It was announced ahead of Shetland season 7 that Douglas Henshall would be leaving the series and his role as DI Jimmy Perez, but that it would be continuing on without him. Now, we finally know who will be leading the cast into season 8.
Extras, Ugly Betty and After Life star Ashley Jensen has officially been cast in the series as new character DI Ruth Calder, a native Shetlander who returns to the isles after 20 years working for the Met in London.
We're told that Jensen's character will be working closely with Alison O’Donnell's DS Alison ‘Tosh’ McIntosh, while returns have also been confirmed for series regulars Steven Robertson as Sandy, Lewis Howden as Billy and Anne Kidd as Cora.
On being cast in the series, Jensen said: "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."
She continued: "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!"
Meanwhile, Gaynor Holmes, commissioning editor for the BBC, said: "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."
The new season will film on the Shetland Isles and across Scotland from spring next year, and debut later in 2023.
The end of Shetland season 7 saw the end of Jimmy's career as a detective, after he freed a man who was about to be extradited to America, and potentially sentenced to death, but he believed was innocent.
Shetland season 8 will air on BBC One, while seasons 6 and 7 are available on BBC iPlayer now. Ann Cleeves's Shetland novels are available to buy now.