David Tennant is to star as the former Russian Federal Security Services and KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko, in a new drama commissioned by ITV and the Nordic Entertainment Group (NENT Group).
The four-part series, Litvinenko, focuses on the officer’s death, from polonium poisoning in November 2006, and the subsequent criminal investigation, one of the most complex and dangerous investigations in the history of the Metropolitan Police. Litvinenko was written by acclaimed screenwriter George Kay (Lupin, Criminal) to tell the story of the determined Scotland Yard Officers, many of whom supported the drama’s production, who worked for ten years to prove who was responsible. It also focuses upon the story of Marina, played by Margarita Levieva (The Deuce, The Blacklist), 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.
George Kay says, “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.”
In November 2006 two police officers were called to University College Hospital in London to interview a patient in declining health. The patient was Alexander Litvinenko, a Russian dissident who claimed to have been poisoned on the direct orders of Vladimir Putin.
During the police interviews, Alexander 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.
Litvinenko co-stars Mark Bonnar (Catastrophe, Quiz) and Neil Maskell (Small Axe, Utopia), who will play key Scotland Yard officers Clive Timmons and Brent Hyatt. The series will be directed by Jim Field Smith (Criminal, Truth Seekers) and produced by Chris May. It is executive produced by Patrick Spence for ITV Studios (Adult Material, Marvellous), Josephine Zapata Genetay for NENT Group, Lucy Bedford for Tiger Aspect Productions (Viewpoint, The Good Karma Hospital), George Kay, Jim Field Smith and David Tennant. The co-Producer is Richard Kerbaj for Livedrop Media (Hunting the KGB Killers, Unmasking Jihadi John: Anatomy of a Terrorist).
Litvinenko has been commissioned for ITV by Head of Drama, Polly Hill, who will oversee production of the series from the channel’s perspective, and who commented, “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.”
Litvinenko will be distributed internationally by ITV Studios. In the Nordic region, Baltic region, Poland and the Netherlands, the series will premiere exclusively on NENT Group’s Viaplay streaming service. Distribution in other regions has yet to be announced.