The BBC has announced Ashley Jensen will take over from Barrhead actor Douglas Henshall as the new lead of popular crime drama Shetland.

Henshall starred as Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez in the BBC One show since its inception in 2013 but stood down after series seven.

Jensen will play Detective Inspector Ruth Calder in the eighth series – a native Shetlander who returns to the isles after 20 years working for the Met in London.

The 53-year-old After Life star said she is “absolutely thrilled” to be joining the show.

“I am aware I have very big boots to fill since the departure of DI Perez,” she added. “There will be a different dynamic with Ruth among the regular characters and a few more new interesting characters to enjoy.

“However, the integrity of the show and the world that has been created will remain very much in the same tone as the last seven seasons.

“It’s a real privilege to be asked to lead this show into a new chapter. I can’t wait to be working in Scotland again. I have missed it.”

The new series, to be broadcast next year, will see Jensen work alongside existing characters such as Detective Sergeant Alison ‘Tosh’ McIntosh, played by Alison O’Donnell.

Steven Robertson, who plays Detective Sandy Wilson; Lewis Howden, who plays Billy McCabe; and Anne Kidd, as Cora McLean, will also return to the series.

Gaynor Holmes, commissioning editor for the BBC, said: “I am absolutely delighted that Ashley is joining the stellar cast of Shetland.

“Ashley is an immensely accomplished and well-loved actress who is known internationally and we can’t wait to welcome her into the Shetland family when filming begins in the spring.”

Jensen found fame playing Christina McKinney in the US show Ugly Betty and was nominated for an Emmy for her supporting role in TV sitcom Extras, co-written by Ricky Gervais.

She recently starred as a nurse opposite comedian Gervais in his Netflix drama After Life, which was the second most popular series of 2019.