Viewers of this week’s gripping BBC crime drama, Shetland, would have recognised the familiar tones of one of the main characters standing out among the Scottish accents.

West Belfast actress  Claire Rafferty starred as Anna in the two-part series that was shown on prime time TV on Sunday and Monday evenings. Last October and November the busy Brooke actress, who now lives in England, was back home at the Lyric in Belfast playing Lady Macduff in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. She now hopes that the role in Shetland will propel her acting career to new heights.

Speaking to the Andersonstown News she explained how she landed the role as Anna in the BBC drama.

“I met the director and casting director last May and had a read of the script,” she recalled. “They were looking for anyone foreign to the islands as per Anna's character in the original book and were really taken with my Irish brogue.

“I went home that month to Belfast for my 30th birthday and had a big do in the house when I received a text from the casting director to say I got offered the part. What a birthday present!

“My whole family were  there when I got the text so it was really special. It’s great for them to be able to share in it all. They have supported me for so long in pursuing acting – from my granny to my wee brother of 12.”

Claire says the shoot on the Shetland Islands was an experience she will never forget.

“The indoor shots were all in Glasgow and then all the other shots were on the stunning Shetland Islands,” she said. “The set was always a happy place when you had a backdrop like that.

“I did have to pinch myself a bit when I looked around at the calibre of actors working with me as well as the director Peter Hoar. Dougie Henshall was great to have as a partner in those difficult police cell scenes and I learned a lot from his whole attitude to acting. He's also a gentleman.

“All the cast and crew had a scream holed up in the barren landscape with very accommodating country pubs including ceilidh nights organised by the locals. It has a very Irish feel in more ways than one,” she laughed.