Unforgotten’s Sanjeev Bhaskar felt ‘lost’ without Nicola Walker

Unforgotten: Sunny and Cassie try to uncover a murder

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Unforgotten has been away from viewers’ screens for nearly two years and left them devastated when beloved DCI Cassie Stuart died in a horrific car crash. Now, as DI Sunny Khan (played by Sanjeev Bhaskar) returns with a new boss to answer to, actor Sanjeev opened up on missing Nicola Walker and feeling “lost” without her.

Sunny is usually upbeat and optimistic when it comes to first setting foot on a crime scene, eager to solve the case.

However, at the beginning of the series, Sunny is feeling lost, with Sanjeev explaining: “It was weird, because not having Nicola there felt really odd.

“In a way, she is such a good and close friend, I felt slightly lost in the way that Sunny does. But the fact that it was about Cassie/Nicola made it easier to get to those places.

“I hope that comes across. Grief does affect people in deep and profound ways. And I think one of the ways that it does affect people is you do feel lost because it’s such a mixture of different emotions.

“There’s loss, there’s regret, there’s having to recalibrate what your life is. And for Sunny, all of those things, all those existential things, are sitting behind everything he does.

“It struck me that, outside of his daughters, Cassie was the most consistent and positive relationship he’d had.

“And suddenly to not have that…I’ve lost friends, and certainly with a couple of them, even though they passed away a long time ago now, there’s still that slight dissonance that you feel.

“Cassie was so much more than a colleague. She was a friend, she was a confidante. And Sunny is finding it difficult to recalibrate his life.”

Teasing what’s to come, ITV’s synopsis for Unforgotten season five reads: “The clock [is] ticking down to DCI James’s first day in her new job with an unforeseen and devastating introduction to her family life.

“Determined to make a good first impression with her new colleagues, will Jess be in the right frame of mind to deliver and inspire the team?

“And inevitably how will the ghost of much-loved former colleague Cassie Stuart haunt her?

“After all, Cassie will be big shoes for her to fill. Does she have the resolve, professionalism and spirit to live up to her much-admired and respected predecessor?”

Sinead Keenan recently opened up about filling in for Nicola and admitted she felt the pressure.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Sinead explained: “I fully anticipate that, for at least the first half of the series, nobody’s going to like me.

“With the team, she’s constantly measured against the brilliance of Cassie, and their love for her: ‘You picked this eejit?’ And the audience will be doing the same.

“I saw the reaction when Cassie died and I thought, ‘Oh, God, woe betide anyone who takes that on.’

“Then I got a call from my agent saying that the people from Unforgotten wanted to give the script to a handful of actors, and would I put my name in the pot?

“I said, ‘Thank you very much, I’m delighted that they thought I’d be able, but no.

“Nicola Walker is fantastic and so well-loved – who’d be the fool?’”

Unforgotten returns Monday, February 27 on ITV1.

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