Casualty's Duffy leaving the hospital drama after 33 years

Albertina Lloyd
Entertainment reporter, Yahoo UK
Cathy Shipton has played nurse Duffy for 33 years. (BBC)

Casualty star Cathy Shipton has announced she is leaving the show after 33 years playing nurse Duffy.

The 62-year-old actress first appeared as Lisa “Duffy” Duffin in the pilot episode of the BBC One medical drama in 1986.

Shipton said: “Walking in Duffy's shoes through the years has taught me so much for which I'll be forever grateful. I’m honoured and humbled to have played this inspiring woman. With sadness, but a sense of completion, l say goodbye.”

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She added on Twitter: “So, today l'm filming some of my last scenes ever playing Duffy! What a wonderful life l've had interwoven with mine all these years. Duffy – it's been an honour and a privilege.”

Duffy has appeared in over 350 episodes of the hospital drama, set in an A&E department in the fictional city of Holby. Shipton is one of the show’s longest-serving cast members, alongside Derek Thompson, who pays nurse Charlie Fairhead, Duffy’s husband.

Shipton quit the show in 1993 after going on holiday to the Maldives and deciding she did not want to play Duffy forever.

But she reprised the role for several guest appearances in 1998 and 2006, before making a full comeback in 2016 to celebrate the show’s 30th anniversary.

After a long-running “Will they, won’t they?” storyline, Charlie and Duffy shared a kiss in 2016 and they got married. Last year Duffy was diagnosed with dementia, which put a strain on their relationship before bringing them back together to support each other.

Derek Thompson and Cathy Shipton have played nurses Charlie and Duffy since the pilot episode of Casualty in 1986. (PA Images)

During her time on the show Duffy’s storylines have dealt with sexual assault, HIV, suicide, grief, single parenthood, humanitarianism and mental health.

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Shipton is currently filming her final scenes, which will air early next year on BBC One.

Simon Harper, the show’s executive producer, said: “Cathy’s enormous contribution has not just been to Casualty but also to the national consciousness and the British television drama landscape.

“She has made Duffy into a comforting Saturday night icon, the caring, ideal NHS nurse millions grew up with – and whom you’d want to be looked after by in times of need. She’s given us some of our most unforgettable stories and moments, not least of late in her heart-rending dementia storyline, and I simply cannot thank her enough.”