EXCLUSIVE: David Tennant is to play Alexander Litvinenko, who former Russian Federal Security Services and KGB officer who was poisoned to death, in a drama series for ITV and Nordic Entertainment Group.
The former Doctor Who star, who recently played serial killer Dennis Nilsen in Des, stars alongside The Deuce’s Margarita Levieva, in the four-part series, which comes from Lupin creator George Kay.
It is the story of the determined Scotland Yard Officers who worked for ten years to prove who was responsible, in one of the most complex and dangerous investigations in the history of the Metropolitan Police.
The drama also focuses upon the story of Marina, played by Levieva, who has also recurred on The Blacklist and Revenge, Alexander’s fearless, dignified widow who fought tirelessly to persuade the British Government to publicly name her husband’s killers and acknowledge the role of the Russian State in his murder.
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Litvinenko is produced with the support of many of the key individuals involved in the investigation and subsequent public enquiry including former Scotland Yard officers, Clive Timmons and Brent Hyatt, along with Ben Emmerson QC and Alexander’s family.
Catastrophe star Mark Bonnar will play Timmons, whilst Small Axe’s Neil Maskell is playing Hyatt.
The drama will relate how in November 2006 two police officers were called to University College Hospital in London to interview a patient in declining health. The patient was Litvinenko, a Russian dissident who claimed to have been poisoned on the direct orders of Vladimir Putin.
During the police interviews, Litvinenko provided meticulous details from his hospital bedside about the events leading up to his illness. His information would ultimately help detectives track down two Russians who had poisoned Litvinenko with Polonium 210, a highly toxic radioactive substance.
The iconic photograph taken of Litvinenko at his bedside generated international headlines, and after he was pronounced dead on November 23, Scotland Yard launched its murder investigation.
It is written by George Kay, who created Netflix’s international smash hit Lupin as well as police interrogation drama Criminal and who was a writer on Killing Eve.
ITV Studios and Peaky Blinders producer Tiger Aspect produce. It will air on ITV in the UK and on NENT Group’s Viaplay streamer in the Nordics, Baltic region and the Netherlands. It will be distributed internationally by ITV Studios.
The series will be directed by Jim Field Smith, who worked with Kay on Netflix’s Criminal, and will be exec produced by Patrick Spence, who exec produced Netflix’s The Eddy, for ITV, Josephine Zapata Genetay for NENT Group, Lucy Bedford for Tiger Aspect Productions, Kay, Jim Field Smith and David Tennant. The co-producer is Richard Kerbaj for Hunting the KGB Killers producer Livedrop Media and Chris May is producer. It was commissioned by ITV’s head of drama Polly Hill, who will oversee production of the series from the channel’s perspective.
George Kay said, “In late 2006, Alexander Litvinenko was a living witness to his own murder. He spent his dying days entrusting the Metropolitan Police with the details of what happened to him. It took those police and his remarkable widow Marina Litvinenko a decade to have those claims ratified. Their stamina, hard work and bravery are what make this not only an essential story of our times but a privilege to be asked to write.”
Patrick Spence said, “This one is a privilege, a once in a career opportunity to tell a story about a family and a police team who have shown such courage and resilience that it has inspired us all.”
Polly Hill added, “After David’s incredible performance as Dennis Nilsen I’m delighted he returns to ITV to play Alexander Litvinenko in the incredible story of his murder. George Kay’s scripts are brilliant and this is an important story that documents a long police investigation and a powerful campaign for justice by his wife Marina. It is going to make a compelling drama and I am proud to have it on ITV.”