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INTERVIEW: Alison O'Donnell talks about Tosh and Series 7 of Shetland


By David Porter

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In the second of our interviews with the cast of Shetland, Alison O'Donnell talks about the future for her character DS Alsion 'Tosh' McDonald.

DS Alison ‘Tosh’ McIntosh (ALISON O’DONNELL)
DS Alison ‘Tosh’ McIntosh (ALISON O’DONNELL)

The last series finished with Tosh finding out she’s expecting a baby with her partner Donnie, where do we find her now?

So, a year has passed and a lot has happened during that time. Tosh now has a little baby girl and has also been covering for Perez in his absence so she has been very busy and has been juggling a lot.

And how is motherhood suiting Tosh?

She is completely in love with her baby, which we can see in all of their interactions. It's a real wrench to have to leave her every day but it's also important to her to be able to continue with her career which she has worked so hard for and which means so much to her.

She's trying to balance the two identities which I, and I'm sure many other working parents, can really relate to. She couldn't do any of this without Donnie's [played by Angus Miller] amazing support but of course those big changes are challenging for him too so we see that all play out over the course of the series.

And what crime do the team face in this new series?

This season opens with a missing person. A young, vulnerable man hasn't returned home and his family are concerned. The team start to pull the various threads of his life to see if they can uncover any clues as to his whereabouts and the subsequent unravelling is bigger and more dangerous than any of them could have anticipated.

Are there any surprises this series or must-see moments?

This series is jam-packed with twists and high-octane drama. It's not to be missed! Our guest cast is absolutely outstanding, as ever, and there are some big moments for the core cast too, with Perez's ending and another series regular being thrown into serious jeopardy.

Douglas Henshall recently announced this will be his last series of Shetland – how do you feel about this?

I am honestly bereft. Having the privilege of working so closely with Dougie for all these years was an insane luxury. I'm trying to be grateful for everything we experienced together rather than focussing on the obvious sadness. I'm also incredibly proud of what we achieved together, and I know he is too.

If you could star in any other murder mystery, which one would you choose and why?

I'm such a fan of the genre so this is a difficult one. Growing up we were very much a Poirot house. Sunday nights were all about ice cream, Mars bars and David Suchet so it would be hard not to pick that. I would have loved to be the young, red-lipsticked ingenue who got into Poirot's confidences and got to walk arm-in-arm with him but I suspect with this face and this accent I would have been the maid - pivotal, but only appearing in two scenes!

Do you have a favourite place you like to visit when you’re filming on the Shetland Isles?

St. Ninian's Isle. It's a tombolo which means the sea comes in on two sides with just a strip of sand down the middle. It's like a magic trick. How does it stay like that? It's absolutely breath-taking and I always tell people to visit that first if they're looking for things to see. Since I've been taking my family out to Shetland with me, I've come to appreciate the swimming pools and parks more - it's all great to be honest.

And how do the locals react to having Shetland the TV series roll into town?

The locals are hugely supportive and very accommodating. We are so indebted to the people of the Shetland Isles. None of this would be possible without their understanding and their willingness to get involved.

Shetland just keeps going from strength to strength – what do you think the enduring appeal of the show is?

For me, the most important thing about a TV show, that will make me connect and keep coming back, is a well-defined world that I want to spend time in. I think we have created a world that is very unique and really atmospheric. The beautiful landscapes, the intriguing stories and, of course, the characters who have really grown over the years.

And, finally, what five words sum up the seventh series of Shetland?

Dramatic, emotional, tense, tender and unmissable.

Shetland returns to BBC One, BBC iPlayer and BBC Scotland from Wednesday, August 10 at 10pm.


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