MEET THE CAST OF DAN SEFTON’S ‘TRUST ME’ 52

New psychological thriller Trust Me, penned by Dan Sefton (Good Karma Hospital, Delicious) and starring Jodie Whittaker (Broadchurch), premieres this August on BBC One.

Cath Hardacre is a good nurse. Caring and hard-working, she does her best for everyone in the cardiology ward she works on. However, when she raises her concerns about the standards slipping at the hospital her world takes a turn for the worse.

After being sacked for whistle-blowing, Cath turns to her best friend Dr. Ally Sutton, who is leaving her life as an A&E doctor and emigrating to New Zealand with her new husband. At a drunken party Cath finds Ally’s discarded paperwork and makes the desperate decision to take a second chance at life – by stealing her best friend’s identity.

Cath, now calling herself Ally, accepts a job at a failing emergency department in Edinburgh and embarks upon a new life with her young daughter Molly. However, with her good-for-nothing ex-partner Karl trying to spend time with them and a journalist chasing her about the issues at her former hospital, how will Ally cope with leading a double life?

Cath Hardacre/Dr Ally Sutton is played by Jodie Whittaker, Dr Andy Bennett by Emun Elliott, Dr Brigitte McAdams by Sharon Small and Karl is played by Blake Harrison.

Character biographies

Cath Hardacre/Dr. Ally Sutton (Jodie Whittaker)

Everything about Cath says that she is honest, hardworking and uncompromising. In a well intentioned meeting with the hospital board Cath loses her job – and with that the means to provide for her daughter. In a moment of desperation, Cath steals her best friend’s identity and applies for a job in Edinburgh, adopting the persona Dr. Ally Sutton. As Ally, she becomes a trusted member of the emergency department and against her better judgement falls for her colleague, Dr Andy Brenner.

Dr. Andy Brenner (Emun Elliott)

Andy is a consultant in the emergency department, a doctor whose professional and charming manner puts even the most nervous patient at ease. Tired of playing second fiddle to his career, Andy’s ex-wife ended their marriage, taking their children with her. To his surprise, Andy soon finds himself falling for Ally, who is his intellectual counterpart. She represents the light at the end of the tunnel after his painful separation and he finally feels he’s getting his life back on track after the acrimonious split from his ex-wife. But Andy doesn’t know Ally as well as he thinks he does…

Dr. Brigitte Rayne (Sharon Small)

If anyone is going to survive the sinking ship of the emergency department, it is Brigitte. She is the clinical lead in the department but she considers it a poisoned chalice of endless paperwork. Openly admitting that she is only in the profession to keep her daughters in private school, Brigitte has fallen out of love with treating patients and lacks confidence when she must take care of a serious medical case. Brigitte’s slightly bonkers approach towards medicine means that her team rally around her when they sense that she is losing her nerve.

Karl (Blake Harrison)

Karl was on the path to making something of his life, but it all came crashing down after he lost his job. With his contract severed and his debt increasing, Karl found himself in the throes of alcohol addiction. His relationship with Cath suffered as a result and they separated shortly afterwards. Since then, Karl has been in a constant cycle in and out of alcohol rehabilitation. When Cath moves to Edinburgh, it gives him the push to change his life for the better. Karl realises how much he misses his daughter Molly being present in his life and vows to do all that he can to be closer to her. But will Karl’s good behaviour be rewarded with the family reunion he longs for?


INTERVIEW WITH WRITER & CREATOR DAN SEFTON

What inspired you to write Trust Me?

I’d always been fascinated by imposters and what motivates them. Most are men, doing it for status and ego. Women tend to have different reasons. I was also interested in what would happen to someone who did a bad thing for the ‘right’ reasons. Would it slowly change them as lie followed lie? Also, what happens when you’ve managed to fool everyone and then you meet the love of your life when you are living those lies? Is it really possibly to have a ‘life’ as an imposter or are you doomed to be alone? Be careful what you wish for…

How much of your own experiences fed into the story or the characters?

As a doctor I’ve encountered imposters in real life – there was actually one in the department where I worked. Often they are well liked and competent! I’ve also met qualified doctors who are frankly dangerous. For me there’s a delicious irony in the idea that the imposter doctor is better than the real thing, both clinically and with patients.

What are some of the challenges that you faced during the writing process?

Medically the action scenes are chosen to be the things that scare or disturb me as a doctor. So they may not be the most obvious choices but they are real. I’ve experienced many disturbing moments in the last 20 years and wanted to expose the characters and audience to scenes that show them what it’s really like. It’s a very hard and difficult job for both doctors and nurses and the cost is high. Hopefully by putting that on screen, the general public will have a more nuanced understanding of what their ‘heroes’ go through and also how they act when things go wrong.

The writing has been easy as the support from both Red and the BBC – not to pull any punches – has always been there. Throughout the process we have all found the confidence to be even bolder, with both the morally ambiguous characters and the subject matter. I think it has paid off. Certainly everything I hoped for has been realised on screen, thanks also to brilliant acting, direction and design.

Tell us about the medical training given to the cast

We spent a day or two running the kind of training that real doctors get. It was important to get them used to handling the equipment so it looked totally natural. Little things, like how to wear a stethoscope around your neck like a ‘real’ doctor – and how possessive doctors are of their ’tubes’. I’m a life support instructor so I could use the real life training equipment. Everyone seemed to get into it – especially Jodie. On set, the patient transfers, equipment etc were real and the entire cast got really good at doing it all – so much so that they could probably now pass for real doctors and nurses! If you meet a doctor who looks like Jodie Whittaker then check her GMC certificate!

How realistic is this drama?

I feel it’s as realistic as it’s possible to get. Nothing in the story is fudged or faked. This is how it feels. The details are all there. The set was built from the ground up and it’s indistinguishable from a real ED (emergency department). Scenes in the medical conference in episode two are part of medical life that is rarely seen. So this is a show that really gets under the skin of doctors, how they really think, act and talk.

How different is this to Good Karma Hospital?

Very different. Almost deliberately another side of medicine. Also this is a psychological thriller in the Hitchcock tradition set in the NHS, not a ‘medical show’.

What are you hoping audiences will take away from the series?

Many things. The series pushes the audience to identify with an anti-heroine. For me this is a modern US TV drama idea that British TV has been slower to adopt. I think it’s a challenging premise and told in a way that makes you think about exactly what you need from a doctor: are you really better off with a drug-using Oxbridge graduate, or an imposter who is compassionate, smart and hardworking? Maybe we should look again at who we select for these jobs… medicine is not an intellectual subject and often the wrong people go into it for the wrong reasons.

I’d also like people to see just how tough it is for doctors, nurses, paramedics and other professions like the police and fire service to have to deal with the aftermath of accidents, illness, violence and death. It’s a tough job and it takes a heavy toll on the people who do it. Watching a child die at 2am on a Saturday night is a reality for these people, when most of us are tucked up in bed. Yet many members of the public are vindictive when it comes to punishing honest mistakes made in the heat of the moment.

Although it’s not political, people may also see why the NHS is struggling to retain staff, so much so that a bad but punctual doctor or a good imposter is never asked too many questions. It is in this kind of environment, where temporary staff make up the majority of a shift, where safety can be compromised, no matter how many positive appraisals they may have received.Above all I hope it’s an entertaining, disturbing drama series that ends in a satisfying and unexpected way___


INTERVIEW WITH JODIE WHITTAKER (CATH)

What appealed to you about this project?

I was sent the script for the first episode and it fascinated me because it went in a completely different direction to how I thought it was going to. Particularly at the beginning when she’s suspended for whistleblowing and loses her job. It could have gone so many ways, and the fact that she takes on this new identity isn’t the way that I thought it would go. I love the fact that her choices are quite morally dubious – they certainly aren’t black and white. She makes decisions that are quite challenging to justify, even though we know her reasons. I’ve never acted in anything medical before, so it felt completely new.

How does Cath’s lie come about?

Cath starts off by having a conversation with her best friend, Ally, who is a middle grade doctor in A&E and is giving it all up to emigrate to New Zealand. Ally is packing up the life that Cath would have loved to have had, leaving it all behind to go and do something completely different. Suddenly there is an opportunity for her to take on the identity of her friend and in that panic, not necessarily the clearest thinking moment in her life, she does it. Once you set off on a path of lies it’s very difficult to undo it without bringing everything crashing down.

Did you receive any training on medical procedures?

Yes! The writer, Dan, who is also medical consultant and a doctor outside of TV production, showed us a load of stuff that he used when he was training people. He brought in the CPR dummy and showed us how to do a cannula and he, very bravely, let me put a cannula in his vein. I did it right, thank God! Also, YouTube is amazing. The genius of the internet is that you can basically sit at home and Google medical procedures, and TV shows such as 24 hours in A&E, which I watched hours of.

How else did you prepare for the role?

With regards to the technical stuff, we had an on-set consultant so that there was always someone to help when we had to do the procedures. The best thing for me was that my character was also out of her depth and didn’t always know what she was doing, so it kind of covered my own personal fumbles. I’m not someone who likes to over prepare for dialogue scenes, because I think that makes me not listen to what the other person is saying as I’ve already decided how I’m going to do it. It immediately makes it interesting and new and you can’t plan for that, which is great. You can’t ‘wing’ the medical stuff so I had to do my research for that. One of my friends is a Sister in A&E and I sent her a lot of messages asking ‘how do you pronounce this?’ and ‘what does that mean?’, so basically she was my personal medical coach even though she works full time!

Is it challenging playing someone who leads a double life?

Yes, but no more challenging that playing someone who has had something happen to them that I haven’t personally experienced. What’s hard is trying to gauge how good a liar she is, or how in a panic she is. You’ve got to be careful, because you can’t make the other actors seem stupid. These are intelligent, fully formed characters that you’re working with, so it was a fine line of being able to deceive and it not being something that comes easily to her. However, it can’t be that it makes everyone around her feel a bit like an idiot for not working it out. That was tricky, but the director is there to help guide you through it.

Did the uniform help to get you into character?

Yes. It feels odd when you put it on. I did five weeks of studio filming, back to back – all the medical stuff was contained so everything started to become a bit like second nature. The first few times I had to put on an apron, the ‘take’ ended up being about 15 minutes long. Then I worked out that you shouldn’t put the gloves on before the apron! There was lots of daft stuff like that, but you then get into a rhythm. It’s good because it makes you immediately feel like you look the part and then all I had to do was make sure that I knew the lines!

What were some of the challenges that you faced during filming?

I’m not very good with learning dialogue when there are lots of medical terms! I enjoy the adrenaline of being on set because I’m quite good at choreography, I respond well to being taught something physically. That’s why I was terrible at school, because they talk you through things rather than physically show you. I enjoyed doing the different types of surgery as it was fascinating, it’s nerve-wracking but you realise that you can do it. Also, the team who created the props put in so much hard work to make sure we didn’t mess up our bits. I struggled with having massive speeches that involved these medical words. I don’t have a brain for that!

Did you enjoy working in Scotland?

I absolutely loved Glasgow! The crew were phenomenal and the city is wonderful. I could move my family up there and we had a great time as there were loads of brilliant restaurants and everyone was lovely. It was brilliant and I would snap up another job there very quickly, although it does get very dark and cold over winter!


INTERVIEW WITH EMUN ELLIOTT (DR ANDY BRENNER)

What appealed to you about this project?

I love the premise. This idea of somebody taking on someone else’s identity and trying to get away with it felt like a really dramatic idea to set a story around. I had never read anything like it. I also wanted to grab the opportunity to work with Jodie as I’ve been a fan of her work for a while now.

How would you describe your character?

He’s a consultant who’s been working in this particular hospital for the last seven years. He’s calm, experienced and knows exactly what to do in most situations, so is the opposite direction of Cath in that way. He’s recently divorced and has two young children.

In what way is your character challenging to play?

He’s a doctor, so one of the challenges was trying to make some of the medical procedures look convincing. Andy is so well trained in his field and so accustomed to working on the hospital floor, so it was important that whatever he was doing looked like second nature. Doctors are famously unflappable and controlled in some critical, life-or-death situations, so channelling that air of calm and expertise was important to me.

What drives him?

He’s driven by a genuine passion for his occupation and for humanity. He knows how important his job is and is someone who takes that responsibility seriously. People’s lives are literally in his hands everyday, so the stakes are through the roof. On another level, he’s recently divorced, so working long hours and preoccupying himself with other people’s problems takes his mind off his personal life.

Did you receive any training on medical procedure?

We did. We were lucky enough to be invited into St John’s Hospital in Livingstone where we were given a backstage tour of each department. Dan Sefton, the writer, also took us through various procedures that were in the story. Using a dummy of course!

How else did you prepare for the role?

Aside from the training and expertise advice we were given before shooting, I just tried to immerse myself in a medical environment as much as possible. I spent time in hospitals, watched a few documentaries that focused on the NHS and doctors in particular and tried to get my mouth around as much medical terminology as possible.

Do you like working in Scotland?

Of course! I was born and brought up in Edinburgh and went to drama school in Glasgow so I feel a real connection every time I come home. It was nice to see my family and friends in-between shooting days. We even shot a scene on Portobello beach in Edinburgh which is literally where I grew up!

What makes Edinburgh a good backdrop for a drama?

Edinburgh is a beautiful city that’s steeped in history. It’s about time it got some more screen time. There’s a volcano in the heart of the city, a castle, ancient architecture and rolling hills, so it really is a city that deserves to be seen on screen more.

Have you ever worked with any of the cast before?

I had worked with some of the crew before as I’ve worked in Scotland quite a bit over the years. My good friends Brian Ferguson and Ally Craig came in to do a few scenes with us which was a joy, as I hadn’t really spent time with them since we did Black Watch together ten years ago.

What are the biggest challenges that you have faced so far during filming?

It’s usually time. You could spend weeks, sometimes months as an actor preparing for a scene or a specific moment in the story then when it finally comes around to shooting it you have maybe two or three takes to get it right and put all of those ideas into the scene. It can often lead to a sense of frustration afterwards, but you just have to learn to trust in your preparation and let it go.


INTERVIEW WITH SHARON SMALL (DR BRIGITTE RAYNE)

What attracted you to this project?

I liked the character and the premise of the piece – I don’t think we’ve seen this before. And everyone is like an armchair detective, everyone is an armchair actor or doctor, so I thought that people would get off on that and think, gosh what would I do in that circumstance? The audience are the people who are privy to the truth and not us. With my character, Brigitte, I like her neediness, her sassiness – she’s fun and quick-fire talking – and quite honestly I rather fancied myself as a doctor [laughs].

How would you describe your character?

Brigitte is a good person; she’s sassy and is a really good doctor. She has got some issues, but she is trying her best to run this ward and with great intentions, which I think a lot of NHS doctors are.

How did you prepare for the role?

I grew my hair so that I could tie it up – normally I have short hair. We had a fantastic medical training day with Dan and got to do airways and cannulas and stitching and things like that, I loved that. The most important thing for me was to go around the actual A&E department (or ED department as I now know it’s called) in Edinburgh. We met this fantastic doctor – just watching him and really getting to observe what goes on in a ward, the dynamic, what people do and noticing that people are always looking at folders, everyone’s always collaborating and talking to each other. Everyone is always moving around, a lot more than you think and not that quickly. It’s less dramatic than you think.

Is your character challenging to play?

She was. Similarly in something that Jodie mentioned, I had quite a lot of medical jargon to say quite quickly, but I had less of the procedural stuff to do in terms of operational things. As the character is more and more revealed I had to make sure that I took care of how that happened, and that it was subtly done.

What makes a hospital a good arena for a drama?

It’s an ever-changing landscape, a hospital. Every new sort of event that you’re presented with means that you’re having to make life-saving decisions. People’s lives really are at stake, and honestly, my little taste of pretending that I was an ED doctor made me feel quite powerful. If I could fix people so that they survived, that would be an amazing ability.

What are the biggest challenges that you have faced so far during filming?

Saying the medical words Metronidazole – Met-ron-ida-zole, Metron-i-dazole – and trying to make scrubs look even remotely interesting, I don’t rock scrubs like Jodie does, I’m way too curvy for that!

What do you hope audiences will take away from this drama?

I hope that they’ll find themselves in that dilemma of wanting Cath/Ally to succeed, because she’s a good person and she ironically is brilliant at the job. I’m hoping that they’ll see the dilemma that she has, and as you want her to keep succeeding, it means she’s going to keep compromising people as she goes, as well as herself.


INTERVIEW WITH BLAKE HARRISON (KARL)

What appealed to you about this project?

The script hooked me immediately. The fact that it’s written by someone who has years of experience working for the NHS and is still practicing was a big plus. It gives the writing an authenticity that I think the audience will respond to.

How would you describe your character?

Karl has been dependent on alcohol for a long time. It’s destroyed his marriage and was eroding his relationship with his daughter, Molly. Thankfully we meet Karl after he’s turned a corner. He’s six months sober but still struggling to financially support Molly. His struggles still have a negative impact on the ones he loves, but he is desperate to show that he can be the father his daughter deserves. And possibly the husband that Cath deserves.

What sort of man is Karl?

Karl is a man in transition. He was selfish. He let his own desires get in the way of his ability to be a good father and husband; now he’s exorcised those demons and is trying to make amends. He has a new lease of life and is driven by the desire to be a good father. When it looks like Cath will take his daughter to Scotland he worries that he’ll lose his main motivation for staying sober.

How would you describe his relationship with Cath?

It’s very strained. There is still some love there, but after letting her down constantly, Cath is understandably sceptical of his recent transformation and frustrated by his inability to contribute financially to their daughter’s upbringing.

How else did you prepare for the role?

I did some research into sobriety. I found some heartwarming accounts of people who have battled through addiction and are now much happier. They’re better fathers, husbands, more productive. I applied what I could from those accounts. I also exercised a lot more. One thing I found was that people can overhaul themselves physically once they are sober. They feel healthier than ever before and, in some cases, things like running become a new addiction to them.

What are the biggest challenges that you have faced so far during filming?

My biggest challenge on the job was being away from my pregnant wife. I was constantly worried about getting a phone call saying she’d gone into labour and I’d have a mad rush to fly home in time to be with her. Thankfully my son was born the day after I wrapped. Impeccable timing.


INTERVIEW WITH PRODUCER EMILY FELLER

What is Trust Me about?

Trust Me is a four-part BBC one drama, which is about a nurse who is struck off for whistle-blowing. She reinvents herself in Scotland as an imposter doctor. It examines all of the many facets and layers of telling lies – not telling people who you really are and finally falling in love with the person that she was always meant to be with. But it can’t ever happen because she’s not who she says she is.

Tell us about the hospital set.

We found the old Scottish Water Board Call Centre, which has a massive floor plan, and set about building a hospital A&E ward. It was no mean feat! Our designer Monica Black did an amazing job. We were clear that we didn’t want it to be a brand new hospital, it shouldn’t look white and glass and sparkly at all, it shouldn’t be modern, it needed layers and needed aging and to look like a failing A&E ward that could potentially be shut down. It was a big empty room when we first went in and they’d created this incredible, late 80s hospital set. It was a wonderful team to work with.

Why will audiences enjoy Trust Me?

It is an incredibly grounded story based on something very real; our writer is a doctor and he is still working in A&E wards – the truth that he brings to the setting is incredibly raw and I think audiences will relate to that. Jodie Whittaker is fantastic and is bringing a real honesty to the part and the audience will understand that, and even though she’s made a terrible, terrible decision which is very ambiguous, you will go on that journey with her and engage with her.

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JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE ANNOUNCES NEW STUDIO ALBUM; DROPS NEW SINGLE 19

Ten time Grammy® winner and four time Emmy® winner Justin Timberlake is set to release his fourth studio album, Man Of The Woods on February 2nd via RCA Records. The album is now available for pre-order alongside the release of his brand new single and music video, “Filthy”. “Filthy” was co-written and co-produced by Timberlake, Timbaland, and Danja with additional writing credits from James Fauntleroy and Larrance Dopson.

Man Of The Woods marks Timberlake’s most ambitious album to date, both sonically and lyrically. Combining the sounds of traditional American rock with the modern influences of collaborators The Neptunes, Timbaland, Chris Stapleton, and Alicia Keys, this new material explores storytelling inspired by his son, his wife, and his personal journey from Memphis to where he is today.

The colorful, futuristic music video for “Filthy” was directed by groundbreaking and multiple award-winning director Mark Romanek. The dance heavy video features Timberlake as a modern day inventor presenting his latest creation to the world. This is the second time Timberlake and Romanek have teamed up for a one-of-a-kind video.

Following “Filthy” and leading into the February 2nd Man Of The Woods album launch, Timberlake will release three additional music videos, each with their own individual style and color from three different directors. The additional songs will be released weekly starting on January 18th leading up to the release of the full album. Presale begins today.

Two days after the release of the album, Timberlake will hit the stage and headline the Pepsi Super Bowl LII Halftime Show on Sunday, February 4th.

Multi-talented actor and musician Justin Timberlake has sold over 32 million albums worldwide, sold out arenas all across the globe, received numerous awards and nominations and has wildly become one of the most highly respected entertainers in the business.

All three of Timberlake’s solo albums (Justified, FutureSex/LoveSounds and The 20/20 Experience) have received various platinum or multi-platinum certifications worldwide. In the US, Timberlake has received five #1 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 with seventeen being in the top ten as well as garnered the most Mainstream Top40 Top 10’s among solo males in the chart’s 25-year history (18 total).

Most recently, Timberlake released the 4X platinum selling song “CAN’T STOP THE FEELING!” from the film TROLLS which debuted #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, became the singer’s first #1 debut on the chart and ultimately the best-selling US single for 2016. Additionally, it marked Timberlake’s tenth Grammy Award® and garnered a nomination for an Academy Award® and Golden Globe Award®.

A gifted actor, Timberlake has appeared in diverse films including ALPHA DOG, BLACK SNAKE MOAN and SHREK THE THIRD. He won strong reviews for his performance in Oscar®-nominated THE SOCIAL NETWORK. His other credits include BAD TEACHER, FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS, IN TIME, INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS, RUNNER RUNNER, TROLLS and WONDER WHEEL. Timberlake has also won four Emmys for his appearances on “Saturday Night Live.”

THE CAST OF SILENT WITNESS REVEAL ALL 49

Made by BBC Studios, the prime time hit Silent Witness returns to BBC One this January. The longest running British crime drama currently airing on TV, the series follows a team of forensic pathologists helping police solve murders using clues found on the bodies of the victims – the silent witnesses.

Emilia Fox, Richard Lintern, David Caves and Liz Carr return as the dynamic Lyell unit, for five new topical thrilling two-part contemporary stories set against the familiar landscapes of London.

EPISODE SYNPOSES
Moment Of Surrender (episodes one and two)
Written by Ed Whitmore, Directed by Charles Palmer
When Nikki’s (Emilia Fox) pathologist friend Sally Vaughn (Emma Fielding) disappears, suspicion falls on her colleague, David Cannon (Julian Rhind-Tutt), who is invited to work at the Lyell while police investigate Sally’s disappearance. Nikki is tasked with keeping close watch over his movements as his behaviour becomes increasingly erratic.

Duty Of Candour (episodes three and four)
Written by Matthew Arlidge, Directed by Destiny Ekaragha
A series of tragic events are linked to the hacking of a hospital database and the subsequent blackmailing of patients in return for silence over their guilty secrets.

A Special Relationship (episodes five and six)
Written by Graham Mitchell, Directed by Diarmuid Goggins
A US Diplomat is shot dead in a central London square, forcing Nikki (Emilia Fox), Jack (David Caves), Clarissa (Liz Carr) and Thomas (Richard Lintern) to work closely with the Embassy and the FBI to overcome jurisdictional hurdles.

One Day (episodes seven and eight)
Written by Timothy Prager, Directed by Thaddeus O’Sullivan
A road traffic accident leads to the Lyell team uncovering a large number of abuse cases in a group of homes providing assisted living to those with disabilities. The team – Clarissa in particular – has to fight not only for justice but against prejudice and discrimination.

Family (episodes nine and ten)
Written by Michael Crompton, Directed by Colin Teague
It’s Christmas morning and Nikki, Jack, Thomas and Clarissa are just settling down for their respective festive celebrations when they are interrupted by a call-out to a family home – and the horrific aftermath of a shooting spree.

INTERVIEW WITH EMILIA FOX

What stories can we expect from this series of Silent Witness?
The series opens with an episode written by Ed Whitmore, which deals with what’s happened to the Lyell team in the aftermath of Nikki and Jack’s return from Mexico, where they thought Nikki had been buried alive.

Nikki is desperate to return to work and becomes involved in the case of a missing colleague, where the main suspect, David Cannon [Julian Rhind-Tutt] is invited to work at the Lyell so that the authorities can keep him under surveillance. The episode turns into a cat-and-mouse thriller between Nikki and David: she thinks he is guilty, but can’t be totally certain because she is still affected by paranoia and trauma following her experience in Mexico.

While the Silent Witness stories normally stand alone in a series, we do have some continuity for the regulars to follow (dealing with the events that happened in Mexico). Each crime story still takes the regulars into a different world. The second episode explores an extremely topical subject – the tragic events linked to the hacking of a hospital database and subsequent blackmailing of the patients. The third episode is a whodunnit about the shooting of a US diplomat in London and how the Lyell team have to work with the U.S. Embassy and FBI to overcome jurisdictional hurdles. It is about the special relationship between the UK and the U.S and it also becomes a love story!

Clarissa leads the fourth episode, which starts with a road traffic accident that leads to the team uncovering abuse cases in a home that provides assisted living to those with disabilities and it results in the team fighting for justice and against prejudice and discrimination. It’s great to have Charlie Creed Miles in the series and it introduces two new actors Rosie Jones and Toby Friedman. This episode is massively important to the series because the audience have long requested to see Clarissa more involved in storylines and Tim Prager, who writes many of our issue-led storylines, has championed this as an important and relevant subject for Silent Witness to explore.

The last episodes complete the arc of where the series began. The episodes are called Family, which is an action-led episode and focuses on the complicated family who the case is about, but also sees the team find their way back to each other. You see each of them independent of each other at Christmas and yet brought together by the mystery and crime they try to solve, which I think is really the heart of Silent Witness.

How is Nikki recovering after her experience in Mexico?
After thinking she was going to die, Nikki’s realised that she’s been given a second chance to live and appreciate life – I thought it was essential to refer to that. She is eager to start work and return to normal, but she is being told to stay away from work and Jack won’t return her calls and is distancing himself from her because of his guilt at not being able to save her. This leaves Nikki feeling purposeless and isolated from the Lyell team family. This series explores Nikki post trauma, feeling very unsettled and alone with this vulnerability. She is paranoid and still having flashbacks from Mexico.

Tell us about Nikki’s new love interest Matt Garcia (played by Michael Landes)
In this series you see Nikki begin a relationship with the U.S. ambassador to London, Matt Garcia, who is played by Michael Landes. It is significant for many reasons, most of all because it is the first proper relationship we have seen her in for many years – particularly since Harry, with their will they/won’t they relationship. You see Nikki want to commit to a relationship at last and it is in the aftermath of looking at life and her relationships post what happened to her in Mexico. It also enables Nikki to move forward from the trauma and to finally find happiness in her personal life. Who knows for how long it will be, but it was lovely to play Nikki having something to smile about again.

Last year was the series’ 20th anniversary. Were you happy with the reaction from fans, particularly to the Mexico episodes?
Last year was such an exciting milestone for Silent Witness, and it was an absolute joy to hear about people’s reaction to the series and particularly to the last episode where the audience seemed to care about what happened to Nikki. I care about the series so much and it is the absolute best when you know that the audience are enjoying it too – they are who we make it for. It made it even more of a pleasure to come back for series 21, to see what happens to Nikki and the rest of the Lyell team and to get involved with some more cases that I always find fascinating, both personally and professionally.

Tell us about the guest stars of this series.
One of the joys of Silent Witness is getting to make five two-hour films each series, which means we get to go into five different worlds, where the bodies and cases take us, and it means we get to work with five different guest casts.

This series opens with a fantastic cast including Julian Rhind Tutt and Emma Fielding, both of whom I have worked with on plays; Pippa Bennett Warner, Pete Sullivan, Alex MacQueen, Susannah Fielding, David Bamber, Kelly Hunter and Alan David to name a few! We have Neil Stuke coming back in the last episode to reprise his role as Detective Cooke from a few series ago. We have amazing actors like Michael Landes, Elliot Levy, Sharon D Clarke, Charlie Creed Miles, Nitin Ganatra, Ian Burfield, Natasha Little, Tanya Franks, T’Nia Miller, Alex Price, Simon Bond and Douglas Fielding. We also see new faces like Rosie Jones, Toby Friedman, Kiza Deen, Grace Hogg-Robinson, Dino Kelly and Tom Hanson.

I don’t want to miss anyone out, but we are always so lucky to work with such great casts and it is always such a delight when actors want to come back again.

Is there a particular story from this series you enjoyed bringing to the screen?
I really enjoyed playing the cat-and-mouse scenes with Julian Rhind-Tutt in episode one, and the therapy scenes in the second episode which I found emotionally challenging. There were fun and surprising scenes to play between Nikki and Matt in episode three (and maybe later too – I don’t want to spoil anything!)

The final episodes had some challenging action scenes to play and I worked with an amazing horse – I genuinely sobbed my heart out because the horse was so good at acting! Most of all I love being back with the regulars Liz, David and Richard, and any scenes that we get to play together are probably my favourite.

INTERVIEW WITH RICHARD LINTERN

What stories can we expect from this series of Silent Witness?
This year’s Silent Witness has an amazing range of exciting stories which will take us into the minds of some highly dangerous individuals, malevolent organisations and even into the exalted arena of the American Embassy in London. Families will be torn apart, a care home appears to offer danger instead of refuge, and a highly complex data theft leads to deception and ultimately murder. As always, the body in post mortem at the Lyell speaks volumes and leads the police investigation in thrilling and unexpected ways.

We see Thomas’s daughter appear for the first time, what can you tell us about her?
Rosie is a teenage girl whose parents have separated. She comes with all the complex emotional baggage that any teenager has, and then some more on top. She’s difficult, loving, vulnerable and hard as nails all at the same time. She’s a great character who bursts unexpectedly into life at the Lyell, which challenges Thomas to cope with an emotional firestorm in addition to his work on a complex investigation. Behind all her actions is a young girl looking to her dad for his love and attention.

Do you think it’s important that Silent Witness continues to portray topical storylines?
Silent Witness goes wherever the great stories are hiding. Sometimes that takes us into the mind of a serial killer, sometimes into the heart of a social issue. The vital thing for us is how the team at the Lyell react to the forensic discoveries that they make, and how they assist the police in bringing the criminals to justice. However, the show has never shied away from dealing with topical storylines and this year is certainly no exception.

Is Thomas surprised to see Nikki back at the Lyell so soon after Mexico?
Thomas is delighted to see Nikki alive and well and back in England. Like the rest of the team, he’s concerned that her professionalism and sense of duty have brought her back to work too early after the trauma of Mexico. However, he’s wise enough to know that she doesn’t respond well to being told what to do!

What qualities do you think each member of the team each brings to the Lyell?
All great teams add up to more than the sum of their parts and the Lyell centre is no exception. Thomas is in charge, and when necessary can lead from the front with assurance and power. Clarissa is a genius for looking sideways at forensic detail and coming up with ideas no-one else had considered. She is unflappable and tough, and combines her forensic expertise with a dark wit. Clarissa and Thomas carry out a lot of the forensic study at the Lyell Centre itself. Mostly, their role is to facilitate and analyse Nikki and Jack’s investigative forensic work and to coordinate the police response from a forensic standpoint.

Nikki and Jack can be relied on for persistence, their pursuit of the facts and their second-to-none forensic experience. Jack has a fearless approach to the darker side of police investigations and Nikki combines a similar strength with an understanding of the emotional impact of the crimes being looked into.

INTERVIEW WITH DAVID CAVES

How is Jack coping after his experiences in Mexico?
To begin with, he’s not coping very well. He is feeling low and guilty because he could not save Nikki. This causes some tension between them. He is shy and awkward around her and can barely look her in the eye. He feels he failed her. He tries to distance himself from her because he feels so useless and it’s unbearable for him. She tries to reach him but he’s emotionally unavailable.

Jack appears to have a love interest in one block this series, what can you tell us about her?
He works closely with a detective on a case and there is an attraction. They flirt a bit but mainly enjoy working together.

Jack is also back boxing this series. Was that fun to film?
We see him training himself and someone else in the gym. He does mixed martial arts and boxing is definitely a part of that, but by no means it all. Actors generally love the physical stuff because it’s immediately dynamic and you have a very strong, simple action to play. For example, my fist must connect with this punch bag, or I must get this series of moves right with my partner in the scene. It’s always great to film. Plus, it’s so integral to who Jack is. Fighters have a very particular mindset and discipline which I love to get into when playing the part. He’s a doer and I like that he gets stuff done.

Are there any episodes you are particularly looking forward to watching this series?
All of them but especially One Day, which takes place in and around two care homes and feature Clarissa and Jack in a big way. We get more of a glimpse into their relationship and I think it’s a fantastic story. People might be shocked but hopefully impressed that we tackled the difficult subject matter head-on. Liz is outstanding in it.

INTERVIEW WITH LIZ CARR

Are there any stories this series you are particularly proud to be telling?
There is a block called One Day that are episodes we’ve been trying to make for a long time – particularly by myself and the writer Tim Prager who introduced Clarissa and Jack into Silent Witness six series ago. The subject is close to both of our hearts, which is disability hate crime. In the five years since Tim first pitched this theme it has, upsettingly, only become more prevalent. It’s a story that hasn’t been told on TV before and to be part of this has been a great honour. I’m immensely proud of the resulting episodes and hope it both entertains and provokes discussion when it’s aired.

Is Clarissa surprised to see Nikki back at the Lyell so soon after Mexico?
Clarissa obviously worries about Nikki, knowing she’s been through such a life-changing time in Mexico, but she isn’t a sentimental person. She’s a pragmatist who realises that people heal and deal with trauma in their own way. I think she’s initially surprised but ultimately knows that coming back to work is a very Nikki thing to do.

Max is back this series! Did you find there was a good reaction from fans when they found more about Clarissa’s personal life?
This time last year I was really eager to see what the audience would think of Clarissa’s husband, not least because I’d played a part in the writing and casting of Dan Weyman as Max. I really hoped we’d got it right as it was important to me to show a disabled woman in a good, long term, loving relationship, which is something we don’t see enough of on TV and something I never saw on screen when I was growing up. I’m thrilled Max is back and equally thrilled the audience seemed to approve of the other man in Clarissa’s life!

What qualities do you think each member of the team each brings to the Lyell unit?
Nikki has so much heart. Perhaps too much at times, but her keen sense of justice and her integrity and humanity make her strong and vulnerable in equal measure. Jack is brilliant at his job, single minded, and whilst he doesn’t suffer fools gladly he is intensely loyal to those he respects. Thomas’s mind is sharp with necessary diplomacy and has a strong faith in his team even if he doesn’t always approve of their methods or actions. Clarissa has intelligence, common sense and a down-to-earth sense of humour which are integral to how she does her job and how she lives her life.

Last year was Silent Witness’s 20th Anniversary. Were you happy with the reaction from fans, particularly to the Mexico episodes?
More than ever, I get stopped in the street with people desperate to know if Nikki survived Mexico, if there will be another series, if anyone be killed off and if will there be more Clarissa. Viewers are so invested in the characters and the stories. It’s always fun being able to reassure them that Nikki survived, that there’ll be another series and that there will more Clarissa than ever before in this series. However, as for anyone being killed off, I couldn’t possibly comment!