Who plays Dr Charles Beck in Silent Witness, where have you seen the actor before and what happened to him in season 27?

We saw Dr Charles Beck in Silent Witness season 27's chilling opening storyline and you might wonder where you've seen the actor before

Charles Beck (JOHN HANNAH)
(Image credit: BBC Studios/Gary Moyes)

Fans saw Dr Charles Beck in Silent Witness season 27's opening episodes and his storyline took an emotionally intense turn. 

Ever since it first started Silent Witness has been keeping us guessing with plenty of twists and turns so it’s no surprise that even long-time fans are sometimes left with a few questions. From the backstory of Velvy Schur in Silent Witness to how main characters Dr Nikki Alexander and Jack Hodgson got together (finally!), there’s so many intriguing details surrounding our favourite characters. 

Sometimes the guest stars also spark confusion and fans might have been left wondering about Dr Charles Beck in Silent Witness season 27 when it started this month. He was introduced in the opening two-parter Effective Range and it’s all-too-easy to assume we’ve seen him before and wonder who plays him. 

*Warning: spoilers ahead*

Charles Beck (JOHN HANNAH) & Dr Nikki Alexander (EMILIA FOX)

(Image credit: BBC Studios/Gary Moyes)

Who plays Dr Charles Beck in Silent Witness? 

Every year Silent Witness outdoes itself with its guest cast members and the introduction of Dr Charles Beck in Silent Witness season 27 has really caught fans’ attention. The fictional retired pathologist is played by John Hannah in Silent Witness, marking the first time the acclaimed Scottish actor has appeared in the long-running BBC drama. 

Where have you seen John Hannah before Silent Witness? 

John Hannah might not have starred in Silent Witness before taking on the role of Dr Beck in Effective Range Parts 1 and 2 but he’s no stranger to British crime dramas. The actor has appeared in an episode of Agatha Christie’s Poirot, as well as Scottish-set shows, Rebus and Taggart.

Charles Beck (JOHN HANNAH)

(Image credit: BBC Studios/Kevin Baker)

John Hannah’s career has also featured several high profile movies including The Mummy and The Mummy Returns where he acted alongside Oscar-winners Rachel Weisz and Brendan Fraser. However, perhaps his best-known movie role - and role in general - was Matthew in the romantic classic Four Weddings and a Funeral. More recently John Hannah has starred in HBO’s The Last of Us as well as Black Mirror.

Will Dr Beck appear again in Silent Witness season 27? 

Sadly for anyone who loved John Hannah’s brilliant performance as Dr Charles Beck in Silent Witness, the character won’t be appearing in the rest of Silent Witness season 27. The character is a former pathologist-turned-forensic-botanist and whilst he made *quite* the impression in the opening episodes of the series his journey came to a rather dramatic end with his death in Effective Range Part 2. The team had approached Dr Beck after a missing serial killer, Calvin Dunn, appeared to be back and killing again.

Dr Beck had carried out the post mortems on the first four of Dunn’s victims and had helped the police by appearing in the media at the time. Tragically, Dr Beck’s wife Zoe then went missing - presumed kidnapped by Dunn to taunt the pathologist. Dr Beck spent the next 20 years telling the police that his wife’s body could be found in Fordham Reservoir but after they searched twice they gave up and left him to his theories and grief. 

At the end of Effective Range Part 1 Zoe’s body was finally found after the police searched again and after Dr Beck was briefly in the frame for killing his wife, it was proved that Dunn was behind Zoe’s murder. John Hannah’s time as Dr Charles Beck in Silent Witness came to an end in the closing stages of Part 2 when it was revealed that Dunn’s son Lee Dunn had been his father’s accomplice when he was a child.

Charles Beck (JOHN HANNAH)

(Image credit: BBC Studios/Gary Moyes)

Riddled with guilt and fear he’d used his position as an emergency responder to set up the body of a man who’d died as if Dunn had killed him. When this came out, the question of what happened to Dunn looked like it would remain unanswered but then Dr Nikki Alexander confronted Charles.

Dr Beck had been certain that the new crime hadn’t been committed by Dunn as he was dead, leading Nikki to suspect the pathologist had killed Dunn himself. He then walked away after making cryptic comments to an outhouse at his home where Nikki found Dunn locked in a cage.

It turned out that Dr Beck had been keeping his nemesis there since he intervened in Dunn’s last murder attempt. He’d initially kidnapped him to get him to say where Zoe was.

Charles Beck (JOHN HANNAH)Dr Nikki Alexander (EMILIA FOX)

(Image credit: BBC Studios/Kevin Baker)

“It took three years for him to start talking. After three more he had nothing left to say,” he told the pathologist. 

Having told Nikki that he was living with Alzheimer's earlier on, Beck told Nikki he believed one day he might forget Dunn was down here and told her to “take him” if she wanted to. He then locked her out and injected himself with drugs and died in front of her as she screamed in shock. With that, Dr Charles Beck’s time in Silent Witness came to a poignant end.  

Was Calvin Dunn in Silent Witness based on a real person? 

Alongside the matter of who played Dr Charles Beck in Silent Witness, many fans might also be intrigued about whether his nemesis Calvin Dunn (played by Leo Starr in episodes 1 and 2) was a real person or based on a real person. Thankfully, it’s understood that neither of these things are true and Dunn was entirely fictional, created for the Effective Range storyline.

Calvin Dunn in Silent Witness

(Image credit: BBC iPlayer)

This might come as a relief to many after watching the episodes which saw Dunn’s crimes laid out by DCI Ford who had worked on the original cases. As well as being a disturbing murderer, Dunn coerced his 8-year-old son into helping him with his crimes and giving him an alibi as well as killing birds and suspending them from a tree. He was last seen being taken to an ambulance and his fate remains unknown.

Silent Witness season 27 continues on Mondays and Tuesdays on BBC One at 9pm and episodes are also made available on Mondays on BBC iPlayer.

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Royal Editor with eight years experience working in publishing. Her specialist areas include the British Royal Family, ranging from protocol to outfits. Alongside putting her royal knowledge to good use, Emma knows all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV and more. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, Emma enjoys cooking, long walks and watching yet more crime dramas!