The long-awaited eighth season of murder mystery series Shetland returns to BBC tonight.
Following season seven’s cliffhanger finale, the long-awaited season eight of Shetland is set to air tonight at 8pm on BBC One, as well as becoming available to stream on BBC iPlayer.
Season eight of the show, based on the novels by best-selling author Ann Cleeves and filmed across Shetland earlier this year, follow the detectives on the trail of a vulnerable witness, Ellen Quinn, to a London gangland murder.
This will be the first season without Douglas Henshall, who played DI Jimmy Perez, with the show set to be anchored by Alison O’Donnell (DS Tosh McIntosh) and new lead Ashley Jensen, who will play DI Ruth Calder.
Scottish actor Douglas Henshall, 57, unexpectedly announced his departure from the show in June 2022, just one month before the seventh season finale aired in August 2022.
Missing addition: The eighth season of murder Shetland returns to BBC tonight – but without DI Jimmy Perez, after Douglas Henshall (pictured: left) announced his departure from the show in 2022
The Glasgow-born actor debuted the role of DI Perez on BBC One in 2013 in the first TV adaptation of the award-winning novels by crime writer Ann Cleeves.
Despite Douglas’ departure, the programme was confirmed for an eighth series, with Ugly Betty star Ashley Jensen, 54, eventually cast to replace Henshall’s character as lead detective.
Speaking to Radio Times in August 2022 about his decision to leave the role, Henshall said he thought it had ‘run its course’ and felt ‘very comfortable’ with his decision, and cited that he was ready to explore other acting opportunities.
Speaking of filming his final scenes in season seven, Henshall explained to the outlet that it was ‘a little anticlimactic.’
He said: ‘My last scenes were filmed in a car park in Kilmacolm which was very odd. We’d tried to wrap three times but, because of COVID, it kept being put back. So it felt a little anticlimactic in the end.’
Henshall went on to tell The Sun in August 2022 that he grew tired of playing a character with a ‘good’ nature, explaining: ‘I think it was always going to be sad, but it will be nice to play somebody who isn’t so irredeemably good as Perez.
‘I’ll miss him as a person I crawl into every now and again because I liked him, he’s a nice man. I don’t know what the future holds. I’d love to play a baddie again, that would be fun.’
In February 2023, the actor commended the casting of Ashley Jensen as DI Calder in the wake of his exit, telling Radio Times: ‘She’s a great actor and she’s obviously very different from me.
New lead: Despite Douglas’ departure, Shetland was confirmed for an eighth series, with Ugly Betty star Ashley Jensen cast to replace Henshall’s character as lead detective DI Calden
Tourism boost: Douglas Henshall unveiled a plaque in his name in November 2022 as a thanks from Shetland for the success of the popular BBC TV series and the boost it has given tourism to the islands
‘So, I mean, I think it will be interesting to have two women leading up this detective show on the isles and see what that brings.
‘I think it’s going to be very different, but I think that’s what’s most exciting about it – so yeah, I’m looking forward to seeing it.’
In August 2023, Henshall revealed to Radio Times that he was finding it difficult to secure acting roles as a ’57-year-old white man.’
He explained: ‘It’s very difficult to make conscious decisions about what you’re going to do when you’re a 57-year-old white man. There aren’t so many roles around for me any more.’
The Shetland star added: ‘I think that’s just a fact of getting older. People are looking for younger actors these days. There’s a degree of, “I’ve been offered that, I’m grateful for the job, I’ll go and do it.”‘
In his first post-Shetland project, Henshall starred as villain Daniel Long in the Netflix thriller Who is Eric Carter?, which was released on the streaming platform on August 24.
It follows the story of Erin Collantes, a British teacher living in Spain. Her seemingly ordinary life, however, takes a dramatic turn when he becomes involved in a supermarket robbery.
The series was filmed in Spain last year, a far cry from the chilling shores of the Scottish island the actor filmed in for almost a decade.
Scarce: In August, Henshall (pictured: right, as DI Perez, alongside DS Tosh, left, played by Alison O’Donnell) revealed to Radio Times that he was finding it difficult to secure acting roles as a ’57-year-old white man’
He told Radio Times in February: ‘The one thing I realised is that I’d rather be too cold than too hot. It doesn’t matter how I say the lines all they’re getting is a sweaty mess.
‘Whereas regardless of how cold I was in Shetland, it didn’t make much difference to the whole thing. However Barcelona is really nice, the people that I was working with are great and if I haven’t melted hopefully they’ll keep me in.’
Since filming the Netflix thriller, Henshall has been working on a film in Belfast, which he said is ‘about guilt and death and all that kind of stuff.’
‘So I’m keeping up the happy kind of vibes with the characters I play,” he joked. “It’s nice to be doing different things. It’s also nice not to play the most decent man in the world for a wee while!’