The poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal on British soil sent shockwaves around the world – but at the epicentre of the story was the cathedral city of Salisbury.
Now BBC One drama The Salisbury Poisonings is set to dramatise the real-life events, and focuses on the impact the incident had on the local community.
Read on for everything you need to know about The Salisbury Poisonings, starring Rafe Spall and Anne-Marie Duff.
When is The Salisbury Poisonings on TV?
CONFIRMED: The Salisbury Poisoning airs across three consecutive nights on 14th, 15th and 16th June on BBC One at 9pm. The whole thing is also available as a boxset on BBC iPlayer.
The drama was previously announced by BBC Two in back May 2019, and began filming at the end of October 2019.
The Salisbury Poisonings true story: What really happened?
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.
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 Skripals were admitted to hospital in critical condition, and a police officer (DS Nick Bailey) was also rushed to intensive care after exposure to the poison.
The fire brigade in hazmat suits in Salisbury in 2018 (Getty)
All three ultimately survived the ordeal. However, a further Novichok poisoning incident in June 2018 left one woman dead and one man seriously ill.
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.
The sole fatality in the Novichok attack was a British woman called Dawn Sturgess. In June 2018, in a town called Amesbury (a few miles outside Salisbury), Sturgess collapsed and was rushed to hospital. Hours later, her boyfriend Charlie Rowley also fell ill and was taken to hospital.
Dawn had sprayed her wrists with liquid from a perfume bottle that Charlie had found in a bin. The bottle was later found to contain Novichok. While Charlie survived the poisoning, Dawn sadly died on 8th July.
The Salisbury Poisonings cast: Who appears in the drama?
The show’s three central cast members are Anne-Marie Duff as Tracy Daszkiewicz, MyAnna Buring as Dawn Sturgess, and Rafe Spall as Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey.
The show also includes Johnny Harris as Charlie Rowley, Annabel Scholey as Sarah Bailey, Mark Addy as Ross Cassidy, Stella Gonet as Caroline Sturgess, and Ron Cook as Stan Sturgess.
Some scenes for the drama were actually shot in Salisbury – but other locations were used for the big set-piece scenes recreating the Novichok attack.
The production team used The Bottle Yard Studios in Bristol as a base, and also filmed around the city and the West Country. Click here for more information on Salisbury Poisonings filming locations.
How will the BBC adapt the story of the Salisbury poisonings?
The three 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.”