Shetland: First look at Ashley Jensen on set as other stars joining cast are revealed
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Monarch of the Glen, Holby City and Granite Harbour star Dawn Steele, River City stars Ann Louise Ross and Lorraine McIntosh, who sings with Deacon Blue, Guilt stars Jamie Sives and Phyllis Logan, and EastEnders star Don Gilet will all star in the eighth series of the BBC show, which has just started filming in Shetland.
In the new series, which sees Paul Logue take over from David Kane as lead writer, Jensen will play a native Shetlander who returns home after 20 years as a Met Police detective to try to find a vulnerable witness to a gangland murder.
However, Jensen's character Ruth Calder will appear hostile to Shetland as she has to forges a fragile partnership with Alison “Tosh” McIntosh, played by Alison O'Donnell, who starred alongside Douglas Henshall in all seven previous series.
It emerged last summer that Henshall would be leaving the show – initially adapted from the novels of Ann Cleeves when it launched in 2013 – at the end of series seven.
An official announcement on the start of filming of season eight, which will be shown on BBC One later this year, stated: “The new series sees Met Police Detective Inspector Ruth Calder returns to her native Shetland to retrieve the vulnerable witness to a gangland murder.
"Tosh must pause her investigation into a string of mysterious animal deaths to help DI Calder find the witness before it’s too late. However, her hostility to Shetland will challenge Tosh’s view of her adopted home, and their journey into the darker recesses of Shetland's past and present will test this fragile, new partnership.”
Best known for her roles in Ugly Betty, Extras, After Life and Mayflies, Jensen was revealed as Shetland's new lead actor in November. She said: “It's a real privilege to be asked to lead this show into a new chapter. It’s such a hugely successful show and I’m aware I have very big boots to fill since the departure of DI Perez, who was very much loved by fans.
“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.”
BBC commissioning editor Gaynor Holmes said: “We couldn’t be more delighted to see Shetland return with such a stellar cast and a brand new, taut and thrilling murder mystery to keep audiences on the edge of their seats.
“We’re very excited to see the show embark on this fantastic new chapter, with its unique blend of haunting atmosphere, rich character and emotional storytelling.”
Kate Bartlett, executive producer at Silverprint Pictures, which makes Shetland for the BBC, said: "Paul Logue has created a distinctive and emotionally complex story, set against the stunning and evocative landscape of the Shetland Isles. We're thrilled to be making this new series with such incredible Scottish talent.”