It's only a matter of days before popular ITV crime drama, Unforgotten, returns to our screens – this time, with a brand new lead character.


After season 4's shock departure for DCI Cassie Stewart, Sinéad Keenan will take the reigns and replace Nicola Walker in season 5 as new boss DCI Jessie James.

The RTS award-winning actress, who has recently starred in Showtrial and Derry Girls, has revealed that she was initially "reticent" about even reading the scripts for Unforgotten.

Speaking to ITV about her new role, Keenan said: “If you’re at the start of something, you’re all in together and you’re all running blind a bit. You’re doing your best work, you’re hoping people will like it, but you’re all in the same boat.

"When you come into an established show, it’s very, very different. And obviously I’d seen the show, and Nicola is brilliant, so I was initially reticent about even reading the scripts. But then I read the scripts, and they were brilliant."

Sinead Keenan as DCI Jessica James and Sanjeev Bhaskar as DI Sunny Khan in Unforgotten.
Sinead Keenan as DCI Jessica James and Sanjeev Bhaskar as DI Sunny Khan in Unforgotten. Mainstreet for ITV

She added: “When I spoke to my agent she said, 'Apparently it’s really lovely job,' and I was like, 'OK, you’re just trying to sell this now.' My fear was, that I didn’t want to be filling a Cassie-shaped hole. But obviously, Chris Lang has created a completely different character with their own storyline, and it’s great.

"So I was very glad to have been wrong, essentially. And the whole team behind Unforgotten is really lovely, I have not had an experience like that on any set. It was so smooth. And I could not have been made to feel more welcome. Which was really lovely. So I’m very lucky."

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But it's not just plain-sailing for Keenan's new character, as her and fan favourite Sunny (Sanjeev Bhaskar) are set to be at "loggerheads" throughout this fifth season. Speaking about their new partnership, Keenan revealed: "When they meet, it is loggerheads. It’s passive aggressive, jibes, in a way it’s jostling for position.

"It’s not until episode four, once the shock of her news dissipates a bit, that she really tries to get herself together. And we hope they can start working together as opposed to beside each other."

As for the "news" that Keenan mentions, she previously told and other press while on set for the fifth season that "something happens" to Jessie in her personal life "which means she's off kilter, not working to the very best of her ability. Which means it takes a while for them to gel".

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The series' showrunner Chris Lang also added while on set that Jessie is "in a very different place to Cassie, because Cassie was on something of a descent, both emotionally, but also in terms of her career".

Speaking about the differences between our two leads, he continued: "She was at an age where she’d done it for 30 years, and she'd had enough. And I always thought that was a really interesting dynamic – to have a hero cop who didn't want to do the job anymore.

"And Jessie is just completely the opposite. She's absolutely at the peak of her powers. I think this is her first job as a DCI, and she's got a lot of energy. And she's very different to Cassie. The relationship between her and Sunny will be very different."

Unforgotten season 5 will air on ITV1 and ITVX on Monday 27th February 2023, and all four previous seasons are currently available to stream on ITVX.

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