The Body Farm – Dr Eve Lockhart and other TV characters gone solo


Tara Fitzgerald as Dr Eve Lockhart The Body Farm

Tara Fitzgerald as Dr Eve Lockhart

The Body Farm, the new forensic crime series from BBC Drama Production, currently airing on BBC One, also has as one of its co-executive producers Waking The Dead actor Trevor Eve and his company Projector Productions. It is written by Declan Croghan who also wrote for Waking The Dead. And one of the belated characters of that series was Dr Eve Lockhart, played by Tara Fitzgerald. Tara Fitzgerald stars in The Body Farm as well – but it is not just producers writers and actors that have moved onto The Body Farm, but the Tara Fitzgerald character too.

This time pathologist Dr Eve Lockhart leads a team of forensic scientists in a private sector facility. In Silent Witness Emilia Fox as Dr Nikki Alexander resides in the public sector – will this make any difference to the forensic science work? To the crime detection? And most importantly the TV drama?! Only two episodes in and too early to say. I am under Tara Fitzgerald’s spell but other viewers may not be so patient with the show.

Doctor Bones Brennan and Special Agent Booth

Doctor Bones Brennan and Special Agent Booth

As Waking The Dead was a British version of the USA Cold Case, The Body Farm is the British equivalent of Bones – or is that Silent Witness? – is Tara Fitzgerald or Emilia Fox the British Emily Deschanel?!

This set me to wondering how often does a TV character from one show end up as the lead character in another TV show?

In the 1970’s The Six Million Dollar Man’s Bionic Man Steve Austin played by Lee Majors had a female love interest who also amazingly succumbed to a life-threatening accident needing bionic surgery to make her whole again – or better than whole again.

This was Jaime Sommers played by Lindsay Wagner and she became both The Bionic Woman the character and The Bionic Woman the TV series – just three years in duration and it felt longer but remember time was speeded up! – and which incidentally was reprised with Michelle Ryan in the role and which due to a strike by The Writers Guild of America this remake was remaindered – alas a super-woman Michelle Ryan is what TV dreams are made of. Okay my TV dreams!

Doctor Who and Sarah Jane Smith

Doctor Who and Sarah Jane Smith

On our side of the Atlantic our long running sci-fi adventure Doctor Who belatedly saw one of the Doctor’s earlier side-kicks Sarah Jane Smith, played by Elisabeth Sladen, have her own Sarah Jane Adventures – I think too there were other Doctor Who spin-offs, one involving the robot dog K-9 but let’s not go there!

In the 1980’s and early 1990’s we had the Boston-based bar-room comedy Cheers and one of its relatively peripheral if constant characters Dr Frasier Crane found his way to Seattle as a Radio Psychiatrist with Frasier, a show whose success far eclipsed that of the seminal Cheers.

Detective Robert Goren

Vincent D’Onofrio as Detective Robert Goren

Later in the 1990’s there was Buffy The Vampire Slayer whose character Angel, played by David Boreanaz, span off to Angel – his eponymous show – though span-back, as Angel was a prequel to a time prior to him knowing Buffy.

(And David Boreanaz incidentally is a Bones stalwart as Special Agent Seeley Booth alongside Dr. Temperance ‘Bones’ Brennan showing that in TV there are but Three Degrees of Separation). Though if The Body Farm is our Bones, then the USA get David Boreanaz, we Brits get Keith Allen!

Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson The Closer

Kyra Sedgwick as Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson

Can you think of any more recent examples?

Dr Eve Lockhart’s new deal also set me to thinking about other shows where one of the characters could cut loose from its script and start up a new life and show of its own.

Detective Robert Goren of Law and Order: Criminal Intent – gone solo from the management constraints of Captain James Deakins with his own Private Detective Agency? Perhaps a US North meets South seeing him teamed up with The Closer ex-cop Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson herself tired of having her proverbial hands handcuffed by boss Assistant Chief Will Pope.

Jack Bauer in ‘9 to 5’ – life after 24 – can he settle down to civilian pace and domestic tranquillity?!

Or Sue Sylvester from Glee? She already has a show within a show with ‘As Sue Sees It’ – does it have legs as a series in its own right?

Any current TV characters you would like to see go it alone?

Who Do You Think You Are? – Emilia Fox

Who Do You Think You Are? - Emilia Fox

Emilia Fox

Who Does Emilia Fox Think She Is? – so asks the fifth episode of the eighth series of the BBC celebrity genealogy program Who Do You Think You Are?

Emilia Fox is best known to British television viewers for her role of hard-working brooding forensic pathologist Dr Nikki Alexander in Silent Witness filling the equally hard-working brooding footsteps of her predecessor Sam Ryan, played by Amanda Burton. The long-running Silent Witness being the UK equivalent of the USA CSI franchise. Emilia Fox can also be seen currently on commercial telly, alongside Philip Glenister, as the perhaps unlikely replacement for Gordon Ramsay as the face of Gordon’s Gin.

Emilia Fox comes from a very actor-filled family – James Fox is her uncle. Both her father, Edward, and her mother, Joanna David, are actors too, as are cousins Lydia and Lawrence. And cousin Lawrence married actor Billie Piper – to deepen further this Thespian gene-pool!

The program starts with research of her grandfather Robin Fox, a theatre agent.

Who Do You Think You Are? - Hilda and Lily Hanbury

Hilda and Lily Hanbury

She herself had not been aware that her grandmother Hilda Hanbury had also been an actor. It transpires her grandmother had a younger sister Lily also an actor – she then discovers many of their cousins were actors too.

Further that these cousins were connected by marriage to the greatest acting family of its time the Terry’s – Ellen Terry  being the Judi Dench of the Victorian era.

For sister Lily tragedy was waiting. Having migrated to USA with star-struck hopes of becoming a famous stage actor she quickly found herself doing bit parts and overshadowed by her older sister. She died prematurely following the still-born death of her son. Even more poignant as at the time of making this program Emilia Fox was herself pregnant.

As a researcher of my own family tree, one of its great pleasures is discovering old family photos. Emilia Fox was to have a far grander experience of this discovering that her great great grandfather Samson Fox had both a bust in the Royal College of Music and a grand painting in Armley Mills Industrial Museum.

Who Do You Think You Are? Samson Fox

Samson Fox

The story of Samson Fox was not just great British social history but a great personal tale of rags to riches and near ruinous return to rags – but happily not quite.

Samson Fox came from Bradford, the son of a mill manager. Like the Biblical Samson he also sported a great mane of hair and beard. He joined a Leeds textile mill when just eight years old as an apprentice engineer and ascended quickly through the ranks to manager then founder of the Leeds Forge Company. His Victorian Dragons Den breakthrough invention and business idea was the corrugated flue which transformed flues from a fragile unreliable boiler component to a robust component in shipping, locomotives and other industrial functions. He had the patent and it was globally deployed.

Who Do You Think You Are? - Corrugated Flue

Corrugated Flue

With his great wealth came great philanthropy if not great leisure – he was a workaholic and had built a  laboratory into the basement of his home Grove House. The Royal College of Music that splendid building located in Kensington London – he bequeathed it to the nation! A gift to the King of the time Edward Prince of Wales. It was noted that such a gift should routinely result in a later knighthood but he never became Sir Samson Fox and the program then set out to fathom why this was.

Samson Fox was not a man to rest on his laurels. Despite his great wealth and at an age where many would have retired to a life of hard earned leisure and contentment he had moved on to another project, Water Gas.

This was an industrial technology able to provide a new energy source to both domestic and commercial buildings more efficiently and effectively than the then current coal gas. His problem was the network infrastructure to supply to homes and factories was courtesy of the very companies who provided the Coal Gas.

There also had been a fatal accident to two of his employees working with Water Gas in his factory. He needed access to this network infrastructure to save this business but the status quo coal gas companies grouped together to lobby the government in an early example of regulatory capture to prevent him entering this energy arena – they succeeded.

And their success was his downfall – much of the funding for the project came from the public invested in it through shares based on his hitherto successful business reputation. Doubts set in then panic and then its stock price crashed with huge losses for investors and Samson himself. He died with this energy source never utilized though did still oversee another great public project, the Royal Hall in Harrogate.

More sad still because his idea was vindicated in the 1920’s – Water Gas was found to be safe and reliable and became a core component of industrial use up until the 1960’s. A happy ending if one he never lived to see.

Perhaps he should be granted a posthumous knighthood from the current Queen?

Another fascinating and informative social history of Britain as well as inspiring and emotionally engaging human drama.

Who Do You Think You Are? - Emilia Fox Royal College Music Archives

The Royal College of Music archives