Amanda Burton's performance as Professor Sam Ryan in Silent Witness is a one few fans will forget, but with the 25th anniversary year looming could we see her make a dramatic return?
Amanda Burton steered the highly successful ship that is Silent Witness from it’s first episode in 1996 until her departure from the hit series in 2004. Her character Professor Samantha ‘Sam’ Ryan remains a much-loved show favourite and there’s good news for fans as it’s now been confirmed that Amanda will be returning for Silent Witness 2022.
She’s expected to be joining the Silent Witness 2021 cast members Emilia Fox, (Dr Nikki Alexander), David Caves (forensic specialist Jack Hodgson) and Genesis Lynea (Simone Tyler) for this momentous occasion. And after over a decade away from the Lyell Centre, viewers will likely be fascinated to learn just how Sam might've changed in the years since we've last seen her.
But when is Amanda Burton returning to Silent Witness and what does the season 24 finale suggest about what is to come?
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Who does Amanda Burton play in Silent Witness?
For many long-term Silent Witness fans it’s Amanda Burton who will be their earliest favorite character from the hit show, as it was her character Professor Samantha Ryan who anchored the series from it’s debut to season 8. The talented pathologist, who hailed from Northern Ireland, was the primary cast member and in a dramatic change from the current Lyell Centre setting for the show, she was initially based in Cambridge.
It was here that Sam ran a private morgue, before moving to London in series 4 after she was offered a position as Professor at a university and became the head of the Lyell Centre. During her time on the show, Sam formed close relationships with her on-screen colleagues Professor Leo Dalton and Dr Harry Cunningham.
Though the experienced pathologist ended up leaving the Lyell Centre in the first episode of season 8, after her son, Joe Galvin, became embroiled in a case they were investigating. In the two-parter entitled A Time To Heal, viewers saw Sam return to Northern Ireland on the case and ultimately made the decision to remain there and spend time with her family after the investigation was eventually solved.
When does Sam Ryan return to Silent Witness?
Sam Ryan is set to return to Silent Witness in season 25. Sadly for fans, the dramatic final episode of season 24 is the last they'll see of our favorite regular characters, Dr Nikki Alexander, Jack Hodgson and the newly-introduced Simone Tyler, for quite some time until Silent Witness is back on our screens with the next season.
However, it seems that the wait for season 25, which will air in the hit BBC drama’s 25th anniversary year, will be well worth it. The BBC have now made the seriously exciting announcement that Amanda Burton will be making a triumphant return to Silent Witness, over a decade after Sam Ryan left the show.
The 25th anniversary series of Silent Witness will be broadcast in 2022 and Amanda has already shared her excitement at the prospect of showing viewers just how far Sam Ryan has come over the past 17 years.
Opening up about her return to the long-running drama, Amanda declared, “I am so excited to be returning to Silent Witness and stepping back into Sam Ryan’s shoes - with a difference! Audiences can look forward to plenty of twists and turns as they discover what Sam’s been doing since leaving the Lyell.”
And her co-stars are equally eager to welcome her back to the Silent Witness family. Emilia Fox, who made her debut in the show in season 8 as Amanda left, has expressed her belief that this is the perfect way to honour such a significant anniversary.
“It is such a delight and thrill to be working with Amanda. To have Sam Ryan back again at the heart of the show is the greatest way of all to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Silent Witness,” Emilia shared.
Whilst Lawrence Till, Executive Producer, BBC Studios Production, is just as thrilled that Amanda will be once again taking up the mantle as Sam Ryan.
He said, “I am delighted that Amanda agreed to return to Silent Witness for its Silver Anniversary. Silent Witness has a large and loyal audience and remains as popular as it has ever been with audiences regularly consolidating at over six million viewers.
Lawrence also shared a possible hint about the upcoming Silent Witness season 25, revealing that Sam will be “at the centre” of the show again for an extended story.
“It is fantastic to have Sam Ryan at the centre of the series again alongside our other Lyell characters for a monumental story told in six parts,” he explained.
What does the Silent Witness 2021 ending tell us about the next series?
Thankfully for fans already eagerly anticipating Silent Witness season 25, the Silent Witness 2021 ending dropped several clues about what could lie in store for the next series. The finale of season 24 saw Nikki and Jack making major progress in their personal relationship. After years of will-they-won’t-they back and forth between the two, fans finally got their wish to see them share a much-anticipated kiss.
This came after Nikki’s relationship with her Washington-based boyfriend Matt Garcia had come to an end, as revealed by her postgraduate pathology student Ollie after he was confronted by Jack. Ollie and Nikki had spent the previous night together after the charismatic student invited her to attend a Halloween party.
However, upon waking up and answering a call from Jack’s worried father Connor, Nikki’s mind was soon back on her friend. Joining forces with police and the army to make it through horrendous flooding to reach the building where Jack, their colleague Simone and the residents of a care home they had been looking into had taken refuge, Nikki is delightedly reunited with Jack.
It’s following this that the two share their first kiss and though it went unacknowledged by both of them afterwards, Jack was clearly hurt to hear Ollie in the background on a voicemail Nikki had sent to him the evening before.
After Jack confronts Ollie in dramatic style and raises concerns about Nikki losing her job, it’s Nikki herself who ends things with the postgraduate and Ollie questions whether her feelings for someone else could have influenced her decision.
Though Nikki didn’t give him or the viewers at home an answer, in the final moments of the episode after the case was solved, Jack returned home to find her lying on his sofa. The two grasp hands and look meaningfully into each other’s eyes as the credits start to roll, likely leaving many cheering at their screens and hoping for more.
It might of course be that Silent Witness chooses to pick up in 2022 with an entirely different direction and with Jack and Nikki having decided to remain friends. Though the way season 24 ended certainly seems to suggest that fans could tune in next year to find them embarking on a romantic relationship and negotiating what that means for them in their careers too.
When is Silent Witness coming back?
Silent Witness is due to come back in 2022, though the exact release date has not yet been confirmed. Previous seasons have typically been released in January each year, though Silent Witness 2021 was an exception due to the Covid-19 pandemic and it instead premiered in September.
But with news of Amanda Burton’s return and possible romance between Nikki and Jack playing out around the new investigations, fans are no doubt already looking forward to Silent Witness’ 25th anniversary series.
Until then, we'll just have to catch up on all Silent Witness' spellbinding seasons on BBC iPlayer.
Emma is a Senior Lifestyle Writer with five years experience working in digital publishing, ranging from book publishing to magazines. She currently looks after all things Lifestyle for Woman&Home, GoodToKnow and My Imperfect Life.
Before she joined Future Publishing, Emma graduated from the University of Warwick with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Comparative Literary Studies. After leaving education, she started out her publishing career in the world of books, working as a Publisher for an independent digital publisher specializing in back-list and debut commercial fiction novels. With a huge book list and a passion for bringing the best stories to the broadest audience possible, Emma filled her spare time with reading the latest best-sellers and catching up on hit adaptations.
In 2017 she joined TI Media as a fiction writing coordinator on Woman’s Weekly and Woman’s Weekly Fiction as part of the features team. From here, she used her love of books, working to bring short stories to our dedicated readers and began writing for the books pages of Woman, Woman’s Own and Woman&Home, as well as online features ranging from genre round-ups to travel pieces for womanandhome.com.
After honing her skills, Emma branched out online in 2020 when Future gave her the opportunity to focus on digital-first. When she’s not writing about the next big lifestyle trend, she enjoys cooking, long walks and watching as many crime dramas as she can!
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