The author of the Shetland novels on which the long-running BBC series is based has responded to Douglas Henshall's exit from the show.

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Prolific crime writer Ann Cleeves told RadioTimes.com exclusively: "It's sad that Dougie will no longer be playing Jimmy Perez; he was perfect in the role. But I'm delighted that the BBC want to continue filming in these beautiful islands.

"It'll be exciting to see what happens next."

Henshall has played lead DI Jimmy Perez in all six seasons, the first of which aired back in 2013, and is set to appear in season 7. But that will be his final outing in the role.

"After series 5 of Shetland, David Kane and I decided we wanted to do two more series to complete the story of Jimmy Perez. So series 6 and 7 were commissioned together to give us time to wrap up Perez's story to a satisfactory end.

"It’s been one of the privileges of my career to play Jimmy Perez for almost 10 years and to work with so many wonderful people both in front of and behind the camera, and also to spend so much time in Shetland."

Henshall added: "The Isles were so much a part of our show and of Perez himself. I'll miss him and the place. I wish everyone involved much luck with whatever happens next."

Executive producer for BBC Drama Gaynor Holmes said: "We will miss him enormously but he leaves the show in rude health and we’re extremely excited about the plans we have for bringing more of this much loved drama to audiences far and wide."

Shetland season 6
Shetland season 6 aired last year, with season 7 arriving soon BBC

Henshall hasn't gone into detail about the decision, writing on Twitter: "Been a weird day. Thank you for all the kind words about Shetland. The people, all around the world who followed Jimmy Perez over the years and empathised with him, thank you, it was very much appreciated.

"For those that are interested I’ll explain my reasons for leaving later."

Season 8 has already been confirmed, which means the hunt is now on for his replacement.

Place your bets...

Shetland season 7 begins in August 2022 on BBC One and BBC iPlayer. Meanwhile, Ann Cleeves' Shetland novels are available to buy now.

Check out more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide to see what's on tonight.

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