Silent Witness best guest stars

Silent Witness: All the huge names that started out in the BBC One drama

Benedict Cumberbatch, Idris Elba and Jodie Comer all starred!

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Silent Witness isn’t just the longest running TV crime drama series, it’s also starred some of the most famous faces in showbiz – so which actors have been the best guest stars in its history?

Some seriously A-list actors started their careers on the BBC One forensic series. And you probably didn’t even realise it… Here’s a rundown of some of the best guest stars to appear in Silent Witness so far…

Which ones can you remember?

Emily Mortimer guest starred in Silent Witness
Emily Mortimer guest starred in Silent Witness (Credit: BBC/YouTube)

Silent Witness best guest stars: Emily Mortimer as Fran

Emily Mortimer, now 52, appeared in the first ever series of Silent Witness. She starred as Fran in the two-part episode Long Days, Short Nights in 1996.

Actress Emily is the daughter of famous writer Sir John Mortimer, who created the character of Horace Rumpole in Rumpole of the Bailey… So you could say crime dramas are in Emily’s blood.

Emily is now one of the UK’s leading actresses, across TV, film and theatre. She played Jane Banks in Mary Poppins Returns, Angelina Tyler in Scream 3, and Dakota Parker in The 51st State.

Her most famous TV roles include Phoebe in 30 Rock, MacKenzie McHale in The Newsroom, and Emily in Doll & Em. Most recently, she starred as Sharon in Don’t Look Deeper, and The Bolter in The Pursuit of Love. She’ll soon play

Idris Elba guest stars in Silent Witness
Idris Elba guest starred in Silent Witness episode Blood, Sweat and Tears in 1997 (Credit: BBC One)

Idris Elba guest starred in Silent Witness as Charlie

Actor Idris Elba played Charlie in season two of Silent Witness. He appeared in episode two of the series in 1997 entitled Blood, Sweat and Tears. This was when Idris was a jobbing actor trying to make it big.

After starring in Silent Witness, he went on to bag a role in Channel 5 soap Family Affairs as Tim Webster. He then starred in Ultraviolet, Dangerfield, CSI: Miami, and The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, before he won the life-changing role of Russell ‘Stringer Bell’ in The Wire. After that, the offers came flooding in.

The 51-year-old has since starred as Mumbles in RocknRolla, Charles Miner in The Office, and Stacker Pentecost in Pacific Rim. Most recently, he played Sam Nelson in the Apple TV+ series Hijack.

Of course, his most famous roles are Nelson Mandela in The Long Walk to Freedom, Heimdall in the Marvel Thor franchise, and DCI John Luther in the TV series Luther.

Nicholas Hoult in Silent Witness
Nicholas Hoult as Tom Evans in Silent Witness (Credit: BBC One)

Silent Witness best guest stars: Nicholas Hoult as Tom Evans

A young Nicholas Hoult guest starred in Silent Witness when he was just a cherubic school boy. The actor, now 34, appeared as Tom Evans in season three episode one entitled An Academic Exercise.

He was just nine years old when he made his appearance in the BBC drama – and we think his cute bowl cut stole the show! The child actor famously went on to star as Marcus Brewer in the British film About a Boy in 2002 opposite Hugh Grant.

Nicholas has since played Blake in Kidulthood, Tony in Skins, and Eusebios in Clash of the Titans. Arguably, his most successful role to date is that of Hank / Beast in the X: Men franchise.

But he’s also starred as Nux in Mad Max: Fury Road, Harley in the Oscar-winning The Favourite, and J.R.R. Tolkien in Tolkien. More recently, he’s played Tyler in thriller/horror The Menu, and Renfield in the film of the same name opposite Nicholas Cage.

Nicholas continues to play Pugachev in The Great, a role he’s portrayed ever since 2020.

Benedict Cumberbatch in Silent Witness
Benedict Cumberbatch as Warren Reid in Silent Witness (Credit: BBC One)

Benedict Cumberbatch as Warren Reid

Actor Benedict Cumberbatch starred as Warren Reid in season six of Silent Witness. He appeared in episode six of the series, entitled Tell No Tales.

Benedict, now 47, was a relative newbie when he starred in the BBC series. In fact, it was only his third TV role!

Of course, Benedict went on to appear as Stephen Hawking in the TV movie Hawking, William Carey in The Other Boleyn Girl, and Peter Guillam in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

In 2011, he played Maj. Jamie Stewart in the film War Horse, and a year later he played Necromancer in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. He’s since starred in 12 Years a Slave, The Fifth Estate, The Imitation Game, and Zoolander, among many others.

Marvel fans will know him as Dr Steve Strange in the franchise, and he’s also famous for playing Sherlock Holmes in the popular BBC series.

In 2022, Benedict was nominated for an Oscar for his performance as Phil Burbank in the Netflix movie The Power of the Dog.

Daniel Kaluuya in Silent Witness
Daniel Kaluuya as Errol Harris in Silent Witness (Credit: BBC/YouTube)

Silent Witness best guest stars: Daniel Kaluuya

Daniel Kaluuya, 34, guest starred as Errol Harris in Silent Witness season 12. He appeared as a graffiti artist in episode one of the series entitled Safe in 2008.

This was around the same time he played Posh Kenneth in the Channel 4 series Skins. After roles in Psychoville, Babylon, The Fades and Black Mirror, Daniel went on to star in the hugely successful horror movie Get Out.

There’s no stopping him since then – huge roles have followed in Black Panther, Queen & Slim, and Judas and the Black Messiah. More recently, Daniel portrayed OJ Haywood in Nope.

He has deservedly won an Academy Award, two BAFTA Awards, and a Golden Globe Award. In 2021, he was named among the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine.

Jodie Comer in Silent Witness
Jodie Comer as Eve Gilston in Silent Witness (Credit: BBC One)

Silent Witness best guest stars: Jodie Comer

Jodie Comer, 30, guest starred as Eve Gilston in season 15 of Silent Witness. She appeared in episode nine of the series, entitled Fear. It was one of her first ever screen roles.

Previously, she’d played small parts in The Royal Today, Holby City, Waterloo Road, Justice and Doctors. After starring in Silent Witness, Jodie appeared in a number of TV dramas before winning the significant role as Chloe in My Mad Fat Diary.

Roles in Thirteen, Rillington Palace and The White Princess followed, until her career-changing performance as Kate Parks in Doctor Foster.

She’s now best known for playing Villanelle in Killing Eve, Sarah in Help, and Millie in Free Guy.

Daisy Ridley as a corpse in Silent Witness
Daisy Ridley as a corpse in Silent Witness (Credit: BBC One/YouTube)

Silent Witness best guest stars: Daisy Ridley

Daisy Ridley, 31, gave a lifeless performance in the BBC drama in 2014. And we’re not being unkind about her acting as she was actually playing a corpse!

Actress Daisy played Hannah Green in the episodes entitled Fraternity. The body of teenager Katie Bowman was found dumped in an open grave during the episode.

DI Carter suspected Ryan Kelvin, boyfriend of Lizzie Kennedy, whose daughter Hannah was Katie’s best friend. He argued with the deceased girl the day she died and had no alibi.

Silent Witness fans know that Ryan is also Jack’s half-brother, who recently re-appeared again.

Just a year after appearing in Silent Witness, Daisy won the huge role of Rey in Star Wars.

She’s since played Miss Mary Debenham in Murder on the Orient Express, and Kate in The Bubble. More recently, Daisy has portrayed revenge-seeking Helene in the thriller The Marsh King’s Daughter.

Martin Compston in Silent Witness
A baby-faced Martin Compston starred as DS Jason Ross in Silent Witness in 2014 (Credit: BBC One)

Who else has guest starred in BBC drama?

Silent Witness has dozens of other amazing guest stars in its archive. These include comedian Jack Dee, St. Trinian’s actress Tamsin Egerton, and McDonald & Dodd’s actor Jason Watkins.

Martin Compston also appeared as DS Jason Ross in 2014 – just after finding fame as DS Arnott in Line of Duty.

British actors Anthony Head, Philip Glenister, Andrew Sachs, Russell Tovey, Larry Lamb, Ian Puleston-Davies, and Mark Benson have also popped up in episodes.

EastEnders’ Jake Wood starred as Karl Benson in 2002, while Agatha Raisin actress Ashley Jensen guest starred in 2003 as DI Becky Metcalf.

The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe actor Eddie Marsan has also appeared in the BBC crime drama, as has Rory Kinnear, Burt Kwouk, Gary Lewis, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Mark Womack, and James Cosmo.

Peaky Blinders star Paul Anderson, Game of Thrones’ Michelle Fairley, and Miranda’s Tom Ellis also cut their teeth on Silent Witness!

Read more: Silent Witness fans beg BBC to save show with Clarissa comeback

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All past series of Silent Witness are currently available to watch on BBC iPlayer. Series 27 is currently airing on Monday and Tuesday nights at 9pm on BBC One.

Do you remember any of these amazing guest performances in Silent Witness? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page @EntertainmentDailyFix.

Helen Fear
TV Editor