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NCIS casts first female lead as Mark Harmon exit rumours continue

It's a historic move for the long-running franchise

Eve Crosbie

NCIS: Hawaii is set to make history by being the franchise's first series with a woman in the lead role.

MORE: The best NCIS celebrity guest stars of all time

While CBS have yet to officially announce the new spinoff, TV Line has reported that the series will be led by a female Special Agent named Jane Tennant. 

Although further details about the character or who will be playing her have been released yet, the move marks a huge step forward for the franchise. She will serve as the first Special Agent in Charge of NCIS Pearl.

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WATCH: NCIS star Mark Harmon opens up about his favourite memories on set

The original NCIS has had Mark Harmon's Jethro Gibbs at its helm since 2003, while Chris O'Donnell and LL Cool J co-lead NCIS: Los Angeles as G Callen and Sam Hanna. The soon-to-conclude NCIS: New Orleans has also had a man at the top of its call sheet, with Scott Bakula playing Dwayne Cassius 'King' Pride.

MORE: NCIS fans suspicious Pam Dawber's introduction could spell the end for Gibbs

MORE: What are the cast of NCIS's net worths and how much are they paid per episode?

News of a new spinoff show first came in February. At the time, Variety reported that a new series following a team of Naval criminal investigators based in Hawaii was in the works, with network bosses eyeing up production space on the islands that were previously used for Hawaii Five-0, which ended last year. 

Meanwhile, Mark Harmon's future on the franchise's main title remains uncertain. Rumours of the 69-year-old actor's exit began to swirl earlier this year, and CBS have still not confirmed whether he - or the beloved series itself - will return for a 19th season. 

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Could Mark be leaving the cast at the end of season 18?

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Mark's contract is up this year, meaning he has the choice to either sign on for more episodes or walk away. Sources say that he was made aware that the network was likely to cancel the show if he wasn't on board, causing him to think twice.

MORE: Is Mark Harmon set to leave NCIS at the end of season 18? Here's what we know

The latest reports suggest that he has now entered into conversations to return for a handful of episodes next season, which could make sense if his character returns to work on a part-time basis following his recent suspension.

Mark has remained tight-lipped about the matter, but he did tell People back in 2019: "I've always thought if there's ever a time where the writers are walking into the room and going 'I don't know what to do,' then I think we all have to look at each other and call it a day. But we're not there yet."

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