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Community / Plaque honouring TV show unveiled in Lerwick by actor Henshall

Douglas Henshall. Photo: Mark Mainz/BBC

A PLAQUE was unveiled in Lerwick this morning (Tuesday) to mark the success of the Shetland TV show and its positive impact on local tourism.

The Hollywood style star plaque was unveiled by lead actor Douglas Henshall on the road outside his fictional home in the show, one of the Lerwick Lodberries.

He was joined by VisitScotland’s Steve Mathieson and council convener Malcolm Bell.

The plaque idea came about following a meeting between VisitScotland, the SIC and Living Lerwick.

There was a desire to mark the series and its effect on tourism in the isles and to demonstrate how Shetland could “pay its own tribute to the man who brought the character of Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez to life so brilliantly”, VisitScotland said.

From left to right: Malcolm Bell, Douglas Henshall, Steve Mathieson.

The Hollywood star-type plaque was commissioned by the council, along with a smaller glass version created by Rae Simpson – local craftsman and guizer jarl of Lerwick Up Helly Aa in 2010 – for Henshall to keep.

Douglas Henshall, who plays DI Jimmy Perez in the series, said: “I don’t think anyone could have guessed when we first came here that Shetland would become such a loved show that it would tempt people from all over the globe to come and see for themselves the beauty of this place.

“It’s been our privilege to come and work here for the last 10 years and for our work to be commemorated in this way by VisitScotland and Shetland Islands Council is both wonderfully surprising and genuinely touching.”

Mathieson said: “I was delighted to be involved in the unveiling of this plaque today. The success of the ‘Shetland’ series has been phenomenal and brought the islands to the attention of a whole new, worldwide audience.

“Viewers of the programme are totally absorbed not just by the superb storylines but also by the wonderful scenery of Shetland that acts as a backdrop.

“Douglas Henshall’s portrayal of D.I. Jimmy Perez is, of course, central to the entire series and ranks in the top echelon of the many wonderful TV detectives who have become household names in the UK over recent years.

“Nearly every day during the summer, visitors will come into Lerwick iCentre and ask where they can find ‘the Jimmy Perez house’ or other locations highlighted in the series.

Photo: Mark Mainz/BBC

“Fans of the show come from all over the world, including Australia and the US, and one couple from Denmark were so inspired by the programme that they came over and got married on Eshaness cliffs. It has had a hugely positive impact on showing off these beautiful islands to a global audience.”

Bell added that the “ongoing popularity of the series is of enormous benefit to the local economy, and continues to highlight the isles as a tremendous place to visit”.

Marjory Barrie, regional manager of the Shetland, Lerwick and Kveldsro hotels, also said the “series is a real bonus for Shetland tourism – many guests refer to it and some plan their whole trip around the locations”.

Based on the books by crime writer Ann Cleeves, the BBC crime drama was first broadcast in 2013 and 26 episodes on, continues to grow in popularity, now being shown in many countries around the world.

The sixth series is soon to be broadcast and filming for the seventh series is also underway.

The 2019 Shetland Islands visitor survey revealed that 55 per cent of leisure visitors reported that they had been inspired to visit Shetland by something they had seen or read.

This had increased from 2017 when 46 per cent were similarly inspired.