TV Review: Silent Witness Series 16

Series 16 of Silent Witness benefits hugely from the introduction of David Caves and Liz Carr as Jack and Clarissa and the booming final scene

“The Lyell Centre will need to change or die”

Starting with the off-screen departure of Harry and ending quite literally with a bang that further shuffles the cast, Series 16 of Silent Witness finally bites the bullet of the significant change that it needed probably 2 or 3 seasons ago. The introduction of David Caves and Liz Carr as Jack and Clarissa allows for the incorporation of forensic science more explicitly in the Lyell’s work. And if nothing else, the addition of new blood just freshens up the whole place.

In reality, there isn’t a huge amount that is altered fundamentally in the show. The cases run the usual gamut of dodgy police, dodgy military and dodgy foreign countries (Afghanistan in this case) and the Lyell remains holier than thou in pursuit of the truth. It takes Jack just a couple of episodes to learn the ropes in that respect, opting to call Nikki with a vital update about a suspect rather than the police officer managing the active crime scene. Priorities eh?!

You have to feel a little bit for Caves, his burgeoning theatre career at that point characterises by appearing shirtless in most of his promotional shots and so too with his opening scene here, stripped to the waist as he prepares for a bout. But his strong-willed bullishness makes a real impact, especially when partnered with Liz Carr’s wonderfully dry analyst Clarissa, their repartee a fun addition even if she’s not quite being treated as a full member of the team yet.

Oh and the final episode, with Leo’s soul-searching in Afghanistan? Good riddance is all I’ll say, it was certainly time!

Top guest appearances

  1. I’m a big fan of Priyanga Burford so it was great to see her pop up as the slightly shirty DS Gold in ‘Change’
  2. And speaking of police officers of whom it would have been good to see more, ‘Trust’ features a vivid Amanda Drew as DI Reed, who tangles with Nikki as well as brandishing an unresolved history with Jack
  3. In the same story, Lashana Lynch is bumped off to the b-plot with Leo investigating a suspicious baby death and the findings of one of his colleagues, who turns out to be the lovely Adam James
  4. Penny Downie’s retired detective has a small but vital part to play in ‘True Love Waits’ that ends up being most memorable 
  5. And as someone Nikki gets to flirt with, the cards are on the table about Ed Stoppard’s government minister Lord Embleton, a well executed turn though

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