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Why did Nicola Walker leave Unforgotten as DCI Cassie Stuart?

The actress exited her role on the ITV drama in season four

unforgotten ep 5
Emmy Griffiths
Emmy GriffithsTV & Film Editor
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Unforgotten season five might be back for a new season on Monday evening, but fans will be sad knowing that adored TV star Nicola Walker won't be back as DCI Cassie Stuart.

But fans needn't worry too much because there's a new detective in town to keep DI Sunny Khan company. Although she'll never replace Cassie, we're looking forward to meeting Sinéad Keenan's DCI Jessie James, who has joined the team ready for season five. Watch the video below to see a glimpse of the new season and the new boss...

WATCH: Meet Jessie James, the new DCI replacing Cassie


Fans will know that Nicola bowed out of the show in season four after being killed in a tragic car accident – but why did she leave in the first place? Find out here…

Chatting about the reasons why she left, the Last Tango in Halifax star told Radio Times: "Chris Lang and I had been discussing the storyline for Cassie since the first series. By the time we got to her nervous breakdown in series three, we were already talking about where that story might naturally go, so her sudden death was very much a joint decision."

MORE: Unforgotten: meet the season 5 cast

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Unforgotten Sunny and Cassie in season four© Photo: ITV

She added to TV Insider: "Chris and I were always interested in looking at the cost of being involved with these sorts of cases that we all love watching on television. Cassie does not have superpowers. She’s an ordinary person who’s really good at her job, and it took her to the place of having an emotional breakdown."

The show's creator, Chris, shared a snap of a season five clapper board alongside a picture of Sanjeev and Sinéad at a recent table read to announce Nicola's replacement.

Jessie and Sunny in Unforgotten© Photo: BBC

The caption read: "Delighted to be able to finally tell you that the brilliant @SineadKeenan will be joining the gorgeous @TVSanjeev to play DCI Jessica 'Jessie' James to his DI Sunil' Sunny' Khan in #Unforgotten five. Shooting started...about an hour ago. How lucky are we."

Fans were full of praise over the news, with Josie Lawrence writing: "Oh she's great. Good luck with the shoot!" Another fan added: "Oh, what an excellent choice :) Sinead was superb on Being Human."

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