When Douglas Henshall announced that he was leaving Shetland at the end of season 7, fans were quick to rally behind Alison O'Donnell's character DS Alison 'Tosh' McIntosh as a possible replacement for DI Jimmy Perez.


In the end, the role went to Ashley Jensen – who will be joining the cast for season 8 as new character DI Ruth Calder – and although that news was generally greeted very positively, a snap poll conducted by RadioTimes.com after it broke revealed 58 per cent of fans reckoned Tosh should have had the opportunity to step up.

Now, O'Donnell has responded to that support during an exclusive interview with RadioTimes.com at the Radio Times Covers Party, revealing that she was delighted by how much fans have responded to her character.

"I think there's only one way to feel about that, and that's really flattered," she said. "It's nice to know that people appreciate your work and that people feel connected to the character."

She added: "And you know I will be back and there's gonna be lots more cases to crack and I'll be part of it. And I hope that people continue to stay with me for that, I'm looking forward to it."

O'Donnell and the outgoing Henshall also teased that the new season will be very different with DI Calder at the helm, but both said they were very excited about the changes that lie in store for viewers.

"I think it's going to be very different, but I think that's what's most exciting about it," said Henshall. "So yeah, I'm looking forward to seeing it."

O'Donnell added: "What they've done, which I think is the only thing they could have done, is taken off in another direction, but it feels different and fresh. And hopefully people will stay connected with it."

Meanwhile, Jensen herself said that her new character – a native Shetlander who returns to the Isles after 20 years working for the Met Police in London – will bring "a whole new dynamic" to the series.

"It's kind of almost more about the other people – about how Alison and all the other characters are going to relate to Ruth Calder, so that'll be really interesting," she said.

Additional reporting by Abby Robinson.

Look out for exclusive photos and chats from the Radio Times Covers Party in next week's issue of Radio Times magazine, on sale Tuesday 7th February.

Shetland season 8 will air on BBC One, while season 7 is available on BBC iPlayer. Ann Cleeves's Shetland novels are available to buy now.

Check out more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to find something else to watch.


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