Shetland's Douglas Henshall replacement speaks out against backlash to landing role: 'Dougie was great!'

Shetland's Douglas Henshall replacement speaks out against backlash to landing role: 'Dougie was great!'

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Alex Davies

By Alex Davies

Published: 24/10/2023

- 00:05

The actor left the role of DI Jimmy Perez behind him last year

Shetland's newest star Ashley Jensen has publicly addressed the furore from some parts of the show's fandom after she was confirmed to be stepping into the void left by Douglas Henshall.

For seven drama-filled seasons, Henshall was the face of Shetland alongside his righthand confidant and trusty colleague DS Alison 'Tosh' McIntosh, played by Alison O'Donnell.

Heading into the eighth run without Henshall, it was always going to be a tough ask for bosses to appease die-hard fans who'd grown to love the character of Perez all those years.

And matters were only made worse when, rather fan-favourite Tosh being given the promotion and chance to lead the show, bosses opted for an entirely new face in the form of Jensen's DI Ruth Calder.

Calder is described as a Met police officer and native Shetlander who ditched the island two decades earlier, only to be forced to return as she tracked down a witness.

Tosh and Calder are billed to lock horns once the new series of Shetland gets underway, teeing up a tantalising new storyline for Shetland fans to watch unfold.

Ashley Jensen

Ashley Jensen joins Alison O'Donnell on set of Shetland


But with Tosh and Calder's new working relationship as well as Jensen and O'Donnell's on-screen chemistry be enough to win skeptical fans over?

Jensen has tried to allay fears as she publicly addressed the uproar in a new interview, saying: "I love working with Alison and bringing in my character shines a light on Tosh, so we see a different side to her.

"Of course, there will be people who miss Dougie because he was great, but with new directors and a new lead writer, Shetland has kept everything that’s wonderful about it but it’s somehow amplified."

The new-look dynamic of Shetland with two women now leading the show has also been lauded by Jensen.

She added to Radio Times: "It’s lovely that it’s two women leading the show.

"As an actor, all you’ve got is yourself. The way I work is to take an element of myself and expand upon it."

Jensen has previously acknowledged the tough task of replacing Henshall, telling the BBC she knew she had "big boots to fill".

She told the corporation: "I almost can't think about it too much because I would get the fear. I've tried to look at it as a new project for me and it's a new world because people predominately know me for a lot of comedy that I've done."

Radio Times

Ashley Jensen was speaking in this week's Radio Times


Jensen's arguably best known for her collaborations with comedian Ricky Gervais having landed leading roles in award-winning series Extras and After Life.

However, she also skyrocketed into stardom across the pond in the States after landing a recurring role in ABC comedy Ugly Betty.

Elsewhere on her CV, Jensen played the titular role in the crime comedy Agatha Raisin as well as appearing in the Emmy-nominated comedy Catastrophe.

Since leaving Shetland, Henshall has gone on to star in Netflix's hit series Who Is Erin Carter? opposite the likes of Evin Ahmad and Indica Watson among others.

However, looking beyond his career after Shetland, Henshall told Radio Times back in August: "It’s very difficult to make conscious decisions about what you’re going to do when you’re a 57-year-old white man.

"There aren’t so many roles around for me anymore. I think that’s just a fact of getting older.

"People are looking for younger actors these days. There’s a degree of, ‘I’ve been offered that, I’m grateful for the job, I’ll go and do it.'"

Series eight of Shetland kicks off on November 1 on BBC One.

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