Emilia Fox has revealed her Silent Witness alter ego finally gets taken for a date in the new series.
The actress' pathologist character Dr Nikki Alexander is set for a romantic encounter on the BBC One show, with a science minister played by Emilia's Upstairs, Downstairs co-star Ed Stoppard.
"I get taken out on a date, eight years in!" the star - who joined the cast in 2004 - said.
"Leo (William Gaminara) asks me to go to some heavy dinner, and Ed is there and asks me out. So it's nice. You get to see Nikki having fun this series."
Emilia admitted she frequently begs the writers to allow her character to loosen up, but said the Silent Witness team is conscious of how dark the subject matter can be.
"This series is very much about diluting it and focussing a bit more on the part that forensics play and on the relationships between us slightly lifting it out of that darkness," she added.
"It's a very difficult thing because it's often violent death that we're dealing with. You can't ignore that, but getting the balance right is obviously something that we're all aware of."
This series, Belfast actor David Caves has joined the cast as young forensic scientist Jack Hodgson. He revealed there could also be some chemistry between his character and Nikki.
He added: "Certainly from Jack's point of view there is. With any female in the vicinity, there's a guaranteed flirtation. But yeah, we do have a bit of banter."
:: Silent Witness returns to BBC One on Thursday, January 10.