Cast your mind back to last year when it was announced – to the joy of Call the Midwife fans – that Miranda Hart would be reprising her role as Chummy in BBC1 period drama, which returns to screens tonight.
Creator Heidi Thomas storylined and wrote her scenes, only for the news to break in August that Hart would no longer be appearing, due to an overloaded schedule. “We were hoping right up to the end that we could make it work, but we couldn’t,” said Thomas who was forced to action a frantic re-write.
But Hart isn’t the only star to trigger a last-minute overhaul. Here are four more shows which wrote out main characters at short notice…
1. Christopher Eccleston – Safe House
Christopher Eccleston was the hero of BBC1 drama Safe House, one of its most powerful dramas of 2015, so it was no surprise when it got recomissioned. But despite starting work on the second series, Eccleston suddenly pulled out – the reason remains a secret. True Blood’s Stephen Moyer replaced him for the second series, which was relocated to the seashores of Anglesey and is due to air later this year.
2 . Mandy Patinkin – Criminal Minds
Some actors are very open about why they leave shows. Mandy Patinkin was the biggest star of Criminal Minds back in 2007, before it was a worldwide hit. After two seasons he walked out. “The biggest public mistake I ever made was that I chose to do Criminal Minds in the first place,” he said. “I thought it was something different.
“I never thought they were going to kill and rape all these women every night, every day, week after week, year after year. It was destructive to my soul and my personality. After that, I didn’t think I would get to work in television again.” Thankfully for Patinkin, a little show called Homeland came along…
3. Michael Le Vell and William Roache – Coronation Street
Michael Le Vell plays Kevin Webster in Coronation Street
Poor Coronation Street has been forced to temporarily write out characters due to the actor being arrested not once, but twice. Michael Le Vell, who played Kevin Webster, was arrested in 2011 and William Roache, who plays Ken Barlow, in 2013. Both were charged with sexual offences but were found not guilty and returned to the show.
4. Rik Mayall – Man Down
In 2014 Greg Davies had to rewrite the second series of Man Down when Rik Mayall, who starred as his father, Richard Davies, died of a heart attack aged 56; tragically Davies’s real father passed away only two months later. When the show returned it began with a funeral for Mr Davies Sr, and a ferocious Stephanie Cole was brought in to make Greg’s character life hell, which is where Rik had so sublimely left off.
Call the Midwife returns to screens tonight at 8pm on BBC1
Sign up to the Radio Times newsletter for the latest TV and entertainment news