Silent Witness: My audition for Jack Hodgson

Wednesday 9 January 2013, 10:21

David Caves David Caves Actor

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I was quite shocked when I saw my audition tapes on the Silent Witness website.

I’d totally forgotten I had agreed to let them do it!

I suddenly panicked and thought to myself, why did I agree to this? Why would I want people to see me at my most vulnerable?

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David's audition: 'I try not to guess'

Audition rooms are private spaces where an actor can take risks without fear of mass judgement or criticism. 

However, all fears were expunged when I watched the tapes. I actually wasn’t horrified by what I saw.

I remembered just how exciting an experience the whole thing had been and that filled me with a new excitement, a sense of exhilaration at what a year it had been and how far I’d come. 

All I could do was give the audition my best shot and let the chips fall where they may. It also helped a great deal that I was working at the time of the audition.

I was playing Petruchio in the RSC’s The Taming of the Shrew. This is a man not lacking in confidence nor prone to inhibitions.

So I went in there as Petruchio. I don’t think I would have got the part without him.

I knew I would have to read with Emilia Fox... gulp.

I guess I was a little nervous about this, only because she leads the show, has been doing it for years and my mum adores her.

Emilia Fox as Nikki Alexander Emilia Fox plays forensic pathologist Nikki Alexander

I needn’t have worried. She was immediately warm and friendly, chatty and interested in what I was doing.

I knew I could just relax and when you’re relaxed you’re free to play. Away we went...

I play Jack Hodgson, a forensic scientist with a penchant for cage-fighting, or MMA (mixed martial arts), as I should call it.

He’s one of the youngest forensic scientists in the country and has got to the top of the chain with the age-old combo of brains and a little bit of brawn.

He doesn’t care much for authority nor does he settle for the easy option.

Instead, he prefers jumping in headfirst and asking questions later. This lands him in hot water, especially on first arrival at the Lyell Centre.

His and Nikki’s relationship is initially one of distrust. They spar, niggle, challenge and size each other up.

But they quickly realise that they are both on the road to truth, with Jack tending to favour the road less travelled.

David Caves as Jack Hodgson David Caves as Jack Hodgson in True Love Waits (part one)

I’m pretty similar to Jack, I suppose. I mean, we look very alike. I’m less good at the science bit.

I was woeful at maths and science when I was at school, much to the chagrin of my dad, who was a maths teacher at the very school I attended.

Jack was not originally written to be from Northern Ireland, I think rather the north of England, but I guess they liked my accent when I read. 

Apropos the MMA fighting, I was not at all familiar with it. I watched some DVDs of fights in America and was shocked at how brutal a sport it was.

Guys would be getting arms and legs broken inside the ‘Octagon’ (the fighting enclosure) instead of surrendering. On closer inspection, you see the skill and courage that goes into it.

To be successful, you have to be strong in a variety of disciplines including boxing, judo, karate, taekwondo, Muay Thai. Being good at one of these is not enough.

I do my own strength training, which certainly helped when it came to the fight.

But we had a brilliant stunt coordinator to teach us a three-quarter-minute fight with a few choice MMA moves.

I love that stuff. It’s one of the reasons why we do this crazy job. Learning things you would never normally get to learn.

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David talks about his first day on set

I did and still do find the lack of rehearsal on set problematic.

Having done only theatre for the past eight years, it was totally alien to me.

You do it once maybe twice and then you do it for real. It’s scary but it forces you to make quick choices.

This can be very liberating and great things can come out of it. You just gotta make your choices and go for it.

I’m feeling very excited in the lead up to the new series being aired. I’m curious to see how Jack will be received. 

You see, it’s easy to forget when you’re on set having fun that this will one day be viewed by millions!

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Watch the teaser trail for the new series

Still, I’m not too worried about what people think. The reality is, some will like him, others won’t. That’s the way it goes. With any part you play.

This is one of the longest running series on British television with a massive fan-base.

Tom Ward was hugely loved and rightly so, he’s a brilliant actor. So it’ll take time for people to accept that he’s gone and get used to me.

I’m just so thrilled to be a part of the show and here’s hoping you enjoy a bit a fightin’ Irish!

David Caves plays Jack Hodgson in Silent Witness.

Series 16 of Silent Witness begins on Thursday, 10 January at 9pm on BBC One and BBC One HD. For further programme times, please see the episode guide.

Read an interview with Liz Carr, who plays the new forensic examiner Clarissa Mullery, and writer Tim Prager on the BBC Ouch! blog.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Fab new start to Silent Witness with that Gorg bit of new 'Totty' ......roll on ALL the next episodes!

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Great start to the new series, and it has a very different feel. As Leo says at the end "Change is good". I agree! Jack is an intriguing character, as is Clarissa, not as insipid as Harry.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    I really enjoyed the start of the new series of Silent Witness...I`m looking forward to see how the Jack/Clarissa duo will develop...
    Will miss Harry, but like Leo said " Change is good " but, good to see the show back on the telly..

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Was it just me, or did anyone else miss Tom Ward aka Harry terribly? Change is not only good but also inevitable, but that doesn't make me miss Harry any less! Saw him recently in death in paradise, so there's hope yet...maybe one will see more of him - & often!

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    David - I saw you playing Petruchio at the Theatre Royal in Bath. You were amazing! Brilliant surprise to see you as Jack in the new series - looking forward to seeing how Jack gets on. Best of luck to you and him :-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    I am so glad that awful Harry has gone - thank the lord! Now when are you going to come to your senses and get rid of Emilia Fox. At least we don't have to watch their ridiculous non-relationship anymore but she just gets worse and worse - she learns her lines very well but thats about as far as it goes. They sound like lines - i don't believe for one single moment that she is a forensic scientist. Far too many different hairdos and high heels - she even had a special hairdo and outfit to go and play pool with the new man. Just terrible! Supporting actors are generally very good and well cast - what happens to the casting department when you're hiring your lead actors?

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    I thought Clarissa'a character more interesting than Jack's

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    I'm afraid I have to disagree with most of the comments above. This new series appears to have taken a turn for the worse. I don't believe that it has anything to do with the loss of Harry and appearance of Jack, I actually think he and Clarissa are good additions to the show. The issue I have is that the script writing seems to have deteriorated, and the show is starting to remind me of those American imports where everything is pretty obvious and there is little depth. The first episodes last week were particularly boring. This week, despite what had the potential to be a very good story line, I found myself frustrated, particularly by Amanda Drew's very two dimensional character (DI Reed) and the lack of thought that appears to have gone into the script. At one point tonight, as Nikki searched the house where two of the bodies were found, my partner said 'If Ballinger is in the Basement, I'm turning this off" and, sure enough he was in there, armed. Was this not a crime scene? Were two bodies not discovered here? And yet anyone could just walk in! This is one of many poorly thought out situations which has, in our minds ruined this show, a fact that is particularly frustrating as we were truly looking forward to the return one of the few (good?) BBC shows that have not been cut. Maybe (and I hope) things will improve as the series goes on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    For me the show is spoiled by eccentric camera work. I watched the HD version and was appalled by the poor HD quality. Also too much obsession with the city panorama resulting in shadowy faces and over-lit backdrops. The light source should be behind the camera, not in front of it. The pre-Xmas show The Paradise suffered from the same ailments. Too many shots though glass walls and doors with the inevitable reflections. And I don't care for the blue-black colour cast to many of the shots. This may all be the current fashion in TV cinematography and if so the sooner it passes the better. I can't focus on the plot with all this visual distraction

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    I have to say it was a shock that Harry was no longer part of the team, and yes i have missed him. Saying that however i am liking the new member,Jack. New blood was needed and i think they have found the right man. Can't wait for Thursday nights now. Good luck David.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Initial dismay at Harry Cunningham's departure totally blasted away by the arrival of Jack Hodgson. Very impressed by David Caves. As a fellow Northern Irishman it is great to see a handsome positive role model for Northern Ireland at this time of unrest. Bravo Silent Witness!

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Not very happy with the new series as yet, the way Jack speaks to Nikki (he is new to the department) is not realistic. The Police interaction with the department is a little weird, hopefully it will improve. I've always loved Silent Witness and will persaver with it. Good luck to all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    What a complete and utter crock this program is and has always been! Jack Hodgson is meant to be a forensic scientist and is allowed to interview a suspect, they all have to much personal involvement in every episode?

    I'm sorry but this program is so farcical it is unbelievable and a waste of licence payers money!

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    It's a good series but something nasty seems to have been burned in to the casting and production "rule book" Each of the first three episodes of this new series has had the police officer in charge of the case being a bad mannered, in your face, female with a lousy attitude - all three of them seem to have been in a permanent state of PMS. Aren't the script writers not allowed to have male police officers in charge anymore, or is this just another of those "As long as its a female in charge then that's ok" dramas?? The forensic lab that the cast work in has no bodies, no people and nothing at all going on except the post mortem that is central to the case - must be like working in a disinfected cavern!

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    More More Please , thought it could not get better but it has. David has brought a new side to this and the three main people work so good together in these episodes. I did not think it could get better. I was wrong Well done to all keep them coming please.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Harry Cunningham's character was a big act to follow, but have really enjoyed watching how Jack's character has developed. Each episode is still fresh and David's adoption of Jack's role is so intriguing (as with all the characters). Thank you to the whole team

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Although I miss Harry, Jack has a cheeky/genius side I'm falling in love with, go Jack!!! And Clarisa of course, good to have boat rockers, in a good and positive way, can't miss Silent Witness for anything, and am loving the fact I stay up late to watch it Friday nights. Loving them all!

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    It did came as a bit of a shock to see Harry go, but I quickly got over it. I think Jack's character is a great replacement, he's very down to earth and has a sense of humor as well, and he seems to hold his own in the team already (love his little good-natured "irreverence" towards Leo btw). I wasn't too happy with the other major move the scriptwriters took at the end of this series. Really unhappy to be honest.... I won't spoiler here but you'll know what I mean once you've seen the last episode. I'm not sure I will enjoy the next series as much now, but that won't be because of Jack. For me, a Dutch fan of the series for over 12 years now (yes we get it over here too :-) Jack Hodgson is definitely part of the team. Great performance for someone so new to screen acting!

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    I must add that I was totally unimpressed with the previous series. I was so happy that, after an initial weak episode (I thought the first ep was the weaker of this series due to a boring plot) it really picked up where they had left off with series 14. The final episode (again, no spoilers here) was strong, but the ending totally took me unawares. I'm really unhappy and more than a bit baffled by the choices the writers made here to be honest. And unsure if this series is taking a road I still want to follow. I'll give the next series a go as I'm a big fan, but I really can't see how it still can be as strong after they did what they did with it... :-S

    But like I said, nothing to do with Jack replacing Harry. A bit of fresh blood in the team was needed I think (don't know if you're reading these comments, Mr. Caves, but there you go :-)

  • Comment number 20.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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