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Shetland star Ashley Jensen's love life and famous partner

Ashley Jensen as DI Ruth Calder in Shetland
Ashley Jensen as DI Ruth Calder in Shetland (Jamie Simpson)

Ashley Jensen makes her Shetland debut on Wednesday night as the new lead detective, Ruth Calder.

The actress, who took over from Douglas Henshall in the starring role, is a familiar face on our screens thanks to her various roles in major TV shows, including Extras, Agatha Raisin and Ugly Betty. But did you know that her partner is also a huge TV star? Keep reading to find out more…

Who is Ashley Jensen's partner?

Ashley is thought to be in a relationship with Kenny Doughty.

Kenny, 48, is best known for playing DS Aiden Healy in the ITV crime drama, Vera. The actor portrayed the character for eight years before announcing his departure in March 2023.

Brenda Blethyn as Vera Stanhope, Kenny Doughty as DS Aiden Healy in Vera
Brenda Blethyn as Vera Stanhope and Kenny Doughty as DS Aiden Healy in Vera (ITV/Shutterstock)

The Yorkshire native may also be recognised for playing Sean in the Sky One drama, Stella, which was created by and starred Ruth Jones.

He's also appeared in Coronation Street, Shameless and Heartbeat. 

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How did Ashley Jensen and Kenny Doughty meet?

While neither Kenny nor Ashley have publicly spoken about their relationship or how they met, it's possible that they first crossed paths on the set of the BBC One drama, Love, Lies and Records, which first aired in 2017.

Ashley Jensen and Kenny Doughty in Love, Lies and Records
Ashley Jensen and Kenny Doughty in Love, Lies and Records (BBC)

The drama, which ran for one season, follows Leeds-based registrar Kate Dickenson as she juggles her personal life with the daily dramas of births, marriages, deaths and relationships. Ashley led the cast as Kate, while Kenny played her colleague and love interest, Rick Severs.

Kenny and Ashley were first photographed holding hands while enjoying a night on the town in Bath in August 2021. They were also snapped attending the Radio Times Covers Party together earlier this year.

Kenny Doughty and Ashley Jensen atThe Radio Times Covers Party at Claridge's Hotel
Kenny Doughty and Ashley Jensen atThe Radio Times Covers Party at Claridge's Hotel (Can Nguyen/REX/Shutterstock)

Then in October, Kenny showed his support for his girlfriend ahead of the Shetland season eight premiere. Posting a photo of Ashley in character as DI Ruth Calder alongside Alison O'Donnell as DS Tosh, he penned in the caption: "Looking forward to this! 1st November BBC 1 at 9pm. #bbc #drama #crimedrama #shetland."

It's also likely that the actor visited Ashley whilst she was filming for the show earlier this year. Back in April, Kenny shared a stunning photo from a trip to Meal Beach in Shetland with his adorable golden retriever. "Perfect way to stretch legs after long ferry journey to Shetland," he wrote in the caption. "Here on holiday not work before you ask! My fur baby loved the beach. Absolute heaven."

MORE: Shetland's Ashley Jensen responds to fan criticism over joining season eight

Was Ashley Jensen previously married?

Yes. Ashley wed fellow actor Terrence Beesley in 2007. The pair met in 1999 while working on a London theatre production of King Lear.

ashley jensen terence beesley
Ashley married Terrence Beesley in 2007

The couple welcomed one son together, Francis, who was born in 2009.

Sadly, Terrence passed away in 2017. An inquest into his death found that the actor had taken his own life. In a statement read at the inquest at Avon Coroner's Court in 2018, Ashley said: "I was extremely shocked by what happened that night and I will never ever forget it. Terry and I had been together for 18 years but I had no idea he was capable of what he did."