The co-producer of ITVX's Litvinenko has revealed that star David Tennant "saved" the project, which he claims was at risk of being scrapped during the COVID pandemic.


The upcoming series, which dramatises the 2006 investigation into former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko's poisoning and death, as well as his wife's Marina (Margarita Levieva) efforts to push the British government to name her husband's killers.

Speaking ahead of the drama's release, co-producer Richard Kerbaj revealed that Tennant – who stars as Litvinenko – played a "much greater" part in making the show happen than viewers may think.

"David Tennant saved our show. You will get a lot of people praising his exceptional performance as Alexander Litvinenko. It lives up to his high standards. But what he did for the show is much greater than play that part," he said.

David Tennant as Alexander Litvinenko in Litvinenko.
David Tennant as Alexander Litvinenko in Litvinenko. ITV

"He saved our show because it was commissioned a few months before COVID hit. We were then on the rocks for a little while wondering if we would ever be able to film this. Had David Tennant decided not to stay involved, I’m not sure if the drama would have been made."

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Kerbaj added that Tennant was "so determined" to play the part of the former Russian Federal Security Services, "even before" the producer set up a meeting between him and Litvinenko's widow Marina Litvinenko.

"At no point did he wobble. So this is his show as much as anyone else’s, if not more. He played a key role," he continued. "Much bigger than just the actor he is on screen. Playing one of the most famous illustrations of Russia’s disregard for human rights, human beings and international laws."

He went on to praise Tennant's portrayal of Litvinenko by saying that he played the part with "a great deal of sensitivity".

"David Tennant has done something extraordinary for [Marina Litvinenko]. Because so many people had promised to tell her husband’s story in a drama and no one did it. David is beyond an actor. He is exceptional on screen," he said. "But his even greater contribution was through the way he connected with Marina and the project and saved it during COVID."

The upcoming drama will see Mark Bonnar play Scotland Yard officer Clive Timmons and Neil Maskell play his colleague Brent Hyatt, while ITV recently released a first-look trailer of Tennant in the role as Litvinenko.

Litvinenko arrives on ITVX as a full boxset on Thursday 15th December. For more news, interviews and features, visit our Drama hub, or find something to watch now with our TV Guide.


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