BBC’s Shetland is back for a new run and here’s its star Douglas Henshall talking about it…
After a long break, how has it been getting back into the character of Perez again?
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.
Where do we find Perez now and what case is he investigating?
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.
This series sees the return of local convicted murderer Donna Killick [played by Fiona Bell]. How does she get out of prison
Donna’s terminally ill and has been given compassionate release from prison which is, obviously, very controversial. There are a lot of people on the islands, including the victim’s family, who don’t feel she should be allowed to come back here. Then there are other people who think there’s no harm in her coming back to die. Perez is more worried about the effect it will have on Duncan [Mark Bonnar] more than anything else.
How does Perez feel about her return?
He’s waiting to see what happens. There’s some conflict within the team because Sandy [Steven Robertson] is very close to the Kilmuir family and doesn’t think Donna should be there at all.
Perez and Duncan make a wonderful partnership. What makes their relationship so unique?
I guess it’s just something you don’t see on television often – two dads trying to bring up a daughter together. They’ve been forced into this situation and, regardless about how they feel about one another, they very much love their daughter, Cassie [Erin Armstrong].
I also think Mark and I play well off each other so that helps. What also makes their relationship work on screen is that they are so very different. They both have faults, they’re both fallible human beings in their own ways. They’re both exposed emotionally which makes their relationship quite touching.
What do you think are Perez’s strengths and weaknesses?
I think he’s very good at his job but his weakness is that he doesn’t care about himself enough. He really needs to get back out in the world at some point and I think he’s very near burn out. He’s a good dad and a good cop but, as far as his personal life is concerned, he really needs to take a look at himself.
Are there any similarities between you and Perez?
Yeah, lots because it’s me who’s doing it. It’s nice to explore different parts of your own personality through Perez so they’re all me, really. I never really understand actors who talk about their characters in the third person. I’m the only emotional frame of reference that I’ve got. So all of the characters that I play are just extensions of me.
What do you think makes a show like Shetland such a draw for audiences all round the world?
Part of me doesn’t know and doesn’t want to know. But another part of me knows we’ve got one of the best crews on the planet on this job and the chemistry between the cast is good. The writers are the same ones we’ve had all the way through from the pilot to now so that kind of consistency helps. The ambition of the show has always remained high and we always want to improve ourselves and it’s a happy place to work.
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.
How has it been filming in the Shetland Isles again?
Well obviously it’s wonderful to be back but it was tricky at the start because we all went into our own self-imposed lockdown again. For me, all I do is go to work and go home with the odd visit to a supermarket once in a while. I don’t really do anything else. I feel the weight of responsibility this time around.
It’s been great being on location in Shetland and out in the fresh air. Being outside again has been wonderful. You know I came to Shetland and I hadn’t worked for a year and a half. I hadn’t been in a room with more than four people and suddenly to come on a TV set with all the cast and crew around me was a bit daunting for a little while. It’s always lovely to come back to Shetland but it’s certainly not been under normal circumstances this year.
Do you get much time to explore the islands while you’re filming?
Not as much as usual. Being on location has been my only chance to explore.
And finally, what makes Shetland unmissable TV?
The writers and the characters. By now, people like our show because there isn’t anything like it on TV. That’s a hard question though isn’t it?
Island Strife BBC’s Shetland is back for a new run and here’s its star Douglas Henshall talking about it… After a long break, how has it been getting back into the character of Perez again? I think I’ve been doing it so long, Perez is just in my bones now. Normally it takes me around
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