TV Review: Silent Witness Series 21

Series 21 of Silent Witness is an absolute corker, some of its strongest work in years as it touches on the profoundly personal for the Lyell team

“You interfered in my investigation”

After a couple of good but not great seasons, Series 21 of Silent Witness finally cracks the code for this iteration of the Lyell team to come up with a superb string of episodes, its best in years. For me, this is mainly because the writers identified personal stories that actually resonated, that made sense for the characters for once, instead of just being bolted onto cases of the week.

So Nikki suffers badly from PTSD from the traumatic events of the Series 20 finale in Mexico (a rare occasion where past consequences are actually played out instead of just forgotten) and her shame at seeking therapy plays a crucial part in ‘Duty of Candour’. And Thomas’ role as a father is interestingly interrogated when his daughter comes to stay, navigating the issues that arise from his ex-wife starting a new family with her new fella.

But best, and most affectingly of all, Clarissa is forced to reckon with some personal demons in the devastatingly good ‘One Day’, a powerful study of how all levels of society treat those who are institutionalised, the value (or lack thereof) that is placed on their lives. It’s a rare chance for Liz Carr to get out of the lab and she absolutely nails it. The only minor point comes with wondering why Neil Stuke’s DI Cooke is the cop that gets to reappear a couple of series after his first appearance, now a DCI, there’s so many more interesting characters that could have been brought back.

Top guest appearances

  1. Anna Madeley is cast brilliantly against type in ‘Moment of Surrender’ and that’s all I’ll say
  2. ‘A Special Relationship’ is chock full of talent – Sharon D Clarke, Elliot Levey, Michael Landes, Lucy Speed but for the length of his appearance and the interest of fairness, I’m giving this to the ever-charismatic Ako Mitchell 
  3. In the achingly brilliant ‘One Day’, Rosie Jones is spellbindingly good as care home resident Serena, desperately trying to convince those around her to give her some agency 
  4. And in the same story, Jenny Galloway is chilling indeed as the face of institutional bureaucracy
  5. ‘Family’ is another star-studded affair – Natasha Little, Tanya Franks, Alex Price, but T’Nia Miller’s DI Gibbs is the one for me

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