Review: Silent Witness: Sniper’s Nest, Part 2


The schools were under attack tonight. Or rather they were going to be, but in the end nothing happened. The writer Lynda La Plante recently said in an interview that when crime writers put children under threat she loses respect for the work as it goes for the viewers’ emotions that are most easy to manipulate. She may have a point.

For some reason best know to themselves the police and forensic scientist Jack stood outside a collection of schools in the London/Surrey area. Why would such a decision in any way help to stop a sniper with a 1000 mile range? Maybe they were hoping to scare him off, or were just waiting for the bodies to drop? And when you consider the fact that they were supposed to be keeping the threat towards schools are under strict secrecy, how did they explain hanging around a number of them in plain sight to the teachers and parents?

Another preposterous scene included Nikki and Jack befriending, then interviewing, then illegally searching the bedroom of the suspicious teenage boy Craig, son of one of the victims (pictured below). At least Jack mentioned the fact they didn’t have a warrant. As the plot went on, it turns out we had all  (when I say all I mean just Jack) been lead on a merry dance by this boy. He was a conniving, disturbed and spiteful little creature, well performed by Broadchurch actor Adam Wilson.

Screenshot 2015-01-07 23.37.27

I mentioned in my review of Part 1 that everything looked, from an aesthetic point of view, a lot more realistic than usual. The cinematography was evocative of real life rather than a perfume commercial, the forensic lab looked more plain, the sets less showy. Today we were treated to another step towards reality. The police station has an actual whiteboard. Not a smart board. Not an epic TV screen with iPad controlled imagery. A whiteboard with pens and printouts stuck to it. Goodness.

All this effort to bring us back into the real world was dashed by the unrealistic actions of the forensic scientists, with Nikki and Jack the real offenders (with the latter doing things that would have him arrested, let alone sacked). The episode also added some Michael Bay-value with an epic explosion that seemed to be there more for effect than plot. However, I must confessed to being shocked (and, in a grisly way, impressed) with the sudden and gory murder of one of the main police officers during a fire evacuation scene. This moment of devastating bloody horror reminded me of what it is like to watch Silent Witness firing on all full power. This opening two parter has been too ridiculous to be anything other than an entertaining piece of silliness. This moment, however, demonstrated it has the potential to be truly superb. Perhaps next week, which promises to be a claustrophobia-inducing story set within the London Underground, we will get more moments that enthral and less that infuriate.

As a passing note, did anyone else notice the BBC’s link to a feature entitled ‘Writing a convincing plot’ on the Silent Witness iPlayer page? I think they might be taking the piss.

Silent Witness Plot


Silent Witness: Sniper’s Nest Parts 1 & 2 are available on BBC iPlayer for a limited time. Images: BBC iPlayer. 

Preposterous but occasionally thrilling

Aside from a shocking and well-directed moment of bloody violence, this opening two parter has been too ridiculous to be anything other than an entertaining piece of silliness.

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Second year BA Film & English Student. Watches too many films and enjoys good novels.


  1. the reviewer’s young age is obviously the reason he didnt spot that the basic plot is not fiction. A real live sniper was running around Washington DC area, Northern Virginia and Maryland back in 2002. He shot various people at random in car parks , filling stations I lived there at the time it was scary filling your car with gas. He converted the boot (trunk) of the car so he could shoot out of the back like in Snipers nest. They were caught in the end by good methodical police work, and a highway patrol office doing his job properly.
    I think after seeing part 1 this program certainly captures the tension and loss that the police were at in giving advice etc, in the real case it went on for over a month.

  2. Why do we actually need PC plod et al when we have the super team of forensic scientists, if this is fact portraying itself as entertainment then it has surely lost the plot.
    Ok, I enjoy the genre and some of the moments are worth watching, but come on… Nearly as close to the truth as CasualtyHolby is to a real hospital .
    I wonder what the real PC plod thinks about loosing out

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