Silent Witness: Why that death had to happen as Jack is left crushed

Jack in Silent Witness

Jack headed to Belfast tonight as he discovered his father was seriously unwell (Pictures: BBC)

Emotional scenes in Silent Witness tonight saw Jack Hodgson (David Caves) say goodbye to his father, Conor (Richard Durden), and yes we are still crying thanks for asking.

As the anniversary series continued, Jack was forced to drop his work and leave for Belfast after discovering Conor had collapsed.

Upon arriving, Jack met Margaret (Frances Tomelty), an old friend of Conor’s.

During the conversation, Margaret revealed Conor’s heart condition was getting worse.

Her tone suggested Jack knew about Conor’s ill health but, as viewers are already aware, Conor isn’t a man who shows weakness – of course he didn’t tell Jack about his heart condition.

The episode wasn’t going to just be a case of Jack being by his father’s bedside for the full hour. Aware time was running out, Conor revealed some huge secrets about the Hodgsons’ past and someone we knew nothing about.

Jack in Silent Witness

In 2019, a story aired that saw Jack reveal how the Northern Ireland Troubles impacted his family (Picture: BBC)

Jack’s mum, Eleanor.

As we mentioned last week, we’ve learnt a bit about Jack’s life since his arrival in 2013.

In series 22, he told Clarissa (Liz Carr) that his Aunt Rosie was killed in a bombing during the Northern Ireland Troubles – which was mentioned again tonight due to Eleanor’s connection to paramilitaries and security forces.

At one point, while dangerously relaying information, Eleanor thought she was very close to a breakthrough, but because this happened around the same time as Aunt Rosie’s death, Conor wanted to take Jack and his brother, Ryan, overseas.

Too invested in her work, Eleanor didn’t want to leave, but when Conor found a device under his car, he took Jack and Ryan and left Eleanor.

With help from Margaret, Jack tracked down his mother, who was living in a care home after having a breakdown.

Margaret Silent Witness

Due to her friendship with Conor, Margaret knew a lot about Jack’s past (Picture: BBC)

Meeting his mother for the first time in years, Jack was understandably nervous, but when he realised Eleanor barely recognised him, he unleashed his anger.

Jack had a lot of questions. He wanted to know why his mother chose strangers over her family, he wanted to know whether she hated her children and perhaps most devastating of all, he told his mother it was easier to believe she was dead rather than wonder when she would be coming home.

The visit wasn’t a positive one, but when Jack arrived for his father’s final moments, he put on a smile and told him seeing his mother was good.

And so, we lose Conor, but we gain even more information and questions about Jack’s past. This opens up new avenues for Jack and the chance to explore whether he can ever rebuild a relationship with his mother. How does he tell Ryan and Cara? How does he navigate through life without his father and a mum who doesn’t even want to know him?

But also, as Producer Nick Lambon revealed in our recent chat, there is another reason why the Silent Witness team decided Conor should be killed off:

Jack and Cara in Silent Witness

Cara wondered why Jack wasn’t letting Nikki in (Picture: BBC)

‘Losing Conor seems to help Jack break down some barriers with Nikki. During this episode, he’s really started to be more open with her. In the past, Jack would have had a personal crisis and ran off, yeah? He would’ve pushed everyone away after going in and seeing himself as the tough guy. He starts to do that in this story but then he realises he actually needs someone, and the support of Nikki is much better than doing everything on his own, it’s much better to open up to her.

‘That makes sense, it’s much better to let her in than push her away because his family is all about them pushing each other away and being emotionally messed up!’

‘With Jack’s mother, I think that’s something that was just never mentioned ever since he arrived’, Nick continued.

‘It was really interesting because we spoke to David and he always thought that Jack’s mother was dead, we just didn’t know anything about her. We spent a while on that script and tried to work out why Eleanor had never been mentioned, does the audience think the same as Jack? What’s the real truth of it?’

Teasing what’s ahead for Jack in the penultimate episode (yes, only 6 this series), Nick told us:

‘Episode 5 has a bit of a father and son theme as we explore more of the same characters from the start of the series. We drop Jack right into that, literally having just lost his father and trying to come to terms with it all. From the very start, you can see that Jack is thinking about everything and trying to process what’s just happened.’

Jack in Silent Witness

Nick tells us how Jack copes following his father’s death (Picture: BBC)

Ahead of the final two episodes, we have been left with more questions regarding the arc involving Sam (Amanda Burton), Jomo (Hugh Quarshie), and the Health Secretary’s death.

It’s been plot twist after plot twist so far but as Nick explains, there’s still loads more to come as we finally discover what Sam Ryan is really up to.

‘In episode 5, everything pre titles is Sam. The last two episodes take us back to the characters we met in episodes 1 and 2, but very quickly the story for Nikki, becomes about Sam.

‘Nikki realises Sam is the key to this, she must understand what Sam understands and then she’ll be able to solve all the rest of the madness going on around her. She realises Sam knows an answer that might be able to get us to the other answers.’

Nick laughs: ‘It’s been wonderful to see Nikki struggling with something she doesn’t understand and can’t do herself! I think she’s frustrated by that, and she is pushing herself.

‘There are twists and further developments in episode 5 where you suddenly go “oh, it’s all about Nikki and Sam”, and you know if they can get into a room on their own, where they can be totally honest with each other, everything will be resolved.’

Silent Witness continues next Monday, 9pm, BBC One

Read part 5 of our interview with producer Nick straight after next week’s episode.


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