The Salisbury Poisonings, a new BBC One dramatisation based on the true events of the 2018 Novichok poisonings, will air over three consecutive nights from 14th-16th June, after basing at The Bottle Yard Studios and filming in Bristol and other South West locations last year.
In March 2018 Salisbury became the site of an unprecedented national emergency. The three-part drama focuses on the extraordinary heroism shown by the local community during the public health crisis that followed, capturing the bravery, resilience and, in some cases, personal tragedy of the unsuspecting locals who faced a situation of unimaginable horror so close to home. Dancing Ledge Productions based at The Bottle Yard Studios from October to December 2019, whilst filming in Bristol and across the South West at locations within Salisbury as well as Weston Super Mare, Clevedon and Malmesbury.
Bristol Film Office supported large scale filming at Castle Park, which provided the location for the Salisbury park where Sergei and Yulia Skripal were discovered unconscious on a bench after being exposed to the Novichok nerve agent. Market stalls were built along the east side of the park to recreate The Maltings shopping area which had to be evacuated when the major decontamination operation began.
L-R Director Saul Dibb with cast in Bristol’s Castle Park; Sgnt Tracy Holloway (Natalie Klamar) & Sergei Skripal (Wayne Swann). Credit BBC / Dancing Ledge / James Pardon
Filming also took place on King Street, which provided the location for exterior shots of the Amesbury home of Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess, the couple who were also exposed to the nerve agent, resulting in the tragic death of Dawn Sturgess in hospital days later. Interior scenes were filmed at Devon House in Whitehall. Soundwell Centre provided the location for interiors of Salisbury District Hospital and Bristol Cathedral doubled as the interior of Salisbury Cathedral. A house on Watchill Avenue in Highridge provided the location for the Dawn Sturgess’s parents’ home. Filming also took place on St Nicholas Street where the army set up a quarantine area, whilst Canon’s Way and Circular Road were used for emergency driving scenes featuring cars and motorbikes.
Producer Karen Lewis said: “This is a unique story about Salisbury so we were keen to film there as much as possible. However, we didn’t want to remind its residents of the extraordinary, disruptive events they experienced in 2018 by recreating big set pieces there. The drama includes news archive from the time, so our locations needed to be as authentic as possible. Bristol has a wealth of modern and period architecture and is very film-friendly. We were hugely supported by the Film Office and The Bottle Yard Studios in finding our key locations and in the filming of this sensitive production.”
Bristol Film Office’s Natalie Moore says: “This was a highly sensitive project that the production team were committed to handling carefully and respectfully. With their main base at The Bottle Yard, it was our role to help source the most suitable Bristol areas to double for Salisbury locations that were central to the telling of this story. The Castle Park and King Street filming days were incredibly sobering and handled with great discretion, despite requiring numerous police, fire and ambulance vehicles, actors, scientists and investigators in full hazmat suits and policemen conducting fingertip searches. We were pleased to help the production acquire the space and privacy they needed to re-enact these dramatic events that could not be filmed in Salisbury itself out of respect for local communities.”
L-R Rafe Spall as Nick Bailey; police crime scene. Credit BBC / Dancing Ledge / James Pardon
The Salisbury Poisonings’ esteemed cast is led by Anne-Marie Duff (Shameless, His Dark Materials), who plays Tracy Daszkiewicz, director of public health for Wiltshire Council. Rafe Spall (The War Of The Worlds, Denmark) plays DS Nick Baily, the father-of-two who survived after 18 days in hospital, after being exposed to the nerve agent. MyAnna Buring (The Witcher, Ripper Street) plays Dawn Sturgess and Johnny Harris (This is England ‘86, Jawbone) plays Charlie Rowley. Cast also includes Mark Addy (Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey), Annabel Scholey (The Split, Britannia). Additional cast include Ron Cook, Stella Gonet, Faye McKeever, Kimberley Nixon, Andrew Brooke & Duncan Pow.
The Salisbury Poisonings is written by Adam Patterson and Declan Lawn, directed by Saul Dibb (Dublin Murders, The Duchess, Bullet Boy) and produced by Karen Lewis (Years and Years, Happy Valley, Last Tango In Halifax). Executive Producers are Laurence Bowen and Chris Carey for Dancing Ledge Productions, Lucy Richer for the BBC and Adam Patterson and Declan Lawn. FremantleMedia are handling international distribution.
The Salisbury Poisonings begins on BBC One on 14th June at 9pm and continues on 15th & 16th June.