Douglas Henshall to star in new BBC One crime drama 'Shetland'

by Deborah Leggate -

Acclaimed Scots actor Douglas Henshall has been cast as the lead role in Shetland, a new two-part drama set in Scotland for BBC One, produced by ITV Studios through BBC Scotland, and written by David Kane, adapted from the series of books by award-winning crime writer Ann Cleeves.

The powerful murder-mystery is set against the stunning Scottish backdrop of the Shetland Isles and centres on Detective Jimmy Perez played by Henshall (The Kidnap Diaries, The Silence), a native Shetlander who has returned home after a long spell away.

Recently widowed Perez possesses a bone dry sense of humour and an idealistic desire to protect his beloved Shetland Isles from inevitable change, making him a fascinating detective to watch at work.

When a young archaeologist discovers a set of human remains, the island community is intrigued to know if it's an ancient find or a contemporary mystery. And when an elderly woman is shot on her land in a tragic accident, Perez and his team find themselves at the centre of two feuding families whose envy, greed and bitterness has divided the surrounding community.

Written by David Kane (The Field of Blood, Taggart, Rebus), produced by Sue De Beauvoir (Merlin, Waterloo Road) and directed by Peter Hoare (Vera, Silk, Five Days), Shetland starts filming on location in Scotland and will transmit later in 2012. The two-part drama is Executive Produced by Elaine Collins (Vera) for ITV Studios and Christopher Aird for BBC Scotland (Call The Midwife, Prisoners" Wives). Further casting will be announced in the coming weeks.

Douglas Henshall says: "I am very much looking forward to working with David Kane, filming in Scotland and being back on BBC One.”

Elaine Collins, Executive Producer, ITV Studios, adds: “We are delighted to be working with the BBC on this commission. Shetland combines eccentric yet warm characters and a classic murder mystery story with the beautiful landscape and rich history of the Shetland Islands and we believe it will be hugely popular with viewers.”

Christopher Aird, Head of Drama, Scotland and Executive Producer, BBC says: “Shetland has a fantastic combination of writing, acting, directing and producing talent. It is a hugely exciting story and part of a project to bring the very best drama to BBC Scotland in the coming years.”

Shetland is the latest addition to BBC Scotland's thriving drama department which is home to Waterloo Road (BBC One), Lip Service (BBC Three), Field of Blood (BBC One Scotland) and River City (BBC One Scotland).

Shetland was commissioned by Ben Stephenson, Controller, BBC Drama Commissioning and Danny Cohen, Controller, BBC One.

Gwilym Gibbons, Director of Shetland Arts, said about the announcement: “Shetland Arts is delighted to see the highly popular Ann Cleeves Shetland novels dramatised for prime time TV. We have always believed that Ann Cleeves" characters, borne out of her deep understanding of our seascapes and landscapes, have the potential for the creation a high quality TV drama set in Shetland. Shetland also has new facilities like Mareel and local talent and expertise that makes the Isles a very attractive place to set a new TV drama. We are very excited to be working with the Shetland production team.”