Interview with Emilia Fox (Dr Nikki Alexander) in Silent Witness

Actress Emilia Fox stars as Dr Nikki Alexander) in Silent Witness, here is what she had to say about the series, new cast members and the future (contains spoilers)

How does it feel to be celebrating the 25th series of Silent Witness?

Can you believe it? It’s wonderful. I feel very proud of the show and very lucky still be part of it on its 25th birthday. It’s a great privilege.

How is the show marking the anniversary?

By bringing back Amanda Burton as Sam Ryan. What better way to celebrate than with her return? It’s been such a joyous experience. I met Amanda when we did a joint interview on the 20th anniversary of Silent Witness. She spoke so movingly about what the show meant to her. She got very emotional – which I found very emotional, too. Listening to her was like holding up a mirror to how I felt about the show. It was so fitting for the show and lovely for me that Amanda came back.

How does it feel to have Sam Ryan return for this landmark series?

It’s wonderful that we’re celebrating with Amanda. We wouldn’t be where we are today without her. It’s her legacy we live with. Sam is such a pioneering figure. Back then, female leads were few and far between. Going into Silent Witness, I felt that there was no way I could take over from Amanda, but the producers said, “Don’t worry, we’ll take it in a different direction.” The thing I feel so proud about is the way the show has evolved. But it all started with Amanda and Sam Ryan

What does Amanda bring to the show?

She’s such a terrific actress. She put on Sam Ryan’s shoes and walked straight on set without a moment’s hesitation.

What was it like having to do a post-mortem in front of Amanda?

Nerve-racking! She is the Empress of the post-mortem, so the pressure was on. I made sure I was very, very well prepared. The post-mortems tax my brain, and I’m always delighted to get through them. But this time I had Sam interrupting all the time. That creates great character moments.

Where do we find Nikki at the start of episode one?

We follow on from the end of series 24 and Nikki has spent the night at Jack’s house, it’s the beginning of their relationship. She gets a call from Sam asking for help and Nikki is trying to work out why she’s specifically asked the Lyell team. Sam’s company is working on health passporting, which is such a big subject in real life at the moment.

How does Nikki react to Sam?

They tread carefully around each other. At one point in the first episode, Sam intervenes during a post-mortem that Nikki is doing. Nikki is trying to get the measure of Sam and fathom her out. Amanda is so skilled at playing mystery, I loved the scenes we had together.

Viewers were treated to a highly anticipated kiss between Nikki and Jack at the end of the last series. Can we expect more romance in this series? 

The kiss begged the question of why these two people who have worked together for so long and love each other and are single were not already having a relationship. It threw up many questions. How do friends transition to a relationship? Does that relationship dominate everything? How does it work alongside the job? What happens if it goes wrong? What happens if they are in conflict? The lovely thing is that the audience have wanted Jack and Nikki to be together. It’s great that they have invested so much in that relationship. 

Have you and David Caves talked about it a lot?

Yes. We wanted to play Jack and Nikki adapting to the transition and going through ups and downs. That’s something the audience will enjoy without putting a label on it. Do they maintain their romance? You’ll have to wait and see!

What is the standout moment for you in this series?

Meeting Amanda, of course! Also filming in Liverpool was an absolute treat. I’d never been before and I really enjoyed it.

What do you think is the reason for the show’s continued success?

The DNA of the show is crime stories, and the way people commit and solve crimes. But it also incorporates very topical stories like health passports and challenging stories like domestic abuse. We are not afraid of that – the show can take it. It is very inclusive, diverse and relevant as well. It gives us the chance to talk about subjects that people generally steer clear of. It allows viewers to discuss them from the safety of their own sofas. Silent Witness has something for everyone. It also attracts great guest stars!

Do you still adore being part of the show?

Absolutely. I love it as much as ever. From day one, I’ve always said I’ll stay as long as I enjoy it, and I still really enjoy it. The audience and I have been through a lot together. I never take for granted the privilege of being part of Silent Witness. Now that I’m also an executive producer, I really value it as part of my personal life as much as my professional life. It’s had a huge impact on me.

Would you still like to be playing Nikki in 25 years’ time?

I don’t know if they’d still want me! I’ll be lucky if they’re still inviting me back when I’m 692! Still, they’ve just had Amanda back. Long may it last that they keep asking us back!

The longest-running crime drama returned to TV returns with six thrilling new episodes, opening in Liverpool with an assassination attempt and Sam Ryan calling on the Lyell team with a plea for help seventeen years after leaving the Lyell.

Sam seeks to usher in democratic health care, but the shooting of the Health Secretary and Sam’s husband pulls Dr Nikki Alexander (Emilia Fox), Jack Hodgson (David Caves) and Simone Tyler (Genesis Lynea) into a world of duplicity, intrigue and betrayal.

When the credibility of DNA testing is challenged, the bedrock of forensic science is called into question. Now uncertain of who or what they can trust, the Lyell team’s investigation draws them into confrontations with echoes of their personal histories, which threaten to unravel their present.

Silent Witness has been hugely successful, with average audiences of over seven million per week and has been one of BBC iPlayer’s most-requested shows.

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Joanna Fletcher
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