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File:Silent witness sm2.jpg

British crime/forensic series, running from 1996 onwards, now in its fifteenth series.

Starred Amanda Burton for the first eight series, until her character was written out in a plot involving a reunion with her long-lost son and a trip to Northern Ireland.

The series now revolves around the activities of three Home Office pathologists (Leo Dalton, Nikki Alexander and Harry Cunningham) as they investigate murders in London, though they sometimes help outside the city and at least one story per season will usually feature them going abroad.

Could be considered a UK version of the CSI franchise, but lacks its flashiness (although it has elements of the wider investigating role); it also predates it. Like Waking the Dead (which predates CSI as well), it is done in two-parters, with each story shown over two days.


This show contains examples of:

  • Drop-Dead Gorgeous: Averted -- naked bodies in the autopsy scenes look like dead murder victims.
  • Everybody Is Single: Leo is in a long term relationship with a profiler; Harry and Nikki, though, will usually end up dating either the victim, the killer, or someone who just ends up getting in the way.
  • Faking the Dead: The apparent death of Harry in the Budapest story - to the point where the actor's name was taken off the credits. In reality, Harry killed the attacker and set fire to his body, leaving his own ID with him
  • Fan Service Pack: Harry grows his hair and Nikki dyes it between seasons 11 and 12.
  • Fragile Flower: Nikki
  • Headbutt of Love Nikki and Harry have had a few of these recently
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Julian Glover turned up one story.
  • Hot Scientist: Nikki Alexander, played by Emilia Fox.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The UK Armed Forces, their superiors at the Home Office, other coppers)
  • Police Are Useless: The forensics team ends up straying from their brief into other law enforcement roles. Typically the police get it wrong and impead the team until the last minute. When either the crim or the pathologist is cornered: here comes The Cavalry! Unlike CSI, these guys are really not cops period, but that doesn't stop anything.
  • Scenery Censor: Averted. While forensic drama, particularly US drama often has strategic bits of lab equipment censoring an autopsy scene, here corpses are completely naked during autopsy scenes, even underage kids.
  • Ship Tease: Harry and Nikki. Dear God, Harry and Nikki.
  • "Shut Up" Kiss: While waiting for service in a pub, Dr Nikki Alexander explains at great length to Dr Harry Cunningham how she will end up old and alone. That is until Harry leans over and kisses her, then smiles and says, "Finally she shuts up."
  • Sliding Scale of Realistic Versus Fantastic: The show has many realistic details, but remains more glamorous and implausibly coincidental than strict realism would allow. Oddly, this has prompted some criticism.
  • Too Soon: "And Then They Fell In Love", a story planned for Season 15, was delayed as it was too close to a very-high-profile case undergoing trial involving a child sex ring in Rochdale, to the point of potentially prejudicing it. The case has now concluded, but the story has not yet been rescheduled.
  • True Companions: Leo, Nikki and Harry in the later series. Leo implies to Nikki and Harry that they are as important to him as his (dead) wife and child.
  • Unnaturally Blue Lighting is used regularly, particularly in pathology scenes. Partially this is an exercise in fashion and style: many contemporary British dramas were also using the technique. In the pathology scenes, the lighting increases the cold, clinical and confronting atmosphere.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Again between Harry and Nikki. Also between Harry and any female, and Nikki and anyone.
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