James Nesbitt: I won’t be in The Missing series two…but Olly could still be alive

Nesbitt reveals that the case of the missing boy in the critically acclaimed BBC drama may not be closed after all

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James Nesbitt has confirmed that he won’t be appearing in series two of The Missing – and that the finale may not have been as final as it appeared.

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The first series concluded dramatically in December, when the mystery of who abducted five-year-old Oliver Hughes during a family holiday to France in 2006 was solved (spoilers ahead for anyone who still hasn’t watched it).

It was revealed that young Olly was not abducted at all, and had simply wandered into the path of a drunk driver, who hid the boy’s unconscious body in his car boot. Instead of being taken to hospital, the boy was – apparently – killed and his body dumped. The culprits were the drunkard, who ran the hotel where the family were staying, and his brother the mayor.

However, Nesbitt, who played the boy’s father, says that even he was left confused about whether Olly was really alive or dead. He assumed his character’s apparent sighting of his son as he trudged the streets of Russia was a delusion – but discovered afterwards that the director thought otherwise.

He told RadioTimes.com: “There was a lot of chat about the ending and I thought the ending was brilliant. But it was funny, I was at the Golden Globes – yes, the Golden Globes! – and I was talking to someone about the ending and I was saying it definitely wasn’t Olly at the end. Tony is demented and Oliver is dead and the only place that Tony can find solace is in this demented world. And that was how I was playing it.

“But the director Tom Shankland, who directed all of them, arrived and said, ‘Oh no, that was Olly’, so there was an ambiguity to it.”

He said that while he won’t be in series two, he wishes the team well – joking “but not too well.”

Nesbitt is currently in talks with Downton Abbey executive producer Gareth Neame about a mystery new project but will not be joining Lord Grantham and co in the hit ITV drama.

“a) They wouldn’t cast me [in Downton] and b) I’m glad,” he said, playfully. But if they did cast him? 

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“I would be below stairs but I would be the guy that sneaked upstairs…not for the first time!”