Last Updated on March 4, 2024

There’s good news and bad news for fans of the PBS MASTERPIECE hit mystery series “Miss Scarlet and The Duke,” as the Victorian era period drama enters into a new chapter without The Duke.

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Here’s what we know, including Stuart Martin’s reason for leaving “Miss Scarlet and The Duke,” as well as a peek at what to expect when “Miss Scarlet” returns.

Kate Phillips (Wolf Hall, The Crown) will return as Miss Eliza Scarlet for a fifth season of investigations, and the series will be retitled, “Miss Scarlet.” Stuart Martin, who played William “The Duke” Wellington in the previous four seasons will not return for Season 5.

Miss Scarlet and The Duke, courtesy MASTERPIECE

In a recent MASTERPIECE Studio podcast, Jace Lacob spoke with actor Stuart Martin, and writers Rachael New and Ben Edwards about this momentous shift, and what lies ahead for the future of the show.

Lacob asked Martin how he arrived at the decision that series four of “Miss Scarlet and the Duke” would be his last, and Martin replied “It was very tough. It was very, very tough. I think there’s time, there’s a place to tell different stories, I think, for Eliza, to see what that is like without Duke, to kind of allow her to be not held back by Duke.”

He added that starring as The Duke made for “a beautiful four years of my life. And there’s this whole world that we have now, of this, however many episodes we’ve done, that feel like they will always be part of my life. It feels much bigger than other series I’ve done, a couple of series of in the past.”

Asked what he would say to disappointed fans, Martin said “hopefully, hopefully they don’t hate me, but they also see that it’s kind of a thing that can hopefully give it the potential to continue to have that drama that they fell in love with.”

Martin noted, “It has been such an incredible joy to bring Duke to life through Rachael’s beautiful, brilliant writing, and to get to play him for the past four years. But it felt like the time was right for Scarlet to explore new stories and challenges for now, as the show continues to grow and evolve. I will miss working with my amazing partner in crime Kate and the rest of our brilliant family and team, but I’m excited to continue following Eliza and her escapades as a huge fan and newly enrolled Scarleteer!”

Miss Scarlet and The Duke, courtesy MASTERPIECE

Series creator Rachael New shared that The Duke’s departure “wasn’t something that we did lightly, but it actually came from Stuart himself. He felt that he’d taken the character as far as he could go, and that this would be the natural point for Duke to leave.”

New continued, “We will miss our Duke but there is so much in store for Eliza – new crimes, new friends, new foes and new romance. We will be keeping her very busy!” For her part, Kate Phillips “will miss working with my pal Stu every day, and know Eliza will miss her Duke, but I think the best is yet to come for her. I can’t wait for fans to see what we have in store for Season 5.”

Miss Scarlet Limited’s Patty Lenahan Ishimoto added, “Duke’s departure brings a poignant shift to the series. One that allows for further creative evolution and for Eliza to face new challenges, forging ahead in a narrative landscape filled with suspense, crime-solving, and unexpected (platonic and romantic) relationships.”

Did she just say romance? Yes…MASTERPIECE Executive Producer Susanne Simpson confirmed that a new romantic interest could be on the table: “This new chapter in Eliza’s story is going to bring our audience more of what they’ve come to love about this series – mystery, humor, potential romance and most of all, Kate Phillips’ terrific performance as Miss Scarlet.”

Series’ writer Ben Edwards agreed that there’s plenty of ground to cover for Miss Scarlet sans The Duke: “Eliza is still the only female detective in London. She still has to prove herself to a world of 19th century men, but now without an ally at Scotland Yard. So, her life has gotten harder in that respect. But there are still crimes to solve, a business to rebuild, and new relationships to forge. There are a lot of other characters, both existing and new, that we’re going to bring in. So, from our point of view, we’re excited about it. And we hope the audience will go with us on the journey, really.”

What can we look forward to in Season 5? Rachael New teased “I think we push Eliza to her limits. We have some really beautiful storylines. There are new friendships to be forged for her. We pull Clarence through a little more which has been super fun. We were so delighted with Paul bringing life to Clarence. I think it’s just brought a whole other aspect to the show. And we explore the other characters more, you know, Potts and Ivy, Fitzroy and Phelps, they make such a cracking partnership. We explore that as well. So, I really think, and I really, really hope that this season is going to go down very well, because I think it’s a really beautiful season.”

Filming on Season 5 has begun in Belgrade, Serbia. Additional casting will be announced in due course.

“Miss Scarlet” will welcome back many cast members from previous seasons, including Evan McCabe as Detective Fitzroy, Cathy Belton as Ivy, Felix Scott as Patrick Nash, Paul Bazely as Clarence, Simon Ludders as Mr. Potts, and Tim Chipping as Detective Phelps.

We talked with Kate Phillips here, and did a deep dive into her iconic blue dress here. Wondering if there really were female detectives in the Victorian era? That’s here. Listen to the full MASTERPIECE Studio episode “Stuart Martin Says Goodbye, Miss Scarlet and The Duke Season 4” here

“Miss Scarlet and The Duke” is AVAILABLE to STREAM

If you enjoyed this post, wander over to The Period Films List. You’ll also want to see the list of Masterpiece Classics on Prime Video in 2024.