In March, 2018, Salisbury became the site of an unprecedented national emergency. A three-part dramatisation by the BBC focuses on the extraordinary heroism of the local community. The drama starts at 9pm and is on three consecutive nights from Sunday June 14 on BBC One.
The drama was previously announced in May 2019, and filming began at the end of October 2019.
The events, and the local a public health crisis response has ingredients of the current Corvid-19 crisis, according to a BBC statement about the programme.
“The nerve agent attacks on the Skripals, and local woman Dawn Sturgess who lost her life in July, had become contaminated by nerve agent in a perfume bottle found by her boyfriend Charlie Rowley.
“The wounds from these events, both individual and collective, were still very raw, and we knew that there was a chance that it simply might not be right to tell this story at this time. But when we began researching individual accounts of what happened, we uncovered multiple stories of remarkable courage, resilience, and heroism.
“We were inspired by what we were hearing, and we began to feel that now, soon after the event, was a good time to try and bring these stories to light. Internationally, the events in Salisbury had been cast as an affront to the UK, even an embarrassment. Locally, we were hearing stories that pointed towards people at their best.
We set about contacting the people who had been most directly affected by the events. The Sturgess family, who had lost their daughter Dawn. Charlie Rowley, Dawn’s boyfriend, who almost died from his own exposure to Novichok. Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, who was contaminated during the course of his own work and who also ended up in a fight for his life. All of them told us their stories and co-operated with the drama. We spent many hours with them, over many months, trying to get the stories right, and we feel a huge debt of thanks to them for taking part.
“Naturally, we have watched the recent events around COVID-19 with fascination, because there are so many resonances with the story we tell in Salisbury. Many of the things we observed there have subsequently played out across the country.
The BBC warns: “The Salisbury Poisonings is not an easy watch. It deals with real trauma, experienced by real people, not very long ago. So why show it now? Because it is a story of people coming together in remarkable ways, finding strength in family and community. It’s a story that reflects the internal reality of an emergency public health response, with all of its critical decisions: but, perhaps most of all, because it reflects a kind of heroism we have all come to recognise recently, a heroism that is quiet – ordinary even – wrapped in a simple sense of civic duty we had wrongly assumed was on the wane, but that really had only been lying dormant. It’s an everyday kind of heroism that nonetheless changes the world.”