James Nesbitt: Helen Baxendale made the right decision not to reprise Cold Feet role

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James Nesbitt has said Helen Baxendale made "the right decision" not to return for the new series of Cold Feet.

The ITV drama about three couples, which ran from 1997 to 2003, is returning for a sixth series 13 years after it ended, with its original stars James, Hermione Norris, Fay Ripley, John Thomson and Robert Bathurst.

Helen, whose character died at the end of the last series, will be absent.

Robert Bathurst, James Nesbitt, Fay Ripley, Hermione Norris, Helen Baxendale and John Thomson, as the Bafta-winning comedy will be making a return to TV after 12 years off air.
The original gang (Neil Marland/ITV)

James, who plays Adam Williams, partner of Helen's character Rachel, said: "I think that was the right decision for Helen to make.

"I've missed her terribly. She was such an important part of Cold Feet and my professional life. I loved my time working with her. But it would have been stretching it a bit too far to bring her back."

The actor said Rachel's "presence is felt throughout" the upcoming series.

"Adam talks about Rachel a lot in this series and there's a little tribute to her as well," he said.

Helen Baxendale
Helen Baxendale (Myung Jung Kim/PA)

The characters, who were in their 30s when viewers last saw them, are now 13 years older.

In one scene Adam visits the house where he lived with Rachel, which James admitted was poignant to film.

He said: "I found it very emotional, going back to the very same house.

"I wanted to say something in that scene about Rachel - and Helen in a way.

"It really took me back. The very last scene of the show was me leaving that house and jumping into a taxi. And here I am back again all those years later. So it was very moving."

The cast of Cold Feet in their younger days
The cast of Cold Feet in their younger days (ITV)

James's career has gone from strength to strength in the 13 years since he last appeared in Cold Feet.

But he admitted that he does have one regret, saying: "I was planning to be a teacher. That was the plan.

"Occasionally I have regrets about that - that I didn't fulfil that.

"But acting has been so good to me and I've been able to do so many other things that I'm constantly aware of how lucky that is."

Cold Feet will return to ITV on Monday, September 5.