‘Silent Witness’ Season 20 episode guide: What happens next?

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Long-running crime drama Silent Witness returns to BBC One to celebrate its 20th anniversary.

The new season features five thrilling contemporary stories that start among the familiar landscapes of London and end up in the dusty scrubland of Mexico, tackling some of the issues the world faces today, from the Refugee Crisis to Cartel Violence in Mexico, the dangers of the internet to the powerful influence of the media in how crime is portrayed.

Emilia Fox plays Dr. Nikki Alexander, Richard Lintern plays Dr. Thomas Chamberlin, David Caves plays Jack Hodgson and Liz Carr plays Clarissa Mullery.

Order Season 20 on DVD on Amazon here.


Episode 1: ‘Identity’ (Part One)

Monday 2 January 2017, 9pm

A severed finger is brought to the Lyell Centre by DCI Rory Goodchild and Immigration Enforcement Officer Pia Butler, who ask Nikki and Thomas to test for a DNA match with 17 year-old Syrian illegal immigrant Akka Khoury.
Akka was sent the finger by a people-smuggler who claims to have her mother, demanding money for her return. However, Akka quickly flees, giving Goodchild and Butler the slip.

Meanwhile, Akka’s 12 year-old cousin Sosa is alone in a migrant camp in Northern France. There she meets Yusuf Hamed, a people smuggler, who puts her in a hidden compartment in a white van along other illegal immigrants on a cross-channel ferry to the UK.

Back in England, Yusuf and his smuggling partner Jamal realise one of their vans has disappeared, with a cargo of refugees inside. Has it been snatched by the police?

Later, when Nikki and Jack are called to examine the death of Jamal, who has died falling from the top of a building, Clarissa finds a sequence of numbers and letters on Jamal’s phone and the team set out to crack the code.

A desperate and beaten Akka turns up at the Lyell Centre in need of medical attention. Nikki takes her to A&E but nurses soon become suspicious of Akka’s status, so Nikki smuggles her out of the hospital and helps her to escape from the police. How will Nikki resolve the moral quandary of helping an illegal immigrant evade the law?

When Thomas suggests the code corresponds to a location marker on an A-Road, the Lyell team head into nearby woodland, finding Yusuf and Jamal’s missing van…


Episode 2: ‘Identity’ (Part Two)

Tuesday 3 January 2017, 9pm

Breaking into the van, Jack and Nikki are met by a horrifying sight, as Nikki realises that Akka’s mother is among the dead.

Meanwhile, Sosa’s van is arriving into Dover Ferry Port. The illegal passengers are nearly caught when Border Force officers ask to inspect the van, but a corrupt official overrules his employees and wave the van through.

Following the trail of messages between the gang members, Yusuf realises that another of his smuggling partners, Abdul Wilson, has been using the system to extort money from the desperate family members of the migrants, and then leaving the migrants to die after their arrival in England.

With Sosa in another white van, is her life in danger?


Episode 3: ‘Discovery’ (Part One)

Monday 9 January 2017, 9pm

It’s a sunny May bank holiday and the newspapers are abuzz with the news of the disappearance of a young schoolteacher.

Investigating officer DCI Andy Steemson asks Nikki and Jack to examine the small blood traces, bike tracks and a charred cake in the oven in the house. This was no planned disappearance.

Meanwhile, Thomas is called to the site of the murder of an ex-junkie and a petty criminal with the opposite circumstances. The body has been thrown from the top of a flyover and DS Maureen Steele, a police officer with a drink problem, has been given the case. Bumping up against Steele’s dismissive attitude, Thomas becomes determined to win justice for the victim – and ultimately forms an unlikely alliance.

However when a body is found in a pond off the M25, Nikki and Jack make the discovery that the deaths are linked. But what is the link between these two disparate cases?


Episode 4: ‘Discovery’ (Part Two)

Tuesday 10 January 2017, 9pm

In order to discover the truth between these two cases, Nikki visits disgraced pathologist Mike Liston, convicted of falsifying pathology reports, to find the truth about a cold case that holds the key to the mystery in the form of a 20 year-old DNA profile…


Episode 5: ‘Remembrance’ (Part One)

Monday 16 January 2017, 9pm

The body of 20 year-old Lorna Katz is discovered drifting near the bottom of the River Lea. Her hands are bound, suggesting she was tied up somewhere before she floated downriver.

However the death takes on an ever-more sinister significance when the team discover that Lorna was the best friend of Ruth Tresize, a teenager who disappeared from the banks of the River Lea three years previously.

When the news of the death ripples through the small East London community, which was already scarred by Ruth’s disappearance, her mother Ali becomes fixated on Nikki for information, convinced that the two incidents are connected.

After trailing Nikki home from work one evening, she lets slip that Lorna had been having a relationship with Aaron, a young outsider who had a history of selling weed to the local teens, before running away to Edinburgh after Ruth disappeared. His erratic behaviour arouses suspicions, but are his actions those of a psychopathic killer or of a man struggling to cope with his grief?

Ali becomes convinced that Aaron killed both Lorna and Ruth and follows his brother Ben to Charing Cross Station. Laden with cash and a ticket, Aaron is planning to board a train to Folkestone. Desperate, Ali catches up with Aaron, and she’s armed with a knife. Will Nikki arrive in time to stop Ali making a mistake?


Episode 6: ‘Remembrance’ (Part Two)

Tuesday 17 January 2017, 9pm

Lead investigator DI Heather Ashton is furious with Nikki for speaking to Ali, and accuses her of divulging sensitive information about the case. Feeling responsible for her actions, Nikki looks back over the evidence relating to the Ruth case to give herself some closure.

Meanwhile Clarissa gains access to messages from Lorna sent to her ex-boyfriend Kieran before she died, leading Jack to an old boatyard. He discovers an old teenage hangout, complete with the red sofa that featured in younger pictures of Lorna and Kieran. He also discovers an inspection pit on the floor where Ruth’s body had been hidden but now mysteriously removed.

With the river killer still on the loose, the team must work quickly to untangle the crimes of the past.


Episode 7: ‘Covenant’ (Part One)

Monday 23 January 2017, 9pm

Father and son Bill and Frankie McAteer are killed in a horrific car accident on their way home from work at Billingsgate Market. Nikki and Jack arrive at the scene of the crash to meet DS Jodie Tanner, and to discover Frankie’s body still in the car but riddled with bullets. Whoever was driving the SUV had a gun.

Back at the Lyell centre, Nikki’s post mortem examinations suggest that Frankie was the target, rather than Bill. Clarissa and Max discover a deleted video on a mobile phone showing a sexual encounter between Frankie, his girlfriend Becky and best friend Liam, which was posted on a revenge porn website. However when Liam is also killed, the video becomes the key to the killings.

When Nikki and Tanner visit Becky, her flatmate Paul enters and she bursts into tears about the murder. But Paul looks like he has worries of his own…

Meanwhile, Clarissa’s husband Max is an expert in the fast-developing field of digital forensics and lends some equipment to help crack Frankie’s seemingly-empty phone, his arrival causing an icy reaction from both Thomas and Jack.


Episode 8: ‘Covenant’ (Part Two)

Tuesday 24 January 2017, 9pm

Examining the contents of Liam’s phone, Clarissa has found a longer version of the video and sees a flash of Paul’s face as he peers from the stairs. Retrieving Paul’s laptop, Clarissa takes it to Max’s lab and finds reams of communication between Paul and another person, under pseudonyms, which starts to unravel the mystery of the Billingsgate killings.

Meanwhile, Clarissa is amused to see Thomas’ nose put out of joint and Jack soon feels paranoid that Max is poaching Clarissa for his own lab. Will Clarissa remain with the Lyell team?


Episode 9: ‘Awakenings’ (Part One)

Monday 30 January 2017, 9pm

Nikki travels to Mexico to attend the funeral of Luisa, a former intern at the Lyell Centre who was murdered in a carjacking in her native country. Nikki soon stumbles across the post mortem report and realises that the body is not Luisa’s. There’s been some kind of mistake – or is this something more sinister?

Assisted by Dr Eva Vasquez and fired up with the idea that Luisa might still be alive, Nikki and Jack trace her last known movements and are led to a farm where a cartel massacre was carried out, where they start to perform makeshift post-mortem examinations.

By now, Nikki and Jack are gaining the wrong kind of attention. And when Nikki goes missing, Jack is forced to make decisions that will end in life or death…


Episode 10: ‘Awakenings‘ (Part Two)

Tuesday 31 January 2017, 9pm

A frantic Jack carries out forensic examinations on the spot where Nikki disappeared.

With Thomas at the airport ready to come out and help, but still 24 hours away and no leads left to follow, Jack receives a text message containing a mysterious phone number.

However when Jack calls through, expecting to hear from Nikki’s captors, he is shocked at who answers the phone. Can Jack save Nikki?


Order Season 20 on DVD on Amazon here.

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