Unforgottens Sinead Keenan pays tribute to Sunny Khan co-star

Unforgotten: Jessie speaks to Sunny about replacing Cassie

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Unforgotten returned to ITV last week for the fifth season of the gritty police drama. Sinead Keenan, who plays DCI Jessica James, is the show’s new leading lady after replacing Nicola Walker’s character DCI Cassie Stuart whose demise was watched by almost 10 million viewers. While Nicola’s character was written out of the script, Sanjeev Bhaskar has reprised his role as detective Sunny Khan. 

Sinead addressed what it was like to work alongside Sanjeev ahead of the series airing with a touching tribute to her co-star. 

She gushed: “He is one of the nicest, if not the nicest man in showbiz.

“We started filming in March, and I had a message from him in October through Twitter, a lovely message – because we have worked very, very briefly before in a show called Porters, we had one tiny scene together. 

“So anyway, Sanjeev sent me a lovely message, because we were due to have lunch with the producers.

“And he said, ‘Do you want to have a Zoom beforehand? I know it might be a bit weird for you.’

“Which was very kind in and of itself. And then we eventually got around to doing it, and had a lovely chat for over an hour and he was incredibly kind.” 

The Irish actress presumed it might “feel a bit weird” to join the cast of such a well-known show. 

“He could not have been nicer, kinder, or more entertaining,” the actress exclaimed. 

“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.”

While Sanjeev comes across as the ultimate gentleman in real life, his character had some challenging scenes filled with raw anger for this series. 

Sanjeev explained: “It’s certainly a challenge. Because ultimately you want to do it truthfully, you want to do it so it’s consistent with their character. 

“And I was very happy in all of those emotional scenes, whether he was angry or upset, to be guided really, because it can very easily become indulgent as an actor. 

“You can certainly go, ‘Right this is my chance to be Robert De Niro!’ Which may not be the most appropriate approach. 

“Again, the challenges are always the fun bit for me. If it’s not challenging, then there is a danger that you can coast a little bit.”

The actor credited Chris Lang’s scripts and the work of director Andy Wilson for bringing the series together so well. 

Sanjeev made his Unforgotten debut in 2015 for the first season of the detective drama. 

The latest series follows a storyline about addiction and violence which opened with the horrifying discovery of a human leg. 

Sanjeev and Sinead’s characters have to put their differences aside to solve the crime as the episodes unfold. 

His character is still coming to terms with his former boss Cassie being killed off in a dramatic style at the end of series four. 

Unforgotten’s box set is available to stream on ITVX. 

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