Unforgotten series 5 first look—who will be returning?

Unforgotten series 5 is coming—but as fans process *that* Nicola Walker cliffhanger, what do the writers have in store?

Unforgotten DI Sunny Khan and DCI Cassie Stuart
(Image credit: ITV)

It's official! Unforgotten series 5 is currently being penned. While fans remain stunned by *that* ending to series 4, writer Chris Lang has been leaving cryptic clues about what lies in store in the ITV drama's upcoming epsiodes. 

Ever since the crime drama first landed on ITV in 2015, Unforgotten has had viewers hooked. Following the investigations into cold cases of murders and historic disappearances, the series is fronted by determined DCI Cassie Stuart, played by Nicola Walker, and her work partner DI Sunil 'Sunny' Khan, played by Sanjeev Bhaskar.

With plots twisting and turning, fans have frequently been left hanging—series 3 saw Cassie depart on sick leave to deal with trauma, only to return in Unforgotten series 4. And since series 3, fans of the show have been torn between wanting Cassie to get her happy ending with boyfriend DCI John Bentley, and hoping things wouldn’t work out, so they can enjoy seeing Nicola’s acting on their screens for a good while longer. 

Now the show’s creator and writer Chris Lang has shared the exciting news that he’s started working on Unforgotten series 5. But how will he top what happened at the end of series 4, and will we see our favorite cast-members return for the next instalment? 

*Warning: Unforgotten season 4 spoilers ahead!*

What happened in the Unforgotten series 4 finale? 

Unforgotten series 4 saw DCI Cassie Stuart involved in a car accident, leaving her life hanging in the balance. After rushing to the hospital to be at her bedside, Sunny later returned to work after he was informed that the driver who hit Cassie’s car could have been one of the people they suspected of being involved in the death of Matthew Walsh. (It was Matthew’s headless and handless body, found at the start of series 4, that triggered the action that unfolded over the 6-part season). 

While Cassie underwent surgery, Sunny began investigating, questioning suspects that included Dean Barton—who later turned out to be the killer, taking revenge upon Walsh for the murder of his brother Steven. Although the case looked to be solved, and a car thief was identified as the driver who hit Cassie, things didn't get wrapped up as neatly as viewers hoped.

In fact, events took an even more tragic turn for the DCI, as Sunny was told his colleague was unlikely to recover brain function. Much to the shock of die-hard Unforgotten fans, the episode closed with him visiting Cassie’s grave, after delivering a heartfelt tribute at her funeral.

What has the Unforgotten writer shared about series 5?

Chris Lang, the creator and writer of Unforgotten, knows exactly how to get fans excited for the upcoming season, though. Taking to Twitter, he shared a BTS shot of his computer set-up, with the corner of a document just visible on-screen.  

The caption for this intriguing post? ‘Back in my other office, in the heart of Soho, writing #Unforgotten 5. Happy’.

‘Admit it! Who didn’t zoom in on that screenshot!? Can’t wait for the new series, woohoo!’ one excited fan commented. 

Another appeared to have done the same, seemingly referencing names they’d seen on the page.

‘Hmm is Sunny having problems with his personal life, I can see Aisha and possibly a David. Bet Usha's back’, they said, discussing Sunny's storyline (the DI shares daughters Aisha and Gemma with his ex-wife Usha, but is currently engaged to Sal).

Chris responded, but remained very cryptic as he refused to confirm or deny the possibility, writing, ‘Maybe he is. Maybe he isn't. Ain't sayin'.

One hint he did give, however, was about the possible air date—he responded to one fan saying that Unforgotten series 5 will ‘[s]tart production at the end of this year’.

This means we’ll have to be patient for a little while longer, as we wait for Unforgotten series 5 to air on ITV. 

When will Unforgotten series 5 be released? 

Though Unforgotten creator Chris Lang’s tweet revealed that production is due to start later in 2021, this schedule has not yet been confirmed. Even if the fifth series does go to plan, there's no solid indication of when Unforgotten series 5 might land; hopefully it won't suffer the same set-backs as the last series, which originally began filming in January 2020, before being delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

According to the RadioTimes, series 4 filming resumed in September 2020, before going on to air in February 2021. With this past timeframe as a reference, viewers could potentially get to enjoy the fifth series of Unforgotten around spring or summer next year. 

Will the Unforgotten series 4 cast be back for series 5?

From the moment fans reached the end of Unforgotten series 4, there was one question on everybody’s lips—why did Nicola Walker leave the show after that "brutal" finale, and could she be coming back after all? With Chris Lang currently writing the next series, there has been no official confirmation yet on what plotlines await the remaining characters. That said, as Nicola’s character DCI Cassie Stuart was the only one be written out in the finale, it’s likely that many of the Unforgotten series 4 cast could be back on our screens in the not-too-distant future. This includes DI Sunny Khan, who—with Cassie no longer by his side—will undoubtedly have a new investigative partner. 

Following the Unforgotten series 4 finale, Digital Spy reported that ITV had released a statement thanking main star Nicola, and revealing that the hit show would indeed continue, with much in store for Sunny.

"ITV would like to thank Nicola Walker for playing the brilliant role of Cassie Stuart in four series of Unforgotten, which has become one of the best loved and most critically acclaimed police dramas on TV," a spokesperson is understood to have said. "Nicola and writer Chris Lang decided that Cassie's story would come to an end last night, but that Unforgotten would continue, in series 5, with a new case and a new 'Partner in Crime' for DI Sunny Khan."

So, while fans might still be coming to terms with Nicola Walker’s departure, it seems the upcoming series will allow us all to get to know Sunny better, and maybe even see a new major character introduced into the mix.

Until then, fans of Nicola Walker can also watch her in The Split season three, which is thought to be coming to screens in 2022. Until then, you can always re-watch Unforgotten series 4, which is still available on the ITV Hub. 

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Royal Editor with eight years experience working in publishing. Her specialist areas include the British Royal Family, ranging from protocol to outfits. Alongside putting her royal knowledge to good use, Emma knows all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV and more. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, Emma enjoys cooking, long walks and watching yet more crime dramas!