David Tennant says series on Litvinenko poisoning is timely

Dec 6, 2022, 10:43 AM | Updated: 11:16 am

This image released by ITVX/Sundance Now shows David Tennant as Alexander Litvinenko in a scene fro...

This image released by ITVX/Sundance Now shows David Tennant as Alexander Litvinenko in a scene from the series "Litvinenko." (ITVX/Sundance Now via AP)

(ITVX/Sundance Now via AP)

LONDON (AP) — David Tennant remembers seeing in the news the image of Alexander Litvinenko lying in a hospital bed.

It’s a photograph the actor has re-created — with support from makeup artists, prosthetic professionals and the art department– for his title role in “Litvinenko.”

The four-episode miniseries written by George Kay follows the investigation into what happened after Litvinenko — a former KGB agent who defected and became a critic of Russia — was killed by poisoning in 2006.

Tennant says they were motivated to get it right and felt the “weight of responsibility” of recent history.

“The ripples of this moment are still being felt in the pond we’re all still swimming in. Everyone wanted to approach this with a respect for the material, that perhaps goes above and beyond what one might more readily expect,” says the “Doctor Who” actor.

Litvinenko died in London after drinking tea laced with radioactive material in a hotel with two Russian men. He spent three weeks in the hospital but spoke to police from his bed, starting the investigation into what would be his killing.

Tennant marvels at “the very fact that Sasha (Litvinenko) had to survive against the odds, the overwhelming odds, for as long as he did … for them to be able to identify what his poison was, where it had come from, how this had happened …”

At the heart of the series is Marina Litvinenko, who is portrayed by Margarita Levieva. Marina Litvinenko’s fight to ensure her husband is not forgotten and her persistence in the investigation and court cases is central to the series.

In September 2021, the European Court of Human Rights backed the findings of a 2016 British inquiry that said two Russian agents were responsible for the killing of Litvinenko.

Marina Litvinenko also inspired the dedication of those working on the series.

“Suddenly it moves from a story that’s about politics and the dynamics of world diplomacy into a story that’s very raw and that’s very personal and that’s about family,” says Tennant.

“And if we can allow him (Litvinenko) some victory in death, then should be that.”

“Litvinenko” also stars Neil Maskell, Mark Bonnar and Stephen Campbell Moore. The series debuts on Sundance Now and AMC+ on Dec. 16.

Tennant practiced a Russian accent and phrases virtually with a dialect coach ahead of filming. He is proud of the production and interested in viewers’ response to its depiction of events 16 years ago.

“It feels more relevant,” he says, considering the current Russia-Ukraine war.

When it comes to choosing projects, Tennant opts for those that feel relevant, exciting and different, like “Litvinenko.” He has had leading roles in “Around the World in 80 Days” and “Good Omens,” which will launch its second season next year on Amazon Prime Video. He’s also returning to “Doctor Who.”

“There’s a slight precedent for that, old doctors showing up for five minutes here and there. But to get a proper old run around in the Converse again was more than I ever dared imagine. So, it was a treat from start to finish.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

              This image released by ITVX/Sundance Now shows David Tennant as Alexander Litvinenko in a scene from the series "Litvinenko." (ITVX/Sundance Now via AP)
              This image released by ITVX/Sundance Now shows David Tennant as Alexander Litvinenko in a scene from the series "Litvinenko." (ITVX/Sundance Now via AP)


Lead water pipes pulled from underneath the street are seen in Newark, N.J., Oct. 21, 2021. (AP Pho...

Associated Press

Biden to require cities to replace harmful lead pipes within 10 years

The Biden administration has previously said it wants all of the nation's roughly 9 million lead pipes to be removed, and rapidly.

9 hours ago

Dignitaries, including U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, center, break ground on the new ...

Associated Press

Work resumes on $10B renewable energy transmission project in southwestern Arizona despite tribal objections

Federal land managers briefly halted work on the SunZia transmission line earlier this month after Native American tribes raised concerns.

10 hours ago

Facebook's Meta logo sign is seen at the company headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., on, Oct. 28, 2...

Associated Press

Meta shuts down thousands of fake Facebook accounts that were primed to polarize voters ahead of 2024

Meta said it removed 4789 Facebook accounts in China that targeted the United States before next year’s election.

11 hours ago

A demonstrator in Tel Aviv holds a sign calling for a cease-fire in the Hamas-Israel war on Nov. 21...

Associated Press

Hamas releases a third group of hostages as part of truce, and says it will seek to extend the deal

The fragile cease-fire between Israel and Hamas was back on track Sunday as the first American was released under a four-day truce.

5 days ago

Men look over the site of a deadly explosion at Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City, Wednesday, Oct. 18, ...

Associated Press

New AP analysis of last month’s deadly Gaza hospital explosion rules out widely cited video

The Associated Press is publishing an updated visual analysis of the deadly Oct. 17 explosion at Gaza's Al-Ahli Hospital.

8 days ago

Peggy Simpson holds a photograph of law enforcement carrying Lee Harvey Oswald's gun through a hall...

Associated Press

JFK assassination remembered 60 years later by surviving witnesses to history, including AP reporter

Peggy Simpson is among the last surviving witnesses who are sharing their stories as the nation marks the 60th anniversary.

8 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Follow @KTAR923...

The 2023 Diamondbacks are a good example to count on the underdog

The Arizona Diamondbacks made the World Series as a surprise. That they made the playoffs at all, got past the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Wild Card round, swept the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS and won two road games in Philadelphia to close out a full seven-game NLCS went against every expectation. Now, […]

Follow @KTAR923...

West Hunsaker at Morris Hall supports Make-A-Wish Foundation in Arizona

KTAR's Community Spotlight this month focuses on Morris Hall and its commitment to supporting the Make-A-Wish Foundation in Arizona.



Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.

David Tennant says series on Litvinenko poisoning is timely