He may have been killed off in 2013 but Leo Dalton is set to return in a new mini-series linked to the long-running crime drama. The BBC has commissioned a three-part spin-off entitled Silent Witness: Bodies of Murders Past starring William Gaminara, reprising his role of Leo Dalton, forensics professor. Show regulars Emilia Fox, David Caves, Richard Lintern and Liz Carr will appear. A-List actors Kathy Bates, Shirley MacLaine and Eileen Atkins will also star.
The character of Leo will return as a ghost, sent to haunt Nikki and Jack as they plunder the famous sprawling underground catacombs of Basildon, Essex. It is also suggested that the ghost of Leo will be less friendly than his human-incarnation due to spending the past two years suffering in a certain circle of hell reserved for forensic scientists who interfere with police business and don’t stick to their professional remit.
Plot details have not been entirely revealed but sources suggest the first murder will involve a middle-aged man killed through poisoned Hobnobs.
There have also been rumours of Tom Ward returning to his role as Harry Cunningham, though this is also yet to be confirmed. However, fans can look forward to being reunited with original central character (1996 – 2004) Dr. Sam Ryan, played by Amanda Burton. She left the series in 2004 but will now return in the same role, although her character has now left the field of forensic pathology and is now a tarot card reader and part-time exorcist living above a Sainsbury’s Local in Barking. Her character is expected to be the one to summon Leo up from the dead after she suspects Nikki and Jack are not coping with their current case.
The three-parter will be co-produced with US softcore-porn channel Cinemax (which has recently entered into the international drama market), and there is expected to be an extended cut featuring prolonged scenes of sex on the mortuary tables between autopsies. Speaking on the subject, actor Emilia Fox said “I think it’s great – we’ve always been pretty low on the shag-factor and now we are getting what we have always been wanting: naked bodies that aren’t dead or frozen!”
On the subject of Leo’s return, Fox said “I cannot wait to be working with William Gaminara again. He is such a talented actor and will make a terrific grumpy ghost.”
In a statement, the head of BBC drama Ben Stephenson said: “Silent Witness has always pushed boundaries with credibility and regularly presumes its audience are, shall we say, more than a little gullible, so we didn’t think twice about adding in a supernatural factor. Leo Dalton will be a brilliant ghost and we look forward to working with William again in the future if this three-part series is well received.’
The episodes will be written by Emmy Award winning screenwriter Abi Morgan (The Hour, The Iron Lady) who said: ‘This series has been made in response to the tragic lack of biscuits in BBC staff rooms. Although it does have a supernatural element, this is actually about a shortage of Hobnobs. People need to start talking about this.’
The BBC will reveal more details as the months go on, but it is expected the series will air in November later this year. Much excitement has been made about actors Bates, McClaine and Atkins, who will play a trio of aging circus magicians suspected of selling counterfeit snacks (including biscuits). Other supporting cast members currently on board include Bradley Walsh as an Essex car dealer named Derek, Max Irons as a prostitute named Harvey and Gemma Jones as the manager of McVitie’s who has to make a statement regarding the series of Hobnob-related deaths.
Silent Witness Series 1 – 18 are currently available on DVD and Digital Download.