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Why did Amanda Burton leave Silent Witness?

The actress left the show in 2004 – but now she's back!

amanda burton new
Francesca Shillcock
Senior Features Writer
23 May 2022
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Silent Witness fans were left shocked back in 2004 when star of the show, Amanda Burton, announced she was exiting the forensic drama.

MORE: Silent Witness star reveals exit from show following 25th-anniversary series

But fans are in luck because the actress, who was known and adored for her iconic role as pathologist Dr Sam Ryan, is making a triumphant comeback in celebration of the forensic drama's 25th anniversary, 18 years after she last appeared. So why did Amanda leave in the first place? Here's what we know.

WATCH: Silent Witness teases a rocky patch ahead for Dr Nikki and Jack

At the time of Amanda's departure, the star, who first joined in 1996 when the show first aired, explained that it was "time to move on". There was also a suggestion that her subsequent role as Commander Clare Blake on ITV's The Commander was a driving force behind her move.

In the show, her character, Sam, leaves at the end of episode one series eight, in which she decides to move back to her home in Ireland after her family member is implicated in a murder. From then on, current star Emilia Fox joined as Dr Nikki Alexander.

MORE: Silent Witness teases rocky relationship for Nikki and Jack in new season 25 trailer

MORE: Silent Witness star Emilia Fox's family: all you need to know

nikki sam new© Photo: BBC

Dr Sam and Dr Nikki are joining forces

It was also reported at the time that there were tensions and "clashes" behind the scenes between Amanda and crew members. However, this was never explained fully by those involved.

Since leaving Silent Witness, Amanda went on to star in a number of other well-known TV shows such as Waterloo Road, Midsomer Murders, White House Farm and Marcella.

Meanwhile, the actress is gearing up to return for the special anniversary of Silent Witness, explaining she'd have regretted not getting the chance to come back. "I was invited to come back, which was pretty gorgeous and took me by surprise," she told Radio Times.

sam and nikki silent witness© Photo: BBC

Amanda Burton and Emilia Fox in the new episode

"The team confirmed that it was going to be a very interesting story arc over six episodes, and if I didn't jump and do it, it would be something I would regret."  

However, if fans were hoping Amanda's return was the long-haul they might be disappointed as the actress has confirmed she won't be back for future seasons, adding her return for the anniversary was "enough".

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