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Arts / Another series of crime drama ‘wonderful news’, says tourism manager

Visitors are still making enquiries about Shetland locations every day in the Lerwick tourist office

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

A LOCAL tourism chief has hailed news that the Shetland crime drama will return for an eighth series – and said that visitors are still asking staff in the Lerwick tourist office “every single day” about locations from the show.

VisitScotland’s Shetland development manager Steve Mathieson said it was “wonderful news” that the show will film again in 2023, with scenes set to be shot in the isles as well as on the Scottish mainland.

A seventh series is due to air from August on the BBC – but news broke this week that it will be last with lead actor Douglas Henshall, who is moving on to pastures new.

But the promise of an eighth series has been welcomed by Mathieson, who has often spoken about the big impact Shetland has had on tourism to the isles.

VisitScotland’s development manager Steve Mathieson. Photo: VisitScotland

“It’s amazing that the programme has been going since 2013 and how it has correlated with the growth of tourism in the isles,” Mathieson said.

“The visitor survey of that year gave figures of approximately 26,000 leisure visitors arriving with a spend of about £7 million.

“Fast forward to the last, pre-covid survey of 2019, and leisure visits increased to almost 41,000 with a spend of just over £21 million.

“While this increase cannot be wholly attributed to the popularity of the show, it has certainly been a strong factor and has given Shetland exposure to a whole new audience.”

Mathieson said there will be a “fond farewell” to Henshall as he bows out from the crime drama, which is shown around the world.

Last year the VisitScotland manager was on hand to help unveil a plaque in Lerwick dedicated to the actor and the impact the programme has had on tourism – although it ended up getting removed after representation from the nearby homeowner.

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And he said interest from tourists in locations on the show remains high – with the ‘Jimmy Perez’ waterfront lodberry in Lerwick a firm favourite.

“The fact that those who make the show are so keen to continue even after Douglas leaves is a testament to the quality of the other aspects of the programme that keep viewers coming back for more, including of course the spectacular scenery of Shetland as the location,” Mathieson said.

“There is already intense speculation as to who might take over the lead from the Jimmy Perez character even before the last series involving him has been aired, and, buoyed by the knowledge that visitors are still making enquiries about Shetland locations every single day in the Lerwick Tourist Centre, I feel its impact on tourism in the region will remain strong for many years to come.”

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