The poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal on British soil sent shockwaves around the world – but at the epicentre of the story was the city of Salisbury.
Named after the cathedral city, a new BBC show has been given the green light to dramatise the events.
Here’s what you need to know…
When is the BBC drama Salisbury on TV?
The two-part drama was announced by BBC2 in May 2019, and began filming at the end of October 2019.
No news yet on when it will hit our screens – watch this space!
What is Salisbury about?
In March 2018, former Russian military officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal were found unconscious on a bench in the small city of Salisbury, England. They had been poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent – a chemical weapon previously developed by the Soviet Union and Russia.
The Skripals were admitted to hospital in critical condition, and a police officer was also rushed to intensive care after exposure to the poison.
All three ultimately survived the ordeal, though a further Novichok poisoning incident in April 2018 left one woman dead and one man seriously ill.
Specialist officers approach the bench where the Skripals were found (Getty)
Sergei had worked as a double agent for the UK’s secret intelligence service for almost a decade, until his arrest in 2004. He was convicted of high treason. But in 2010, Sergei was allowed to leave Russia and settle in the UK following a spy swap; at the time of the poisoning, his adult daughter had been visiting from Moscow.
The British government accused Russia of attempted murder and expelled its Russian diplomats, with the support of 28 other countries. Russia denied the accusations.
British authorities identified two suspects, going by the names ‘Alexander Petrov’ and ‘Ruslan Boshirov’ – but when the two men were interviewed on Russia Today, they claimed to have been ordinary tourists checking out the “famous 123-metre spire” of Salisbury Cathedral.
Who is in the cast?
Cast announced: Rafe Spall and Anne-Marie Duff to star in BBC2 Salisbury Novichok drama
We don’t yet know who will play who, but Rafe Spall, Anne-Marie Duff and Game of Thrones actor Mark Addy will all star in the drama.
The cast also includes Britannia’s Annabel Scholey, This is England’s Johnny Harris and Ripper Street’s MyAnna Burin, as well as Ron Cook (Hot Fuzz), Stella Gonet (Holby City), Faye McKeever (Trollied), Kimberley Nixon (Fresh Meat) and Duncan Pow (Black Mirror’s Hated in the Nation).
How will the BBC adapt the story of the Salisbury poisonings?
The two hour-long episodes will focus on the impact of the 2018 poisonings on Salisbury and the community, and will tell the story “of how ordinary people reacted to a crisis on their doorstep, displaying extraordinary heroism as their city became the focus of an unprecedented national emergency.”
The drama is written by Adam Patterson and Declan Lawn, who said: “We feel extremely privileged to be telling this story. Extensive, meticulous research is at the heart of how we like to work and we’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of the people of Salisbury who have opened up to us over the past few months and continue to do so.
“This is an extraordinary story full of ordinary heroes, the tale of how a community responded to an inconceivable event.”
Poisoning victim Yulia Skripal (Getty)
Laurence Bowen, CEO of Dancing Ledge Productions, said: “This is the story of the poisonings in Salisbury that hasn’t been told – the story of a community living through the real life horror of an invisible threat that could and did kill without warning, a story of tragedy but also of resilience, and pride. It’s a real privilege to be involved in its telling.”