Designated Survivor’s First Lady Natascha McElhone is quitting the show

The second season of the White House drama will be her last as she joins the cast of Beau Willimon's new Channel 4 series The First

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Designated Survivor season two has only just begun, but it has already been revealed that the show will undergo a massive change at some point between now and the beginning of the third season (if another run is commissioned).

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Variety reports that Natascha McElhone, who plays First Lady Alex Kirkman on the White House drama, is departing the show to join up with House of Cards creator Beau Willimon on his new show The First, a co-production between Channel 4 and US streaming site Hulu.

She will trade co-star Kiefer Sutherland – who plays accidental POTUS Tom Kirkman – for The First lead Sean Penn in the series about the first manned mission to Mars. Her role has yet to be confirmed, but Variety suggests that she will play the CEO of the company financing the mission.

The first episode of Designated Survivor season two dropped onto Netflix UK this morning after its US premiere last night, and by the looks of things, McElhone will be every bit as present in this season as she was in the last.

The question is, will the series producers make the life of President Kirkman – who ascended to the Oval office from a lowly position after almost everyone else in government was killed in a terrorist attack – even worse, and kill off his wife? Or will we get a not-so-subtle actor change?

Either way, we’re in for an exciting season.

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The First is scheduled to premiere on Channel 4 in 2018. New episodes of Designated Survivor season 2 drop on Thursdays on Netflix UK