Unforgotten episode one: how are the characters linked to the victim?

The first instalment of the new crime thriller already has us wondering what these seemingly unconnected individuals are really hiding...

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If you’ve just seen the first episode of Unforgotten, you’ll know that this will be an unpredictable, twisty thriller which leaves viewers with lots of burning questions at the end of each instalment.

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As this week’s story unfolded, the episode left us with a skeleton, a  boy who went missing in the 1970s and a large group of seemingly unconnected families and individuals.

So while ITV’s latest drama has already been dubbed the new Broadchurch— and it certainly has elements of the channel’s big thriller success story— it’s really more like BBC1’s The Missing. But in reverse. It’s as if detectives have gone back to Olly Hughes’s case years later and are investigating it from the very beginning, talking to the child’s parents Tony and Emily in their old age about the horrifying case that was (perhaps?) never solved. 

And in Unforgotten, DCI Cassie Stuart (Nicola Walker) and her colleague DS Sunny Khan (Sanjeev Bhaskar) are very much trying to give the victim’s family some closure all these years later. It may be a cold case, but that’s precisely why it deserves their attention— to give the murdered boy’s loved ones some answers to what happened to him.

So here’s what was revealed in episode one, and where those findings leave us in the search for the murderer(s?)…

The bare bones of a body were found underneath a demolished house in Willesden in North West London. Just by looking at the remains, the police didn’t know how long the skeleton had been there— it could have been 5,000 years or 50.

After finding what they believe to be a car key near the body, the team dated the death back to the last forty years. This was exciting news, because investigating a 5,000 year-old murder would be impossible and pointless for the detectives.

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Then, the discovery of a diary prompted the first massive breakthrough in the case (and at that moment RadioTimes.com was well and truly hooked).

After some spine-chillingly clever forensic work on the very damaged diary, it was revealed that the bones belonged to a young man named Jimmy Sullivan who was last seen in 1976.

Much to their delight, Cassie and Sunny also found out that the final pages of the diary contained several names and addresses, including Beth, Father Rob, Frankie C and Mr. Slater. The detectives started to contact these people, one by one, chasing clues and contacts.

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And suddenly, all these seemingly unconnected side stories of the disabled man caring for his wife, the slightly sinister businessman, the vicar and the football coach all seemed very important and very connected indeed.  

The big question is: How are these characters related to the victim? And are they related to each other in some way? They all seem to be such different lives now, but did they all have something in common in the 1970s when Jimmy disappeared?

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Only one episode in, it’s too early to suspect anything — but it’s clear that these characters are not the ordinary people they seem.