Ralf Little has left Death In Paradise after four years on the Caribbean-set detective show.

The 44-year-old Bury-born actor, who has been fighting crime on the fictional island of Saint Marie since 2020 as Neville Parker, has been the “longest serving detective inspector” of the series so far, the BBC said.

Sunday’s episode saw his character depart to join DS Florence Cassell, played by French actress Josephine Jobert, following encouragements from his colleagues to run after her.

Neville tells her: “I don’t want to say goodbye but if you do I mean, that’s fine, obviously, especially after me behaving like a complete and utter… idiot…

“Listen Florence, I don’t need promises, I don’t need guarantees, if the unknown is all you have to offer then it’s good enough for me, whatever happens, wherever it leads all I want is for us to take a leap together.”

They then depart on a boat, away from the island.

Other actors who played the main DI role include My Family star Kris Marshall, whose character Detective Inspector Humphrey Goodman features on the spin-off Beyond Paradise, Father Ted star Ardal O’Hanlon and Bridgerton star Ben Miller.

Little took over from O’Hanlon.

He said: “New adventures await Neville, and he got to sail away into the sunset with his best friend. Who knows what happens for them next.

“I want to say an enormous thank you to everyone who watched and supported the show when I arrived four and a half years ago.

“Coming into a series beloved by millions was a huge responsibility and I had no idea whether viewers would take to my interpretation of Neville’s character, and indeed to me.”

He added the response to his portrayal has been “overwhelming” and a “relief”.

Little said: “I can’t thank you all enough for the support over the last four and a half years. It’s been one of the most magical and profound experiences of my entire life.”

He added the future of the programme is in “good hands” and he “can’t wait to see what happens next”.

Death in Paradise s13,24-03-2024,8,(L-R) DI Neville Parker (RALF LITTLE) and Florence (JOSEPHINE JOBERT)Death In Paradise’s Ralf Little and Josephine Jobert (BBC)

The casting of Death In Paradise’s new lead actor will be announced in due course.

Tim Key, executive producer for production company Red Planet Pictures, said: “Joining a successful show like Death in Paradise as the lead is a daunting and risky prospect, but Ralf’s confidence and talent shone through from day one and the audience response to Neville and his journey has been amazing.

“I can’t thank Ralf enough for everything he has brought to the show, on and off screen, and wish him all the very best for the future.”

Death In Paradise is set to return for a Christmas special this year and a new series in 2025.

An Australian spin-off, called Return To Paradise, has also been commissioned by the BBC.