The Real Reason Ashland Locke Got Recast On The Young And The Restless

"The Young and the Restless" is the long-running soap opera following the lives and loves of the beautiful people residing in fictional Genoa City, which despite being on the airwaves forever continues to pull in record numbers of viewers. Deadline confirmed in 2020 that the hit show had been renewed for a further four years by network CBS, solidifying its popularity with audiences.

"Having the #1 show for any length of time in any daypart is a tremendous accomplishment," enthused Kelly Kahl, President, CBS Entertainment. "But 'The Young and the Restless' has been daytime's top drama for over three decades ... It's a remarkable achievement and a testament to the extraordinary cast, gifted writers, talented producers, and supremely passionate fans, as well as our tremendous partnership with Sony Pictures Television."

Notably, "The Young and the Restless" will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2023, so soap fans can expect even wilder shenanigans than usual. One actor who sadly won't be involved, though, is Richard Burgi, a relatively recent acquisition who played Ashland Locke until he was abruptly recast in January 2022. Here's what really happened behind the scenes.

Actor Richard Burgi "inadvertently" broke the rules

According to People, actor Richard Burgi took to his Instagram stories to share he'd been fired from "The Young and the Restless" following a misunderstanding about the show's COVID-19 policy. The soap star tested positive over the festive period, was quarantined for five days, and returned home, where Burgi "tested twice negatively at the studio." However, the TV star subsequently discovered the show's guidelines for recovering from the deadly virus specified a 10-day isolation period, which was notably longer than the general CDC guidelines he'd followed, "So I inadvertently violated the show's COVID rules and protocols," the actor revealed. 

Burgi clarified that there was no ill will between himself and "The Young and the Restless" team, whom the actor acknowledged were "doing the best they can, as we all are." He also wished the actor taking his place the best of luck, gushing, "It's an amazing show. I have nothing but good memories and good wishes for it." Burgi had only been with them since 2021, but he'd already clocked up 108 episodes as Ashland Locke. Soap Opera Digest confirmed soap stalwart Robert Newman, of "Guiding Light" fame, was taking over the role. He played Josh Lewis in the hit show from 1981 to 1984, 1986 to 1991, and again from 1993 to 2009.

Robert Newman was intimidated about playing Ashland

Robert Newman debuted as Ashland Locke in the February 9, 2022 episode of "The Young and the Restless," per Fans on Twitter were unsure about the change, with one wondering why a new Ashland was even necessary since the character could just be scrapped. Another posited that Burgi, a "perfectly fine" actor, shouldn't have been fired in the first place. However, there was plenty of support for the soap stalwart too.

In an interview with Soap Central, Newman admitted it was slightly intimidating to return to the soap world ten years after "Guiding Light" went off the air, describing his first day working on "The Young and the Restless" as "a little bit frantic, a little bit terrifying, and very exciting at the same time." Thankfully, the veteran actor also acknowledged, "Everybody here, honestly, could not have been more gracious and patient and lovely."

He added, "It was a really astonishing first day and an astonishing first week." We'll have to wait and see how long this Ashland lasts, but for now, the future looks bright for him.