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‘Better than expected’: Readers react as Shetland series eight kicks off without fan-favourite Jimmy

Mostly positive reviews were shared as the new episode aired on Wednesday night.

Ashley Jensen in Shetland
Ashley Jensen has joined the cast of Shetland for its eighth series. Image: ITV Studios.

After a much-discussed departure from the show, series eight of Shetland returned to television screens on Wednesday evening.

Helmed by new detectives DI Ruth Calder, played by Ashley Jensen, and DS Tosh McIntosh, played by Allison O‘Donnell, this is the first series without Douglas Henshall, who played DI Jimmy Perez.

This is the first series of the hit BBC show without DI Jimmy Perez, played by Douglas Henshall, with new detective DI Ruth Calder now taking the helm.

Episode one aired on Wednesday night and featured the Met detective, played by Ashley Jensen, return to her native Shetland after 30 years.

But what did P&J and Evening Express readers make of the new addition?

ashley jensen and allison o'donnell on set of shetland tv series 8
Ashley Jensen and Alison O’Donnell behind the scene of Shetland. Image: ITV Studios.

Shetland series eight is ‘better than expected’

A number of viewers said they were hesitant about the new look line-up after watching DI Jimmy Perez sleuth things out for seven series.

Annie Collie commented: “I almost did na want to like it because I love the old Shetland but oh my God I loved that.”

Chris Holmes echoed her sentiments, writing: “Much better than expected. Wasn’t sure without Jimmy but we did enjoy it.”

Alison Shields agreed saying Shetland could follow in the footsteps of other Scotland based dramas that have lost their main character.

She wrote: “Enjoyed very much. If Taggart can survive without the named character then so can Shetland.”

Speaking with the BBC, series star Allison O’Donnell, who has played DS Tosh McIntosh since 2013, said she welcomed the change, adding that it is not often you see two female leads  in crime shows.

She said: “There is a sea change, but there is still a long way to go.”

Jackie Hickman was pleased to see Ms. O’Donnell’s co-star Ashley Jensen on screen: “She’s great as Agatha Raisin so no doubt she would be good on Shetland.”

Mystery unsolved: how can they replace Jimmy Perez?

While several who watched on Wednesday were happy with the change in Shetland’s local police force, some still had reservations.

Lorna McLaren wrote: “Seemed like a different programme but enjoyable. Missed Jimmy and his house, Duncan and the pub, and the various streets and cafes in Lerwick.

“I thought Calder’s back story was well handled. Looking forward to next episode … a week seems a long time to wait.”

Meanwhile, Allen Fraser wrote: “When the storylines departed from the Ann Cleeves books it just became standard Central Belt cops-n-robbers storylines dumped in a background of Shetland scenery.”

Douglas Henshall announced his plans to leave the show before the premiere of series seven in 2022. He said he and writer David Kane wanted to “wrap up the Perez story to a satisfactory end”.

Douglas Henshall who plays DI Jimmy Perez in the BBC murder mystery drama Shetland, made his final appearance in the seventh series. Image: BBC/Mark Mainz.

Effing, jeffing and a bad look for Shetland

Other readers had specific concerns, specifically with the fruity language that frequently appeared in the episode.

Patricia MacQuarrie wrote: “Was looking forward to it but disappointed by so much unnecessary bad language.”

Allen Fraser agreed, adding: “Dialogue written by Dominic Cummings in short f-word sentences so that the programme can be understood in other countries. Tourists will enjoy searching the islands for “Nibb-on” an “Ull-star” shop.”

Throughout the show’s run there has been everything from grisly murders to human trafficking rings, with this series set to continue that pace as London gangsters turn up on the Island.

Kat N John Milroy shared she was worried about how the show makes the small Scottish island look to the outside world.

She wrote: “I wish this programme did not show Shetland as a violent, drug community, instead of a beautiful island with the majority of people being that live there being honest, hard working and caring people. Makes me so cross.”

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