Tom Faulkner in Silent Witness is connected to two main characters in the hit BBC show and his storyline is far more heart-wrenching than first imagined.
For Silent Witness fans the return of the show for the 25th anniversary season couldn’t come quick enough - especially after the dramatic finale of Silent Witness 2021. Now the long-running hit BBC crime drama is back and for anyone wondering whether Amanda Burton would return to Silent Witness as Professor Sam Ryan, they’ve finally got their answer. She called in Dr Nikki Alexander and the team after the fictional Health Secretary Alice Reynolds was fatally shot.
Delving into the evidence, a DNA match came back to Tom Faulkner and as his past with Nikki was revealed, our understanding of her character was forever changed.
But who is Tom Faulkner in Silent Witness, have we seen him before and what is his shocking connection to Nikki Alexander?
*Warning: Spoilers for Silent Witness History ahead*
Who is Tom Faulkner in Silent Witness?
As all long-time fans of Silent Witness will already know, when Dr Nikki Alexander (Emilia Fox) gets too involved in a case, she can sometimes veer away from strictly following procedure. Now the same has happened again with the elusive Tom Faulkner in Silent Witness, who is revealed to be a private security officer who once served in the military.
We’ve seen Nikki acting not strictly by-the-book last season when she didn’t immediately declare her connection to suspect Scott Weston who appeared in Silent Witness Shadows. And who could forget her trying to make the truth surrounding the late Professor Thomas Chamberlain’s death known despite a military cover-up?
And in the very first episode of Silent Witness season 25,Tom Faulkner's DNA was found on the bullet Nikki, Jack Hodgson and Dr Simone Tyler discovered and which the police originally missed. From the moment his face came up on her screen, Nikki’s demeanour changed and she lied that there was no match on the database.
It was only as the Silent Witness season 25 premiere episode drew to a close that we learned from Professor Sam Ryan that Tom Faulkner is a former member of the Armed Forces. Since retiring he began working as a private security officer - something which creates a double connection to the investigation into Alice Reynolds' murder and the wounding of Sam’s husband Jomo Mashaba.
The two suspects were identified by facial recognition as having similarities to a pair thought to have been involved in the murder of a politician years before.
Sam had flown out to Stockholm to do the UN post mortem of the politician and she later told Nikki and Jack that Tom accompanied her “unofficially” as security. When Jack asks who Tom is, to which Nikki replies simply, “Someone we both used to know”.
Silent Witness Producer Nick Lambon has now explained during an enlightening interview with Metro.co.uk (opens in new tab) that Sam and Tom used to be colleagues but that their relationship was later fractured.
“Tom and Sam are two people who used to be very close, they used to work together and then they had a falling out”, he said.
In the second installment of the enigmatically-titled episode, History, “falling out” is revealed to be somewhat of an understatement as it turns out he was fired from the UN for allegedly beating a Russian prisoner involved in influencing elections.
Tom had also claimed Jomo and Sam attempted to secure funding for their controversial health passporting service whilst they were still working for the UN and that these anonymous financial backers were dubious. It’s clear Sam isn’t willing to forgive or forget and she tells Nikki that Tom isn't either.
But whilst the matter of who Tom Faulkner is more generally and how he’s linked to the complex case and to Sam is intriguing, it’s his connection to Nikki in Silent Witness that likely shocked fans to the core.
Who is Tom Faulkner to Nikki in Silent Witness?
In History Part 2 Nikki was forced to admit that Tom Faulkner is her ex-husband. Jack’s reaction perhaps mirrored that of many fans as he was left almost speechless by the revelation and Nikki headed outside for air.
Confronting her later, Jack finally hears the full truth from Nikki about her marriage to Tom, whom she reveals she was only with for a year when she was 20. In a heartbreaking turn of events, the pathologist confided in her friend/love interest that she’d been expecting a baby with Tom, only to experience a stillbirth.
“I spent my 21st birthday in hospital,” Nikki told Jack, before opening up about her intense guilt over the way she walked away from Tom. Whilst she knew instantly that the loss of their child meant the loss of their relationship, Tom didn’t feel the same and was left devastated.
Though thankful Nikki finally told him, Jack was upset that she hadn't trusted him enough to tell him sooner despite him sharing equally “shameful” truths with her about his brother Ryan, who was released from prison last season. Nikki also felt guilt over dragging Jack into her mess as she held fast to her belief that her ex-husband was a “good person”.
Going on to join forces, Nikki and Tom came to the realization that someone was likely framing him with fabricated blood samples. Though how and where they got hold of his DNA or the money to fund such an elaborate frame-up is beyond them.
They visited the crime scene of the death of journalist Dan Clements and discovered camera footage of the suspects seemingly planting Tom's blood under Dan's nails. However, knowing it was going to be near impossible to disprove the old phrase, DNA doesn’t lie, both Nikki and Jack allow Tom to escape before being arrested.
Continuing to champion Tom's innocence behind-the-scenes, Episode 3 saw Nikki go on to run every test imaginable on phials of blood recovered from the suspects, believed by the authorities to have been in league with her ex-husband. The assassins were killed in Episode 2, though the mystery of the DNA fabrication isn't solved yet as Sam's potential involvement is teased even more...
Have we seen Tom Falkner in Silent Witness before?
Very appropriately for a storyline entitled History, there certainly was a lot of history to be revealed surrounding Nikki, Sam and Tom Faulkner in Silent Witness season 25, though we haven’t actually seen Tom in the show before. Played by Manhunt The Night Stalker star Matthew Gravelle, the character returned in episode 3 and lurked somewhat mysteriously in the dark in Sam Ryan's home, waiting to talk with her after dropping her an urgent text.
And although no long-time fans will want to imagine that Sam's involved in any way, her reaction to his re-appearance placed her loyalty to Tom and his current allies Nikki and Jack in serious doubt.
Episode 2 saw Sam secretly steal one of the recovered phials from the Lyell Center during a visit to Nikki. In the next instalment, Tom confronted his former colleague directly about the phial at her house, desperately asking, "Please tell me you're not involved in this?"
But Sam wasn't giving anything away as she held out her hand for it to be returned to her and simply pleaded with him to trust her. Insisting he leave her house at once, Sam told Tom to meet her at "[her] apartment" at 9pm another day, telling him she's "on [his] side".
And whilst Tom Faulkner in Silent Witness isn't presented as an especially trusting character, his loyalty to Sam seemed to be rather misplaced when he turned up to the meeting only to be arrested on the street by armed officers. Watching from a window above, Sam showed little emotion as Tom was taken away, with the suggestion being that she tipped the police off about him.
So it seems pretty certain that Sam is hiding something, but whether she's genuinely acting against Tom or whether this was an unavoidable step whilst she tries to get to the bottom of things remains a mystery. Nikki has already questioned Sam over her mystery financial backers and whether they want "their pound of flesh" now.
The Professor brushed off the question easily enough, but it planted a seed of doubt about who is really in charge here and whether she could be being manoeuvred to frame Tom Faulkner in Silent Witness. And her unknown motivation is something Nick Lambon hinted at to Metro.co.uk (opens in new tab).
“There will be some purists out there who will be screaming on Twitter at how Sam is during this series! Yes, she’s always had that moral compass but also, just like Nikki, Sam has tunnel vision and always wants to get the answers to something, and I think that was something we were really aware of when writing Sam,” he said.
“I think Sam has a different agenda to Nikki and I think that we may not understand what that agenda is just yet," he said.
Nick continued, “But what we do know about Sam is when she has an agenda, and she has an idea and she wants to pursue it, nothing is going to stand in her way. When we were at the screening, we were watching episode 1 and I did pat myself on the back, because throughout the episode, there are quite a few clues about Sam – the comments and moments you see at the start really do pay off towards the end.”
It seems that the storyline of the DNA fabrication is far from over, especially now Tom has been apprehended, likely making Nikki even more desperate to exonerate him. And given Sam's suspicious behavior, we can't help hoping to see delved into a lot more before the season finale…
When is the next episode of Silent Witness on?
For fans eager to see where Silent Witness season 25 takes them with this DNA fabrication storyline, the next episode of the hit BBC drama will be broadcast at 9pm on Tuesday May 31st on BBC One. Following the same scheduling schedule, each of the remaining three episodes will air on Mondays and Tuesdays.
This is the same pattern as season 24 and means that the 25th anniversary season is set to end on June 7th. Until then fans can turn to watch Conversations With Friends and other dramas in between episodes as they form their own conclusions about the frame-up surrounding Tom Faulkner in Silent Witness.
After all, it seems there are plenty more details that are yet to be revealed...
Emma is a Senior Lifestyle Writer with six years of experience working in digital publishing. Her specialist areas including literature, the British Royal Family and knowing all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and every streaming service out there. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, you can find Emma cooking and watching yet more crime dramas.
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