The star of Shetland tells us about the town where “people seem to get murdered a lot”
Starting at 20:00 on ITV Choice (Channel 123) on DStv Now on Tuesday, 15 October, and running for six weeks, the show is based on the bestselling detective books by award-winning crime writer Ann Cleeves, with most of the storylines taking place on the eponymous Scottish archipelago.
The series, which won the award for Best TV Drama at the 2016 BAFTA Scotland Awards, stars Douglas Henshall as Jimmy Perez, a detective inspector working for the Shetland police with a supporting cast that includes Alison O’Donnell, Steven Robertson, Mark Bonnar, Lewis Howden and Erin Armstrong.
Henshall, who won the award for best actor for his role as Jimmy Perez at the above-mentioned Baftas, answers a few questions about the series and his character …
What do you think audiences like about the series?
I think first and foremost it’s the characters. Secondly, closely followed by, the place that it’s set in. Not only because it’s beautiful but because it’s like another character in the show. I think people are drawn to the place because they imagine themselves there. But I really have to give credit to the writers and producers because they are the prime reason. And the books, they’re incredibly popular. All those ingredients together work very well for us!
How do you think Perez has changed since we first met him?
I think he’s slightly more disillusioned than he was. Shetland’s a lot more violent than he thought it was going to be – people seem to get murdered there a lot! And I think he’s finding being without his wife a lot harder, and the idea that he is still alone 10 years after it happened is as much of a surprise to him as everyone else. Bringing up a young daughter has been very difficult and reminds him of the loss he’s had and how he can’t be with anyone that’s not good for her.
“[Perez] seems to genuinely like women, which I thought was quite unusual in a police show.” – Douglas Henshall, who plays DI Perez
Do you relate to Perez?
Very much. When I read the script at first, the things that sprung at me were that he seemed to be quite kind, empathetic and wanted to find the best in people. Also his relationship towards the women in his life, such as Tosh – he seems to genuinely like women, which I thought was quite unusual in a police show. All of those things drew me in and similarly I try to put my own self in there as well. I felt Perez was far removed from a typical police television character!
Can you give us a teaser of what’s in store this series?
At the start of the series, a human hand washes up on a Shetland beach. A few hours later, more body parts are discovered in a hold-all that has been dumped at sea. The victim is identified as a young Nigerian man, spotted a few days before. In investigating his murder, Perez becomes involved in the search for a vulnerable young woman, leading him to uncover a complex network of human trafficking across Scotland’s remote rural communities.