At the end of the first episode of this week’s Silent Witness two-parter, it looked almost certain that we might have to wave goodbye to key character Dr Jack Hodgson (David Caves) – as we left him battling for his life after exposure to an unidentified nerve agent.
But it turns out the writers had a major surprise up their sleeves, as although a major character was killed off in the series finale, it wasn’t Jack.
Instead it was Thomas Chamberlain (Richard Lintern) who tragically passed away as he heroically managed to find an antidote to the nerve agent – saving Jack’s life in the process.
Thomas had discovered an intact vial of the nerve agent shoved down the throat of dead scientist Katherine Duke as he carried out an autopsy, and although protocol dictated that he should send it to Porton Down for analysis by the MOD, in this case there simply wasn’t enough time.
So instead, Thomas took matter into his own hands – suiting up in an isolation outfit, shutting off the ventilation, and unscrewing the vial to take a sample, running it through his machine to work out what it is.
But while taking the sample Thomas discovers that this is a special, previously unknown kind of nerve agent that has penetrated the charcoal in his protective face mask – and that his life is subsequently now in danger.
In an incredibly tense scene, Thomas works out what the chemical composition of the nerve agent is just before he dies, resulting in his team being able to provide an antidote for Jack and save his life.
If there’s a more tragically heroic way to leave a series, we certainly can’t think of one!
During filming, Lintern had warned that the nerve agent storyline would spell danger for the team, but even though we knew that trouble was coming, saying goodbye to such a major character will undoubtedly still come as a major shock for fans.
Lintern has been part of the Silent Witness cast since 2014, joining in the 17th series as a replacement for William Gaminara, whose character Leo Dalton was also killed off.
Series 23 of Silent Witness also saw another long-serving cast member Liz Carr depart the series after seven years playing Clarissa Mullery.
On the the departure of the two series regulars, executive producer Richard Stokes said: “Liz and Richard, in their individual and brilliant ways, brought so much to Silent Witness. They have been much loved characters and will be missed by us all at The Lyell.”