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 21.

    as for the comments about the show being unrealistic: well, obviously. If it would be realistic it would just be pathologists in their morgue lab doing their little tests. There would be little to nothing to watch. Obviously, pathologists going to interview suspects or just doing what's plainly police work on their own is silly. But once you get over that, this series is quite refreshing. I like seeing a different side to a crime than just the police investigation. Otherwise it would just be another same-old detective show.

    I'll stop clogging up the comment section now, just had to get some stuff off my chest after just having watched the last episode of this series (still baffled by the ending...) and reading the other comments here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    I did think you/Jack was Scottish for the first 2 eps or so btw, couldn't place the accent immediately. Sorry ;-p

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Series 16 Greater Love: this is the worst sort of poppycock in existence. An immediate assumption that the round was british, when it could be european or american. Nikki's extreme naivety in all things world was horrifying - the type of attitude I would expect to come from an uneducated fool, or someone who has never dealt with the real gritty world - and completely unlike anything a pathologist should have.
    Thus the conclusion for this episode is that the writers should learn how to write believable characters. Also the whole anti-soldier/private security was a bit iffy, and not to taste. I hope the next episode is better.

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    Comment number 24.

    Must agree with JGKrakow - this last episode was a mish mash of a loose story line with the Nicky Alexander role coming across as an immature, naive schoolgirl wandering around in her (trade mark) skin tight trousers (in Afghanistan???), weeping, jumping to idiotic conclusions and generally trying to act like she was in a Home Office lab working to Home Office rules.She couldnt even see that the "Afghan terrorist" she was trying to communicate with had blue eyes!!! (no Afghan has blue eyes) and then he spoke English! Oh suprise suprise ! It was a pretty good way of getting rid of the Leo character. So I suppose that the next series will have Nicky in charge (now thats a suprise isnt it??! Gotta have a girl as top of the totem pole otherwise it would break the casting bible wouldnt it). I wont hold my breath until next year...

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    @Davidlew: please don't spoiler here, you're completely ruining the ending for people who haven't watched the final ep yet! And it is quite common for Afghans to have light coloured eyes in the green/grey/blueish colour scheme. I do agree with Nikki behaving like a clueless little schoolgirl in the final episode. Just the fact they let a blonde woman wearing skinny jeans and a partially see-through top treat the injured Taliban was laughable. Nikki has never been my favorite character, I hope she gets replaced real soon to be honest. For the rest, I still love this series.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    Just finished watching the final moments of this series..I am Not Surprised by William Gaminara exit as maybe it is time to turn to others things..He has Helped to make this Programme one of the Best on the BBC and he should be Applauded for that..I Look forward to the next series with Anticipation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    I have so enjoyed this latest series of Silent Witness - apart from the loss of Leo at the end. I guess William Gaminara was speaking the truth when as Leo he said he was tired. He, Emilia and David make a great team. I don't analyse or look for faults in the productions but just accept and enjoy the drama put before me. I have not missed Harry as Jack is such a brilliant addition to the team. Well done David. I love watching Emilia - she plays a challenging and caring role. David is 'drop-dead gorgeous' and plays Jack perfectly. I do hope Emilia and David continue in their roles for a long time. I will miss William though.

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    Comment number 28.

    I love the way the direction of the show is going and it needed to change. David has done a great job with Jack's character and makes him attractive and intrigueing. I also saw you as Petruchio (an amazing performance). You are a very talented actor and looking forward to seeing more in the future.

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    Comment number 29.

    Apologies for only replying now, but just wanted to say a HUGE thank you to all of you who have taken the time to write your thoughts on here. I didn't expect such enthusiasm. And a special thanks to those of you who have written positively about Jack. And Petruchio!! My cup runneth over! I'm thrilled most of you are enjoying Jack as a new addition to the team. I do understand how disappointed some of you are, of course. I'm sorry this is the case but things inevitably have to change in a long-running TV series. And things do take time to settle. Regarding the 'realistic' side of the show, there has to be a balance between realism and dramatisation. It is a television show after all, and the writers/actors must have a degree of dramatic license. If they didn't, it might make for some pretty pedestrian viewing.

    I'm really looking forward to starting filming the next series in April, where Jack, Nikki and Clarissa will be up against new challenges. Hope you all continue to enjoy and keep tuning in next year. Many thanks again.


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