The Salisbury Poisonings

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The Salisbury Poisonings
GenreCrime Drama
Written by
  • Adam Patterson
  • Declan Lawn
Directed bySaul Dibb
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series1
No. of episodes3 (as first shown)
ProducerKaren Lewis
Running time55 minutes
Production companyDancing Ledge Productions
Original release
NetworkBBC One
Release14 June (2020-06-14) –
16 June 2020 (2020-06-16)

The Salisbury Poisonings is a fact-based television drama, starring Anne-Marie Duff, Rafe Spall and Annabel Scholey[1][2] which portrays the 2018 Novichok poisonings and decontamination crisis in Salisbury, England, and the subsequent Amesbury poisonings. The series was broadcast in three parts on BBC One in June 2020,[3] and has been shown in four parts elsewhere. It was created by Adam Patterson and Declan Lawn[4] for Dancing Ledge Productions.[5]


On 4 March 2018, emergency services receive a call to attend to Sergei and Yulia Skripal who have been found unconscious on a park bench in Salisbury city centre. Medical practitioners are initially puzzled by their illness, and police and the local public health department become involved. A national emergency is precipitated when it is learned that Skripal is a former Russian military intelligence officer who acted as a double agent for the UK's intelligence services during the 1990s and early 2000s. It emerges that he and his daughter were poisoned with a highly potent Novichok agent which was smeared on the front-door handle of their residence. The docudrama also deals with the incidental exposure of several other persons, including a police officer and an uninvolved couple who found a perfume bottle containing the nerve agent which they administered to themselves. At the end of the series, the real-life people involved in the story are pictured returning to the scene, and some film is shown of Dawn Sturgess, the only person to die from their exposure to the Novichok.



No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateUK viewers
(millions) [6]
1"Episode 1"Saul DibbAdam Patterson & Declan Lawn14 June 2020 (2020-06-14)11.65
The Skripals and DS Bailey fight to survive, whilst the director of public health in Wiltshire, Tracy Daszkiewicz, and the emergency services try to locate the source of the nerve agent to prevent further casualties.[7]
2"Episode 2"Saul DibbAdam Patterson & Declan Lawn15 June 2020 (2020-06-15)10.77
CID officer Nick Bailey’s condition worsens as Tracy struggles to protect local residents against the numerous deposits of Novichok being found across the city.[8]
3"Episode 3"Saul DibbAdam Patterson & Declan Lawn16 June 2020 (2020-06-16)10.39
Several months later, the city is starting to forget and heal—until a scavenged perfume bottle leads to tragic consequences for local couple Dawn and Charlie.[9]


Writing in The Guardian, Lucy Mangan praised the show's script and direction as being "admirably restrained", and compared the calm actions of its characters facing a "new normal" to the reactions of the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.[10]

Release and distribution[edit]

Worldwide distribution is handled by Fremantle. In June 2020 it was announced that AMC signed an agreement with Fremantle to exclusively broadcast the show in the United States.[11] The AMC broadcast is slated to premiere 25 January 2021.

The series was shown over four nights on SBS TV in Australia from 24 August 2020.[12]

In December 2021 the series was re-released on Netflix[13] and Disney Plus.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Griffiths, Eleanor Bley (6 June 2020). "Meet the cast of The Salisbury Poisonings". Radio Times. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  2. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy; Kanter, Jake (31 May 2020). "'The Salisbury Poisonings': First Trailer For BBC One's Novichok Drama; Premiere Date Set; Creatives Talk Heroism Of A Community In Crisis". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 19 June 2020.
  3. ^ McIntosh, Steven (14 June 2020). "The Salisbury Poisonings: TV drama revisits Novichok attack 'horror'". BBC News. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  4. ^ "BBC Two commissions two-part factual drama Salisbury, 17 May 2019". BBC. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  5. ^ Patterson, Adam; Lawn, Declan (10 June 2020). "How we made The Salisbury Poisonings". BBC Writers' Room. Retrieved 18 June 2020.
  6. ^ "Weekly top programmes on four screens (from Sept 2018)". BARB. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  7. ^ "Series 1 Episode 1". BBC iPlayer. 14 June 2020.
  8. ^ "Series 1 Episode 2". BBC iPlayer. 14 June 2020.
  9. ^ "Series 1 Episode 3". BBC iPlayer. 14 June 2020.
  10. ^ Lucy Mangan (14 June 2020). "The Salisbury Poisonings review – Novichok drama with lessons for now". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  11. ^ "The Salisbury Poisonings heads to the US". Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  12. ^ Northover, Kylie (19 August 2020). "The Salisbury Poisonings is an extraordinary drama about ordinary people". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 24 August 2020.
  13. ^ "New documentary to air on Salisbury Novichok poisonings". Greatest Hits Radio (Salisbury). Retrieved 22 December 2021.
  14. ^ "'The Salisbury Poisonings' Coming to Disney+ (UK/IRE)". 23 November 2021.

External links[edit]