I don’t know about you but I’ve got a real soft spot for Silent Witness, the forensics procedural that is now entering its 23rd series. It’s rare for a crime drama to straddle that middle ground between hard-hitting and gritty on the one hand and flabby and unconvincing on the other but SW seems to manage it. It’s quite corny in parts and there’s a lot of telling-people-things-they-ought-to-know-already (for example, last night a HEMS officer asked what diazepam is) but I just blow past it because I enjoy the programme: in fact OH and I have been following it for years.
So what is it about this series that is so appealing? Well, first off is the subject matter. There are a lot of crime and police procedurals but very few forensic ones, and the concept of probing the secrets of the dead is very appealing. Of course as it’s not a gritty drama the corpses aren’t depicted with anything approaching realism but again, we just blow past that because it’s so enjoyable. Like police procedurals the pleasure is in trying to work out the denouement before the characters get there, and the series allows the attentive viewer to twig the outcome just before Nikki and her team.
And that’s the third attraction of this show; the characters. These people are family; there are mother and father-figures (Nikki and Thomas) and squabbling siblings Jack and Clarissa. There’s no hint of sexual attraction between them – any relationships take place outside the team – and while there are tiffs and disagreements, nothing major threatens the coherence of the group.
So much for silent witnesses; less entertaining is what I call the phenomenon of the silent ‘g’. Every time I turn on Steve Wright ‘in the afternoon’ – that’ll be on his gravestone – he seems to be doing a feature called ‘serious jockin’ (no g’). I simply cannot understand the point of this. People text or email saying what they’re up to and add ‘serious’ whatever with no ‘g’ at the end. A typical one might go like this: ‘and here’s Jordan in Scarborough: Dear Steve, we’re heading up to the Lake District this weekend for some sailing. Serious boatin’ – no g.’ Why is this funny? Why do they make such a big deal out of it? OH cannot understand it and neither can I.
It also puts me in mind of the National Theatre of Brent, whose comedy seems to consist in droppin’ the g’s at the end of words.