Silent Witness is a British crime thriller police procedural television series created by former murder squad detective Nigel McCrery and based on Professor Helen Witwell, a forensic pathologist whom McCrery had known while serving as a police officer, which focuses on a team of forensic pathology experts and their investigations into various crimes.
Every body tells a story: who they were, how they lived, and most importantly, how they died. Their history is there to be discovered and the body is the key to unlocking the story.
Each season the forensic pathology drama Silent Witness features a new batch of crimes for the team of pathologists to crack.
The show follows the fortunes of the pathologists as they are called on by police to help identify murder victims that have been too badly burned or decomposed to use standard identification methods.
For the first eight seasons the team was headed by forensic pathologist Dr. Sam Ryan (Amanda Burton), who believes passionately in the dignity of the dead person, that the body before her was once a living human being.
She is determined to solve the mystery of how and why they died.
Never compromising in her pursuit of the truth, Sam investigates crimes and interviews witnesses herself if she is unhappy with the conclusions reached by the investigating officers.
Though this can result in friction, her tenacity, perceptiveness and needle-sharp brain get results and earn the respect of the police.
Since midway through Season 8 the team consists of Professor Leo Dalton (William Gaminara), a no-nonsense leader with years of experience in pathology; Dr. Harry Cunningham (Tom Ward), an incisive and logical scientist with a dry sense of humour; and Dr. Nikki Alexander (Emilia Fox), an idealistic expert in palaeontology who wears her heart on her sleeve.
Together, they combine their knowledge and abilities to solve complex crimes, using the latest forensic techniques in order to bring murderers and other violent criminals to justice.
The show was headlined for the first seven seasons by Amanda Burton in the role of Sam Ryan. She was joined in Season 6 by William Gaminara as Professor Leo Dalton and Tom Ward as Dr. Harry Cunningham.
Burton left the series midway through Season 8 and a new character, Dr. Nikki Alexander (Emilia Fox), filled the void left by her departure.
The series was headlined by Gaminara, Ward and Fox thereafter until Season 15, after which Ward left the show. New actors David Caves and Liz Carr joined the cast for Season 16 and they were joined in Season 17 by Richard Lintern, when Gaminara left the show.
The series began life in South Africa on BBC Prime, although broadcast dates for the first six seasons are not available. BBC Prime became defunct in 2008 and was replaced by BBC Entertainment, which took over first-run rights to the show. BBC Entertainment was replaced by BBC First in 2015.