Review: Unforgotten may have lost star Nicola Walker, but this crime drama is still the best thing on ITV

​It might have been a mistake for Unforgotten (ITV, Mon, 9pm) to come back for a fifth series after – spoiler alert – they killed off Cassie Stuart (Nicola Walker) at the end of series four.
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​Such a perfectly judged series, weighted with humanity but never forgetting this was a police procedural, it was hard to see exactly how it would carry on.

DI Sunny Khan (Sanjeev Bhaskar) probably feels the same way, struggling on in the job after the death of Cassie – not only a colleague, but his best friend – leaves a gaping hole in the middle of his professional and personal lives.

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Not helped by the arrival of the new DCI, Jess James (Sinead Keenan). Abrasive, brusque, not wanting to waste time and money on ancient cases, she is the antithesis of Cassie.

Sinead Keenan joined the cast of ITV drama Unforgotten as DCI Jessica James, with Sanjeev Bhaskar returning as DI Sunny KhanSinead Keenan joined the cast of ITV drama Unforgotten as DCI Jessica James, with Sanjeev Bhaskar returning as DI Sunny Khan
Sinead Keenan joined the cast of ITV drama Unforgotten as DCI Jessica James, with Sanjeev Bhaskar returning as DI Sunny Khan

"I’d rather spend our always limited resources on murders which happened today,” she tells the team when a desiccated corpse turns up in the chimney flue of an old house in Hammersmith.

Like Sunny, we have to get to know Jess, work out her quirks, her personality.

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Bhaskar’s great at this, irritation, anger and grief just beginning to give way to some idea that his new boss might not be the empathetic character that Cassie was – someone who hides her determination behind the knowledge that humanity is complicated – but that Jess is still a dedicated copper.

DCI Jessica James (Sinead Keenan), pathologist Leanne Balcombe (Georgia MacKenzie) and DI Sunny Khan (Sanjeev Bhaskar) have another cold case to crack in UnforgottenDCI Jessica James (Sinead Keenan), pathologist Leanne Balcombe (Georgia MacKenzie) and DI Sunny Khan (Sanjeev Bhaskar) have another cold case to crack in Unforgotten
DCI Jessica James (Sinead Keenan), pathologist Leanne Balcombe (Georgia MacKenzie) and DI Sunny Khan (Sanjeev Bhaskar) have another cold case to crack in Unforgotten
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It’s written beautifully, the long-held secrets of our suspects gradually unearthed, and it’s great to see Sunny’s team – Caz, Murray and Fran – get a bit more screen time.

It’s a class act, the best thing ITV have, and it’s comeback hasn’t put a foot wrong.

Bronson: Fit to be Free (Channel 4, Mon/Tues, 9pm) asked if ‘Britain’s most notorious prisoner’ Charles Bronson – now known as Charles Salvador – should be released. It was hard not be sympathetic for the treatment Bronson has had at the hands of the prison system, but similarly hard to imagine he should be released.

Down in the recesses of the programme guide, crime channel Alibi sometimes comes up with a corker. Annika – starring Unforgotten’s Nicola Walker – was a good one, but their new drama The Diplomat (Alibi, Tues, 9pm) was a little too like Eldorado with murders to be good viewing.

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