Alastair Michael plays Velvy Schur in Silent Witness

Silent Witness actor Alastair Michael – who plays Velvy Schur – began acting because of ‘confusing emotions’

Recognise him from Ridley Road?!

Actor Alastair Michael has returned as Velvy Schur in series 27 of of Silent Witness – and it looks like he’s here to stay…

Fans will know there has been a period of upheaval at the Lyell Centre over the past few years. Clarissa Mullery, Simone Tyler, Adam Yuen, and Dr Thomas Chamberlain all left the team, and even Sam Ryan popped up again for a bit!

In 2023, actor Alastair joined the cast as forensic assistant Velvy Schur in series 26. And he’s sticking around for series 27, and hopefully beyond because viewers have fallen for his gentle innocence.

Here’s everything you need to know about the character of Velvy, and the actor who plays him…

David Caves and Alastair Michael in character in Silent Witness
Alastair Michael as forensic assistant Velvy Schur, with David Caves’ character Jack (Credit: BBC/Kieron McCarron)

Who is Velvy Schur in Silent Witness?

Velvy Schur joined Lyell Centre as Anatomical Pathology Technologist (APT) trainee in 2023. And he came highly recommended, by none other than Clarissa Mullery.

We first met him at the start of series 26, when he joined Nikki (Emilia Fox) and Jack to investigate the death of a banker who fell – or was pushed – from a London skyscraper.

And the trail involved the Ndrangheta mafia – plus a close encounter with some pigs!

Viewers soon learnt that Velvy is very sweet and mild-mannered, and the first to admit he has a lot to learn. Although, at first, his relentless questions ruffled a few feathers, he’s now accepted as a fully-fledged member of the team.

We later learnt that Velvy had left an Orthodox Jewish community after disagreeing with their rigid ways. Sadly, this meant leaving his wife and kids – something he battles to come to terms with.

Who plays Velvy Schur? What else has Alastair Michael been in?

Actor Alastair Michael plays Velvy Schur in BBC forensic drama Silent Witness.

Fans of Ridley Road might recognise Alastair as Lionel, who appeared in the fourth episode of the BBC1 drama.

A relative newcomer, Alastair also played Smudger in three episodes of the 2017 series, Snatch.

Alastair is the artistic director and co-founder of Manchester-based Ransack Theatre. He trained as a producer on Liverpool’s Everyman and Playhouse Young Producers’ programme from 2016-17.

Landing the role of Velvy is his big TV break. However, he is very involved in theatre and stage work, and performed his one man show Catching Comets at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Alastair Michael in character as Velvy Schur in Silent Witness
Velvy is starting a new career and life (Credit: BBC/Dan Kennedy)

What is Velvy Schur like in Silent Witness?

Describing his character, Alastair explained: “We see Velvy is a naturally curious, inquisitive person. Growing up in the way he has, there’s little space for that.

“He brings an innocence, an honesty, which sometimes comes across as a mis-step. But it can offer the team at the Lyell a new perspective.”

In series 26, Velvy certainly put his foot in it when he asked Jack and Nikki if they’re about to kiss!

For Alastair, it was important to learn about the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, so he could understand Velvy. He added: “I knew a bit about the community, but there was an advisor on the show who has pretty much lived Velvy’s life. He left his family and children behind to explore how he wants to live.

“We met up and he showed me around where he grew up. I met friends of his who had left the community. There are loads of reasons why people leave. It was fascinating.”

One of Alastair’s favourite storylines was filmed at a festival – which Velvy attended for the first time! Alastair said: “When we shot the first scene at a festival, I forgot I was at work! I’m not an avid festival-goer but I have been to them – though not Glastonbury. I’ve never managed to get a ticket!”

Where is Alastair Michael from?

Alastair is currently based in Manchester.

He trained on Liverpool’s Everyman and Playhouse Young Producers programme between 2016 and 2017.

The main cast of Silent Witness series 27
Rhiannon May, Alastair Michael, Emilia Fox, David Caves, and Aki Omoshaybi return in Silent Witness series 27 (Credit: BBC Studios/Robert Wilson)

Is Alastair Micheal Jewish in real life?

Alastair Michael is Jewish in real life.

Talking to Tripwire Magazine in 2023, he said: “I am Jewish, but I grew up not being strongly connected to a Jewish community. Playing Velvy has given me a real opportunity to reconnect more deeply with my own sense of Jewishness. That’s something I’ll always remember.”

He added that speaking Yiddish was also new to him, saying: “I had to speak Yiddish, which wasn’t easy. But there is a Jewish advisor on the show who is brilliant. His own experience is very similar to Velvy. He was very useful for a great many things and one of those was translating scenes into Yiddish for us.”

Why and how did Silent Witness star Velvy Schur get into acting? 

Alastair admits he got into acting as a teenager at school. Talking to the Bespoke Black Book, he said: “Like most kids, I had a lot of confusing emotions that I didn’t really know how to articulate to anyone.

“Even when I did manage to express something, my range of emotional articulation was pretty narrow. So a lot of the time it was just anger. It was then that I started becoming interested in acting. It was an opportunity to navigate and express emotions which were sometimes relevant to me and sometimes not. But importantly doing it through another person and so it was at a safe distance.”

He added: “It inevitably gave me some tools to articulate what I was feeling. As for performances that have resonated with me, there have been plenty. But, in particular from when I was growing up, I watched Billy Elliot lots and thought Jamie Bell was awesome.”

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

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Silent Witness series 27 continues on Mondays and Tuesdays throughout January at 9pm on BBC One.

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