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Why wasn't The Salisbury Poisonings filmed in Salisbury?

The BBC drama stars Anne-Marie Duff and Rafe Spall

salisbury sergei and yulia
Francesca Shillcock
Senior Features Writer
June 16, 2020
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New BBC drama The Salisbury Poisonings has had viewers gripped for the past three nights as it retells the 2018 Novichok nerve agent crisis.

The drama, which stars Anne-Marie Duff and Rafe Spall, begins by depicting the discovery of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, two Russian nationals who were found unconscious on a park bench in Salisbury, after they were poisoned by the nerve agent by undercover Russian spies.

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The drama then focuses on the fallout of this attack, including Salisbury locals who came into contact with the agent as a result of the initial poisoning. But where was the drama filmed? Find out details on the filming locations below and why they avoided shooting many scenes in the local area...

salisbury rafe and annabel© Photo: BBC

Rafe Spall and Annabel Scholey star in the drama

Where is The Salisbury Poisonings filmed?

The cast and crew headed to the West Country to film the programme, with a lot of the scenes being shot in other small and surrounding towns to Salisbury. The BBC teams and actors even headed into Bristol to shoot some scenes, including in the cathedral to represent Salisbury cathedral.

Many of the interior scenes were set in Whitehall, London, while the hospital scenes were shot in Soundwell Leisure centre in Bristol.

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the salisbury poison© Photo: BBC

The director and crew decided to avoid filming in Salisbury

Why wasn't The Salisbury Poisonings filmed in Salisbury?

Although parts of the three-part series were filmed in Salisbury, a decision was made that the vast majority of filming would take place in other parts of the West Country out of respect to the citizens, given the distressing events occurred in very recent years.

Anne-Marie Duff, who plays Tracy Daszkiewicz, Director of Wiltshire's Public Health, discussed the filming locations during a recent appearance on This Morning.

Speaking to Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby about the decision to film elsewhere, the actress explained: "There were a few wee bits that were shot in Salisbury because we couldn't mock up certain areas." 

"But generally speaking we avoided it, because it would have been a very emotive experience for people walking down the street to have seen mock ups of what happened."

anne marie and darren© Photo: BBC

Anne-Marie stars as the Director of Wiltshire's Public Health

The show's director, Saul Dibb, echoed this notion in a separate chat. "We took a lot of time discussing about where we would and wouldn't shoot things. The first point is that things needed to sort of feel real and very authentic, very truthful, but we knew there were huge sensitivities around shooting things in Salisbury."

"For the people of Salisbury, it's a very recent trauma for them. So we did shoot some things in Salisbury, but we drew a line," he explained.

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