Silencio

Earlier this evening I mentioned that I was jolly pleased that the crime/forensic pathology series Silent Witness was back for a new series – its twenty-first. I think most fans were similarly delighted, however there has been a lot of chuntering because the theme music has been changed. I did notice but I couldn’t really say it wasn’t as good as previously.

“Silencium” is performed by John Harle with a soprano saxophone solo and the vocals are performed by Sarah Leonard.

Here is a version from 2011;

Silent Witness returns!

Silent Witness, parodied as Witless Silence by French and Saunders, is back on TV and we saw the first two-part episode earlier this week. It’s extraordinary that it has been going so long, and has maintained its high standard of acting and writing. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a crime series revolving round a forensic pathology lab – and in real life it may be a little implausible that scientists based in a lab would be so active in solving strange and tricky crimes, but on TV it’s dramatic, gripping, and in its own world, believable.

When it was first broadcast in 1996 the senior pathologist was Professor Sam Ryan, played by Amanda Burton and was set in Cambridge. Since then there have been many change in personnel and the location has changed to London. The director now is Dr. Thomas Chamberlain played by Richard Lintern, and between Prof Sam and Dr Thomas there has been Professor Leo Dalton. However, as with all such dramas there is a team, and as usual with teams there is a mix of men and women, ordinary and eccentric, dashing and down to earth. The team now comprises of Dr Chamberlain, Dr. Nikki Alexander, Jack Hodgson and Clarissa Mullery. They have very different personalities and, as in real life, they sometimes fall out  or upset each other, about they are a team, loyal, strong and at ultimately fond of each other.

The stories nearly always involve murder, but sometimes it is abduction or smuggling or trafficking, and does not shy away from current and sometimes controversial subjects. Sometimes the characters are compromised, sometimes their hearts rule their heads, but science is at the core of their investigations. Most of the episodes are set in the UK, but there have been various times when the team or one of them has been involved in a case abroad, most recently when Nikki was kidnapped in Mexico and her life put at risk – the programme is so good that it was really unclear whether she would escape alive – in a previous series Professor Dalton was unexpectedly murdered, so there’s a precedent for the unexpected!

  • Professor Sam Ryan – Amanda Burton
  • Professor Leo Dalton – William Gaminara
  • Dr. Harry Cunningham – Tom Ward
  • Dr. Nikki Alexander – Emilia Fox
  • Jack Hodgson – David Caves
  • Clarissa Mullery – Liz Carr
  • Dr. Thomas Chamberlain – Richard Lintern

I wonder if there is a box set – I’m tempted, and then have a Silent Witness orgy of watching all twenty series!

Here is a link to the BBC SW website:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007y6k8

Silent Witness

I’ve just watched the concluding part of the first episode of ‘Silent Witness’. It’s a TV crime/pathology series, now in its 18th season. The present cast has Emilia Fox, David Caves, Liz Carr and Richard Lintern as the team who investigates what has happened to the bodies which are brought into the lab and the crime scenes they come from.

Over the years, as you may imagine the cast has changed considerably, and various believable and sometimes tragic reasons have been written into the plots to allow for this. However, the writing, acting, production has been consistently high… and having been on the edge of my seat during this current episode, so it continues.

I wrote recently about another favourite TV programme, ‘New Tricks’ which has also had major cast changes over recent series; however, I feel that somehow the life has gone out of the programme, somehow it has lost its way and lost its spirit… although the acting is still good, the situations and plots are weak, and some of the characters don’t ring true. I think it has run out of steam, lost its way and may sadly be past its sell-by date.

The same is not true of ‘Silent Witness’; however unlikely some of the crimes the viewer (well, this viewer!) is carried along by the pace and production, and any inconsistencies or improbabilities, are not noticed or forgiven by the excellence of the writing and acting. Hurrah for ‘Silent Witness’ and all the people who have written, acted or produced it!

My featured image is from the series 8-15, with Tom Ward, Emilia Fox and William Gaminara.

S.A.F.E.

Life is so strange, isn’t it? I’ve mentioned before that although I don’t base any of my characters on real people – they really are themselves, I sometimes ‘borrow’ faces… although they change as I write about them. A handsome face I borrowed was that of an actor called Nick Reding who was the inspiration for the appearance of a character in one of my books. The character actually ended up very different, but initially he was dark-haired, stunningly good-looking, with a reserved but winning smile, an appraising look from very blue eyes beneath straight dark eyebrows.

I was thinking about Nick Reding the other day; he’s an actor and I remember him in ‘Silent Witness’; he was also in ‘The Bill’, but he was also in ‘Blood Diamond’, ‘The Constant Gardener’. and ‘Croupier’ as well as many other films and TV programmes. Wondering what he was doing now, I looked him up and found out that he is very involved in a charity which supports people in Kenya. It is not so much a charity, as ann organisation for social change and it is called S.A.F.E. .

  • S.A.F.E. is a Kenyan NGO and UK charity that uses street theatre, films and community programmes to educate, inspire and deliver social change. We work to tackle a range of social challenges including HIV/AIDS, post-election violence, gender-based violence, female circumcision, unsafe drinking water and environmental damage.
  • Our philosophy is that change starts with individuals: contrary to many images of Africa in the media, the Kenya we see is energetic, talented, industrious and progressive. At S.A.F.E., we believe people are rich in entrepreneurial creativity and have the spirit required to make change happen. We just need to give Kenyans the opportunities to lead development for themselves and for their own communities.

http://www.safekenya.org/

If you check out the web-site you will see that the charity has six main projects, HIV/AIDS, female circumcision, water, prisons, women and environment. You can understand that these interlinked areas are the key to stable life, prosperity and the health of any population, and that when there is a difficulty or deficiency in any one of the areas people (especially women and children) suffer, and sometimes die for lack of very basic and simple support. S.A.F.E. aims to offer that support, but it does it in a positive and open way using drama and music.

I think it is an amazing charity which has changed the lives of many,many people, and will continue to do so with enough support. Having come across S.A.F.E qote by chance, I shall continue to support them as much as I can.

Pub quiz – the answer, how did you do?

 

We always enjoy the pub quiz in the Dolphin which is held each Tuesday,  and so I set a pub quiz  the other evening, only one round though – we always have tow in the Dolphin!

… now here are the answers. I hope it wasn’t too tricky!

  1. In the news: What was Pope Benedict’s name before he was Pope? Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger
  2. Music: Who sang ‘Dance the night away’? The Mavericks (of course, you knew that, didn’t you?)
  3. Sport: How many Olympic gold medals did Mark Spitz win? 9 in the 1968 and 1972 Olympics, including two team golds, he also one a solver and bronze
  4. Pot luck: How many counties are there in Ireland (north and south)  24, 32, 38? 32
  5. TV: which BBC crime series ended with a bang last week, and stars Emilia Fox and William Gaminara? Silent Witness
  6. Cookery: Eggs Benedict is a dish of eggs served with which sauce? Hollandaise
  7. TV: A tricky one now – who wrote the theme music for both ‘Morse’ and ‘Lewis’? Barrington Pheloung
  8. Literature: Who recently won her second Man Booker prize for her historical novel? Hilary Mantel for ‘Wolf Hall’ and ‘Bring Up The Bodies’
  9. In the news: A 5,000 year old temple complex was found near which city in Peru? Lima (go on, admit it, Lima is the only city you could remember!)
  10. Sport: England have been knocked out of which World Cup in India? Women’s cricket
  11. Music: Jimmy Page on guitar, John Bonham on  drums, John Paul Jones on bass – who is missing on vocals? Robert Plant
  12. Pot luck: Which is bigger, Iceland or Ireland? Iceland
  13. Cookery: What is pemmican? air-dried fish, meat or game, pounded to dust then mixed with fat and berries – (oh yummy) you’re right if you’ve answered dried fish or meat
  14. Art: Who painted ‘The Scream’? Edvard Munch
  15. Geography: What is the capital city of Bulgaria? Sofia
  16. Geography; Which country is Tbilisi capital of? The Republic of Georgia
  17. Literature: Who wrote the Winnie-the-Pooh stories? A.A. Milne
  18. Current affairs: Who is the President of France? François Gérard Georges Nicolas Hollande
  19. Music: In which Beatles song is the line “We see the banker sitting waiting for a trim, then the fireman rushes in”? Penny Lane (you knew that too, didn’t you?)
  20. Sport: Which country’s representatives  have won the most London Marathons, including men and women, and all wheelchair athletes? The UK
  21. TV: In which American state was the series ‘Northern Exposure’ set? Alaska
  22. History: How long did the War of the Roses, between Yorkshire and Lancashire, last,  30 years, 37 years, 49 years? Thirty years
  23. Film: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway,Helena Bonham Carter and Eddie Redmayne all star in a film, based on a musical, based on a book by which 19th century French author? Victor Hugo
  24. Cookery: Who published  a ‘ Book of Household Management’ in 1861? Isabella Beeton
  25. Name the year: In what year was Dublin the European Capital of Culture, Boris Yeltsin is elected president of Russia, the USA beat Europe in the Rider Cup golf tournament by one point, and Bryan Adams was number 1 in the charts for 16 consecutive weeks? 1991

The Suspicions of Mr Whicher

I had heard about and read an article about the strange and gruesome murder of a young boy which took place in the village of Rode in Somerset one summer’s night in 1860; Saville Kent was only three when he was taken from his cot in the nursery where his nursemaid slept nearby, taken to the outside privy (toilet) where his mutilated body was found the next day. There were elven people in the house that night, including the boy’s parents, Samuel and Mary, his half-siblings, Mary-Ann, Elizabeth, Constance and William, and his little sisters, Mary Amelia and Evaline. There were also several servants sleeping in the house; other servants went to their own homes in the village.

The dreadful murder hit the headlines and a detective from London, Jonathan Whicher was sent to investigate and the country was gripped by the mystery; who had killed the innocent child so brutally and stuffed him into the cesspit beneath the privy, and why? Why would anyone want to, what motive could anyone have? The murder and the press interest may have triggered the interest in detectives, crime and investigation, which has grown and grown ever since, from novels, and the written word, to film, TV, and games. The crime genre is one of the most popular, and I enjoy TV series such as ‘Boomtown’, ‘Silent Witness’, ‘The Killing’, and reading police procedurals … but they are fiction, this was a real murder of a real little boy.

Kate Summerscales has written an account, a very full account of the murder, investigation, solution and conclusion in ‘The Suspicions of Mr Whicher’. her book is three hundred pages long, has a fourteen page introduction and prologue, seventy page afterword,postscript, notes,bibliography and index as well as maps and illustrations. You can tell it is a very complete book… in fact it covers  everything you cloud possible imagine or want; the state of the harvest, what the newspapers said at the time, court reports, Mr Whicher’s biography and his other cases, and that of the other policeman involved, contemporary novels and stories about murder, family histories… research, conjecture,… there is just so much!

There is so much in this book, and in a way there is too much… I felt like saying “Oh for goodness sake, Kate, just get on with it!” I can’t criticise it for style or skill or the detail which she has included, but it just overwhelms the reader. She offers a solution, the accepted verdict at the time, she offers an explanation for the crime, and she follows the characters to the end of their lives… but I just wish it had been slimmed down, it all fell a little flat, it was all a little… dare I say turgid?

It is certainly fascinating, and I know many people think it’s an amazing study of a tragic incident in an ordinary family’s life and what ensued, so I would recommend it… but with quite a few reservations!