TV Review: Silent Witness Series 13

God-tier guest casting, daring deviation in the storytelling and Leo getting hit on the head, Series 13 of Silent Witness is probably one of my absolute faves 

“Your kind think you’re some kind of heroic martyr, you won’t be told or fobbed off. If people get dragged into your mess then it’s jolly unfortunate but you don’t give a shit because you have right on your side”

Now this is the good stuff. Series 13 of Silent Witness opted to shake things up just a little more than usual and the result, for me, is one of their most effective seasons to date. For one, having Leo be the one who is attacked rather than Nikki is (three series on the trot in case you’d forgotten) is just nice for the variety but adding a note of frailty into this most sanctimonious of characters works well.

It also sets up a cracking episode which sees Nikki and Harry at loggerheads as they take the same evidence and end up with wildly different conclusions which they’re then forced to defend in court. And a campus shooting episode, whilst having hardly anything to do with forensic pathology, is brilliantly conceived and chillingly executed. Fresh takes on the storytelling really makes this series feel alive.

Plus there is some god-tier casting work going on in the supporting casts which really amps up the watchability. Lucy Cohu, Anna Chancellor, Denise Gough, Toby Wharton, Phyllis Logan…Nikki Amuka-Bird and Deborah Findlay both returning for their second appearances too. The only slightly duff note comes with the return to Southern Africa so soon, South Africa in this case after Zambia last series, as the nature of the show means it is never going to be positive tales they tell here and they can’t help but play various shades of the white saviour storyline yet again. Still, a cracking series all told.  

Top guest appearances

  1. Series opener ‘Intent’ is brimming with faces – Wunmi Mosaku’s terminally unimpressed technician, Nigel Lindsay’s wonderfully brusque DS, Polly Frame’s relentless insurance investigator, but Lucy Cohu’s femme fatale Rebecca wins out here, inveigling her way back into Harry’s life
  2. And just because, Ruth Sheen’s iconic cameo as the coroner’s fantastically unhelpful receptionist is just *chef’s kiss*
  3. John Lynch’s bearish writer bristles at the heart of ‘Voids’, which also benefits from second appearances in SW by the equally marvellous Nikki Amuka-Bird and Deborah Findlay
  4. An early career appearance from Denise Gough goes a long way to hinting at the fine actress in the making, her raw intensity really cutting through in ‘Run’ as she flails in the orbit of Alec Newman’s mysterious Peter
  5. Who else would you want to take you through a terrfying campus shooting than Anna Chancellor in full-boss mode as Chief Supt. Karen Somerville? Poor lovely Ian Gelder though

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