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Shetland: Scotland's Wondrous Isles | Preview (Channel 5)

Welcome to The Shetland Islands – an archipelago of wonders, unlike anywhere else in the world.

In this series we come ashore in this magical world, where seabirds outnumber people by a factor of many hundreds and where you’re closer to the Arctic Circle than you are to London. We meet native Shetlanders who live according to centuries’ old traditions, feeding themselves at the ‘croft’ farms that have fed the locals for many centuries, or the fishing fleets that have wrenched precious sustenance from the ever-powerful sea.

We also meet the ‘incomers’ who arrived in Shetland for the promise of a simpler life, and who fell in love with the place – from seasonal chefs who catch their own menu items, to shanty-singing choirmasters. It’s a world where community spirit, resilience, independence and tradition are much-valued commodities.

And that’s to say nothing of the beauty of the landscape – from stunning beaches to rugged cliff faces and sweeping landscapes. Join us on this celebratory journey, uncovering the magic that defines Shetland and the compelling stories that make it a truly exceptional destination.

The journey begins on the tiny island of Noss, with wardens Jen and Sally. They are the only residents and live a truly off-grid existence – with no mains water, electricity or gas – and they even grow their own food in case they become stranded by the unpredictable weather. The upside is they have a front row seat to witness some of Shetland’s most spectacular wildlife.

On Shetland’s mainland, the islands’ eponymous hardy breed of pony takes centre stage as renowned breeder Carole puts the newest addition to her stable through his paces before travelling to the annual Unst show. She hopes to capture a few rosettes, but her eye is on the prestigious trophy first won by her father over 40 years ago.

In Lerwick, we meet Elizabeth who arrived from Canada and never went home. Like many on these sparsely populated islands, she wears many hats. On this occasion, we learn how she combines her passion for food and cooking with her newest venture – as a hand on a mackerel fishing boat.

Another newcomer to Shetland is artist Janette. She captures her ideas on paper while literally out in the field, before returning to her studio to complete her stunning seascapes.

Shetland has a distinct musical culture, combining influences from Scotland and Scandinavia. One man keeping that heritage alive is fiddle-maker Euan. His handcrafted instruments are a labour of love, but in demand well beyond the shores of Shetland.

Begins Sunday 26th May at 9pm on Channel 5.


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