Where is Shetland filmed? Find out more about the detective drama’s location

You may be surprised to discover that the BBC series isn't entirely filmed on the island archipelago that shares its name.

Popular Scottish detective drama Shetland is making its return to BBC One for a fourth series of gripping crime stories set against stunning coastal backdrops.

But how much do you know about the place where the programme is filmed – and is the location really where it claims to be?

[Read more: Douglas Henshall talks filming Shetland]

[Read more: Could Jimmy Perez be killed off in Shetland?]

Discover all you need to know about where Shetland is set with our guide below.

Where is Shetland set?

Crime drama Shetland first aired in 2013 and introduced audiences to the beautiful archipelago of the Shetland Islands.

Douglas Henshall plays Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez, who arrives on Shetland to start a new life with his young daughter as a single parent but ends up investigating more than his fair share of grisly murders.

The actor said he thought people like to watch the programme in part because of Shetland itself.

[Read more: Ann Cleeves condemns 'facile' crime dramas]

“Not only because it’s beautiful but because it’s like another character in the show," he said. "I think people are drawn to the place because they imagine themselves there.”

Shetland is based on a series of novels by author Ann Cleeves.

Where is Shetland really filmed?

While the series may do a great job of making it look as though the actors became like locals on Shetland, like many other programmes the reality was a bit different.

Actually, a lot of Shetland is filmed on mainland Scotland, especially in Glasgow and in other areas where the scenery and buildings resemble those of the islands.

The series has been known to film before in Kilbarchan, Renfrewshire; Barrhead where star Douglas was born and grew up; and in Ayr and Irvine, North Ayrshire.

[Read more: Inside Line of Duty with Craig Parkinson]

However, the shows does of course sometimes stay on Shetland for scenes, mostly in the capital and only town, Lerwick.

In the run-up to the fourth series, the cast and crew were spotted in the Lodberries area and on Commercial Street, and filming has also taken place previously on the NorthLink ferry approaching Lerwick and at the village of Wester Quarff five miles south of Lerwick.

Series four also went on location to Norway, so fans should look out for a bit of a Scandi-noir feel in forthcoming episodes.

Douglas told the Daily Record: "My character’s house is actually in Kilbarchan, the interior of a couple of crofts are here (in Irvine, Ayrshire) and the police station is in Barrhead.

"There’s a fish factory where a lot of the story happens, too, and that’s in Ayr.”

He continued: "We’ve found some places that pass as Shetland. Avoiding trees, mainly, but with similar landscapes."

Where is the real Shetland?

If you’re thinking of paying the real Shetland a visit after being inspired by the show, you’ll need to head northeast of Scotland to find the archipelago.

The collection of around 300 islands lies between Orkney and the Faroe Islands, at the area where the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea meet.

[Read more: Where is Collateral filmed?]

The largest of the islands, known as Mainland, is home to almost 19,000 of the islands' population of around 23,200, but there are also 15 others that are inhabited including Whalsay, Yell and West Burra. And you’ll be pleased to know that the murder rate is nowhere near as high as the series would have you believe.

Shetland begins on Tuesday, February 13 at 9pm on BBC One.

Never miss an episode of Shetland with BT TV - catch up via the BBC iPlayer app.

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