Here’s why The Salisbury Poisonings includes the real-life people in its finale

The three-part BBC drama includes a 'where are they now?' epilogue at the end of the final episode. Director Saul Dibb explains why he wanted to 'segue from the actors to the real people'.

The Sturgess family in The Salisbury Poisonings

BBC One’s The Salisbury Poisonings has a deeply affecting final few minutes, as the real-life people whose stories are told in the drama come together to show us “where they are now” in the present day.

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In the closing moments of the final episode, we meet the real Tracy Daszkiewicz (previously played in the drama by Anne-Marie Duff) as well as her son Toby and husband Ted. She’s now been promoted to Deputy Director of Public Health for the whole of South West England.

Then there’s Ross and Mo Cassidy (never saw the Skripals again; but “they did receive a Christmas card”). Next up is Rafe Spall’s character, Nick Bailey, filmed with his wife and daughters; he remains in the police service and continues to recover from the effect of the nerve agent – just like Charlie Rowley, who now lives near his brother Matthew. Finally we meet the entire Sturgess family, who are still looking for answers about the death of their loved one Dawn Sturgess.

Of the epilogue, director Saul Dibb told press including RadioTimes.com: “It just felt like – we needed to put information at the end obviously to say where people were, and it just felt like we’d all worked so hard to gain the trust of the real people and that they were part of the process.

“And just the obvious thing was to ring them up and say, ‘Look, this is what we’re trying to do, we want to shoot with you at the end in Salisbury in the way that we’ve shot everything else.’ And so to allow the drama in a way to segue from the actors to the real people, and allow them to be presented as the people who have kind of triumphed and survived through this extraordinarily difficult time.”

Charlie Rowley in 2018
Charlie Rowley in 2018 (Getty)

Filming and editing was already complete on the rest of the drama, but the team travelled back to Salisbury in March to shoot the sequence. And they were just in time; a week later, the country went into lockdown.

“We just went for the day to Salisbury, without any of us really realising quite how powerful it was going to be when it was put together,” Dibb said. “And suddenly, with the collective weight of the story beforehand, and I think just how powerfully all of the actors inhabit those people – to then come to the real people just felt like the obvious and natural thing to do.

“And luckily they were, they all understood. I guess it’s a process of conversation throughout the whole thing, so it was always upfront with everybody who was represented in the drama: this what we want to do, and this is why we want to do it. Even if sometimes that will be difficult things that we want to represent, this is why we want to do it. And I think they really responded to that.”

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The Salisbury Poisonings airs on 14th, 15th and 16th June at 9pm on BBC One, and is available now as a boxset on BBC iPlayer. Check out what else is on with our TV Guide