Yes, it’s hard to believe that the forensic crime drama Silent Witness has now been on air for 19 years and Emilia Fox has been in the lead now for a decade! Season 18 begins soon on BBC-1 and here series writer Ed Whitmore talks about what is in store over the course of the five two-part stories.
The new series boasts a vivid diversity of episodes which are nevertheless united in holding up a microscope to contemporary London.
Collectively these stories shine a light on the city’s dizzying extremities – the rich and the poor, the powerful and the disenfranchised, the Golden Mile and the crumbling sink estates, the jaded workers mired in underfunded bureaucracies and the disillusioned young falling through the cracks.
In Sniper’s Nest, London is under siege from a gunman who picks off its citizens at random, cutting them down in the midst of their complicated and very different lives.
Falling Angels tells the darkly moving story of two people on the fringes – a homeless man and a hotel receptionist – who are drawn together after they witness a man being hit by a tube train.
In Protection, a young girl vanishes without trace, much to the anguish of her overworked social worker who had tried and failed to have her taken into care.
By contrast, Squaring the Circle pitches us into classic thriller territory as the team investigate a bloody shootout at a City hotel that leaves the nanny of a Russian oligarch dead.
In One of our Own, the murder of a rising police star triggers an intense and harrowing journey into police loyalty and familial betrayal while the team face down a brutal gang of drug traffickers.
Thanks to our redoubtable leads Emilia Fox, David Caves, Richard Lintern and Liz Carr, the team have now meshed into a compelling, dynamic, but all-too-human unit. Together these very different characters pool their formidable resources in pursuit of truth and justice…even if they don’t always agree on what those terms constitute.
Executive Producer Phillippa Giles and Producer Sharon Bloom have been fearless and far-minded in nurturing stories that propel our heroes into new and perilous worlds. In turn, those worlds have been indelibly brought to life by the terrific work of our actors and the cinematic ambition of the direction, cinematography and production design.
Silent Witness endures because it possesses a uniquely powerful and fecund story engine – namely that people die in endlessly different ways for endlessly different reasons. Provided there are legitimate pathology and forensics components, there is no story the show can’t tell, no thematic frontier that can’t be explored, no emotional or scientific terrain that can’t be mined. The secret of its longevity is its freedom – its room to roam.