Waking the Dead (TV series)

Waking the Dead (TV series)
Waking the Dead
Waking the Dead.jpg
Waking the Dead intertitle
Format Police procedural
Created by Barbara Machin
Starring Trevor Eve
Sue Johnston
Wil Johnson
Tara Fitzgerald
Holly Aird
Claire Goose
Félicité Du Jeu
Esther Hall
Eva Birthistle
Stacey Roca
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of series 9
No. of episodes 92 (List of episodes)
Running time 60 minutes
Original channel BBC One
Original run 4 September 2000 – 11 April 2011
Related shows The Body Farm
External links

Waking the Dead is a British television police procedural crime drama series produced by the BBC featuring a fictional Cold Case Unit comprising CID police officers, a psychological profiler and a forensic scientist. A pilot episode aired in September 2000 and there have been a total of nine series since. Each story is split into two hour-long episodes, shown on consecutive nights on BBC One. A third series episode won an International Emmy Award in 2004. The programme was also shown on BBC America in the United States - though these screenings are edited to allow for advertising breaks - as well as UKTV (Australia and New Zealand) and ABC1 (Australia). The show aired its final episode on 11 April 2011.

A spin-off show, titled The Body Farm, revolving around forensic scientist Eve Lockhart (Tara Fitzgerald) was announced by the BBC in January 2011.




The programme followed the work of a special police team who investigate "cold cases", usually murders that took place a number of years ago and were never solved. The team uses evidence which has just come to light, as well as contemporary technology to examine previous evidence. Trevor Eve portrays the workaholic and often eccentric Peter Boyd on whom plotlines are often centred. As the series has progressed, storylines have focused on the personal lives of the characters as well as the criminal investigations (for example, Boyd's temper control in "Anger Management").


  • Detective Superintendent Peter Boyd (Trevor Eve, 2000–2011) — The head of the Cold Case Unit, Boyd has a unique style of policing (not least shouting at and physically assaulting suspects in the interview room). His involvement in the Unit stems from the disappearance of his young son in the 1990s. Though sometimes appearing detached, Boyd is close to his team, particularly Mel Silver, whose death haunts him two years later. Another aspect of Boyd's character which has occasionally compromised his impartiality is his weakness for attractive women, at least one of whom turned out to be implicated in a murder investigated by the team. According to information seen briefly on screen whilst he is being fingerprinted after his arrest for drunk driving, Boyd's middle name is Timothy, and he was born on the 15th of July, 1950. His address is given as 17 Probert Road in Greenwich. In the pilot episode, Boyd has a wife and baby, but these characters were removed for the start of the first series. Instead, in season 1, it is revealed that his elder son, Joe, was a drug-dependent runaway who disappeared whilst living on the streets; his younger son, Luke, who led a similarly tumultuous life, returned in the first episode of the seventh series, but was murdered at the end of the same series, causing tremendous grief for Boyd as the last scenes of the series see him cry over his son's body in the mortuary. In the pilot, Boyd's rank was Detective Chief Inspector, but from the commencement of the first season he was addressed as "Superintendent".[1]
  • Dr Grace Foley (Sue Johnston, 2000–2011) — Grace is a psychological profiler with nearly 30 years experience in the field. Her presence on the Unit provides a rational counter to Boyd's somewhat unorthodox methods, but the pair enjoy a close working relationship and often engage in witty banter. In Series 5 it is revealed that she fell in love with the married officer in charge of her first case and became pregnant with his child. She chose to have an abortion and he later died in a drunk driving accident. In the season 8 episode "Endgame" it is revealed that Grace has cancer and is awaiting an operation.
  • Detective Sergeant/Detective Inspector Spencer Jordan (Wil Johnson, 2000–2011) — Spencer works closely alongside Boyd in many cases, often joining him in "good-cop-bad-cop" routines in the interview room. Before joining the CCU, Spencer worked for the Atomic Energy Constabulary. His partner from that job shot him in "Cold Fusion". After he had returned to work and his wound had healed, he got a tattoo around the scar, which Grace suggested was a way of coping with the ordeal. In Season 8 it is revealed that Spencer is unhappy in the Cold Case Squad and is considering leaving.
  • Dr Eve Lockhart (Tara Fitzgerald, 2007–2011) — Eve has served as the team's forensic pathologist since the beginning of Series 6, having replaced Dr Felix Gibson. Like her predecessors, Eve is employed by the Home Office but assigned to the Cold Case Unit, and as such is not a police officer. Eve's career has allowed her to accumulate a body farm. It is revealed in "Pieta" that she helped in a mass grave excavation in Bosnia. In "Substitute" she has a sexual relationship with an aid worker, who becomes a suspect when Eve illegally samples his DNA. Eve smokes.
  • Detective Constable/Detective Sergeant Amelia "Mel" Silver[2] (Claire Goose, 2000–2004) — Mel's surname was "Silverman" in the pilot, but "Silver" thereafter. Much like Grace, Mel freely questioned Boyd if she believed he was looking in the wrong direction in a case. She was close to everyone on the team, especially Frankie. It was revealed in "Fugue States", that she was previously named "Mary Price", and her mother was called "Jane Price". She was taken from her mother as a child, as her mother was seen as mentally unfit. She later sees her mother and finds she has a half sibling. She was killed in "Shadowplay", but appeared in archive footage in "Towers of Silence". In the sixth series, her death came back to haunt the Cold Case Unit with a mysterious pendant being sent to the office, with the sender claiming it belonged to Mel. It subsequently emerged that she was secretly working on a case with an American "war" expert, this is explained in "Yahrzeit".[3]
  • Dr Frankie Wharton (Holly Aird, 2000–2004) — Frankie, the Unit's forensic pathologist, took a conscientious approach to her job and was good friends with Mel. After Mel's death, Frankie left the Unit to return to research. Actress Holly Aird left the programme owing to her pregnancy.
  • Dr Felix Gibson (Esther Hall, 2005) — Felix took over as the Unit's forensic pathologist after Frankie's departure and, like her predecessor, would often leave the office to join her colleagues in the field. She would not hesitate to stand up to Boyd. Esther Hall played the role for one series before leaving. It is currently unknown why the character left.
  • Detective Constable Stella Goodman (Félicité du Jeu, 2005–2009) — Stella joined the Cold Case Unit as the permanent replacement for Mel in "Black Run" and became good friends with Spencer. Boyd was initially hostile towards her but eventually came to accept her. This trust was betrayed in "Cold Fusion" (Series 5) when it was revealed she had unwittingly sent information on the Unit to her godfather. By the beginning of Series 6, the team's confidence in her seemed to be fully restored. Stella was shot in the leg in the first part of "Magdalene 26" (Series 8), and died in the second part after suffering thrombosis.[4]
  • Detective Sergeant Katrina Howard (Stacey Roca, 2009–2010) — Howard first appears in "Magdalene 26" (Series 8) as a police constable, formerly a member of the Serious Organised Crime Agency with a history of insubordination. By start of the following story, "End of the Night", she has become a member of the Cold Case Unit at Boyd's request, replacing DC Stella Goodman. She has left the unit in between the eighth and ninth series.
  • Detective Superintendent Sarah Cavendish (Eva Birthistle, 2011) - Sarah was transferred to the Unit at the start of Series 9 having been moved from Counter-Terrorism after an incident led to her becoming the scapegoat. She was one of the youngest Superintendents in the history of the Met and, until the incident, a high flyer. She is murdered in the show's final episode by the Assistant Chief Commissioner Tony Nicholson because of her knowledge of his crimes and by spying on his interactions at The Emirates Stadium with one of the antagonists of the episode. Her body was found in the backyard shed of Detective Superintendent Peter Boyd in an attempt to frame him for the murder.



The first series secured strong ratings, with "Burn Out, part 1" receiving 8.4m viewers and a 38% share.[5] Persistently high ratings meant the programme was recommissioned each year for either the summer or winter schedule. The 2007 series began with strong ratings, with "Wren Boys, part 1" achieving 9.2m viewers and a 35.2% share.[6] The second part dropped to 8.6m but still gained a 33% share.[7]

Following the successful transmission of the third series and an International Emmy Award nomination for "Special Relationship" written by Stephen Davis and directed by David Thacker, a further two series were commissioned with the number of stories expanded from four to six.[8] Waking the Dead won an International Emmy Award the following year for "Breaking Glass" written by Stephen Davis and directed by Maurice Phillips and "Multistorey" written by Ed Whitmore and directed by Bob Bierman.[9]

DVD releases

All nine series of Waking the Dead have been released on Region 2 by 2 Entertain Ltd. under the BBC DVD banner. All nine series are also available in a boxset. Region 1 is distributed by BBC Video and Region 4 by Roadshow.

DVD name Release dates
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
The Complete Series One & Pilot October 24, 2006 September 12, 2005 March 2, 2006
The Complete Series Two October 16, 2007 June 26, 2006 April 1, 2010
The Complete Series Three January 20, 2009 September 25, 2006 June 1, 2010
The Complete Series Four January 19, 2010 January 29, 2007 August 4, 2010
The Complete Series Five January 18, 2011[10] September 10, 2007 October 5, 2010
The Complete Series Six TBA May 19, 2008 December 2, 2010
The Complete Series Seven TBA May 3, 2010 February 3, 2011
The Complete Series Eight TBA July 12, 2010 May 3, 2011
The Complete Series Nine TBA May 2, 2011 TBA
The Complete Waking The Dead TBA May 2, 2011 TBA

See also

The investigation of "Cold Cases" has been a theme for several detective dramas, including:

Notes and references

  1. ^ "About the Show". BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/drama/wakingthedead/about.shtml. Retrieved 22 September 2009. 
  2. ^ Mel Silverman in the pilot.
  3. ^ "Series 6 Episode Guide". BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/drama/wakingthedead/episodeguide_series6_story6.shtml. Retrieved 22 September 2009. 
  4. ^ "Magdalene 26". Waking the Dead. TX 6/7 September 2009.
  5. ^ Digital Spy author (2001-06-22) Feltz return grabs 4m, Digital Spy, retrieved 2007-01-06
  6. ^ Waking the Dead returns to BBC1 with 9.2m, Broadcast Now, retrieved 2007-01-10
  7. ^ Waking the Dead rouses 8.6m, Broadcast Now, retrieved 2007-01-10
  8. ^ Wilkes, Neil (2003-11-04) 'Waking the Dead' gets two new series, Digital Spy, retrieved 2007-01-06
  9. ^ BBC News (2004-11-23) UK sweep up at global Emmy Awards, bbc.co.uk, retrieved 2007-01-06
  10. ^ http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/news/Waking-Dead-Season-5/14440

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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