We've seen unusual murders galore on Silent Witness, but one of the most striking involves a jockey crushed to death by his own horse. Accident or foul play? That's where the Silent Witness experts come in, but it isn't actually the gory death itself that makes this such a landmark moment in the series. It is, in fact, an HR-related matter, because this case heralds the debut of Dr Nikki Alexander. She doesn't exactly make the ideal first impression on Leo, who's miffed at her irreverent behaviour in the mortuary, but pretty soon Nikki proves her worth as more bodies pile up and they enter the dark side of the racing world.
Here's a case with an unusual set-up, because it begins with Leo himself falling foul of the law. His crime: drink driving. His punishment: community service in a violent housing estate, where he's immediately regarded as a suspicious outsider by the mainly black and disenfranchised residents. As this is Silent Witness and not a kitchen sink drama, it isn't long before there are bodies to deal with - including a teenage girl who is brutally attacked at a funfair. Leo finds himself entrenched in the trigger-happy diplomacy of gang warfare on the streets of South London, in a case that may well spiral into yet more bloody violence.
Could this be the single most heart-pounding case ever tackled by the team? It sees Nikki and Harry trapped inside a university building as someone goes on the rampage with a gun, firing rounds with terrifying zeal as students flee in fear. The scenes here have a brutal immediacy, and there's a real emotional impact in seeing two of our favourite characters cowering and panic-stricken in the face of psychopathic fury. What makes the case all the more engrossing is the backstory of the shooter, and the slowly unfolding realisation that the gun attack is just the tip of the iceberg...
Leaving the glass and concrete sprawl of London far behind, this striking case instead unfolds in an unlikely context: Zambia. The team have been flown to this sun-scorched realm to investigate the apparent death of an aid worker whose bones have finally turned up. It's not long before they realise the Zambian police can be every bit as awkward and uncooperative as the plods back home, and that's after they fend off frightening bandits. Analysis of the aid worker's remains uncovers a shocking revelation, another murder takes place, and Nikki herself soon finds herself under arrest. No ordinary case, then, in more ways than one.
Here's another case that takes the gang abroad - this time to picturesque Budapest. But Harry isn't here to admire the architecture: there's the death of a prostitute to unravel. Things then take a shockingly personal turn when someone close to Harry is murdered, and he is forced to go on the run. What makes this case so special isn't just the Le Carré-like intrigue (think shady diplomats and winding European streets), but also the sheer adrenaline-fuelled danger which just doesn't let up. And when Harry's body is apparently found, dead and set alight, it's a moment no Silent Witness fan will ever forget.
A formidable team of armed coppers mount a violent raid on a suspected terrorist cell in a North London street - and then everything goes badly wrong. One of the officers is shot dead, along with two of the suspected terrorists. Already this is no ordinary case for Nikki and co, but things then take a salacious turn when it's revealed one of the members of the police team has been having an affair with the dead copper's wife. And there's the thorny issue of why there's a distinct lack of bomb-making materials or weapons at the supposed cell's stronghold. Police corruption? Crimes of passion? All bets are off in this one.