Douglas Henshall: ‘Shetland asks some awkward questions this series’

Douglas Henshall on the hard-hitting and thought-provoking return of BBC1 crime drama Shetland tonight

The new series of BBC1 crime drama Shetland looks set to be the most challenging to date for DI Jimmy Perez (Douglas Henshall) and his team. After severed body parts belonging to a young African man are discovered on beaches around Shetland, possible links gradually emerge to organised crime and human trafficking.

TV Times asks Douglas Henshall about Perez’s tough new investigation in Shetland…

TV Times: How does Perez go about tackling such a sinister case?

Douglas Henshall: “He’s shocked that something like this has happened in Shetland. There’s a race against time and that cranks up the pace. It’s such an enormous chain to investigate to get to the culprits but it would be too implausible to wrap it all up with a nice ribbon.”

TVT: The issues dealt with are harrowing this time; will they make viewers think?

DH: “The storyline is something everyone knows a bit about but not how insidious, grubby and grim it is. This series is asking a lot of awkward questions, which I like.”

Alison O'Donnell and Douglas Henshall in Shetland

Alison O’Donnell and Douglas Henshall as Tosh and Perez in Shetland

TVT: Are there any big stunts?

DH: “Sometimes I question scenes or ask for changes so our writer has a small act of revenge when he writes in chase sequences for me! Last year he made me go in the sea and this year he’s had me running all over hills and boat yards. Who wants to watch a 53-year-old man running?! It’s embarrassing.”

TVT: Does Shetland feel like a different show now to when you started in 2013?

DH: “Yes it has changed enormously. Once we had six hours to tell one story, the world was our oyster. The whole show has got a lot bigger and a lot richer. If it was just a simple whodunit I don’t think I’d have stayed.”

TVT: After five years, do the locations on Shetland still captivate you too?

DH: “Yes, we went to a place called Minn beach this time and I didn’t even know it existed and it was a staggeringly beautiful. That’s the thing about Shetland, there are so many little nooks and crannies but we keep finding new places. It’s stunning.”

Shetland returns tonight on BBC1 at 9pm.