Brand-new ITVX drama Litvinenko arrives this week, starring David Tennant in the lead role as Alexander Litvinenko.


However, with the drama also focussing on the 10-year investigation into the former Russian spy's poisoning, the perspective shifts throughout the series, with stars such as Margarita Levieva, Mark Bonnar and Neil Maskell also taking the lead.

The series's writer George Kay recently spoke exclusively with and explained the choice behind the series's shifting lead actors - as well as its shifting genres.

"I felt very much that the initial conversation [between Litvinenko and the police] was a brilliant way in for the first episode, but the story is one of a baton being passed on quite a lot between different detectives."

David Tennant as Alexander Litvinenko and Margarita Levieva as his wife Marina in Litvinenko.
David Tennant as Alexander Litvinenko and Margarita Levieva as his wife Marina in Litvinenko. ITV Studios for ITVX

He continued: "In the first episode, you have Sasha Litvinenko as a detective in his own murder case. In the second, episode you then see the British Met Police contend with what is essentially a disaster movie story, so these genres switch with the protagonists too, because it's easy to forget that at the time, this was essentially a chemical attack on a British High Street.

"It's a story that's told around Itsus and Waterstoneses and hotels and places we've all been, and places the audience will know. And they didn't know the risks. They didn't know if by being in contact with polonium-210, just how many lives were at risk. So we were very attracted to the sort of live feel of a disaster film."

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Kay said he sees Litvinenko as "quite a mixed piece, in a good way".

"We have a kind of Cold War trip to Moscow in the third episode," he added. "And then the final detective in our piece is actually Marina Litvinenko, who's the one person who sticks with it right to the end fighting with Ben Emerson for justice in that kind of courtroom drama."

Levieva recently spoke with about working with Tennant on the series, calling his performance "remarkable" and him a "stunning artist".

Tennant, meanwhile, previously said that the "captivating and compelling" series tells a story which "had to be told".

Litvinenko arrives on ITVX as a full boxset on Thursday 15th December.

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