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What we learned about everything from Shetland to Wilko and bats to Belladrum’s star signing

Ashley Jensen.  Image: BBC Scotland
Ashley Jensen. Image: BBC Scotland

What we learned this week…

THERE was plenty of speculation about what might happen after Douglas Henshall left the hit TV crime drama Shetland for the last time. Would the producers put the spotlight on DI Jimmy Perez’ loyal and long-suffering colleague DS Alison ‘Tosh’ McIntosh, portrayed by Alison O’Donnell since 2013?

However, the film-makers have gone the Extras mile by recruiting Ashley Jensen, the star of the former Ricky Gervais comedy, who subsequently played Agatha Raisin in the eponymous detective series. She will star as DI Ruth Calder, a native Shetlander who has returned to the isles after 20 years working for the Met in London.

AN Islay woman has become the only female coxswain of an all-weather lifeboat in Scotland. Cara McEachern joined the local RNLI volunteer crew in 2006 aged 17, and has become one of the most committed people anywhere in the organisation.

Indeed, she has spent more than 763 hours at sea, aided 168 people, and saved at least seven lives. Yet, it’s in her DNA. Her grandfather, Willie, was a full-time mechanic with the Islay crew. Her uncle Neil is a serving coxswain, her father, Islay, is the lifeboat operations manager overseeing the station, and her mother Christine holds a long-standing role as the local RNLI charity’s fundraising guild treasurer. Heroes all!

Jason Manford has gone down a storm during his Scottish tour. Pic: P&J Live.

COMEDIAN Jason Manford has poked fun at an Australian hotel which promoted his gig which took place more than 9,000 miles away at Perth Concert Hall.

The poster, advertising events to those staying at the Alex Hotel in Western Australia, included a listing for the funny man’s gig in the Fair City on Tuesday. Which would have meant a Homeric odyssey for any fans keen to catch his return to stand-up.

He responded: “I’m guessing someone was told to Google ‘what’s on in Perth’ and they just cut and pasted it.”

PARTS of a historic Aberdeenshire concert hall have been taken off-limits after an invasion of bats. The flying creatures made their home in the control room at Haddo House’s Canadian Hall, mainly used for shows and weddings.

Experts said there were “in the region of 600” roosting in the backstage area, with some making their presence felt by flapping overhead during performances.

Dr. Feelgood guitarist Wilko Johnson died at the age of 75.

WILKO Johnson, whose unique machine-gun guitar style and mesmerising stage presence was a major influence on punk, died at the age of 75.

The idiosyncratic musician was the driving force behind the band Dr. Feelgood, and later played with Ian Dury before embarking on a four-decade solo career.

He also starred in two series of Game Of Thrones and was given a rapturous reception at Belladrum Tartan Heart festival in 2016.

TALKING of the latter, actor Kiefer Sutherland will be among the performers when the popular event returns to the Highlands next year.

The son of veteran thesp Donald, and the star of horror film The Lost Boys and TV shows 24 and Designated Survivor, will unveil his musical talents prior to Scottish indie rock band Travis closing the festivities, which run from July 27 to 29.

Matt Hancock has shrugged off criticism of his appearing on I’m a Celebrity. Pic: ITV/Shutterstock.

IT emerged that former Conservative health minister Matt Hancock had broken government rules by not consulting the anti-corruption watchdog before joining I’m A Celebrity, according to the body’s chairman, Lord Pickles.

However, the latter advised ministers that taking action against the MP, who is reportedly being paid £400,000 for his stint in the jungle, would be disproportionate.

THE organisers of Eurovision have extended voting to a global audience and reduced the impact of juries, following voting irregularities at this year’s competition.

In the most drastic rule changes in its 67-year history, the European Broadcasting Union declared that the winning song will be picked by viewers across the world, in combination with a jury of music professionals.

Liverpool was announced as next year’s host city on behalf of Ukraine after the UK’s Sam Ryder was the runner-up in this year’s contest.

Waitrose was criticised for its Christmas advert on social media.

IN the first of our Bah Humbug stories, Waitrose revealed it had deleted scenes from its Christmas advert which showed farmers comparing suntans.

The commercial sparked a backlash on social media, where critics claimed it failed to highlight the dangers of skin cancers or melanomas. Waitrose said it was “sorry”.

BRITISH Paralympic sprinter John McFall was chosen as the first disabled astronaut by the European Space Agency

The 41-year-old joined 16 men and women selected for Esa’s first new class of astronauts. His leg was amputated after a motorcycle crash when he was 19.

He became a professional athlete and represented the UK at the 2008 Paralympics.