Shetland: Ashley Jensen To Replace Douglas Henshall as New Lead Detective

Goodbye DI Jimmy Perez, hello DI Ruth Calder!

Ashley Jensen in Mayflies Douglas Henshall in Shetland BBC
Photo: BBC

Tosh, Sandy and Billy’s new guvnor has been confirmed by the BBC: Agatha Raisin star Ashley Jensen will head up the Shetland investigatory team as new character DI Ruth Calder in series eight of the Scottish crime drama. Calder is “a native Shetlander who returns to the isles after 20 years working for the Met in London.” She’s a fish out of water back in water then, and will presumably come with her own share of personal complications, grudges and history with the rest of the locals.

Jensen’s casting follows Douglas Henshall’s exit in the series seven finale, after the actor decided to leave the role of DI Jimmy Perez behind. Perez wasn’t – as some had predicted – blown up in an eco-terrorism plot, but allowed to walk away intact with love interest Meg on his arm. The Detective Inspector nobly sacrificed his career to save an innocent man from being sentenced to death in his homeland of America, and left his Shetland work-family behind to start anew somewhere he wouldn’t be running towards danger.

Jensen joins the existing cast of Shetland, including Lerwick fan-favourites Alison O’Donnell, Steven Robertson, Lewis Holden and Anne Kidd as Tosh, Sandy, Billy and Cora – previously DI Perez’s team. In the BBC announcement, she promises “a different dynamic with Ruth amongst the regular characters, and a few more new interesting characters to enjoy.”

53-year-old Jensen is a familiar face on screen who’s been acting since the early 1990s. After roles in May to December, The Bill, EastEnders, Casualty  among many others, she broke through in the part of Maggie in Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s acting industry comedy Extras, and in the US in the regular role of Christina McKinney in Ugly Betty and Fran in Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney’s excellent Catastrophe. In 2014, Jensen took the role of PR-turned-PI Agatha Raisin in the long-running cosy crime series, and appeared in Ricky Gervais Netflix series After Life.

Ad – content continues below

Born south of the Shetland islands in Annan, Dumfriesshire, Jensen will have to join most of her colleagues (save for local lad Steven Robertson) in making her accent travel the 500 miles or so north to play native Shetlander Calder.

Jensen will she’ll soon be seen in the currently-filming-in-Glasgow new BBC drama Mayflies (Jensen pictured above) adapted from Andrew O’Hagan’s devastating but life-filled novel of the same name. It’s in good company as an acclaimed Scottish novel being turned into a BBC drama, as Douglas Stuart’s Booker Prize-winner Shuggie Bain is also being adapted for the small screen.

Shetland series eight is due to begin filming in Scotland in spring 2023, which suggests that fans won’t see Jensen in action as DI Calder until early 2024 (there was around a seven-month wait between the end of filming Series 7 and its August 2022 air date). We’ll bring you more on the crime drama as it arrives.

Shetland Series 7 is currently available to stream on BBC iPlayer.