Barrhead actor Douglas Henshall will make his final appearance in BBC murder mystery drama Shetland as the award-winning show returns for a seventh series.

Henshall debuted the role of DI Jimmy Perez on BBC One in 2013 in the first TV adaptation of the award-winning novels by crime writer Ann Cleeves.

After nine years in the role, he has made the decision to quit at the end of its seventh series, which begins next month, to explore other acting opportunities.

The crime drama will return for an eighth series next year, with a new lead and further casting to be announced in due course, the BBC confirmed.

Barrhead actor Douglas Henshall

Speaking about his departure from the programme, Henshall said he will miss playing DI Perez.

"It's been one of the privileges of my career to play Jimmy Perez for almost 10 years and to work with so many wonderful people, both in front of and behind the camera, and also to spend so much time in Shetland," he added.

"The isles were so much a part of our show and of Perez himself. I'll miss him and the place.

"I wish everyone involved much luck with whatever happens next."

Gaynor Holmes, executive producer for BBC Drama, said: "It has been an absolute privilege to work on Shetland over the past few years and watch the show go from strength to strength – in no small part thanks to Douglas's sensitive, intelligent and memorable portrayal of DI Jimmy Perez.

"We will miss him enormously but he leaves the show in rude health and we're extremely excited about the plans we have for bringing more of this much-loved drama to audiences far and wide."

Kate Bartlett, of Silverprint Pictures, which produced the drama, added: "It has been amazing to have the opportunity to complete the story of Jimmy Perez and Douglas Henshall is outstanding in the role."

The new six-part series of Shetland sees the team investigate the mysterious disappearance of a vulnerable young man.

The investigation draws Perez into the secret past of a family new to Shetland, revealing an "unimaginable threat to the community."

Barrhead has been used as a location for filming in previous episodes of Shetland, with Henshall commenting on how returning to his home town brought back memories.

He said: "The old health centre, where we shot hospital scenes for Shetland, was where my mother worked as a district nurse, so I knew the place.

"The old council building, which doubles as our police station, was where my grandad worked, so it was all very interesting but also slightly surreal."

Filming for series eight will start next spring.