Why Two Doors Down's Cathy returned following shock exit
When Doon Mackichan left the Scottish sitcom, fans were devastated – but why has she come back just a year later?
When fan-favourite neighbour from hell Cathy (aka actor Doon Mackichan) left Two Doors Down in 2022, it was a huge disappointment for fans – but not necessarily a massive surprise.
After all, stars of the hit Scottish sitcom had departed before. Harki Bhambra, who played Jaz in the first two seasons, left to appear in Our Girl; Sharon Rooney went on to bigger things as the star of My Mad Fat Diary and (eventually) Barbie. But this time, something was different.
“Normally they leave, and they don’t come back. I know,” Mackichan tells RadioTimes.com. “So people are very relieved that I haven’t just completely gone.”
Yes, that’s right – despite her year off the show, and despite her character being replaced (with Siobhan Redmond joining the cast last year), Mackichan is back for Two Doors Down’s new season. And apparently, she never really wanted to leave anyway.
“Well, there was a lot going on in my life at the time, and it just didn’t work. It was gutting,” Mackichan says now of her original decision to leave. “So when that had all passed, and, you know, kind of righted itself, it was like, ‘Well, I would love to come back. Can we make this work?’ It was like fireworks in the sky. ‘Yes, yes, yes!’”
More like this
“The truth is, we never wrote Cathy out of the show on purpose,” series co-creator Gregor Sharp tells me. “It was an availability thing with Doon.
“So when the stars aligned, and it was possible for her to come back, it was a fairly straightforward decision to want to do that, just because she’s a dynamic energy. She brings a lot of comedy force, both as a character and Doon as an actor. And so it felt like a card that you’d definitely want back in the pack.”
Still, the abrupt volte-face was still a shock for Mackichan’s co-stars, including on-screen husband Jonathan Watson (aka Colin).
“It was a bit of a surprise, to be honest with you,” he laughs. “I’m delighted! We weren’t expecting her back.
“It was great to have Siobhan in it. She did a great job. But I think the dynamic Colin and Cathy bring to it as an annoying couple helps the storylines in so many ways. We didn’t have that with the relationship with Siobhan. I think it’s good to have it back. The programme benefits from it.”
- First look at Brassic Christmas special with Greg Davies and Imelda Staunton
- Ghosts creator teases character return in “unexpected” Christmas special
In fact, in the new season’s first episode Cathy’s return is the driving force behind the plot, when she accidentally gatecrashes another event held by the main cast. Usually foul-mouthed, half-cut and self-centred, she’s forced to try and charm her old friends, who aren’t too happy with her about her sudden exit.
“I think Cathy is shocked at the level of not being welcomed back,” Mackichan says. “When she’s suddenly there with everyone, she’s really, really nervous, which is not something we’ve ever seen her be. So that’s quite funny. She has to keep quiet and gauge how quickly she can get back in. And it’s not nearly as quickly as she thought.
“Why Cathy was missed, probably, is because she gives something to push against. She rubs everyone up a bit. She’s just rude!” she laughs.
“The thing about Two Doors Down is that it’s a story-of-the-week show,” adds Sharp. “So we don’t really follow a big series arc. But obviously with a character like that leaving and then coming back, that is something you have to deal with in sequence order.
“Her coming back into Colin’s life and the lives of the other characters is a sort of dramatic story as much as it’s a comic story. I mean, we definitely explore the comic impact of it. But it has to feel dramatically true as well. We never wanted to just drop her back into the show, and pretend nothing had happened.”
And however it’s done, Mackichan gets the sense fans will just be happy to see Cathy back on the sofa with her neighbours.
“I’ve definitely had that response from people on the street,” she says. “Everywhere I am, I’ll be on a beach, and someone will go, ‘Are you coming back?’ And then they get a picture. Or they take a picture out of the pub window when I’ve just had a wild swim, and I’m looking terrible.
“So people are missing her, which is really nice to know. I didn’t really realise how much they missed Cathy.”
Two Doors Down airs on BBC One on Fridays at 9:30pm, and streams on BBC iPlayer.