She takes over from Douglas Henshall as the lead in BBC One's hit murder mystery drama.
Earlier this year, Douglas Henshall made his final appearance as DI Jimmy Perez in the seventh series of BBC One's murder mystery drama Shetland. And now it's been announced that Ashley Jensen will lead the eighth series in 2023.
She'll play DI Ruth Calder, a native Shetlander who returns to the isles after 20 years working for the Met in London. Ruth takes on the lead detective role left vacant by DI Jimmy Perez, working closely with DS Alison ‘Tosh’ McIntosh, played by Alison O’Donnell.
Speaking about joining Shetland, Ashley Jensen said "I am absolutely thrilled to be joining Shetland as DI Ruth Calder. It’s such a hugely successful show and I am aware I have very big boots to fill since the departure of DI Perez, who was very much loved by fans of the show."
"There will be a different dynamic with Ruth amongst the regular characters and a few more new interesting characters to enjoy. However the integrity of the show and the world that has been created will remain very much in the same tone as the last seven seasons. It's a real privilege to be asked to lead this show into a new chapter. I can’t wait to be working in Scotland again. I have missed it!"
To which Commissioning Editor for the BBC, Gaynor Holmes, added "I am absolutely delighted that Ashley is joining the stellar cast of Shetland. Ashley is an immensely accomplished and well-loved actress who is known internationally and we can’t wait to welcome her into the Shetland family when filming begins in the spring."
Originally based on award-winning novels by crime writer Ann Cleeves, the next series of Shetland will see Ashley join series regulars, Steven Robertson as Sandy, Lewis Howden as Billy and Anne Kidd as Cora with further casting will be announced in due course.
The new series will be written by Paul Logue, produced by Louise V Say and executive produced by Gaynor Holmes for the BBC, Kate Bartlett and Denise Paul for Silverprint Pictures. Filming starts this spring in locations on the Shetland Isles and across Scotland.
Speaking about the new series, Kate Bartlett, executive producer for Silverprint Pictures, said "We're so thrilled that Ashley is going to be leading this new series of Shetland, alongside Alison O'Donnell as Tosh. They will be an exciting duo in Paul Logue's compelling new version. It is wonderful to have the opportunity to make another series with such incredible Scottish talent."
Shetland returns in 2023 on BBC One