Skip to main contentSkip to footer

Shetland viewers saying same thing as Ashley Jensen makes series 8 debut

Ashley took over from Douglas Henshall in the lead role

Alison O'Donnell as DI Tosh McIntosh and Ashley Jensen as Ruth Calder in Shetland
Nicky Morris
TV and film writer
2 November 2023
Share this:

Shetland returned to our screens on Wednesday night, introducing Ashley Jensen as the drama's new lead detective – and viewers have given their verdict on the Extras star's debut.

Ashely took over from Douglas Henshall after he decided to step down from his role as Jimmy Perez after seven seasons.  

WATCH: Ashley Jensen stars in Shetland series 8

The new series follows Met Police detective Ruth Calder, who returns to her native Shetland after 30 years to retrieve the terrified and vulnerable witness to a gangland murder. 

Taking to X, formerly known as Twitter, viewers praised the opening episode, with many reassured that the show is just as good without Douglas at the helm. 

Ashley Jensen as DI Ruth Calder and Alison O'Donnell as DI Tosh McIntosh in Shetland© BBC
Ashley Jensen as DI Ruth Calder and Alison O'Donnell as DI Tosh McIntosh

One person wrote: "I have to say I was a wee bit worried about #Shetland without Jimmy Perez. Needn't have been, the writing and performances are as strong as ever. Can't wait for next week!" while another added: "Really enjoyed #Shetland tonight. Wasn't sure how a change of cast would work out but I think it was better than ever."

A third person tweeted: "What a brilliant first episode. So glad this show is back."

Fans also commended Ashley's performance as newcomer Ruth, with one person writing: "Excellent start to this series. Tosh, Sandy and Billy are just wonderful and Ashley Jensen as the new DI was excellent. Roll on next week," while another penned: "Brilliant first episode of #shetland! Enjoyed everything about it - script, cast, sub stories… Ashley Jensen is a fab replacement and loved seeing the old faces of Sandy and Tosh!"

Ashley Jensen as DI Ruth Calder in Shetland © Jamie Simpson
Fans praised Ashley's debut on the show

A third viewer tweeted: "Ashley Jensen nailed it. In fact, the whole cast nailed it. Thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed that."

What is Shetland series 8 about? 

The series opens with the arrival of Met Police detective Ruth Calder, who is on the trail of Ellen Quinn (Maisie Norma Seaton), a witness to a London gangland murder.

DI Tosh (Alison O'Donnell) must pause her investigation into a string of sinister animal deaths to help Calder find Ellen before it's too late. 

Ashley Jensen as DI Ruth Calder and Jamie Sives as Cal Innes in Shetland

Ashley stars alongside Jamie Sives as Cal Innes

The synopsis continues: "Ellen's family are the influential and notorious Bains, led by dominant matriarch, Grace (Phyllis Logan). Calder and Tosh discover her mother Stella (Dawn Steele) and father Kieran (Barry O’Connor) haven’t seen Ellen since she left for London six months ago and are surprised to hear that she’s back in Shetland.

MORE: Shetland's Ashley Jensen responds to fan criticism over joining season eight

"Matters are made worse when armed hitmen - the experienced Howell (Don Gilét) and volatile Nowak (Arnas Fedaravičius) - arrive on the Isles on a mission to silence Ellen. On top of the twists and turns of the case, Calder is faced with figures from her past including her ex-boyfriend Cal Innes (Jamie Sives) and estranged younger brother Alan (Steven Miller) – now the minister of their late father’s old kirk. However, these siblings have starkly different views of their shared childhood. It’s clear from the off, Calder has no love for Tosh’s adopted home and their journey into the dark recesses of Shetland's past and present will test their partnership to the limit."

Phyllis Logan as Grace Bain in Shetland© BBC
Phyllis Logan as Grace Bain

Shetland continues on Wednesday 8 November at 9pm on BBC One.

Sign up to HELLO Daily! for the best royal, celebrity and lifestyle coverage

By entering your details, you are agreeing to HELLO! Magazine User Data Protection Policy. You can unsubscribe at any time. For more information, please click here.