Cathy Shipton wanted ‘Duffy to die’ in Casualty departure

The character departed the Holby hospital for the final time at the weekend.

It was an emotional weekend for Casualty viewers on Saturday (Feb 1st) as mainstay character Lisa ‘Duffy’ Duffin passed away in the arms of Charlie (Derek Thompson).

Speaking to the Radio Times about her character’s final episode she said that ‘it felt right’ that Duffy should die and it was something the actress – who first played her 33 years ago – wanted to happen.

“It all feels right, I know you can say this with hindsight but in all sorts of ways the character has been honoured. The things Duffy’s been through, she’s lived about nine lives really. It feels absolutely right to have brought it to a conclusion in the way that it has.”

Duffy was created by Jeremy Brock and Paul Unwin as one of the then BBC Bristol produced Casualty’s ten original characters. Shipton received her audition just as she was thinking of giving up her acting career. The character became hugely popular with fans of the show, however she has had time away from the A&E department previously; first departing in 1993 before returning in 1998 for another four year stint, leaving in 2002.

There were a couple of guest spots, first in 2006 for two special episodes set in Cambodia and for the thirtieth anniversary of the series. She soon returned for her last stint shortly after. But this time it was a final last farewell with Duffy passing away.

“I wanted the character to die because I wanted complete closure, but I wanted her to be a nurse to the end.” – Cathy Shipton speaking to the Radio Times

Over the years Duffy formed part of many of the medical saga’s tough storylines including being a victim of sexual assault, an HIV scare following the break down of her relationship and has battled with depression and anxiety. In 2018, producers created what would be the beginning of the end for the character when she was diagnosed with vascular dementia.

“Duffy’s decline [was] escalating and her grip on reality slipping but deep inside of her she’s the nurse she always was. A snowfall triggers these memories and even in her weakest moment, she still wants to help somebody… I think it was hard for Derek because he’s not changing. Duffy’s always Charlie’s rock and Duffy is no longer his rock.” – Cathy Shipton speaking to the Radio Times

The character was married three times in the series, with the final romance being with Charlie Fairhead (Derek Thompson) after three decades of working together.

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