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In 2018 Sergei Skripal and Yulia Skripal were targeted in the city of Salisbury with the attackers using novichok poison, which is deadly. The targets survived, but the poisoning killed one innocent person, and the city was subsequently put on lockdown. BBC writers Adam Patterson and Declan Lawn have now revealed the difficulties they faced when wanting to film in a location that was still recovering.
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The newest BBC drama kicks off on Sunday on BBC One with the likes of Anne Marie Duff, Rafe Spall and Myanna Buring playing characters who were directly involved in the 2018 attack, but whom viewers might not know about.
Adam Peterson who is one of the writers on the show spoke to press last week including Express.co.uk about the issues they faced when producing a programme that was still very raw to the people involved.
Adam explained: “The first thing I would say is that factual drama is not a game.
“I think we were more drawn to the stories of the people who had to clean up this mess rather than the people who made it.
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“But I hope that what we’ve done is shown that there are people out there that take the bullets for us, and they stand on the walls, and they’re a hidden network of people who keep this society together.
“And to us, there’s something innately heroic about that. And we just felt very privileged to tell that story.”
With such a sensitive story, comes the challenge of where to film to give the most accurate depiction without upsetting those closest.
Declan Lawn explained: “We took a lot of time discussing where we would and wouldn’t shoot things.
“You know, the first point is that things needed to feel very real, very authentic, very truthful.
“But we knew there were huge sensitivities around shooting things in Salisbury for the people who went through the trauma.
“So we did shoot some things in Salisbury. But we drew a line essentially with things like hazmat suits, we didn’t want regression.
“So we looked at where it all happened and then we meticulously looked for matches or things like that.
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“What was interesting is, if any of the key real-life people hadn’t wanted to be involved, we probably would have stopped doing it.
“But you know, it’s a process like putting a jigsaw puzzle together and the process of getting to know these people’s lives.
“You know, there are definite parallels between what happened in Salisbury, and the poisoning and the invisible threat and the contagion and the sense of lockdown, and today in COVID-19 lockdown, and so, we’re extremely mindful of that.”
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Anne-Marie Duff has also explained what it was like to play the role of Tracy Daszkiewicz who was the Director of Public Health at the time of the attack in Salisbury.
Anne-Marie explained what it was like to be offered the role of Tracy: “It definitely intrigued me with it.
“You know, when I first was sent the scripts, I googled her because I didn’t even remember her.
“There was very little to be found, so the actor has to become a detective, but that whets your appetite.”
“There were lots of men who were recognized and she wasn’t. And I just thought that Adam and Declan scripts did this so well, there is so much integrity it was just amazing, and a real gift, you know?”
The Salisbury Poisonings airs on BBC One Sunday, Monday and Tuesday at 9pm.
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