As forensics expert Jack Hodgson on Silent Witness, actor David Caves has experienced his fair share of life-threatening moments.
During an interview at the BBC Showcase in Liverpool, Britain, Caves shed light on some of the challenges his character faced while on the job.
“I’ve been run over, got strangled and was in a coma. A whole lot of not-very-nice things,” he said.
While one can only imagine what sort of psychological trauma his character is suffering from, Caves revealed that real life has a way of imitating fiction.
“When you’re fully immersed in a character, the brain does funny things. I’d sometimes get nightmares about the show. There’s a lot of dark material and it’s intense when we’re doing the show. Imagining yourself in these situations, it definitely affects you,” shared the Irish actor, with the formidable height of 1.89m.
Silent Witness is not for the fainthearted. The long-running British crime series, which first premiered in 1996, focuses on a team of forensic pathology experts and their mission to solve various crimes.
Co-star Richard Lintern, who plays team leader and toxicology expert Dr Thomas Chamberlain on the show, explained the show’s intriguing premise: “Silent Witness deals with dead bodies. The dead body speaks to the audience through the method of forensic analysis.
“That allows for a whole range of cases to be explored, from a terror-related crime to a person killing a loved one.”
The gory and realistic post-mortem scenes are reasons why viewers can’t get enough of the show. Some would say, the dead bodies on Silent Witness are the real stars of the show.
For Lintern, seeing a dead body on set could hurt sometimes and not just because it probably has more fans than him.
“When you have to talk about the way they died or the last 20 minutes of their life, you get emotionally affected by that. Especially if it’s a body of a child. I’ve got three children at home and that really gets to me,” added the Englishman with a voice that has narrated a number of documentary series including the Bafta-winning Between Life And Death.
What’s new in Silent Witness Series 21?
Now in it’s 21st season, Silent Witness looks at how forensic pathologist Nikki Alexander (Emilia Fox) adjusts to her life and job after surviving a kidnapping orchestrated by a drug cartel group in Mexico.
Her colleague Jack feels guilty because he was unable to prevent Nikki’s abduction while Thomas is tasked with boosting his team’s morale and spirit.
The new season also sees the team attempting to solve the suspicious death of a diplomat, a devastating Christmas family tragedy and the case of a drowning victim with links to an unsolved murder from 16 years ago.
Going after suspects who are “forensically aware”
Lintern, who has been on the show since Series 17 (2014), looks forward to seeing how the good guys keep up with the criminals. He feels that over time, suspects have become more and more forensically aware.
“We use that term a lot on the show. It’s when the investigators realise that some suspects are aware of the forensic impact of their behaviour. So they do things like wipe off their fingerprints and remove certain items that could be crucial evidence. I may not be a suspect but I’ve become more forensically aware myself,” he said with a laugh.
His co-star Caves who joined Silent Witness in 2013 agreed: “People are becoming more forensically aware these days, precisely because of shows like this as well as the Americans ones like CSI and Dexter. I do feel that some viewers watch these show and pick up little things on how to be untraceable.”
Both of them credit the writers of Silent Witness in keeping the show exciting and engaging for viewers.
“The writers are usually very imaginative when they come up with cases for our characters to solve. It’s always fun to read how my character figures out new ways to nab the suspect,” Caves enthused.
Having worked on the show for so long, Lintern naturally has a couple of ideas too.
One of it being: “I want them to do a story of how a character comes back to life after everyone thought he’s dead. I’ve been saying that for years now.”