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The BBC announced today that Ashley Jensen will be the new lead for the hit Scottish mystery-crime drama series Shetland.

Ashley Jensen
Ashley Jensen — Photo by Dominick D (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Terrific news, folks! Primetime Emmy® and BAFTA nominee Ashley Jensen (After Life, Agatha Raisin, Catastrophe, Extras) is headed to Shetland! As announced today by the BBC, she will lead the cast of the hit murder mystery series when it returns in 2023 for its eighth season, which begins filming on the Shetland Isles and across Scotland starting in the spring.

Originally based on the award-winning “Shetland Island Mystery” novels by popular crime author Ann Cleeves, Series 8 of Shetland will see Ashley join series regulars Alison O’Donnell, Steven Robertson, Lewis Howden, and Anne Kidd. (Further casting will be announced in due course.)

Ashley will play DI Ruth Calder, a native Shetlander who returns to the isles after 20 years working for the Met in London. Ruth takes on the lead detective role left vacant by DI Jimmy Perez (Douglas Henshall), working closely with DS Alison “Tosh” McIntosh (O’Donnell), DC Sandy Wilson (Robertson), Sgt. Billy McCabe (Howden), and forensic pathologist Cora McLean (Kidd).

Said Ashley Jensen:

“I am absolutely thrilled to be joining Shetland as DI Ruth Calder. It’s such a hugely successful show and I am aware I have very big boots to fill since the departure of DI Perez, who was very much loved by fans of the show.

“There will be a different dynamic with Ruth amongst the regular characters and a few more new interesting characters to enjoy. However the integrity of the show and the world that has been created will remain very much in the same tone as the last seven seasons. It’s a real privilege to be asked to lead this show into a new chapter. I can’t wait to be working in Scotland again. I have missed it!”

Gaynor Holmes, Commissioning Editor for the BBC, commented:

“I am absolutely delighted that Ashley is joining the stellar cast of Shetland. Ashley is an immensely accomplished and well-loved actress who is known internationally and we can’t wait to welcome her into the Shetland family when filming begins in the spring.”

And Kate Bartlett, executive producer for Silverprint Pictures, stated:

“We’re so thrilled that Ashley is going to be leading this new series of Shetland, alongside Alison O’Donnell as Tosh. They will be an exciting duo in Paul Logue’s compelling new version. It is wonderful to have the opportunity to make another series with such incredible Scottish talent.”

The eighth season of Shetland will be written by Paul Logue (DCI Banks, Death in Paradise, Midsomer Murders, Vera) and produced by Louise V Say. The executive producers are Gaynor Holmes for the BBC, and Kate Bartlett and Denise Paul for Silverprint Pictures.

For folks in the UK, Series 6 and 7 are available for streaming on BBC iPlayer, and all seven series to date are available on Prime Video. In the US, viewers can stream the entire series to date on BritBox and its digital channels, including BritBox on Amazon Channels.


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Shetland: Ashley Jensen Announced as New Lead for Hit Scottish Mystery Series
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