Where is Shetland filmed might be the question on fans’ minds as season 7 sees the return of DI Jimmy Perez and his team as they investigate a mysterious disappearance on the Islands.
After months of waiting Shetland season 7 is finally here and following the news that it will sadly be Douglas Henshall’s final series as Jimmy Perez, each moment of his terrific performance as the determined detective is to be savored. Anyone in need of a Shetland season 6 recap might well have been shocked to remember the devastating twist that dominated the finale. Now as the repercussions of last season’s events continue to be felt deeply, Jimmy and the team are investigating the case of a missing vulnerable young man.
And although the gripping plotlines are the focus, the beautiful landscapes and seascapes often steal the show. But where is Shetland filmed, is it the same location as the setting and where are the Shetland Islands? We reveal all you need to know…
Where is Shetland filmed?
Whilst the title of this long-running BBC drama might make the answer to the question - where is Shetland filmed? - seem a little obvious, there are plenty of suspenseful shows that aren’t filmed where they’re set. From Virgin River being filmed in Canada rather than Northern California, to Firefly Lane’s filming locations being around British Columbia, there are plenty of examples of this.
Though fans might be excited to learn the BBC drama was actually filmed on the Shetland Islands. And there are plenty of locations that were used to great effect for some of the show’s most powerful scenes over the years.
As reported by Shetland.org, Victoria Pier in the islands’ capital, Lerwick, which was built in 1886 as well as the waterfront around it and Lerwick harbor are all frequently seen locations in the Shetland show. Whilst Bain’s Beach is where we’ve seen Jimmy head as he tries to process the pressures of his work and personal life. They also add that Lerwick’s Commercial Street has featured consistently across the series.
And if it’s realism fans were looking for, they’ve got plenty of it in Shetland with the police station that’s remained key right through into Shetland season 7 being the actual Lerwick police station. The county court buildings were also reportedly previously painted specially for the filming. Reports have also suggested that Fair Isle was a previous location featured in the series.
Shetland season 7 has seen the return of so many of these Shetland Island locations, including the police station and coastline. Though when it comes to what might well be the most emotional scene of all, that was filmed on mainland Scotland.
Ahead of the new season it was confirmed that Douglas Henshall’s Shetland journey will soon be over as season 7 will be his final outing as DI Jimmy Perez. And as fans enjoy every moment until then, he has opened up to Radio Times magazine about filming his final scene in a car park in the Scottish village of Kilmacolm in the Scottish Lowlands.
“My last scenes were filmed in a car park in Kilmacolm which was very odd,” he explained to the publication. “We’d tried to wrap three times but, because of COVID, it kept being put back. So it felt a little anticlimactic in the end."
"Shetland has meant a lot to me and it’s going to take some time to sink in that I’ve left the show,” he added.
Though the focus of Shetland will always be the islands, in the past they have filmed in Glasgow too. In Shetland season 7 it’s likely they did so again as lead character Jimmy Perez’s house is said to have been filmed in both Lerwick and Glasgow. The house is one of the Lerwick lodberries that lined the foreshore and is named The Lodberrie.
Discussing the Shetland locations previously with RadioTimes.com, the show’s producer Eric Coulter explained that in general when it comes to exteriors, they are filmed in Shetland whilst “quite a lot” of the interior shots are filmed in Glasgow.
"Most of the exteriors will be in Shetland, and we'll have some interiors in Shetland also, but we'll do quite a lot of the interiors back in Glasgow,” he said before explaining that the islanders are “very supportive” of the show, which they film on the islands for six busy weeks of the overall 16 week filming schedule.
Eric also explained that to try and replicate the look and feel of Shetland elsewhere would be incredibly difficult in terms of the landscape and coastal shots.
“The landscape of Shetland is so particular that to try and match those exteriors is quite difficult. There is an area about an hour from Glasgow called Loch Thom which we do film as an exterior location for Shetland, but that's really the only area we can use. Any kind of major exterior work really has to be Shetland,” he said.
The producer added, "It's got very few trees. It's very open, it's quite gentle, the hills aren't very high – and everywhere you look there is water. You're never more than three miles away from water. So that undulating landscape and the water are really particular to Shetland and that's very hard to match anywhere else."
Shetland season 7’s departing star Douglas Henshall also expressed admiration for the Shetland Island’s unique and beautiful landscape and how much he’d miss filming there.
"I loved the pace of the place. I really loved the sea, I loved how stark it could be, I loved the weather in all its glory. I loved the drama of the Shetland Isles,” the actor shared. “I also met some really nice people there who were fabulous, kind, generous and funny. There aren’t many places like Shetland - it’s very much of itself. It’s unique and I’ll miss that.”
As the seventh season continues, fans will likely be drawn in by the beautiful Shetland coastal shots and Lerwick exteriors that act as the perfect backdrop to the series’ gripping storyline. All the while, some will be anticipating what Douglas’ final scenes shot in Kilmacolm might reveal…
Where are the Shetland Islands?
The Shetland Islands are located roughly 100 miles off the north-eastern coast of Scotland and are considered to be the northernmost tip of the country, according to Scotland.org. The picturesque islands separate the North Sea in the east from the Atlantic Ocean in the west and there are over 100 islands, with only 12 populated. Mainland is as (you might’ve guessed) the main island of Shetland and is where the only town, Lerwick, is located.
The Shetland Islands are also closer to Norway than they are to mainland Scotland by around 150km. For anyone inspired by the beautiful locations they’ve seen amidst the ongoing drama of Shetland season 7 and the earlier installments, then why not plan a visit to the Shetland Islands? Ferry and air links make arriving on Mainland easier than you think and once there, there are more ferries that connect it to surrounding islands.
Flights operate from Bergen in Norway in the summer as well as the major Scottish airports including Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness. You can also fly from Manchester and London City, depending on the day of the week you’re hoping to travel. Flight times vary from 1 hour (Aberdeen) to 3 hours 35 minutes (London City Airport).
As revealed by Shetland.org, you can also visit the Shetland Islands via ferry from Aberdeen or Kirkwall. The journey takes 12-13 hours, with cabins, sleeping pods and reclining seats available.
Now you know the answer to the all-important question - where is Shetland filmed? - you might well find yourself tempted to check out these beautiful locations for yourself as season 7 continues.
Shetland season 7 airs at 9pm on BBC One on Wednesdays and each episode is available to catch-up on afterwards on BBC iPlayer.
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Emma is a Royal Editor with seven years of experience working in digital publishing. Her specialist areas including literature, the British Royal Family and knowing all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and every streaming service out there. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, you can find Emma cooking and watching yet more crime dramas.
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