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Arts / Success of crime drama will play ‘important part’ in tourism recovery

Meanwhile new figures show Shetland Islands Council has received around £50,000 in income from production of the popular TV show

From left to right, actors Steven Robertson, Alison O'Donnell and Douglas Henshall. Photo: BBC

THE SHETLAND TV crime drama will play an important role in the local tourism sector’s recovery from the Covid pandemic, according to council chief executive Maggie Sandison.

She was commenting after a freedom of information request showed that Shetland Islands Council has received around £50,000 of income as a direct result of the show’s filming to date.

The BBC programme, featuring actor Douglas Henshall as lead character Jimmy Perez, has provided a huge tourism boost to Shetland since its first series was broadcast in 2013 – with people known to visit from around the world off the back of watching the show.

Perez’s lodberry home in Lerwick for instance has become something of a holy grail for Shetland fans.

A freedom of information request from Shetland News shows that since the first filming took place in 2012 the council has received £49,756 directly from the show.

Around £21,000 of this falls under the ‘road closures, advertising and signage’ category.

The council has received nearly £14,000 in location fees, £3,500 in property hire and £3,291 for waste collection and disposal.

The crew has also spent £2,640 on parking charges, £2,149 on ferry fares £1,714 on burial grounds charge.

The burial grounds charge came in 2021, when scenes were shot in a local graveyard.

SIC chief executive Maggie Sandison. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

The council has also received nearly £1,000 in cleaning income and £480 in storage fees.

Sandison said the small amount of income is the recovery of costs for council services to support production.

“The council is keen to maximise the benefits of a prime time television series for our community and we have been happy to provide services to support the production team, whilst ensuring there is no cost to the public purse,” she added.

The council chief continued by saying that the programme – which has a seventh series in the offing – has delivered significant benefit to the local economy, and promotes the isles worldwide as a “fabulous place to visit”.

“The 2019 Shetland Islands Visitor Survey revealed that more than half of leisure visitors (55 per cent) reported that they had been inspired to visit Shetland by something they had seen or read – this had increased from 46 per cent in 2017,” Sandison said.

“The pandemic has been a seismic blow to our tourism businesses and the continued success of the ‘Shetland’ series will play an important part in Shetland’s economic recovery as confidence and visitors return.”

A plaque was unveiled in honour of the show on the street outside of the Perez lodberry last year but it was removed following representation from the building’s owner.