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CSI star William Petersen to quit as Grissom

William Petersen in CSI

Story by Jack Foley

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation favourite William Petersen is to leave the top-rated American show after eight years, it has been confirmed.

According to the show’s executive producers, the enigmatic star will still make guest appearances as Gil Grissom but will no longer be seen on a regular basis and his final episode is likely to be broadcast early next year as part of the long-running programme’s 10th season.

The decision to leave the show was taken by Petersen himself and will certainly come as a disappointment to the many millions of fans who tune in each week to the top-rated forensics programme.

But executive producers Carol Mendelsohn and Naren Shankar are confident the show will survive his departure and continue to flourish, with new blood already being lined up to take Grissom’s place.

Petersen’s departure will also be celebrated with some strong storylines, including the return of several key characters from his past.

Grissom’s former colleague and girlfriend Sara Sidle, played by former ER star Jorja Fox, will return, as will Lady Heather and the Miniature Killer, two characters who have featured in recurring storylines.

The storyline will also involve Grissom thinking about the next phase of his life, according to Mr Shankar, as his character “has suffered a great deal of loss recently”.

Commenting on life without one of the show’s founding stars, Shankar went on to say that it was only natural that shows which enjoyed such longevity would inevitably have to contend with the loss of key players.

ER, for instance, has coped with the departures of key personnel such as George Clooney and Anthony Edwards over the years, while NYPD Blue also suffered the loss of lead actor David Caruso after its first year (ironically now a CSI: Miami regular).

To counter Petersen’s departure, therefore, a new male character will join CSI in his place, according to Mr Shankar, who refused to elaborate on any contenders.

“Whoever comes in and joins the team after Grissom is going to be a different guy,” he maintained. “But the nature of the show and what fans get out of it, that’s not going to change.”

Petersen himself has yet to make a comment on the reasons behind his decision.

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