'Shetland' stars Douglas Henshall and Mark Bonnar explore more island murders

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Programme Name: Shetland S6 - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows:  DI Jimmy Perez (DOUGLAS HENSHALL) - (C) ITV Studios/Silverprint - Photographer: Mark Mainz
Douglas Henshall returns as DI Jimmy Perez in the sixth series of Shetland (ITV Studios/Silverprint/Mark Mainz)

Shetland is one of the most beautiful and rugged spots in all of the British Isles.

But it also appears to be the murder capital of the world, thanks to author Ann Cleeves's Shetland – one of the most beloved shows on UK television.

The drama and intrigue of the most remote northern island in the country is back with a bloody bang, and there are more horrors heading the way of Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez for the long awaited season six.

The hit show, starring Douglas Henshall as the troubled detective, has been one of the most consistently popular cop shows of the last decade.

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 19/10/2021 - Programme Name: Shetland S6 - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 2) - Picture Shows:  DI Jimmy Perez (DOUGLAS HENSHALL), Supporting Artists - (C) ITV Studios - Photographer: Mark Mainz
Douglas Henshall's DI Jimmy Perez watching the drama from afar in Shetland. (ITV Studios/Mark Mainz)

And according to the man fronting the island investigations, one of the reasons for that is the strong team spirit among the cast and crew.

Henshall said: “The ambition of the show has always remained high and we always want to improve ourselves and it’s a happy place to work.

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“We all pull for one another. It’s tough doing a show like Shetland – we’re away from our families for weeks on end so we all support one another. I think when you have all of those things, then you have the chance of making something memorable. And then there’s a little bit of luck too.

“By now, people like our show because there isn’t anything like it on TV.”

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 12/10/2021 - Programme Name: Shetland S6 - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 1) - Picture Shows:  DI Jimmy Perez (DOUGLAS HENSHALL) - (C) ITV Studios - Photographer: Mark Mainz
DI Jimmy Perez (Douglas Henshall) in Shetland which returns to BBC One on 20 October (ITV Studios /Mark Mainz)

The star, formerly known for TV hits like Primeval and Outlander, as well as films like Orphans and Iona, has loved getting the chance to slip into one of author Cleeves’s best loved detectives.

He said: “I think I've been doing it so long, Perez is just in my bones now. Normally it takes me around a week to start to feel comfortable playing him again but after that it’s pretty straightforward.”

As well as the usual murders to solve in one of the bloodiest postcodes in the world, with sidekick Detective Sergeant Alison McIntosh (Alison O'Donnell), Perez has demons to face. 

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:01:00 on 23/04/2021 - Programme Name: Shetland S6 - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: *Early Release* DS Alison ‘Tosh’ McIntosh (ALISON O’DONNELL), DI Jimmy Perez (DOUGLAS HENSHALL) - (C) ITV Studios - Photographer: Mark Mainz
Douglas Henshall as DI Jimmy Perez and Alison O'Donnell as DS Alison McIntosh in Shetland (Mark Mainz)

Henshall added: “We open with the funeral of his mother so there’s a big thread of grief which runs through this series for Perez. As for the case? I don’t want to give too much away.

“But I will say this, there’s the murder of a prominent figure and his daughter hears her father die over the telephone.”

There’s also the return of season three killer Donna Killick (Fiona Bell) on leave for compassionate grounds, which will cause trouble for Perez’s pal and parenting rival Duncan, played by Mark Bonnar, also currently lighting up the screens in Guilt.

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 19/10/2021 - Programme Name: Shetland S6 - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 2) - Picture Shows:  Duncan Hunter (MARK BONNAR) - (C) ITV Studios - Photographer: Mark Mainz
Mark Bonnar as Duncan Hunter in Shetland. (ITV Studios/Mark Mainz)

Bonnar said of their relationship: “It’s a kind of love story in a way. Duncan and Perez are very different people but we have a lot of respect for each other even though Duncan’s ultimately very annoying and get himself into scrapes that are always avoidable.

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“I think Perez looks on Duncan with an eye roll and a sigh. It’s like long-suffering Perez and well-meaning Duncan. 

"Perez describes it perfectly at the end of series five - being pals with Duncan is like supporting the Scotland football team... you always hope they’re going to get there in the end! I think their relationship is a success because they’re sort of an odd couple and they’ve been thrown together by circumstance.

“It’s just great working with Dougie. I think our chemistry really feeds into the chemistry of the two characters.”

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 19/10/2021 - Programme Name: Shetland S6 - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 2) - Picture Shows:  Duncan Hunter (MARK BONNAR) - (C) ITV Studios - Photographer: Mark Mainz
Mark Bonnar as Duncan in Shetland. (Mark Mainz)

And what does Bonnar think is the secret of the show’s success? He said: “Everybody loves a murder mystery and everyone loves a remote place because it sparks your imagination.

“Shetland’s beautiful, I think those things combined with fantastic stories are what makes this show a hit around the world. I’m very proud of Shetland – it’s a place that warrants visiting. There’s something very special about Shetland and you the only way to discover that is to go there.”

Shetland season six begins BBC One, 9pm Wednesday October 20

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