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How true to life is Netflix drama The Salisbury Poisonings?

Will you be watching the series?


the salisbury poisonings© Photo: BBC
Francesca Shillcock
Senior Features Writer
Updated: December 21, 2021
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The BBC's 2020 drama The Salisbury Poisonings has landed on Netflix and retells the harrowing story of the poisonings that took place in the Wiltshire town back in 2018.

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While the scandal was played out in the media, this TV series focuses on the heroism of the community and those working behind the scenes as they responded to the crisis. So how accurate is the new programme? Here's all the details you need…

WATCH: The Salisbury Poisonings - official trailer

How accurate is The Salisbury Poisonings?

Although it is a dramatised version of events, the names of the people involved and the concrete events that take place are accurate. The poisonings of 2018 first hit headlines after two Russian nationals Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with the Novichok nerve agent. Four months later, two Salisbury locals, Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess, were admitted to hospital after being poisoned with same nerve agent – this story arc forms the premise of the show.

The drama also focuses on those working behind the scenes of the story, including detectives and authorities working for the local Public Health department. The show's co-writer Declan Lawn explained the reasons for focusing on this aspect of their story. "We felt with Salisbury there was an untold human story that should be told as soon as we started researching it. We found these incredible stories that no one had ever heard before about the response to what happened there."

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salisbury poisonings 1© Photo: BBC

The BBC drama retells the story over three episodes

Fellow writer Adam Patterson echoed this, explaining: "The agreement we came to with us and the BBC was that we would only tell the story if the people affected wanted to tell it, and I think ethically that puts us in the right place to tell it, but also we wanted to do something different, we didn't want to speculate on the spy angle, we wanted to look at it through a different lens, and essentially look at how an invisible threat can essentially just destroy a place."

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salisbury poisonings 2© Photo: BBC

The programme tells the story of the poisonings in 2018

Who stars in The Salisbury Poisonings?

The Director of Wiltshire's Public Health, Tracy Daszkiewicz, is portrayed by Anne-Marie Duff. The actress plays one of the leading figures in the response to the poisonings. Viewers will recognise Anne-Marie from Netflix's Sex Education, His Dark Materials and plenty of other shows and films. Playing the two victims Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley are MyAnna Buring and Johnny Harris respectively. MyAnna's credits include Downton Abbey, Twilight and Ripper Street. Viewers will recognise Johnny Harris from his parts in Medici, Fortitude and This Is England. Other stars of the show include, Rafe Spall (Jurassic World, One Day), Darren Boyd (Killing Eve, Green Wing) and Annabel Scholey (The Split, Britannia).

anne marie and darren© Photo: BBC

Anne Marie and Darren Boyd star in the drama

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