It would appear viewers are now loving BBC One's Silent Witness for all the wrong reasons.
Once one of the great bastions of the British televison, it recently returned to television screens for a 26th series. But fans of the forensic crime have not been happy in recent weeks - criticising it for becoming "ridiculous" and "completely incomprehensible".
However this week's episode saw some viewers fall back in love with the show - and hail it as 'the Alan Partridge of TV crime shows'. They say the show has become so farcical that it's become great entertainment.
Emilia Fox and David Caves may still be two of the leading lights as they play Dr Nikki Alexander and Jack Hodgson – now a romantic couple – but they have been joined by a new anatomical pathology trainee Velvy Schur (played by Alastair Michael), pathologist Gabriel Folukoya (played by Aki Omoshaybi) and Cara Connelly, Jack’s deaf niece, with Rhiannon May returning following her guest role in the previous two episodes.
And while some favourite characters have now long gone, like Sam Ryan, Leo Dalton, Thomas Chamberlain, Harry Cunningham and Clarissa Mullery, audience figures have still been pretty good over the years, but is there a sea change coming? The best run was arguably between series 18 and 23, where between eight and just over nine million people were watching, but that dropped to 7.3 million by series 24, while last year’s brought a lowest ever tally of 6.33 million.
And if comments on social media are anything to go by, then Silent Witness could struggle to match last year’s average viewership, with this tweet by UniversalRevolution 2.0 summing up a lot of the ill feeling currently doing the rounds: “What has happened to #SilentWitness? The Storylines are unengaging and the Script is actually laughable.
“Somehow the new guy in the lab happens to discover a dead body at a festival packed with 1000s of people. Jack’s constantly chasing people now and Nikki delivers babies!”
Edwin Petersen (@mrEdwinP) is a fan-turned-critic, adding: “This series started off at the level of utter nonsense and is plunging ever deeper in the hope of locating a seam of berkishness so pure that all who watch become helplessly addicted droids, doomed to watch it on a loop until the heat death of the universe.”
Rob Wilson (@thfc67) was also uncomplimentary about the latest series, writing: “SilentWitness is now the Alan Partridge of TV crime shows. The investigating officers are all Gene Hunt and the pathologists are hapless busybodies who happen to fall over key evidence.”
Steve Johns (@spjmerc a) thinks the drama is enjoyable, although from a humorous point of view, as he said: “SilentWitness is so entertaining! It’s just farcical!
“Thank goodness Jack has developed superpowers to see into the past and solve these complicated crimes … cause the police haven’t got a bloody clue. But, he’s talking a whole episode too long, on this one! Boring.”
Another follower @spencer8617 also appreciated the comedy value of series 26, adding: “I see a lot of people moaning but I kind of love how ridiculous SilentWitness has got. It’s silly and full of nonsense, but it’s so good.”
Someone else sticking in the knife in, though, was D@ve F (@davey_lad), who asked: “Why am I still persevering with Silent Witness? The scripts and stories are ridiculous, the dialogue is pathetic and some of the acting is worse than amateur.
“This used to be a great show. It’’s shocking bad now.”
Trudgin (@Trudgin) was thinking something similar when he wrote: “Is someone new producing / directing #SilentWitness because it’s rubbish. Nikki is not as wise by a long shot.
“It has gone back at least 10 yrs. they barely take shirt off bodies now – real pity.”
Last word goes to RosinaC (@RCantaldo), who accused the Beeb of box ticking, saying: “Usual #bbc attempts to tick every box by way of new characters has completely and utterly ruined this once brilliant drama.”
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