Unforgotten Series 5 Review

I’ve decided to start doing brief reviews of the series we watch, hoping some of you might find them useful.

The most recent we’ve seen is Unforgotten, the fifth and latest series. We watched it on ITV X, which is our current go-to streaming service for new series. We loved the first four series, but (spoiler alert) Nicola Walker has now left and been replaced by a new protagonist, troubled Sinéad Keenan (Derry Girls, Being Human). Returning is Sanjeev Bhaskar as DS Sunny Khan, struggling to deal with the events of the previous season.

If you have watched the first four series, you’ll recognise the format almost immediately. A body is discovered hidden after several years (seven, in this instance), and the first episode tracks some of the central characters. We have a crack addict from Essex (played by the standout performer for me, Rhys Yates), a taxi driver in Paris, a restaurant owner with a penchant for domestic violence and a Tory peer running inner-city projects to help the poor. How on earth are they all connected?

Alongside that tantalising test for amateur sleuths, we’re given a glimpse into the troubled lives of the central characters, and that’s where the title of the show becomes reality. From the offset, it’s clear that Walker’s character, Cassie Stuart, hasn’t been forgotten. She didn’t carry the show for the first four series, the clever writing did that, but her empathetic portrayal of Cassie did add a fine gloss to an intriguing and endearing detective series.


At first, Keenan’s character cannot do that. Her troubled private life spills over into the fractured team and it is an interesting subplot to keep you engaged. There are some good moments between her and Bhaskar, and as their relationship evolves, it feels very much like a transitional series, setting up more down the line. One scene, in an interview room, will leave you clapping with joy, as it feels like the plan is coming together. Sadly, in my opinion, the nature of the crime they’re investigating does not fit as comfortably with the previous four series by the time we wind up.

I won’t put spoilers here until later, but after five episodes you’ll be hooked, full of theories and ideas, which is what this series has always done well. The pay off has always been worth it, but it feels as if this one has tried far too hard to make a political statement at the same time as telling a story.

The concluding episode didn’t leave me entirely disappointed, just a little bit flat. When you’ve had all sorts of theories and expectant twists, and what comes out is the obvious conclusion, you do feel a bit cheated. I know you suspend disbelief when you watch these shows, but after some clever twists (one I didn’t see coming at all, which is unusual) the show petered out into something that felt rushed. It wasn’t quite ‘Game of Thrones’ finale bad, but it was no Happy Valley either.


If you’ve got this far and want to watch it for yourself, then please do not read on.


Right. I’ll continue.


My main issue with the conclusion was that it felt contrived to fit the narrative they’d tried to weave throughout. References to budget cuts, poor, downtrodden families struggling on the breadline because of the vicious government were woven in throughout. Yes, that’s the reality, but it felt as if they were trying to use that as a justification for you to empathise with a husband-beating recovering alcoholic, a crack addict with a taste for blackmail and her feral offspring. In the end, it didn’t go all-in on anything, tiptoeing around the message it hoped to send without jumping in.

The entitled Tory peer was a suspected one-time rapist, something revealed late on, and the family embroiled in the affair were his offspring. He had shown some repentance and tried to pay off the family, but they wanted more, turned to blackmail and eventually, the hidden body, Precious, accidentally got shot. He then takes the gun and kills the son, before disposing of both bodies, as cool as you like. It felt clumsy, not at all the pay-off one would expect. It made a mockery of the privileged white man’s so-called power, in that he did the dirty work himself. It asked you to empathise with the feral family, suggesting their problems were the result of greed and entitlement, when in fact there are thousands of families with trauma and financial struggles who do not turn to crack, drink, violence and crime. Does the plot do those people a disservice? Perhaps.

Overall, the series is still a solid three out of five, and up to episode five I’d give it more. I like the way they have dealt with the major cast change, although after one episode I wasn’t so sure! However, what really lets it down is the clumsy finish, something that is just not like the excellent four seasons prior.

Hopefully, now we’ve settled the fact Nicola Walker is gone, a sixth season will make amends.

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