The stars you NEVER knew appeared in Silent Witness including Daisy Ridley and Jodie Comer

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Fans of BBC’s Silent Witness are gearing up for the return of the hit series tonight, with original Silent Witness star Amanda Burton meeting her successor Emilia Fox on screen during the premiere for the 25th series.

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The show, the longest-running crime drama currently airing anywhere in the world, promises a Covid-inspired storyline to a long-anticipated romance between Nikki Alexander (Fox) and Jack Hodgson (played by Northern Irish actor David Caves). 

And since it first aired in 1996, the BBC drama has had plenty of topical storylines, with a host of A-lister stars appearing who have since gone on to appear in Hollywood blockbusters and hit American TV shows.

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From a brief appearance from Daisy Ridley as a troubled teen whose best friend had been killed, to a very young Nicholas Hoult taking on an early TV role, here FEMAIL reveals the very recognisable stars who have gone on to become A-listers after the show.  

DAISY RIDLEY

From a brief appearance from Daisy Ridley as a troubled teen whose best friend had been killed (left) to a very young Nicholas Hoult taking on an early TV role, here FEMAIL reveals the very recognisable stars who you may have not realised have made a brief appearance in the show

Pictured: Daisy Ridley at the  Star Wars premiere in 2019

From a brief appearance from Daisy Ridley as a troubled teen whose best friend had been killed (left) to a very young Nicholas Hoult taking on an early TV role, here FEMAIL reveals the very recognisable stars who you may have not realised have made a brief appearance in the show (right ,Daisy Ridley now) 

Daisy Ridley, 30, was new to her career as an actress when she appeared in two episodes of the hit BBC show in 2014.

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She had previously only starred in an episode of Casualty and a number of short films.

During her brief stint in the drama, her character, Hannah Kennedy, was desperate to find the killer of her friend, before she herself was also murdered. 

It was less than  a year later that Daisy bagged her biggest, and most famous role, to date in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

She has since gone on to become a household name and has appeared in a number of Star Wars films, as well as Murder on the Orient Express and Ophelia. 

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BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH 

In one of his earliest TV roles in his career, Benedict Cumberbatch appeared as Warren Reid in a 2002 episode of Silent Witness

In one of his earliest TV roles in his career, Benedict Cumberbatch (pictured at a New York screening of Doctor Strange earlier this year)  appeared as Warren Reid in a 2002 episode of Silent Witness

In one of his earliest TV roles in his career, Benedict Cumberbatch appeared as Warren Reid in a 2002 episode of Silent Witness (left and right, at a New York screening of Doctor Strange) 

In one of his earliest TV roles in his career, Benedict Cumberbatch appeared as Warren Reid in a 2002 episode of Silent Witness.

Then then-26-year-old actor played a forensic student in the two part episode, and was the ex-boyfriend of a murdered girl who was found decomposing in the wall of an old factory building. 

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The actor has since gone on to land the lead role in BBC’s Sherlock, before he starred in a number of films including The Fifth Estate, 12 Years A Slave and Star Trek Into Darkness. 

He was nominated for an Oscar for playing Alan Turing in The Imitation Game and is currently part of the Marvel universe as Doctor Strange.

NICOLAS HOULT 

Nicolas Hoult's role in Silent Witness was among his first in TV, with the then-nine-year-old actor playing the role of Tom Evans in the premiere of season three in 1998

Nicolas Hoult's role in Silent Witness was among his first in TV, with the then-nine-year-old actor playing the role of Tom Evans in the premiere of season three in 1998 (pictured in November 2021)

Nicolas Hoult’s role in Silent Witness was among his first in TV, with the then-nine-year-old actor playing the role of Tom Evans in the premiere of season three in 1998 (left, and right, in November 2021) 

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Having been discovered by a theatre director at the age of three, Nicholas started his career in theatre production The Caucasian Chalk Circle before he appeared in his first feature film Intimate Relations.

His role in Silent Witness was among his first in TV, with the then-nine-year-old actor playing the role of Tom Evans in the premiere of season three in 1998.

He was the son of a Dr. Annabelle Evans, a Cambridge professor who was found dead in her home, badly beaten in what appears to be a botched burglary attempt. The police immediately focus on the husband – although other suspects quickly arise. 

It was two years later that Nicholas got his big break into Hollywood after he starred in the film About a Boy as an 11-year-old.     

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JODIE COMER 

Crime drama series Silent Witness has been one of the BBC's most popular shows over the years, and in 2012, Jodie appeared in a two-part episode, playing the role of Eve Gilston

Crime drama series Silent Witness has been one of the BBC's most popular shows over the years, and in 2012, Jodie appeared in a two-part episode, playing the role of Eve Gilston (pictured, earlier this year)

Crime drama series Silent Witness has been one of the BBC’s most popular shows over the years, and in 2012, Jodie appeared in a two-part episode, playing the role of Eve Gilston (left, and right earlier this year) 

Crime drama series Silent Witness has been one of the BBC’s most popular shows over the years, and in 2012, Jodie appeared in a two-part episode, playing the role of Eve Gilston.

The role was among the first for Liverpudlian Jodie, who appeared as Eve, who was actually deceased in the show. 

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Through a series of flashbacks, viewers learned she was seeking counsel from a psychiatrist, having been a victim of neglect.

It was three years later when she got her big break in BBC’s Doctor Foster before starring in  the BBC Three miniseries Thirteen, which premiered in February 2016, which earned her a nomination for the British Academy Television Award for Best Actress.

She became a household name in 2018, when she began starring in the BBC spy thriller series Killing Eve as Villanelle, a psychopathic Russian assassin who develops a mutual obsession with Eve Polastri (played by Sandra Oh), the MI6 agent tasked with pursuing her.

DANIEL KALUUYA

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After appearing in Skins as Posh Kenneth, Daniel appeared as a guest star in two episodes of Silent Witness in 2008

After appearing in Skins as Posh Kenneth, Daniel appeared as a guest star in two episodes of Silent Witness in 2008. The actor, who went on to find fame in Get Out and Black Panther, played Errol Harris, a former gang member who is determined to keep his brother out of trouble (pictured, in 2022)

After appearing in Skins as Posh Kenneth, Daniel appeared as a guest star in two episodes of Silent Witness in 2008 (left). The actor, who went on to find fame in Get Out and Black Panther, played Errol Harris, a former gang member who is determined to keep his brother out of trouble (right, in 2022) 

Unlike a number of actors on the list, Daniel had already had his big break when he first appeared in Silent Witness.

The teenager had starred in the original cast of Channel 4’s Skins as Posh Kenneth, and even wrote two episodes of the highly acclaimed series.

After Skins, he appeared as a guest star in two episodes of Silent Witness in 2008, in which he played Errol Harris, a former gang member who is determined to keep his brother out of trouble. 

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However it doesn’t end well with Errol – he is stabbed in the leg by members of a gang from a rival estate, before  his corpse, tarred and feathered, is dumped at a recreation ground.

The role which made him a household name came in 2017, when he appeared in Jordan Peele’s Get Out. He won critical acclaim, and has since starred in Black Panther. 

IDRIS ELBA 

In 1997, Idris Elba, who went on to find fame in the BBC hit show Luther, starred in an episode of Silent Witness as Charlie, a string-vest wearing boxer

In 1997, Idris Elba, who went on to find fame in the BBC hit show Luther, starred in an episode of Silent Witness as Charlie, a string-vest wearing boxer (pictured in 2022)

In 1997, Idris Elba, who went on to find fame in the BBC hit show Luther, starred in an episode of Silent Witness as Charlie, a string-vest wearing boxer (left, and right, in 2022) 

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In 1997, Idris Elba, who went on to find fame in the BBC hit show Luther,  starred in an episode of Silent Witness as Charlie, a string-vest wearing boxer. 

JACK DEE 

Actor and comedian Jack Dee is yet another British star who appeared in the series early on during his career. 

He made his guest appearance in the series in 1999 episode when he played violent criminal Chris Caldwell, who the team thought may have been wrongly convicted for murder.

He has since gone on to host The Apprentice: You’re Fired, as well as Jack Dee’s Helpdesk and My Favourite Joke.

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The episode saw the detective team investigating the death of Charlie’s fellow boxer Kevin Sharma, who died from blows received in the ring.

However pathologist Sam Ryan determines that he has a brain injury dating from sometime after his last bout two months ago. 

After appearing in the show, it was five years before Idris has his break-out role in The Wire and 13 before he took on the leading role in BBC’s Luther. 

TAMZIN OUTHWAITE 

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EastEnders star Tamzin, 46, appeared alongside Jodie Comer in two episodes of the crime drama in 2012 as troubled mother Beth Gilston.

It’s just one of a multitude of dramas the actress has appeared in over the years, including Doctor Who, Death in Paradise and Ridley Road. 

She is not the only soap actress to have appeared in the hit drama since it first aired 25 seasons ago.

Jake Wood, James Alexandrou, Katherine Kelly, Jo Joyner and Kellie Bright have also all appeared.   

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MARTIN COMPSTON 

Line of Duty isn’t the only police drama that Martin Compston has starred in over the years – he also appeared in two episodes of Silent Witness as DS Jason Ross.

The Scottish actor appeared in the episode in 2014, when Nikki and Jack travel to Scotland to assist him after the discovery of a lap dancer’s body in the forest.

In 2014, 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2021, Compston reprised his lead role of Detective Sergeant Steve Arnott in five more series of police drama Line of Duty.

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In March 2022, he starred in Our House, which is based on the novel Our House by Louise Candlish.

And he’s not the only member of the Anti-Corruption Unit 12 (AC-12) who has appeared in the hit show over the years. 

Martin’s costar Adrian Dunbar has also starred in the series, making a brief appearance in an episode in 2012.  

Line of Duty isn't the only police drama that Martin Compston has starred in over the years - he also appeared in two episodes of Silent Witness as DS Jason Ross

Line of Duty isn’t the only police drama that Martin Compston has starred in over the years – he also appeared in two episodes of Silent Witness as DS Jason Ross

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EMILY MORTIMER 

British actress Emily Mortimer is best known for her roles playing Mackenzie McHale in the HBO series The Newsroom, and as the voice actress of Sophie in the English-language version of Howl’s Moving Castle.

However she also appeared in the hit crime series in 1996, starring in two episodes of the show as Fran.

She later described her role to The Independent, saying: ‘I had to give a guy a blowjob for a gram of cocaine. My granny watched it – she was still alive then – and she rang up and said, ‘Why can’t you do a nice little sitcom?” 

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British actress Emily Mortimer, who is best known for her roles playing Mackenzie McHale in the HBO series The Newsroom, appeared in Silent Witness in 1996 as Fran

British actress Emily Mortimer, who is best known for her roles playing Mackenzie McHale in the HBO series The Newsroom, appeared in Silent Witness in 1996 as Fran

British actress Emily Mortimer, who is best known for her roles playing Mackenzie McHale in the HBO series The Newsroom, appeared in Silent Witness in 1996 as Fran (left and right, now) 

JIM CARTER

Three years before he became a household name for his role as the lovable butler in Downton Abbey, Jim Carter appeared in Silent Witness as Malcolm Young.

He starred in two episodes of the BBC drama which were entitled Peripheral Vision in 2007.

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In 2010, he went on to land four Emmy nominations for his work as Carson on ‘Downton Abbey’ before voicing a character in ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’.

Most recent, he appeared in the new Downton Abbey film, entitled ‘Downton Abbey: A New Era.’ 

He’s also set to star in the upcoming Willy Wonka origin story ‘Wonka’ alongside Timothee Chalamet.  

Three years before he became a household name for his role as the lovable butler in Downton Abbey, Jim Carter appeared in Silent Witness as Malcolm Young (pictured in the show)

Three years before he became a household name for his role as the lovable butler in Downton Abbey, Jim Carter appeared in Silent Witness as Malcolm Young (pictured now)

Three years before he became a household name for his role as the lovable butler in Downton Abbey, Jim Carter appeared in Silent Witness as Malcolm Young (left, and right, in 2022)  

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Fans are already taking to Twitter ahead of the episode, with one tweeting: ‘Is it okay to cancel plans with your boyfriend after not seeing him for a week to watch #silentwitness?!’

Another posted: ‘Bought an internet package for today and tomorrow. Because #SilentWitness25 #SilentWitness! IT IS BACK TODAY! WHOOO!’

A third wrote: ‘Today!! It’s today!! Silent Witness is back!! Never been so excited for a series to come back.’

Burton made her debut as pathologist Sam Ryan in February 1996 – the year of Dolly the Sheep, the Spice Girls’ debut and Diana and Charles were about to finalise their divorce – before leaving early in series eight in 2004. 

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Tonight she returns when her husband Jomo Mashaba (Hugh Quarshie) is shot dead and Dr Nikki is called to help solve the case.

Love is in the air? The show, the longest-running crime drama currently airing anywhere in the world, promises a Covid-inspired storyline to a long-anticipated romance between Nikki Alexander (Fox) and Jack Hodgson (played by Northern Irish actor David Caves), pictured

Love is in the air? The show, the longest-running crime drama currently airing anywhere in the world, promises a Covid-inspired storyline to a long-anticipated romance between Nikki Alexander (Fox) and Jack Hodgson (played by Northern Irish actor David Caves), pictured

The stars you NEVER knew appeared in Silent Witness including Daisy Ridley and Jodie Comer 1

The stars you NEVER knew appeared in Silent Witness including Daisy Ridley and Jodie Comer 3

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The stars you NEVER knew appeared in Silent Witness including Daisy Ridley and Jodie Comer 5

The stars you NEVER knew appeared in Silent Witness including Daisy Ridley and Jodie Comer 7

Counting down the hours: Silent Witness fans joked about cancelling plans to stay in and watch the series 25 premiere on BBC1

Counting down the hours: Silent Witness fans joked about cancelling plans to stay in and watch the series 25 premiere on BBC1

The explosive opening examines a Covid-era issue, health passports and the pricelessness of a nation’s health data. 

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Sam, who now has white blonde hair, an expensive dark suit and bold red lipstick, is prospecting in the goldmine of personal health records. 

Fans last saw the character – who appeared in 54 episodes – leaving to return home to Northern Ireland to be with her family.

Speaking on reprising her role, she said: ‘I am so excited to be returning to Silent Witness and stepping back into Sam Ryan’s shoes – with a difference.

The explosive opening examines a Covid-era issue, health passports and the pricelessness of a nation's health data. Pictured, Dr Nikki Alexander (Fox) with Dr Simone Tyler (Genesis Lynea)

The explosive opening examines a Covid-era issue, health passports and the pricelessness of a nation’s health data. Pictured, Dr Nikki Alexander (Fox) with Dr Simone Tyler (Genesis Lynea)

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‘Audiences can look forward to plenty of twists and turns as they discover what Sam’s been doing since leaving the Lyell.’

Emilia said: ‘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.’ 

There is also love on the cards.  

Series 24 ended with a kiss between Nikki and Jack which caused a fan frenzy on social media.

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The stars have stayed quiet about what happens next, but the opening episode sees them heading into a hotel room together.

Silent Witness airs tonight at 9pm on BBC1 

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