‘Downton’ star joins ‘Shetland’ cast as Season 8 begins filming

The next season of Shetland has started shooting and we’ve got some new cast details!

Based on the award-winning novels by Vera creator Ann Cleeves, the BBC crime series first aired a decade ago in 2013.

Shetland was renewed for an eighth season last year, but there was sad news too as the announcement also saw Douglas Henshall reveal that he was quitting his role as DI Jimmy Pérez.

Fortunately, the wonderful Ashley Jensen has been confirmed as Henshall’s replacement.

The 53-year-old Scottish actress will be familiar from her roles in Extras, Ugly Betty, and Agatha Raisin, most recently appearing in the BBC’s Mayflies drama.

Jensen will play Met Police Detective Inspector Ruth Calder, who returns to her native Shetland to retrieve the vulnerable witness to a gangland murder.

There she’ll team up with Tosh (returning Shetland star Alison O’Donnell) who must pause her investigation into a string of mysterious animal deaths to help DI Ruth Calder find the witness before it’s too late.

Here’s a sneak peek at the pair as production began on location around Scotland and on the Shetland Isles earlier this week:

Other returning regulars will include Steven Robertson as DC Sandy Wilson, Lewis Howden as Sgt Billy McCabe, Anne Kidd as Cora McLean, Angus Miller as Donnie, Conor McCarry as PC Alex Grant, and Eubha Akilade as PC Lorna Burns.

There are some exciting additions to the cast too.

Phyllis Logan, best known as Mrs Hughes in Downton Abbey, will be joining Shetland in a mystery role!

It’ll be something of a Guilt reunion, as Jamie Sives from BBC Two’s hit thriller series is also appearing.

Logan and Sives both return in the final season of Guilt later this month.

Shetland will also be welcoming Dawn Steele (Holby City), Don Gilet (Sherwood), Ann Louise Ross (River City) and Lorraine McIntosh (Outlander) to the cast next season.

When’s the release date?

Season 8 is expected to premiere in the UK on BBC One and streaming on BBC iPlayer in Autumn 2023.

American fans will be able to watch the new episodes on BritBox at a later date.

In the meantime, you can catch up on the first seven seasons of Shetland with a free 7-day BritBox trial here!

“We’re so excited about this new series of Shetland with Ashley and Alison and all our wonderful returning and guest cast,” said executive producer Kate Bartlett. “[Writer] 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,” she added.

We’re promised a “brand new, taut and thrilling murder mystery to keep audiences on the edge of their seats,” according to Gaynor Holmes, Commissioning Editor at the BBC.

Shetland is available to watch on BritBox.