Casualty’s Cathy Shipton leaving after 33 years amid Duffy dementia tragedy

Casualty 's Cathy Shipton, who plays Lisa ‘Duffy’ Duffin, has announced she will be leaving the BBC One continuing drama, 33 years after first appearing on screen in Casualty’s pilot episode in 1986.

The Casualty cast member is one of show’s longest-serving cast members, after appearing in over 350 episodes.

She has said about her exit: "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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Simon Harper, Executive Producer of Casualty and Holby City, says: "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.”

During her three decades on the hospital drama, Duffy has been in the centre of a number of important storylines, including HIV, suicide, sexual assault, and most recently, dementia.

Duffy was diagnosed with dementia earlier this year, and fans have been watching her memory decline over the last few months.

It has been confirmed that she will appear on screen until 2020.

Duffy's exit storyline is yet to be confirmed but it seems likely it will be related to her tragic dementia storyline, as she was forced to leave her position as sister due to her declining health this summer.

Casualty continues on Saturday on at 9.30pm on BBC.

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