You’d be hard-pressed to find a Casualty fan who hasn’t bawled their eyes out following Lisa “Duffy” Duffin’s (Cathy Shipton) surprising death.
We all knew Cathy would be departing the drama but the details were kept a tightly-held secret – and quite rightly too.
Although a shock to all, Duffy bowed out in tragic, but spectacular, fashion paying homage to our beloved nurse in a way befitting Cathy’s 33 years playing the character.
While of course, the episode was a tough watch, it was completely perfect for one very strong reason – it’s in-keeping with the heart of Duffy.
Take a look back at Duffy’s storylines throughout her time on Casualty and she has had her fair share of issue-based drama.
In the early days, she was involved in a sexual assault storyline in 1986 during which she was raped and didn’t really have justice for that until the following season where her rapist entered Holby as a victim of stabbing before dying.
In the same season, she found love with first boyfriend, Peter, but he later turns out to be HIV positive and Duffy faces a scare – he later died in a car crash.
As if that wasn’t enough, Duffy became a single mum and faced battles to balance her work and home life, she went through a cervical cancer scare, and had to come to terms with the fact she could have put too much pressure on a nurse who died by suicide.
Aside from her continuing battle to be respected as a nurse, she also had an on-off/will they-won’t they relationship with beloved Charlie Fairhead (Derek Thompson), before eventually getting married in season 31.
Duffy’s dementia storyline was really just a continuation of her character and Cathy’s superb acting on Casualty.
Realistically, we all knew Duffy would end up leaving under devastating circumstances, and a death was the only way to stay true to this storyline.
While Cathy herself admitted she wanted Duffy to die, it seemed there was a dilemma when producing, according to Simon Harper, the Executive Producer of Casualty and Holby City.
He exclusively told RadioTimes.com: “There is an existential conundrum in producing Continuing Drama – our most enduring stories, particularly when it comes to health issues, often by their nature involve the character’s exit. And the more beloved the character, the harder hitting the story.
“So we are very sadly saying farewell to Duffy, but in the proud knowledge that Cathy and our writers have shone the most powerful light on a cruel disease that affects so many people.”
Simon went on to discuss why they chose to portray Duffy’s storyline in such a poignant fashion.
He told us: “Casualty is all about raising awareness with regard to health and social issues in the most visceral way, and a story about early onset dementia affecting the nation’s most iconic tv nurse achieves this – with Cathy’s brilliant performance being key, we are so proud of her and the passion and responsibility she has shown in portraying the condition.
Furthermore, while Duffy’s story is over, her legacy will continue as her close friends and family come to terms with her loss – most notably, poor Charlie.
Simon revealed: “We also of course wanted to highlight how dementia affects the relatives and carers as well as people living with it – so the story continues with testing times for Charlie, who will go to some pretty dark places, with stunning work from Derek.
“The audience will know that Charlie already feels bitter about a system he feels has let Duffy down. And Connie of course still has a festering sense of guilt about Duffy and will want to reach out, so there is unfinished business.”
While it’s no doubt a sad farewell to Duffy, that’s kind of the point – her death had to be heartbreaking because unfortunately that’s just what real life is.
Thankfully for the fans, Duffy was a nurse until the end and she will never be forgotten, but more importantly, her legacy will continue on account of her organ donation at the end of the episode.
Both on and off-screen, she continues to have an impact on the lives of many, as her organs will no doubt save lives and actress Cathy’s dementia portrayal will go on to help many viewers through difficult patches.
Really, would Duffy want it any other way?
Casualty continues Saturday, 8th February at 8.55pm on BBC One