Julie Walters quits Channel 4 drama Truelove due to ill health

Dame Julie Walters has been forced to leave the cast of the forthcoming Channel 4 drama Truelove, due to ill health.

The veteran star of stage and screen, 73, was diagnosed with advanced bowel cancer in 2018.

In 2020, she gave an interview in which she revealed that she had got the all-clear and said that she felt like a “different person” after having cancer.

Walters’ role as Phil in the drama Truelove was set to be her return to TV after a seven-year hiatus (she was last seen in the acclaimed 2016 Channel 4 drama National Treasure).

Walters will be replaced on the show by Lindsay Duncan, who now stars opposite The Wire’s Clarke Peters.

The pair play former teenage sweethearts who reunite at a friend’s funeral after many years, and make a pact to help each other experience dignified deaths, rather than slow declines.

Filming on Truelove was initially last year after Walters began suffering from severe back pain.

A spokeswoman for Clerkenwell Films, which is producing the show, told The Times: “We wholeheartedly support her decision, and the entire cast, crew and production team wish her the very best and a speedy recovery.

“We are delighted that Lindsay Duncan will be stepping into the role of Phil. We’re excited to see what she brings to this complex and captivating character when we restart filming later this year.”

Speaking about her decision to return to screens, Walter said last year: “I had basically withdrawn from acting and wasn’t sure that anything could tempt me back but then I read Truelove.

“I was completely bowled over by the writing – the dark humour, the love story and thriller element set against a backdrop of what happens to us all as we approach our later years. How often does one have the chance at my tender age to play a leading lady in a TV drama?”

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Walters rose to prominence playing the title role in 1983’s Educating Rita, and went on to appear in Billy Elliot, the Harry Potter, and Paddington, to name a few films.

On television, Walters collaborated regularly with Victoria Wood, and has also starred in the shows My Beautiful Son, Murder, The Canterbury Tales, and Mo.

She has featured in the plays All My Sons and Fool for Love, among many others, and has won two Baftas and been nominated for two Oscars.

Walters, who was made a Dame in 2017 for services to drama, has been married to her husband Grant Roffey since 1997, and the couple share one child, Maisie Mae.

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