Season 8 of Shetland, which arrives on our screens tonight (Wednesday 1st November), ushers in a new era of the BBC crime drama with the arrival of Ashley Jensen's DI Ruth Calder, who has taken over from Douglas Henshall's Jimmy Perez.


She's a native Shetlander, now working for the Metropolitan police in London, who reluctantly returns to the isles as part of an investigation – with both the case and her presence causing a stir.

But it's not just the on-screen action which has a different feel. Speaking to about the experience behind-the-scenes, Alison O'Donnell, who plays Tosh, said: "It was night and day, to be honest. It was always going to be really, really different because I had cut my teeth working alongside Dougie and learning how to do this job.

"I had grown into that iteration of the show and I felt very comfortable in that. I always felt like I could anticipate what was coming, so everybody knew that was all going to be out of the window [with this season]."

She added: "Ashley's approach was different, my relationship with her was different, and going into it I was feeling really out of my element and very nervous."

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But it was also deeply satisfying for O'Donnell to throw herself into a new challenge after over a decade on the show.

"At the same time, I felt very awake," she said, adding: "It was nice to be reawakened and to a certain extent, start all over again, although at the same time I was able to bring a decade of experience of what this show is and what my experience of this show is, and Ashley's experience of everything she's done before, and we just tried to meet in the middle.

"It was a really, really thrilling process. I really enjoyed it."

Alison O'Donnell as Tosh and Ashley Jensen as Ruth in Shetland, standing next to one another in the town in front of some steps
Alison O'Donnell as Tosh and Ashley Jensen as Ruth in Shetland. BBC/Silverprint Pictures/Jamie Simpson

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In an interview with Radio Times magazine, Jensen acknowledged that there will be people who "miss" Henshall, but she assured fans that: "Shetland has kept everything that's wonderful about it, but it's somehow amplified."

She added: "It's lovely that it's two women leading the show. I love working with Alison, and bringing in my character shines a light on Tosh, so we see a different side to her."

Shetland season 8 airs on Wednesday 1st November at 9pm on BBC One and 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 out what's on.


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