Unforgotten star Lewis Reeves has revealed he won't feature in the show's upcoming fifth season, as filming dates clashed with another project.
The actor, who plays DC Jake Collier in the acclaimed series, was busy working with Sheridan Smith on Sky comedy Rosie Molloy Gives Up Everything as the Unforgotten crew returned to set.
He told RadioTimes.com that "both productions were amazing at trying to make it work," but a solution couldn't be found – especially with the added variable of COVID to consider.
"I've been doing [Unforgotten] for about four or five years now, and it’ll be the first one without Nicola [Walker], so it was a tough one to take," he said.
However, he went on to say that this isn't necessarily the end of his character's arc.
"I spoke to Chris Lang, the writer, and Andy Wilson, the director, and if it goes for season 6, I'm sure they'll welcome DC Jake Collier back – [that’s] what I’m hearing, so fingers crossed," he explained.
"But it's really nice now because I really love the show and I get to watch it now as a fan when it comes out, but really gutted not to be part of the team."
In a shocking season 4 twist, Nicola Walker's lead character DCI Cassie Stuart was killed off, leaving partner DI Sunny Khan (played by Sanjeev Bhaskar) devastated.
He'll be working with a new detective in season 5 by the name of Jessica James, played by Little Boy Blue's Sinéad Keenan, with Reeves voicing his enthusiasm for the casting.
"She's a brilliant actress and I was so looking forward to [doing scenes with her]," he continued. "What a brilliant person to sort of take the helm of the show, which is why I was so gutted that I wasn't able to film with them.
"I'm really looking forward to seeing what they’ve cooked up. I think it’s going to be really special. I read the first two episodes – they sent it when my character was in it – and then I stopped myself because I think it's going to be a really good one."
Reeves added: "From speaking to Sanjeev as well, he seems very very chuffed with it. I can’t wait to see what they’ve done, but I’m gutted to miss out."
In a brief synopsis released at the time of Keenan's casting, ITV revealed that Unforgotten's next season will unravel the mystery behind human remains discovered in a newly-renovated period property in Hammersmith.