Shetland will feel quite different from other British drama. The storytelling has its own particular flavour, reflecting the distinctive environment of the Shetland Islands.”Elaine Collins, Executive Producer
Date: 07.02.2013 Last updated: 25.03.2014 at 13.20
Set against a stunning Scottish backdrop, Shetland, BBC One’s powerful new murder-mystery stars Douglas Henshall as Detective Jimmy Perez, a native Shetlander who has returned home after a long spell away and leads a murder investigation, uncovering secrets and lies from the past.
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 dead on her land in mysterious circumstances, Perez and his team find themselves at the centre of two feuding families whose envy, greed and bitterness has divided the surrounding community.
Based on the book Red Bones by award-winning crime writer Ann Cleeves, Shetland is written by David Kane (The Field Of Blood, Taggart, Foyle’s War), produced by Sue de Beauvoir (Merlin, Waterloo Road) and directed by Peter Hoar (Vera, Silk, Five Days).
Filmed in Shetland and Glasgow, Elaine Collins, Executive Producer, ITV Studios talks about how the acclaimed novel has been adapted for a TV audience and the unique location of the drama: “Based on the award-winning novels by Ann Cleeves, Shetland is an atmospheric thriller set on the Shetland Islands. It centres around widowed DI Jimmy Perez, a native to the islands, who has returned with his step-daughter, Cassie, after a long spell working on the mainland.
“Apart from writing great stories with iconic detectives at the heart of them, Ann is wonderful at fleshing out all of her characters and making them meaningful, no matter how small their part in the narrative. I like the fact that she has lots of multi-dimensional female characters, but none of them are murdered prostitutes or dismembered corpses.
“Davy [Kane] is an old friend and I knew immediately that he would enjoy adapting Ann's Shetland novels. He's Scottish, so the location had instant appeal for him, and he has an innate understanding of the culture and of the people. He's worked with Douglas [Henshall] in the past and loved writing for him. He too, like Ann, writes brilliantly for women and has invented the characters of Tosh and teenager Cassie.
“Douglas Henshall is an outstanding actor and his ability to mine complexity of character while also delivering humour make him perfect for the role of Jimmy Perez.
“Although a relatively small country, Scotland has a strong cultural identity, both contemporarily and historically. It's a dramatic and beautiful place full of passionate individuals.
“Influenced by both mainland Scotland and Scandinavia, but with very much its own identity - Shetland is a location like no other. The uniqueness and sense of place make it an ideal setting for traditional British crime drama with a unique twist.
“Shetland will feel quite different from other British drama. The storytelling has its own particular flavour, reflecting the distinctive environment of the Shetland Islands.”
Christopher Aird, Head of Drama, Scotland and Executive Producer, BBC Scotland, adds: “Shetland is a gift for BBC Scotland. A unique setting, brilliant characters and cracking crime stories to boot.
“A truly atmospheric murder mystery, Shetland has a unique tone and will be a real treat for fans of crime drama on BBC One.
“The Shetland Isles are a very special place, they are extremely remote – further away from Glasgow than London. And an island setting is perfect for a murder mystery; it is like a pressure cooker – you know one of the characters must be the murderer.
“The Scottish landscape is hugely dramatic, it is also one of the most beautiful places on earth. And the humour and soulfulness of the Scottish people is great for brilliant, emotive drama.
“I love Ann’s Shetland quartet. There is an authenticity to her writing that really makes it stand out. And David Kane is one of the best screenwriters in the country. I love his sense of humanity and warmth. He gets under the skin of his characters and makes them come off the page. I particularly like the relationship he has written between Perez and his teenage daughter Cassie - it feels so warm and true but is also very entertaining.
“Dougie has great presence. He is so experienced and it shines through in every scene. He can communicate so much with very small adjustments to his performance. Dougie has a fantastic feeling for nuance and subtlety – Perez is quite a private character so it is important we feel what he feels at all times.
“The most important thing with crime drama is to keep the audience guessing all the way to the end and I think Shetland absolutely does that.
“Shetland is a winter warmer shot through with a compelling murder mystery. It looks and sounds beautiful and will properly entertain on a cold dark night.”
Shetland is an ITV Studios production for BBC One through BBC Scotland. It is scheduled to TX in mid-March (tbc).
Douglas Henshall - DI Jimmy Perez
Alison O’Donnell - DC Alison ‘Tosh’ MacIntosh
Steven Robertson - PC Sandy Wilson
Lewis Howden - Sgt Billy McCabe
Erin Armstrong - Cassie Perez
Gemma Chan - Hattie James
Jim Sturgeon - Ronald Haldane
Lindy Whiteford - Jackie Haldane
Alexander Morton - Joseph Wilson
Martin Wenner - Professor Paul Berglund
Alison Peebles - Vicky Kirkland
Mark Bonnar - Duncan Hunter
Executive producers are Elaine Collins & Kate Bartlett, ITV Studios, and Christopher Aird, BBC Scotland
Written by David Kane
Produced by Sue De Beauvoir
Directed by Peter Hoar
Based on the book Red Bones by Ann Cleeves
Shetland is an ITV Studios production for BBC One through BBC Scotland