Amanda Burton’s departure is smoothly managed as Series 8 of Silent Witness heralds a major new age for the show
“Hard act to follow…the blessed Sam”
Given that the first 7 series of Silent Witness featured Amanda Burton’s name above the title, it is impressive that the show’s transition to life without her is effected so smoothly here. She leaves after the first story of Series 8 with a return to Northern Ireland and some long held secrets from the past and if her departure comes a little as a surprise, it’s slightly less so given how the first part of that story finishes on quite the cliffhanger.
Harry and Leo then get one story to themselves and their petty rivalries until Emilia Fox’s effervescent Dr Nikki Alexander is introduced to the team. She comes as a forensic anthropologist, focusing on Iron Age facial reconstructions but is soon co-opted into the Lyell Centre’s ways (“Why are they still involved? They’re pathologists”) in a dicey tale of horse racing and helicopters and then a truly harrowing tale of the aftermath of a train crash, stirringly written by Michael Crompton.
It is fascinating to see the youthful energy that characterises Nikki at this point, and how it is shifting the inter-office dynamics away from Sam Ryan’s innate frostiness. The slight tensions between Harry and Leo aren’t overplayed and the progression to a more investigative role in their cases, as opposed to the outright interventions of Sam (no striding into active gun-bearing crime scenes here…), make this a case of Silent Witness going from strength to strength.
Top guest appearances
- Kate Fleetwood is an alluring scientist of whom Harry quickly becomes enamoured in ‘Death by Water’
- And Peter Wight gets a satisfying arc in that same story as scrap yard owner ? who tussles with David Harewood’s council boss
- ‘Nowhere Fast’ is jam-packed fill of faces – Ramon Tikaram, Julia Ford, James Wilby, Richard Harrington but Anastasia Hille gets the prize as the most striking member of a dubious horse racing syndicate
- Though they’re all trumped by the ever-wonderful Sylvestra Le Touzel who cameos briefly as an animal pathologist and talks about horses’ rectums
- And final story ‘Body 21’ is equally stuffed with talent – Eddie Marsan’s dodgy medium, Paul Hilton’s distraught father, Danny Webb’s haunted soldier, Kieran Bew’s shifty son, but it’s Amita Dhiri (forever This Life’s Milly) who impresses the most in this haunting tale