Why did Douglas Henshall leave Shetland?

Douglas Henshall exits Shetland as series 8 introduces DI Ruth Calder

Shetland is back on BBC One with a new DI...

It’s a bittersweet time for Shetland fans as the series returns for its eighth run, but without its central character DI Perez – so why did Douglas Henshall leave the BBC One show?

Episode 1 of the new series introduces Ashley Jensen as DI Ruth Calder. But, no matter how good she is, they’ll always be a Perez-shaped hole in the drama from now on.

After all, Douglas Henshall’s character has been the backbone of the series since it started in 2013. Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez was the lead Inspector for the Shetland Police and worked out of the Lerwick Police Station.

Jimmy was born and raised on Fair Isle but moved to Shetland with his daughter Cassie after the death of his wife. However, after almost 10 years, Perez quit the force at the end of series 7 in heartbreaking scenes.

So why did Douglas Henshall leave his role as DI Jimmy Perez in Shetland? And what is he doing now? Here’s everything you need to know!

The cast of Shetland frown in series 7
Douglas Henshall left Shetland in 2022 (Credit: BBC)

When did Douglas Henshall leave Shetland?

It’s been just over a year since viewers said a very heavy goodbye to Shetland’s beloved DI Jimmy Perez. Douglas Henshall left the show at the end of series 7.

In early 2022, the now 57-year-old actor revealed the sad news that he was leaving the popular BBC One detective drama. After nearly 10 years on the hit show, he made the decision to say goodbye to his character Jimmy Perez for good.

He made his final appearance on the show in the series 7 finale on Wednesday, September 14, 2022. However, BBC One confirmed the show would go on without the lead character.

Why did Douglas Henshall leave Shetland?

Scottish actor Douglas said in a statement at the time: “After series five of Shetland, David Kane and I decided we wanted to do two more series to complete the story of Jimmy Perez.

“So series six and seven were commissioned together to give us time to wrap up Perez’s story to a satisfactory end.

“It’s been one of the privileges of my career to play Jimmy Perez for almost 10 years and to work with so many wonderful people both in front of and behind the camera, and also to spend so much time in Shetland.

“The Isles were so much a part of our show and of Perez himself. I’ll miss him and the place. I wish everyone involved much luck with whatever happens next. I’ll miss him as a person I crawl into every now and again because I liked him, he’s a nice man.”

After BBC One revealed he would be replaced by Ashley Jensen, Dougie told RadioTimes.com: “She’s a great actor and she’s obviously very different from me.

“So, I mean, I think it will be interesting to have two women leading up this detective show on the isles and see what that brings. I think it’s going to be very different, but I think that’s what’s most exciting about it – so yeah, I’m looking forward to seeing it.”

He also expressed his belief that Perez’s story was reaching its natural conclusion, and it was time to appear in something new.

Tosh and Ruth in Shetland series 8
Ashley Jensen joins the cast as DI Ruth Calder in Shetland (Credit: BBC)

What happened in the Shetland series 7 finale?

Series 7 revolved around the disappearance and subsequent death of vulnerable young man Connor Cairns. DI Jimmy Perez investigated who murdered the local man, as well as his girlfriend Bryd Fleming, and outsider Williams Rodgers.

Slowly, Perez and sidekick Tosh discovered the deaths all seemed to be connected to an eco-terrorism unit. In the Shetland series 7 finale, the team raced to identify the killer and prevent disaster striking the town as another bomb threatened to go off. The killer was eventually revealed as militant activist Jamie Narey.

DI Jimmy Perez decided to quit Lerwick Police after becoming weary. Season 7 started with Perez at a tribunal after being arrested at the end of season 6 following the death of Donna Killick.

She had written a letter claiming the detective was planning to cover up her murder which was in fact a suicide. While he walked away with his job intact, the experience left a bad taste in his mouth.

His love interest Meg saw that Perez was always putting his job first, at the expense of his personal life. In a monumental decision, Perez let suspect Lloyd go free – knowing this would spell the end of his job.

Perez became convinced that suspect Lloyd had NOT committed any crime in the States, and decided he would not be complicit in sending him back to the US, where he might face the death penalty.

Basically, Perez did the right thing by saving an innocent man, even though it meant losing his job. Boss Rhona told Perez: “If Lloyd has gone, it’s the end of your career.”

To which Perez replied: “I know, I think it’s worth it. Rhona, I’m done. If the last thing I do is help an innocent man, then I am good with that.”

What is Douglas Henshall doing now?

Douglas Henshall’s first role after leaving Shetland in 2022 was in Netflix thriller Who is Erin Carter? The actor portrayed powerful  businessman – and villain! – Daniel Lang.

Daniel hired Erin as a tutor for his troubled son, and also protected his criminal business interests at all costs. Daniel surprised Erin when he revealed he was the one bankrolling the gang Emilio was investigating. Daniel killed Emilio and asked Erin to stay out of it. Which she didn’t.

Daniel subsequently kidnapped Erin… But she eventually got the upper hand and shot him dead. But it was fabulous to see Douglas playing a bad guy for a change!

Fans will soon be able to see Dougie in the TV film Murder is Easy, based on the Agatha Christie novel. He’ll play Major Horton, and will star opposite his Shetland bestie Mark Bonnar! Ghosts’ Mathew Baynton also stars, as does Penelope Winton, Tamzin Outhwaite, and Industry‘s David Jonsson.

Douglas will also be appearing in upcoming film One of Us. The film follows members of a family who begin dying one by one at a funeral. Sienna Guillory also stars in the movie.

Read more: Shetland star swaps police force for prison in new pictures for Time series 2

YouTube video player

Shetland series 8 continues on Wednesdays at 9pm on BBC One.

What did you think of Shetland series 8 episode 1? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page @EntertainmentDailyFix.

Helen Fear
TV Editor