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Reviews / ‘Shetland’ premieres at Mareel

PREMIERED at Mareel on Wednesday night to a full house, Shetland is a BBC adaptation of Red Bones, the third novel in Ann Cleevesʼ Shetland quartet of crime novels.

The two-part drama centres around the discovery of bones in an archaeological dig on Whalsay, and the subsequent murder of an old woman at a remote croft.

It stars Douglas Henshall as detective Jimmy Perez, and Shetland actor Steven Robertson as fellow police officer Sandy Wilson.

The first murder victim turns out to be a relative of Wilson, initially ruling him out of the investigation, but as family feuds connected to the murder begin to be uncovered, he is drawn back in.

The main star however is Shetland itself. Shooting didnʼt seem blessed with sunshine, the whole of the first episode looming under sombre skies, but it worked well with the murky goings on.

And all looked wild, remote, and beautiful enough to satisfy any tourist board. Cue Shetland tourists and Jimmy Perez tours in summers to come, no doubt, should the hoped-for six part series go ahead. Tour organisers, to your marks.

Whilst in no danger of rivalling such recent TV hits as The Killing and Sherlock, or older classics like Morse or Prime Suspect, the script itself, and the solid and engaging performances, deserve to, and no doubt will, attract a good audience.

Judging by episode one Shetland would fit the Sunday evening rural crime drama slot nicely, being both easy and engaging viewing, a sort of murder-with-travelogue that goes nicely with a roaring fire and a glass of wine.

Personally I think the characters could stand beefing up, especially with the calibre of performers on offer, and the dialogue could afford to sparkle a little more and tell-rather- than-show a little less.

Other than that, Iʼll certainly be tuning in for episode two when it comes around, hopefully in the new year. Heck, Iʼll even watch episode one again without anyone holding a gun to my head.

Much as the final question from an audience member at the post screening Q&A went: “What Iʼm wondering is, who killed those folk?”

Oh how we larfed.

Joy Perino