Shetland stars tell of ‘conflict’ as detectives team up in tense new drama

Stars of the new Shetland series have revealed how their characters clashed as they were thrown together to solve a brutal murder with gangland connections.

Ashley Jensen and Alison O’Donnell will appear together next Wednesday in the first series since the departure of Douglas Henshall as DI Jimmy Perez.

In a series of interviews released to publicise the much-anticipated new six-part drama, the actors have revealed intriguing details about the dynamic between the detectives – and the tense new storyline.

Jensen, who plays DI Ruth Calder, describes her character as being “formidable”.

“She’s strong, she’s a woman in a man’s world.

“Ruth Calder’s built this little barricade around herself – she’s almost like an island herself.”

Originally from Shetland, Calder is not pleased to be back.

“She’s very much an urban detective and is resentfully drawn back to Shetland.

“This case makes her confront herself, her past and the things that pulled her away from her home in the first place.”

Called back to Shetland to find an eye-witness in a London murder with possible gangland connections, Calder must team up with Tosh – who has temporarily stepped up to the role of DI following Perez’s departure.

Production crew and DI Ruth Calder (Ashley Jensen) and DI 'Tosh' McIntosh (Alison O'Donnell)

Production crew and DI Ruth Calder (Ashley Jensen) and DI ‘Tosh’ McIntosh (Alison O’Donnell)

Their new partnership gets off to a tense start.

Jensen says there are “moments of conflict” which makes for an exciting storyline – although, ultimately, they respect each other.

“At times, Calder almost acts like a big sister to Tosh but that might come across as nipping at her,” she added.

“There’s a glimmer of respect there that builds and builds – but that’s not to say that there won’t be moments when they annoy each other.”

O’Donnell also described tension in the “restless” new partnership.

“It is new and fragile and their policing styles don’t always marry up.

“But these are two confident, experiences women who recognise the value of working together and pooling resources, and who respect each other, even though they don’t always see eye-to-eye.

Behind the scenes, however, the pair had an “absolute blast” working together.

DI Ruth Calder (Ashley Jensen);DI 'Tosh' McIntosh (Alison O'Donnell). Photo: BBC/Silverprint Pictures/Jamie Simpson.

DI Ruth Calder (Ashley Jensen);DI ‘Tosh’ McIntosh (Alison O’Donnell). Photo: BBC/Silverprint Pictures/Jamie Simpson.

O’Donnell said: “There were days when I laughed so hard my stomach hurt and I was in danger of crying all my make-up off.

“But we never, ever lost focus or took our eyes off the ball.

“Figuring out our chemistry was an outright pleasure and I’m really proud of what we created together.”

She said returning to Shetland for the filming was “like coming home”

“I was so happy when I learned we would be going back.

“I know the place so well now and look forward to visiting all my favourite beauty spots and eateries.

“My family love coming too and we had a really special time, especially as the weather was so gorgeous.

“In 10 years of filming in Shetland I’ve never seen it so lovely. The sun was out and it was warm and the beaches there are so beautiful…also there’s a soft play now!

“So, life is complete.”

Jensen was also impressed with what filming on the isles had to offer.

“Well, being in Shetland during a summer heatwave wearing layers of cashmere will certainly stay with me forever, that’s for sure.

“Beyond that, the beaches and the sea were incredible but one of the things that delighted me on a daily basis were the sheep – who knew there are so many different types?”

Shetland returns to BBC One at 9pm on Wednesday 1st November.


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