David Tennant recreates photo of poisoned Alexander Litvinenko lying in hospital

The outspoken critic of Russian president Vladimir Putin was poisoned in 2006.
David Tennant recreates photo of poisoned Alexander Litvinenko lying in hospital

By Charlotte McLaughlin, PA Senior Entertainment Reporter

David Tennant has recreated the famous photo of Russian defector Alexander Litvinenko lying in a hospital bed before his death from poisoning.

Litvinenko, a former Russian federal security services and KGB officer and outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin, died in agony in November 2006 after ingesting a rare radioactive substance.

A new ITV drama will explore the story of the Metropolitan Police officers who investigated the case of Litvinenko, who was found in declining health at University College Hospital in London.

Litvinenko grave
The grave of Alexander Litvinenko in Highgate Cemetery, north London (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Litvinenko will be played by Doctor Who star Tennant. His wife, Marina Litvinenko, will be portrayed by Russian-American actress Margarita Levieva who starred in The Deuce and The Blacklist.

ITV said former New Scotland Yard officers Clive Timmons and Brent Hyatt, along with Marina Litvinenko’s lawyer Ben Emmerson QC and the former spy’s family, have helped the production.

Mark Bonnar, of Catastrophe and Quiz fame, will portray Timmons, while Utopia’s Neil Maskell takes on the role of Hyatt.

A UK public inquiry concluded in 2016 that Russians Dmitri Kovtun and Andrei Lugovoi, had deliberately poisoned Litvinenko by putting Polonium-210 into his drink at the Millennium Hotel in Mayfair.

Mark Bonnar
Mark Bonnar will play New Scotland Yard officer Clive Timmons (Ian West/PA)

Headed by the former High Court judge Sir Robert Owen, the inquiry found the tea poisoning had “probably” been carried out with the approval of the Russian president.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) also ruled last year, following a case brought by the Litvinenko’s widow, that Russia was responsible for his killing.

Russia has always denied any involvement in the death and had refused to comply with international arrest warrants issued for Kovtun and Lugovoi.

Sir Robert’s inquiry said the use of the radioactive substance – which could only have come from a nuclear reactor – was a “strong indicator” of state involvement and that the two men had probably been acting under the direction of the Russian security service the FSB, for which Litvinenko used to work.

David Tennant
David Tennant will star as Russian defector Alexander Litvinenko (Suzan Moore/PA)

Possible motives included Litvinenko’s work for British intelligence agencies after fleeing Russia, his criticism of the FSB, and his association with other Russian dissidents, while it was said there was also a “personal dimension” to the antagonism between him and Putin.

Kovtun died in June of Covid-19 in Moscow, according to state-owned Russian news agency Tass.

Litvinenko will stream exclusively on ITVX this December.

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