Nicola Walker Will Remain ‘Unforgotten’

Unforgotten has given us four incredible series and has become a key part of British television. After the first episode aired in 2015, the show has become the ultimate whodunnit, with hours upon hours of unpredictable viewing.

Series 1 – 3

When the first series aired, we were introduced to DCI Cassie Stuart (Nicola Walker) and DCI Sunny Khan (Sanjeev Bhaskar) as they tackled a historical murder case, with details of Cassie and Sunny’s personal lives woven throughout the story. Snippets of Sunny’s home life with his daughters and Cassie’s relationship with her son Adam and dad kept us enticed – unlike a lot of other crime dramas, we go on a domestic journey with them alongside a criminal investigation.

Although only fragments of Cassie’s personal life were shown, we were still able to empathise with a character that we’ve come to know and love. The storyline has always followed the relationships between Cassie and the men in her life; her son Adam, her dad, Sunny, and partner in the third series. 

A relentless police officer, Cassie never stopped until a case was solved. She looked out for her team and the victims’ families knew they could trust her. However, the consequences of this work ethic and her unhealthy way of absorbing the emotions of the families left her needing time off work in series three, after a murderer, who had shown no remorse, revealed he killed many more victims than the original case. Reluctantly, Cassie returned to work to get access to her full pension, but she was determined to work until the end, and that she did. 

Series 4 and The Finale

Plenty of twists and turns kept the fourth series evolving, with different pieces of the puzzle waiting to be put together. As we neared the end of the case, the penultimate episode of the series left audiences screaming at their televisions as Cassie is involved in a catastrophic car accident. We all believed Cassie could and would get better, wondering about the future of the character and trying not to imagine the series without her. Solving the case would leave both the audience and Cassie triumphant, but this time, it wasn’t enough – Cassie would never regain normal brain functions.

Series four also revealed that Cassie’s father had been diagnosed with dementia, and the idea of losing him put a strain on their relationship. The final moments of the episode, with Cassie’s dad listening to a voicemail from her, made the ending even more harrowing. Cassie was so scared of losing him to dementia, but it was ultimately he who lost her.

The fact that Cassie wanted to “be better” this series not only highlighted her vulnerability, that promise made me believe that physically and mentally she could get better. Alas, it wasn’t to be.

Friendship

The genuine friendship that Walker and Bhaskar portrayed both on and off-screen made the last few minutes of the episode utterly heartbreaking. 

DCI Sunny Khan was seen laying flowers on Cassie’s grave with the words of his eulogy playing over the footage, “Cass Stuart was my colleague, she was my mentor, she was my friend, and I loved her.” A comedian and an actor may seem like an unlikely partnership; speculation at the beginning of the show was concerned with how Bhaskar would rise to meet Walker. But both performances made the audience feel safe; no matter what was thrown at them, they handled it, and their friendship never faltered throughout. 

Continually we were presented with two characters who shared the same morals and same beliefs because they cared. They cared about everyone involved and most importantly, they cared about each other. 

At times they may have cared too much, such as a drunken attempt at a kiss that Cassie never let Sunny forget. It’s rare to be given two characters who share such a friendship with no need for romance or sexual tension between them. It’s the type of friendship audiences want and crave themselves, where without a doubt you know the other person has your back. 

DCI Cassie Stewart and Nicola Walker

The character of Cassie was so cleverly written. She was a strong, established female figure, who was bloody good at her job. Evidently she made mistakes, but the impact she had on those around her had a greater impact than she would ever come to know. Roles like Cassie Stuart are few and far between, and Nicola Walker’s portrayal made saying goodbye that much harder.

When a character is so compelling that their death leaves you sobbing, it shows how much of an impact was made by that character, and how faultless a performance Walker gave. She isn’t the type of actress who leaves a show running off into the sunset ready for a new beginning, she leaves an impression that sends shockwaves through both the audience and fictional universe – that’s how talented she is. Although I, like many, wished for a happy ending, the Chris Lang’s writing was beautiful, and would have made a happier alternative incomparable.

The Future of The Show 

The official Unforgotten Twitter page also released a statement: “Nicola and writer Chris Lang decided that Cassie’s story would come to an end last night, but that Unforgotten would continue, in series 5, with a new case, and a new ‘Partner in Crime’ for DI Sunny Khan.”

Following Walker’s departure, speculation has been rife about who will take her place. Keeley Hawes (Line of Duty), Eve Myles (Keeping Faith), and the current Doctor, Jodie Whittaker, all known for various other crime dramas, have been chosen as the bookies favourites, but it has not yet been revealed who will step into Walker’s shoes. 

Bringing in a new partner for Sunny will undoubtedly test the fictional relationships between the whole cast. However, it will be interesting to see how the writers explore this new void left in Sunny’s life, and how this impacts his own relationships with his soon-to-be wife and those around him. 

Cassie’s demise will undeniably change the dynamic of the show for the next series. With the departure leaving the audience heartbroken, the future of the show rests in the safe hands of writer Chris Lang, and wondering how Sunny will cope in this new chapter is what will keep audiences enticed for the future. 

Words by Neve Gordon-Farleigh

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