Ever since Meg Pattison (Lucianne McEvoy) first showed up in Shetland's sixth season as the nurse providing palliative care to terminally ill Donna Killick, there's been a spark between her and DI Jimmy Perez (Douglas Henshall).
Over the course of the last two seasons, we've seen the pair embark on a tender but tentative romance with each other, often making plans for dates that end up getting cancelled at the last minute — and in last week's episode, Meg expressed her fears that the emotional baggage Perez carries from his work would be too much for her and would make a relationship between them impossible.
We know that star Douglas Henshall is set to leave the show at the end of Shetland season 7, so the question everyone's asking is: will Perez and Meg live happily ever after? Or are there simply too many obstacles in their way?
We caught up with Lucianne ahead of the final episode to get her take on Perez and Meg's relationship...
- Why has Douglas Henshall left Shetland? And what's in store in his final series?
- How to watch Shetland season 7 online from anywhere
Were you a fan of Shetland before you joined the show?
"Yeah, I was — I think I picked it up in season three or four, and then when I did get cast in the role, I went back and watched the series from the beginning. I think I had about three days to feel delighted about being cast — and then Covid happened. I think March 15 2020 was meant to be the readthrough for series six, and it was like 'I've got this great jo—oh no!' So it sort of went onto the backburner and nobody knew what was going to happen in those early days. I kind of waited a whole year with those scripts, which is a long time to have the story in your head before you start playing it, so I was just delighted to get started once we got back."
You filmed seasons six and seven virtually back-to-back. Did you know the whole of Meg's journey before you started?
"No, not at all! I don't think anybody knew necessarily what it was going to be, or what it needed to be — there were a couple of moving pieces. It was nice to be in it for my storyline being linked around Donna Killick, and having a vague connection that Perez and Meg had met when they were much younger, but beyond that, I think we knew as much as the audience did. Then, when I was asked to come back for series seven, I thought "okay, this is going to develop into something else, which is lovely." I was just happy to be in it at all, and that's when the storyline started to develop a little bit between Perez and Meg. It's exciting, and a lovely role to play in Dougie's journey with the series — we'll see what happens!"
What has it been like to play Perez and Meg's slow-burn relationship?
"Really delicate, just lovely. I'm really grateful that the writers have allowed it space, for it to be kind of a truthful relationship between two people who are very busy, and who aren't in the first spring of youth, and aren't going to make hasty decisions. It feels like it has been a long game, and it's been a slow burn, but I feel like there's a respect between the two of them, and a space that they allow each other to have, that's important if things are going to go forward. But I suppose whether or not they’re going to be able to find that space for each other, or take that risk that they’re gonna need to take for things to develop, is up in the air."
It has been a complicated journey — and in episode five, Meg admitted that she wasn't sure she wanted to get involved with all the pain he's carrying...
"Yeah, I think they're both wary, because they've had the experiences they've had. I think Meg knows, or senses, that Perez has had maybe not the healthiest relationship with his work, in terms of boundaries and how much he takes on, and how much he allows it to affect his personal life — but I think she also knows that she can't fix him, and she’s actually not even interested in, for want of a better word, being the one that 'saves' him. So I find that writing very refreshing, where they both lay their cards on the table and say 'look, I think you have issues, and I have issues too, but if you're going to sort that out, that’s great, I'm here, but if you're not, I'm not going to be here, and that’s not personal — it's just the way it is'.
"I think Meg's very much of the mindset that life is to be enjoyed, as endured, and she’s not going to just get drawn into his maybe unhealthy relationship with whatever's going on for him — because she doesn't know him very well as well, I think that's there too. But the difficult thing is, she's mad about him! So it's not easy, it’s not an easy conversation to have when you put your cards on the table like that."
Without giving away what happens in the finale, do you think they're a well-matched couple?
"I do! I think neither of them will make it too easy on the other. I was very grateful to the writers and the directors and how they handled the scenes, that they allowed Meg to have an agency of her own, to be someone who would sit and say "actually, I think you're wrong, I don’t agree" — not many people say that to Perez, because often he's right! But his own decisions, or his reluctance to maybe be open or honest about his own feelings, I think she’s going to call him on those things, and in my opinion that probably serves for a healthy relationship. I think they would have a chance — I think there's lots of possibilities for them, they could have loads of years of happiness ahead, if they can get out of their own way!"
- Shetland season 7 concludes on Wednesday September 14 on BBC1 at 9pm
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Steven Perkins is a Staff Writer for TV & Satellite Week, TV Times, What's On TV and whattowatch.com, who has been writing about TV professionally since 2008. He was previously the TV Editor for Inside Soap before taking up his current role in 2020. He loves everything from gritty dramas to docusoaps about airports and thinks about the Eurovision Song Contest all year round.