'Eventually you break' Nicola Walker addresses Unforgotten exit after Cassie Stuart death

The 52-year-old joined Unforgotten when it first aired back in 2015 and left fans devastated after Cassie died following a car crash. Although there was speculation that the actress had become bored with her role, she’s revealed that her time on the ITV series was always limited.

With series five of Unforgotten looming, executive producer Chris Lang has teased viewers will see a new journey for Sunny (Sanjeev Bhaskar) and the team as they continue life without Cassie.

In the last episode, viewers saw her colleague place flowers on her grave which read ‘Mother, daughter, copper’, after her life support machine was turned off.

Although the ITV show will now look different, actress Nicola Walker has explained Cassie’s time on the show was always finite.

Speaking with Radio Times, the 52-year-old said leaving the show was a decision both her and Chris spoke about from the beginning.

Nicola had nothing but kind words to say about her friend Chris as she shared she’s worked with him longer than any other writer.

The actress admitted the producer was always putting Cassie through a story arc that would emotionally damage her.

She said: “The buzzword was that she was an empath, and the problem with being an empath is that eventually you break.

“I felt that to have her keep coming back would make her seem like a superhero. So it was very much a joint and long-planned decision.”

Elsewhere in the interview, the actress revealed if the team knew coronavirus was going to hit they wouldn’t have given viewers a depressing storyline.

Nicola revealed she felt guilty when her death aired as she thought Unforgotten could’ve given fans something more cheerful.

Series five will see a new face join the cast as DCI Jessica ‘Jessie’ James (Sinéad Keenan) will be working alongside Sunny and the team.

Although the producer said the huge change for the show is “scary” for all involved, it was exciting to welcome a new DCI.

Sinéad said she was “delighted” to be starting in Unforgotten after admiring Chris’ work.

She said: “I’m very much looking forward to working with the extraordinary cast led by the brilliant and incredibly lovely, Sanjeev Bhaskar.

“And I’m hoping that if I play my cards right I might even get to take a peek in Sunny’s backpack.”

Although the season five release date is yet to be confirmed, bosses have teased what’s in store for DCI James’ arrival.

Opening the series with a clock ticking down to Jess’ first day, viewers get to learn a bit more about her devastating family life.

The new series opens with the clock ticking down to Jess’ first day in her new job with an unforeseen and devastating introduction to her family life.

Needing to prove herself to her new colleagues after Cassie’s death, she has to solve the mystery of human remains that were discovered in a renovated period property in London.

Fans will see some familiar faces in the new series as DS Murray Boulting (Jordan Long) and DC Fran Lingley (Carolina Main) will be making a return.

Unforgettable is available to stream on ITV Hub. Read the full interview with Nicola Walker in this week’s Radio Times, out now.

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