Silent Witness, TV review: 'The acting is still as lifeless as the autopsy corpses'

The script in the latest series is so wooden it makes CSI look like Pinter

The only compelling mystery in Silent Witness, which began it’s 17th series on BBC1 last night, is who on earth actually watches it? This deathly dull forensics drama has been going since 1996, (Emilia Fox took over from Amanda Burton as the lead in 2004) and it still hasn’t developed any watchable assets.

In last night’s episode (part one of two), Dr Nikki Alexander (Emilia Fox) was investigating two cases, one involving a charisma-free Premiership footballer facing a forced transfer after making some unfortunate remarks on Twitter; the other involving a Jewish businessman who found his wife and autistic son dead after returning from a business trip.

That sounds like a plot that’s moved with the times, but in fact Silent Witness has remained so consistently impervious to criticism, that only the ever-changing support cast can be used to date an episode. The forensic pathology team still work in an office so dimly lit, it’s a wonder anyone can find the way to their own desk, the autopsies are still gratuitously gory and the acting is still as lifeless as the corpses.

Much of this can be attributed to the script, consistently one of the clunkiest on television, and exemplified in this episode by Nikki and Jack’s crime scene banter, an attempt so pathetically wooden it makes CSI look like Pinter.

“Why are you breaking his balls?” asked Nikki after she arrived to find her hunky colleague arguing with a detective about a contaminated scene. “I’m not breaking his balls,” he replied. “You’re breaking his balls. What’s wrong with you?” she countered, thus repeating not once, not twice, but three times, an American colloquialism that no real-life British person has ever used in everyday conversation.

Except, maybe, if they were doing an impression of Silvio from The Sopranos. If only Nikki had been doing an impression of Silvio from The Sopranos. Anything to lighten the tedious gloom of Silent Witness.

Arts and Entertainment

Will Poulter will play the shape-shifting monsterfilm
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood

'Whether he left is almost immaterial'TV
Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May

film

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power