Silent Witness fans and disability rights activists have come to the defence of the long-running BBC crime drama after criticism was levelled at this week’s two-parter, which featured a storyline about care home abuse.
Viewers had criticised the show’s writers after Monday’s episode which saw Clarissa, played by disabled actress Liz Carr, delving into the suspicious deaths of a number of people living in a care home, calling it “badly written” and “unrealistic”.
However, after the two-part story had concluded on Tuesday night, many others, including disabled broadcaster and journalist Mik Scarlet, leapt to the show’s defence.
“So happy to see so much praise for this week’s #SilentWitness following yesterday’s wave of disgust,” Mik wrote on Twitter. “Proves you need to watch both parts of a two parter to judge. Also very glad the disabled cast, esp @theLizCarr, is getting the kudos they deserve.”
So happy to see so much praise for this weeks #SilentWitness following yesterday's wave of disgust. Proves you need to watch both parts if a two parter to judge. Also very glad the Disabled cast, esp @thelizcarr, is getting the kudos they deserve. Tough roles to play too.— Mik Scarlet (@MikScarlet) January 31, 2018
Tuesday’s conclusion saw Clarissa go undercover to investigate the care home, where she was subjected to harrowing abuse from worker Conor Flannery (Charlie Creed-Miles).
After the episode aired, tweets of praise heavily outweighed the dissenting voices, with many fans congratulating the show’s writers for depicting such a difficult, under-represented subject on TV. Check out some of the reaction below:
@thelizcarr @EmiliaFox @BBCOne #SilentWitness Just Brilliant 2 parter, moving, gripping and shines a light on a difficult issue. Acting was superb. Everyone was right there with you, heartbreaking but fantastic.
— Karen (@Kas2791) January 31, 2018
People talking #SilentWitness has to be positive more stories breaking down barriers great acting produced great television viewing credit to all concerned
— richard (@richardba16) January 31, 2018
Just because you found #SilentWitness unrealistic doesn't mean these kind of things don't happen.— ʚElɞ ✧･ﾟ (@EllexMay) January 31, 2018
Absolutely spot on!— Alex broderick 👩🔬🙋♀️💪 (@alexbrod) January 31, 2018
Sadly it's the case in today's society. Unfortunately it's the attitudes from the society that disables us not ourselves.
Absolutely brilliant show, credit to you @thelizcarr and the writers of Silent Witness. Glad you made people sit up and think
Uncomfortable viewing maybe, but hats off to #SilentWitness on highlighting such important issues many disabled and unwell people sadly face in society. It's rarely portrayed on TV.— Chris Watson (@ChrisAWatson_) January 31, 2018
@BBC 'Silent Witness' outstanding drama on BBC latest story was extraordinary on so many levels dealing with today's issues dramatically.
— Thomas Rooney (@thomashrooney) January 31, 2018
As a disabled person, this is the most relatable television episode I have ever seen to my experiences as a disabled person… things felt very relatable to Clarissa, for me.#SilentWitness— Dominick Evans (@dominickevans) January 31, 2018
#silent witness 😭Heaertbreaking and Beautiful. @thelizcarr performance was oustanding. The story line sadly very realistic. Thank you to everyone who worked on these episodes. Hopefully opening peoples eyes to the injustice that exists for people with a disability.— Leanna (@TheReal_Leanna) January 31, 2018
Unfortunately a storyline highlighting intolerance, discrimination & abuse will include disturbing stigmatisation through language & actions. Sanitising the issue protects our sensibilities but downplays abuse experienced by people with disabilities in our society #silentwitness— Megan Kerr (@MegDeeBee) January 31, 2018
Wow. @thelizcarr I don't know what to say. I've written & rewritten this tweet rather than sleep after a poignant ep of #SilentWitness I work with people who have disabilities & I cannot thank the writers enough for this wonderful story, & praise the incredible actors! More.. 1.
— Nicola Cheeseman (@nicolaonfire) January 31, 2018
Just wanted say that the depiction of care homes, and the views people had of the disabled (that they're lesser, take up resources so should die, life isn't meaningful etc) in #SilentWitness were very, very real, and this reality is disgusting.— Anthony Valentine (@AVN__21) January 31, 2018
There was particular praise reserved for Liz Carr, who thanked followers on Twitter for sharing their own stories of abuse. “I’m thankful you felt you could open up about it in light of a storyline that is personal and painful for many,” she said.
If you watched #SilentWitness last night & have sent a message privately or here to share your own experience of abuse, I'm thankful you felt you could open up about it in light of a storyline which is personal & painful for many. One person sent me this https://t.co/PH8yQgxzcJ x— Liz Carr (@thelizcarr) January 30, 2018
Very mixed feelings having watched #SilentWitness over the last two nights. Thought the ending on Monday night was ridiculous, but thought @thelizcarr 's performance in last night's episode was incredible. pic.twitter.com/FuM4vR4E57— Anthony Hesse (@PropPersonnel) January 31, 2018
Congrats to Silent Witness in giving the excellent Liz Carr’s character lead status.— Stephen Volk (@Stevevolkwriter) January 31, 2018
— Chelsea Reay (@misschelseabun) January 31, 2018
On Monday, ahead of the airing of the two-parter, disability charity Scope published a blog which praised the series for shining “a light on a variety of issues that disabled people face”.
The charity’s helpline had been consulted on the script during the writing process.
Silent Witness returns on Monday 4th February at 9pm on BBC1