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TV Interview

'Silent Witness' Q&A: Emilia Fox, Tom Ward talk series 15

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Silent Witness
Nikki Alexander [EMILIA FOX], Leo Dalton [WILLIAM GAMINARA]

© BBC

The BBC's iconic crime drama Silent Witness returns for an incredible fifteenth series on Sunday night - Nikki, Harry and Leo are all back and this time they're investigating a triple murder and delving into the harrowing world of sex grooming...

Digital Spy caught up with stars Emilia Fox and Tom Ward on the show's lavish new set to discuss what's coming up in future episodes, the show's dark content and the sizzling chemistry between their characters!

What's coming up for Harry and Nikki this series?
Tom: "There's a rogue gas explosion which forces me to move in with Nikki. With hilarious results. No, they're nice, sweet scenes."

Lots of fans want them to get together...
Tom: "From the moment Harry comes to stay in Nikki's flat, that will probably be in the audience's mind."

Emilia: "It's a really difficult thing. Everyone's aware of wanting Harry and Nikki to be together and they should be together. But if you get them together, then what happens?"

Tom: "When they are together, you either keep them together which is quite dull within the confines of a crime show, or we split them up immediately, which is sad and not really what an audience wants particularly."

There's a new set this year - does that give you a feeling of job security?
Emilia: "You never know though, really. People are going to hopefully carry on watching it. I think this series has definitely moved on and done good things with the different subject matters it chooses.

"You've got your good thrillers and you've got your very topical ones, which are very current. One episode 'And Then I Fell In Love' [deals with] a hot subject."

Tom: "[Our writers] always like to take a genre which isn't ours and do one of [our episodes] in it. So [series 13's] 'Shadows' was a campus massacre one in a kind of suspense thriller style...

"Then the Budapest one [series four's 'Bloodlines'] was a kind of 'man on the run" Bourne Identity type adventure. And then this series, they've kind of taken the horror genre and put us in it and used the tonality of that kind of film."

Silent Witness
Emilia Fox as Nikki Alexander

© BBC

Silent Witness
Tom Ward as Harry Cunningham

© BBC



Tom, were you surprised by the reaction to Harry's apparent death last year?
Emilia: "I think everyone was surprised."

Tom: "It was very odd, I think everyone was snowed in that Monday so had nothing to think about! It was extraordinary. There was a piece about it in the Mail. It was a trending topic on Twitter! I don't think that would happen again."

It must have been flattering and exciting?
Tom: "It was really flattering, it was really exciting. It was flattering to the writers really [because] they set up this great trick. It had been well concealed and it hadn't been set up at all and you don't expect it to happen and, bang, suddenly it did out of nowhere.

"It was in the right media. It was abroad and it might be the way you would choose to do it as a programme."

Will you be venturing abroad in this series?
Emilia: "No. If every series we did one episode in another country, I think people might start looking out for it as a bit of a formula."

Tom: "I always think about it in reverse, - if I was watching a show about three Hungarian pathologists and they came over here and started solving murders, I'd probably turn off quite rapidly."

With the show's dark content, do you try and keep the mood light between takes?
Tom: "Mike Barker - who's directing this episode - just said to me and Emilia that he can't believe we get this show made, because we were just buggering about!"

Emilia: "The pathologists and the coroner who often advise us on this show say, 'You have to have humour between each other'. Obviously, you've still got to be respectful for the subject matter, but they do [joke] otherwise the pressure would be so enormous dealing with the tragedy of life."

Silent Witness cast
Harry Cunningham [TOM WARD], Nikki Alexander [EMILIA FOX], Leo Dalton [WILLIAM GAMINARA]
Do you ever worry that the show's gruesome content might be too much for viewers?
Tom: "Yes, frankly, I do sometimes."

Emilia: "Everyone takes a view on it. Sometimes we get people going, 'We want more of that, because it's the medical bit, it's the science bit. That's the bit we want to follow cos the clues are in the bodies'.

"Then in another series, we'll say that [something] was too much so it'll have to be toned down. It works if it's really integral to the plot. If it's just gratuitous, then I think the audience are aware of it, and feel uncomfortable with it."

Tom: "It really is something that is out of your hands as an actor. And rightly, that is an editorial decision from the producer. You might think on the day that [a scene] is absolutely unspeakable, but the edit may literally not show it. You have to hand that responsibility to other people."

What keeps you guys so committed to and engaged with the series?
Tom: "Each series has a different personality. Each time you come back, it assumes its own personality and has its own ups and downs. I have a sort of relationship with each series."

Emilia: "It's also a luxury as an actor - you're getting to shoot five or six different 2-hour films. And they are so different, so you're being taxed as an actor in different ways. But you've also got the luxury of the familiarity of everyone.

"When you've got the familiarity you can take more risks, you can really go for it. For all of us, it then becomes a bit more of a challenge."

Tom: "It's the same but different. We get brilliantly talented directors coming in. Fantastically talented actors coming in. You're getting a little refresher. Every six weeks, we get a little top up of novelty."

Emilia: "And the stories continue to be really really good. The quality of writers on it is amazing. We've got an amazing crew. Every director has been amazing. Everyone keeps wanting to come back, meaning there's got to be a good feeling about the show, doesn't there?"

Silent Witness returns to BBC One this Sunday (April 1) at 9pm.

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