024. In total he has appeared in 204 episodes thus far.

Lucas Johnson became one of the soap's biggest villains, with the pastor's reign of terror over Albert Square cementing his position as one of the greatest characters to appear in the series. The complex role is one that Gilet has relished over the years, with the actor comparing him to Jekyll and Hyde in the past.

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 02/03/2021 - Programme Name: EastEnders - January-March 2021 - TX: 11/03/2021 - Episode: EastEnders - January-March 2021- 6235 (No. 6235) - Picture Shows: ***EMBARGOED TILL TUESDAY 2ND MARCH 2021*** Lucas Johnson (DON GILET) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Kieron McCarron/Jack Barnes
Don Gilet is best known for his role as villain Lucas Johnson in EastEnders. (BBC) (BBC/Kieron McCarron/Jack Barnes)

Speaking with Metro during his 2020 return to the series, Gilet said: "All actors love being given the opportunity to play complex villainous characters and I’m no different in that respect.

"In real life I have not murdered anyone and have no villainous tendencies, so this was a happy challenge to step once again into Lucas’s shoes and out of my usual approachable, affable, cheeky-chappy persona."

EastEnders isn't the only soap that Gilet has starred in, the actor also appeared as Jesse Law in Holby City between 2014 and 2016. He landed a regular role after making a one-episode appearance on the series as a different character in 2002.

DOCTOR WHO, Catherine Tate, David Tennant, 'The Runaway Bride', (Season 3, originally aired Dec. 25, 2006), 2005-. © Sci-Fi
Don Gilet has starred in a number of BBC staples, including Doctor Who where he played Donna Noble's fiancé in The Runaway Bride. (BBC) (©BBC/Courtesy Everett Collection, Everett Collection Inc)

Gilet's work with the BBC has lasted for years, and the actor will also be familiar to Doctor Who viewers because of the important role he plays in the 2006 Christmas special The Runaway Bride. Viewers will remember that the actor played Donna Noble's (Catherine Tate) fiancé Lance, who is later revealed to be a villain working with the Doctor's enemy the Empress (Sarah Parish).

Other shows that Gilet has appeared on include Shetland, Sherwood, and The Loch. British shows aside, Gilet has also worked on big budget projects like Netflix's Harlan Coben series The Stranger and blockbuster The Beekeeper.

Jason Statham leads the action flick, which secured one of the highest box office results of the year thus far, and Gilet stars as Deputy Director Prigg. The action thriller marked his Hollywood film debut, where he appeared in scenes opposite The Umbrella Academy's Emmy Raver-Lampman and Bobby Naderi.

Don Gilet (right) made his Hollywood film debut in The Beekeeper, Jason Statham's big budget action thriller. (Sky)
Don Gilet (right) made his Hollywood film debut in The Beekeeper, Jason Statham's big budget action thriller. (Sky) (Daniel Smith)

As well as working onscreen, Gilet has also lent his voice to an array of audiobooks and radio dramas such as The Sandman and Neverwhere. He has also appeared in Doctor Who and Torchwood audio-dramas over the years.

Gilet actually already has a history with Death in Paradise, as he took on the role of killer Andre Morgan during Kris Marshall's tenure on the series back in 2015. Fans of the show have pointed out this connection, but despite his previous appearance they are also excited about his new role.

This article originally appeared on Yahoo TV UK at