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big name Fair City star Sinéad Keenan to join popular ITV cold case show Unforgotten

She will play DCI Jessica James opposite Sanjeev Bhaskar who plays DI “Sunny” Khan

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Sinead Keenan (Matt Crossick/PA)

Sinead Keenan (Matt Crossick/PA)

Sinead Keenan (Matt Crossick/PA)

She started her career playing Farah Phelan in Fair City but now Sinéad Keenan is about to become a household name in the UK.

The Dublin star has been signed up for one of the most sought-after roles on TV, replacing the hugely popular Nicola Walker in the detective series Unforgotten.

And that comes after she recently appeared as a tough-talking detective in the gripping courtroom thriller series Showtrial – and the mother of a pregnant teenager in the Northern Ireland abortion drama, Three Families.

The 44-year-old mother of two has seen her career rocket since she won the 2018 Royal Television Society Programme Award for Actor (Female) for her role as Melanie Jones in Little Boy Blue.

She was also nominated for a BAFTA for the role of the distraught mother fighting for justice after her 11-year-old son, an Everton fan, was killed by a stray bullet in a shootout.

But the new series of the critically acclaimed Unforgotten will bring the actress a legion of new fans.

She will play DCI Jessica James in the ITV cold case show opposite Sanjeev Bhaskar who has played DI “Sunny” Khan in the first four series.

Until now his boss has been Nicola Walker’s DCI Cassie Stuart who was killed off in the final episode of series four following a car crash.

Creator and writer Chris Lang has been teasing fans of the show with who will be the next detective chief inspector.

But now he reveals: “And so it begins, a new Unforgotten journey - and it’s scary, for Sunny and the Bishop Street team, for the audience, for all of us.

“But it’s also very, very, exciting, and I cannot wait for you to meet DCI Jessica ‘Jessie’ James, played by the always brilliant, Sinéad Keenan.”

The new series opens with the clock ticking down to DCI James’s first day in her new job with an unforeseen and devastating introduction to her family life.

She is determined to make a good first impression with her new colleagues, but the much-loved Cassie will be big shoes for her to fill.

Her first case is the discovery of human remains in a newly renovated period property in Hammersmith, London.

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And her team have to establish if this is a murder dating back to the 1930s or whether the body was disposed of in more recent times?

Actress Keenan, who has just begun filming, said: “I have long been an admirer of Chris Lang’s work so I am absolutely delighted to be joining the Unforgotten team.

“I’m very much looking forward to working with the extraordinary cast led by the brilliant and incredibly lovely, Sanjeev Bhaskar.

“And I’m hoping that if I play my cards right I might even get to take a peek in Sunny’s backpack!”

As the murder mystery unfolds, the team explore the lives of several central characters including Jay, played by Rhys Yates (The Outlaws, Silent Witness), and Bele, with Martina Laird (Summerland, The Bay) in the role.

Another Irish star, Ian McElhinney (Game of Thrones, Derry Girls), will play Tony and Hayley Mills will play his wife, Emma.

Mainstream Pictures producers Laura Mackie and Sally Haynes said: “It’s a new era for Unforgotten and we’re delighted that the brilliant Sinéad Keenan is joining Sanjeev Bhaskar to head up another gripping and emotional investigation.”

Each of the six episodes will be directed by Andy Wilson and written by Chris Lang who is also known for his work on Innocent, The Hookup Plan, Dark Heart, A Mother’s Son and the soon to be aired ITV drama, The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe.

DI Khan’s loyal and hard-working cold case investigations team are also back together for the series with Jordan Long as DS Murray Boulting and Carolina Main as DC Fran Lingley.

Returning to the series are Georgia Mackenzie as pathologist Dr Leanne Balcombe, Michelle Bonnard as Sunny’s partner, Sal, and Pippa Nixon as DC Kaz Willets.

In the recent BBC hit drama Showtrial, watched by over five million viewers, Keenan played a tough detective looking into the disappearance and murder of a popular working class university student, Hannah Ellis, following a campus party.

A former pal, Talitha Campbell, the estranged daughter of a billionaire property developer, immediately comes under suspicion because of a series of abusive and threatening texts she sent Hannah.

Keenan played no-nonsense DI Paula Cassidy who takes an instant dislike to what she sees as an unsympathetic spoilt brat.

The five-part drama asked whether the unlikeable rich girl really was a cold-blooded killer or a damaged scapegoat?

Keenan put on a perfect regional English accent for the series made in Bristol.

And in the two-part BBC drama Three Families she adopted a Northern Irish accent to play a desperate mother who faced prosecution after sending off for illegal abortion pills for her pregnant daughter.

The 5ft 1in star was previously seen playing the role of werewolf Nina Pickering in the BBC’s supernatural drama, Being Human.

She also appeared in Dr Who, My Left Nut and Deep Water.

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