Silent Witness season 26: next episode date, cast, plot, trailer and everything we know

Silent Witness season 26 cast
Silent Witness season 26 promises to be a belter. (Image credit: BBC)

Silent Witness season 26 is here with Emilia Fox as Dr Nikki Alexander.

The latest series, which sees Nikki and Jack in danger as they take on a huge criminal network, follows on from the show's hugely popular 25th-anniversary special series.

That featured the return of original star Amanda Burton as Sam Ryan, once a much-loved figure on the show but a character who behaved extremely suspiciously throughout the latest series!

Following the first two-part story, the second two-part story, featuring a guest turn from EastEnders legend Jack Ryder, sees an abandoned lorry found at a quarry with several dead and dying people in the back. 

At first, it appears to be a case of sex trafficking, but it soon becomes clear that all is not as it seems. With the survivors refusing to speak, Nikki and the team must use their pathological and forensic skillset to identify the deceased and piece together what happened...

Meanwhile, the third two-part story sees the team "thrown into the dark side of social media where nothing is as it seems and the perfect profiles of the influencers they are investigating raise disturbing questions".

And the fourth two-part story sees Jack come to the aid of an old friend, and him being sucked into a difficult case, where he is pitted against his former mentor. As Nikki and the team start to create a picture of what happened, they learn nothing is as it seems. Dealing with a family of serving police officers, they have to tread carefully, as their relationships prove to be another obstacle for the team to overcome.

Here's everything we know so far about the new series including a trailer, which contains spoilers if you've not seen the latest series...

Silent Witness season 26 release date

Silent Witness season 26 began on BBC One on Monday, January 2 at 9 pm. Episodes can also be watched via iPlayer. The next episode is on Monday, January 30 at 9 pm on BBC One. The story concludes on the Tuesday evening, also at 9 pm.

It will be released at a later date for US audiences on BritBox.

Who's in the cast?

Gabriel Folukoya (Aki Omoshaybi), Jack Hodgson (David Caves), Velvy Schur (Alastair Michael) in protective clothing

New team: Gabriel Folukoya (Aki Omoshaybi), Jack Hodgson (David Caves) and Velvy Schur (Alastair Michael) (Image credit: BBC)

Emilia Fox is back as Dr Nikki Alexander, a part she's remarkably played since 2004. Amanda Burton, though, is unlikely to return as Sam Ryan. The final scenes in the last series very much looked like Amanda saying a permanent goodbye to the show, although you never know. Asked if she could be tempted back by Nikki, Sam replied: "This place was my family, but I've got a new one now and speaking of which I must go." 

David Caves is back as Jack Hodges. Aki Omoshaybi (The Pursuit Of Love, Queens Of Mystery, Real) joins as Gabriel Folukoya, an academic, neurologist, and pathologist who has spent much of his career in innovative research, primarily in the field of data analysis.

Aki says: "I couldn’t be more excited to be joining such a long-running and much-loved series. Gabriel has much less practical experience than Nikki and prefers to computer model an autopsy than to slice a body open, but deep down Gabriel knows he needs people like Nikki and Jack. He's at a juncture in his life where he needs to make changes, to open up more, to allow himself to be more vulnerable.”

Alastair Michael (Ridley Road, Snatch) joins as Velvy Schur, the Lyell’s new APT (Anatomical Pathology Technologist) trainee, as recommended by Clarissa Mullery. Velvy has recently left his ultra-Orthodox Jewish community and is now finding his own path, balancing his career and his faith, which he still holds very dear to his heart.

Alastair says: "I’m delighted to be joining the cast of Silent Witness. We meet my character Velvy as he is on a really interesting journey from within an Orthodox community into a wide secular society. He is still acclimatising to the change and conflicted about the life he left behind, but he is eager for new knowledge, new experiences, and new friendships. This curiosity can sometimes get the better of him and it might even ruffle some people's feathers. So, it'll be fun to see how that plays out in the Lyell."

Jack’s niece Cara Connelly (Rhiannon May) also returns in a more regular part.

Cara Connelly (Rhiannon May)

Cara Connelly (Rhiannon May) is back. (Image credit: BBC)

Silent Witness season 26 plot

Everyone will be keen to see what’s next for Nikki and Jack, who looked very cosy together at the end of the latest series. But then Nikki being Nikki of course gets a text from her ex Tom who appears to be about to bump off Oscar (David Leon) in the final shot of the series! Will Tom return in the new series? We sort of hope not as it would be nice for Nikki to find some happiness, but she never seems to catch a break!

The BBC has finally teased some plot information about the first episode: "When a man falls from a high-rise building, the Lyell team are drawn into the criminal underworld of notorious mafia-group, the ‘Ndrangheta’. Aided by the National Crime Agency (NCA), Nikki and the team set out to uncover the truth.

"As they descend deeper into the murky depths of the investigation, Nikki soon finds herself embroiled further and further in the mafia’s web."

What happened in episode one of Silent Witness season 26 episode one? 

When a man falls from an office block the questions is was he pushed? Or as Nikki puts it to Jack, “Did he jump or was he pushed, Miss Marple?” The pair, who are still very much in love, discover the National Crime Agency is interested in the dead body as there's links to a huge criminal Mafia-style gang. Cue a trip to a pig farm where the gang make a gruesome discovery about a missing officer. When Nikki discovers an SD card within a body, she worries what to do with it when she gets a threatening note saying she must destroy it or face the consequences...

What happened in episode two?

Wow, even by Silent Witness standards this a grim plot! The team search for evidence in liquified human remains. Lovely! With the Italian gang seemingly having eyes everywhere Nikki and Jack find themselves in grave danger. In an episode that has echoes of Line of Duty, they learn they can't trust anyone. 

Jack finds that at the heart of the story is a group of orphans and Nikki works out they are being wiped out one by one. Having survived an explosion, Nikki finds herself off the grid as she tries to put the final pieces of the puzzle together. It turns out that people are being killed because they know who the gang's high-profile asset is within the police. 

What happens in episode three?

Jack Ryder in Silent Witness season 26

Ex EastEnders star Jack Ryder in Silent Witness (Image credit: BBC)

Nikki, who seems in a cheery mood generally now she's with Jack, grimly jokes that the team is on "a day trip to Kent" as they are called to look into some dead bodies found in the back of a lorry. 

The police and Nikki's team believe the victims have been trafficked across Europe, but then they oddly discover no evidence that the lorry has crossed the continent. The survivors are rushed to the hospital, but are they all victims? Or is a trafficker among them? 

The trail takes the police to a young offenders hostel and EastEnders fans will notice that one of the workers there is played by none other than former star Jack Ryder, aka Jamie Mitchell.

The police rush to the hospital to apprehend a suspect, but the suspect has just fled which leads to a crazy chase...

What happened in episode four?

The team continues to try and work out who's good and who's bad in this complex story about human trafficking and drugs. It also addresses health tourism. Eventually, the team manages to work out the events that took place in the lorry. We also discover that Jack Ryder's hostel worker character far from helping was actually involved in the drug operation. We see him being led away towards the end of the episode. Meanwhile, Jack's niece says she plans to follow in his footsteps with or without his help. 

Is there a trailer?

Yes, one has dropped at last. And it looks like being a cracking series...

Now here's looking forward to Silent Witness season 27...

David Hollingsworth

David is the What To Watch Editor and has over 20 years of experience in television journalism. He is currently writing about the latest television and film news for What To Watch.

Before working for What To Watch, David spent many years working for TV Times magazine, interviewing some of television's most famous stars including Hollywood actor Kiefer Sutherland, singer Lionel Richie and wildlife legend Sir David Attenborough. 

David started out as a writer for TV Times before becoming the title's deputy features editor and then features editor. During his time on TV Times, David also helped run the annual TV Times Awards. David is a huge Death in Paradise fan, although he's still failed to solve a case before the show's detective! He also loves James Bond and controversially thinks that Timothy Dalton was an excellent 007.

Other than watching and writing about telly, David loves playing cricket, going to the cinema, trying to improve his tennis and chasing about after his kids!