Unforgotten season 5 cast: Meet Sunny, Jessie and the suspects in the ITV cold case drama

Sanjeev Bhaskar and Sinéad Keenan lead the Unforgotten season 5 cast as another gripping cold case mystery is investigated on ITV.

By Alex Fletcher Updated: 27 February 2023 - 9.10pm
ITV Unforgotten season 5 - First look at the cast

Unforgotten, one of the most underrated crime dramas on British TV, returned for a thrilling fifth season on ITV and ITVX (27 February) this week.

Following the shocking and heartbreaking exit of Nicola Walker’s Cassie at the end of season 4, the new series will be led by Sinéad Keenan as new arrival DCI Jessica ‘Jessie’ James and returning favourite Sanjeev Bhaskar as DI Sunny Khan.

The new detective partnership will be investigating a cold case of human remains found in an Hammersmith property, which leads the investigators towards four contrasting characters, played by Rhys Yates, Marina Laird, Ian McElhinney and Max Rinehart.

Here is a quick quide to the Unforgotten cast ahead of the new series…

Unforgotten season 5 cast

Sanjeev Bhaskar - Plays DI Sunny Khan

Sanjeev Bhaskar as Sunny in Unforgotten ITV

Sanjeev Bhaskar admits that it was “weird” returning to the series without Nicola Walker in the cast, but said that the fact that Sunny was navigating the same journey without Cassie by his side made it easier.

“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,” said Bhaskar.

“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.”

Sanjeev Bhaskar as Sunny in Unforgotten ITV

Talking about his new co-star Sinéad Keenan, Bhaskar said that the new arrival was “seamless” at fitting into the series.

“She’s brilliant at what she does anyway, she’s a really lovely person. She’s very, very, very good. So she dropped into the scene immediately,” he said

“She’s got a very different energy to Nicola, as Jess has to Cassie, and that’s part of the story. So all of that kind of helps.”

Describing the case the team are working on in season, Bhaskar explained: “A body is found bricked into a chimney breast, stuffed up a chimney, when some renovations are taking place, but they have no idea how old this body is, or who it is.

“The interesting thing about this series for me was that this was the widest range of ages of suspects that we’ve seen in any series. That felt very, very different.

“Before, it’s been a very specific, the age group of people that we’ve had - whereas this one, it really is from someone young to someone quite old.”

Sinéad Keenan – Plays DCI Jessica 'Jessie' James

Sinéad Keenan as Jessie in Unforgotten ITV

The new arrival and DCI replacing Cassie Stuart is a fast-tracked cop, who is ambitious and recently promoted.

“She’s got a husband, two children, perfect life,” explains Keenan. “And then she starts this new job, and on the first day she gets some news on the way to work that completely blindsides her that has implications in terms of how she is at her job. So that’s simmering in the background.”

The events in her personal life don’t help Jessie with the tricky task of fitting in with her new colleagues.

“She’s not where she should be head-wise, because she is good at her job, but she is not showing them that,” said Keenan.

“So to add insult to injury, they’ve lost the brilliant Cassie, and they’ve got this eejit coming in who doesn’t seem to be on the ball.”

The new cast member said that her own experiences joining the show couldn’t have been more contrasting to Jessie's, describing Bhaskar as “the nicest man in showbiz”.

“Honest to God, in between scenes, you sit down and fold your arms and just wait for him to entertain you with his anecdotes. He’s a dream. He's so lovely,” she said.

Ian McElhinney – Plays Lord Tony Hume

Ian McElhinney as Lord Tony Hume ITV

Northern Irish actor Ian McElhinney, known to many for playing Barristan Selmy in Game of Thrones and Granda Joe in Derry Girls, plays successful politician and House of Lords member Tony Hume.

“Ostensibly, he’s well-heeled, he’s very well married, so he has the comfortable life of a Tory gent. He has money, he has influence, a lot of influence still in government, he has people who he can lean on and probably get favours from,” said McElhinney.

“He has a flat in London, and he has a big country house where he goes for weekends or whatever. Essentially, it’s a very comfortable, very privileged life; he’s very much old stock in that sense.”

There will be something in Lord Hume’s past that comes to light during the investigation, which implicates him and connects him to people at the heart of the case, making him one of the four suspects.

Hayley Mills - Plays Lady Emma Hume

Hayley Mills as Lady Emma Hume ITV

Lord Tony Hume’s wife Emma is played by acting legend Hayley Mills.

A child star from the 1950s, Mills shot to fame with performances in Tiger Bay (1959), Pollyanna (1960) and The Parent Trap (1961).

More recently she starred as Caroline in ITV series Wild at Heart between 2007 and 2012.

Martina Laird – Plays Ebele Falade

Martina Laird as Ebele in Unforgotten ITV

Former Casualty star Martina Laird plays Ebele Falade, a vegan restaurant owner with aspirations of running her own catering empire.

“She’s got these desires and ambitions,” said Laird. “As we find out more about her, we understand why she’s so driven to make something of herself. There’s a lot of secrets, but she finds herself suspected of being part of the central crime story.”

Laird added: “What attracted me to the script is how Chris Lang has tackled the important themes of justice versus morality that are very pertinent to today’s conversations and very close to my heart.”

Max Rinehart – Plays Karol Wojski

Max Rinehart as Karol Wojski ITV

Max Rinehart (Drifters, Bad Education) plays Karol, a Polish social worker who moved to London when he was eight.

“A few years ago, he moved to Paris, got a girlfriend who was in the middle of trying to get custody of her children and is working a couple of jobs while they figured that out,” said Rinehart.

“He is definitely resilient, hardworking, determined. I think he’s quite a brave person. And at the heart of it, he’s a family man, and he very much wants to start his own.”

Rinehart added: “He does want to do the right thing, but he also has trouble understanding the world around him because he’s been through a lot. I think he feels like he’s a good person, but he finds the world around him quite hard.

“He’s a really good person, but when his expectations of the world aren’t met, that can be confusing for him.”

Rhys Yates – Plays Jay

Rhys Yates plays Jay ITV

The Outlaws and Britannia actor Rhys Yates plays another one of Unforgotten’s main suspects, Jay.

“He’s had a very dysfunctional upbringing and he lives in a rundown council estate with his girlfriend. They both have had a lot of trauma in their lives, and they use drugs to numb the pain and emptiness that they both have,” said Yates.

“Jay has found himself in the role of his girlfriend’s carer, providing the drugs for his girlfriend by any means necessary – even if that means committing crimes.

“He’s very lost and he’s looking for a way to get out of this destructive cycle.”

Explaining the appeal of the role, Yates added: “I liked just how complex the character is. I can tend to get thrown into stereotypical characters like, ‘Oh, you’re the bad guy’, or, ‘You’re the drug dealer,’ kind of like the archetype.

“And I just feel like… no matter if they’re making bad choices or not, that people aren’t just that. They’re not just one thing.”

Carolina Main - Plays DS Fran Lingley

Carolina Main as Fran Lingley ITV

Fran joined the Bishop Street unsolved crime team in series 2 and will have to deal with a new boss in series 5, following the tragic death of Cassie Stuart.

Fran Lingley is played by Carolina Main, who has previously starred in Grantchester, Temple, The Alienist and Channel 5 drama Blood.

Jordan Long - Plays DS Murray Boulting

Jordan Lang as DS Murray Boulting ITV

Murray has been part of the Bishop Street team since series 1 and will be leaned on heavily for his experience following the death of Cassie.

Jordan Long’s CV includes a long list of TV and movie roles including The Gentleman, Andor, The Wrong Mans and Prime Suspect 1973

Lewis Reeves - Plays DC Jake Collier

DC Jake Collier has been a key member of the Unforgotten investigating team for four series.

He is played by Lewis Reeves, who has also starred in I May Destroy You, Crazyhead and Misfits.

Pippa Nixon - Plays DC Karen Willetts

Pippa Nixon as DC Karen Willetts ITV

DC Karen Willetts returns after previously appearing in series 1 and series 4.

She is played by Pippa Nixon, whose TV credits include Grantchester, Cuffs, Midsomer Murders and Law and Order.

Andrew Lancel – Plays Steve James

Andrew Lancel in Unforgotten season 5 ITV

ITV hasn’t revealed details about the character Steve James yet, although the surname suggests he may be related to Jessie in some way.

Andrew Lancel, who plays Steve, is best known for playing Frank Foster in Coronation Street.

He’s also starred in Bad Girls, Queer as Folk, The Bill and Cardiac Arrest.

Unforgotten season 5: Full cast list

  • Sanjeev Bhaskar - Plays DI Sunny Khan
  • Sinéad Keenan - Plays DCI Jessica 'Jessie' James
  • Rhys Yates - Plays Jay Royce
  • Martina Laird - Plays Ebele Falade
  • Ian McElhinney - Plays Lord Tony Hume
  • Max Rinehart - Plays Karol Wojski
  • Hayley Mills - Plays Lady Emma Hume
  • Jordan Long - Plays DS Murray Boulting
  • Lewis Reeves - Plays DC Jake Collier
  • Carolina Main - Plays DS Fran Lingley
  • Georgia Mackenzie - Plays Dr Leanne Balcolmbe
  • Pippa Nixon - Plays DC Karen Willetts
  • Michelle Bonnard - Plays Sal
  • Mark Frost - Plays Dave Adams
  • Andrew Lancel - Plays Steve James

Who appeared in earlier seasons of Unforgotten?

Each series of Unforgotten focuses on a different cold case, beginning with the discovery and identification of a long-hidden body before the story behind the victim's death and the perpetrator or perpetrators are identified.

Every case identifies four otherwise unconnected suspects who have been keeping the death and the reasons behind it a secret until the Bishop Street team start to put the pieces - and the suspects' relationship - together.

While Sunny, Cassie and their colleagues - along with occasional family members - have provided the thread that run through all four series, the ever-changing guest stars have brought their own twist to each case. 

Here are all the suspects who have had their mugshots pinned on the Bishop Street conspiracy cork board, with a reminder of the victim in each series.

Season 1 (2015)

The body: The remains of Liverpool teenager Jimmy Sullivan - last seen in a hostel in 1976 - are found in the cellar of a demolished house.

The suspects:

  • Eric Slater - A former hostel bookkeeper, played by Tom Courtenay
  • Sir Philip Cross - The government's business tsar, played by Trevor Eve
  • Lizzie Wilton - Young people's charity worker, played by Ruth Sheen
  • Father Robert Greaves - Former hostel chaplain, played by Bernard Hill

Season 2 (2017)

The body: Tory party fundraiser and club promoter David Walker, who disappeared in 1989, is found in a suitcase in the River Lea.

The suspects: 

  • DI Tessa Nixon - David's remarried widow, played by Lorraine Ashbourne
  • Colin Osbourne - Barrister, played by Mark Bonnar
  • Marion Kelsey - Paediatric nurse, played by Rosie Cavaleiro
  • Sara Mahmoud - Schoolteacher, played by Badira Timini

Season 3 (2018)

The body: The remains of schoolgirl Hayley Reid, who vanished from a seaside town on New Year's Eve 1999, are found by workmen repairing the M1 near London.

The suspects: 

  • Jamie Hollis - TV quiz show host, played by Kevin McNally
  • Chris Lowe - Struggling artist, played by James Fleet
  • Pete Carr - Insurance salesman, played by Neil Morrissey
  • Dr Tim Finch - A GP, played by Alex Jennings

Season 4 (2021)

The body: Matthew Walsh, minus head and hands, is found in a freezer on a London scrap heap. He was last seen in March 1990.

The suspects:

  • DCI Ram Sidhu - Vice unit inspector, played by Phaldut Sharma
  • DCC Liz Baildon - Ambitious career policewoman, played by Susan Lynch
  • Fiona Grayson - A therapist, played by Liz White
  • Dean Barton - Self-made businessman, played by Andy Nyman

Watch Unforgotten season 5 on Monday, 27 February at 9pm on ITV1. 

Unforgotten season 5 will be available as a complete series on ITVX after the first episode has aired.

Unforgotten season 1-4 are available to stream now on ITVX and BritBox.

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