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The Female Nuclear Scientist From Chernobyl Is Not Based On A Real Person

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The Female Nuclear Scientist From Chernobyl Is Not Based On A Real Person

There's a lot of chat around the truths and dramatisations of HBO's Chernobyl. The mini-series, as we all know by now, looks at the nuclear disaster that happened in the Ukraine in 1986.

But the show actually features one character who never actually existed in real life. Ulana Khomyuk is a nuclear physicist who realises what has happened long before the authorities decide to give the unsuspecting public any insight in to the truth.

Ulana, played by Emily Watson, starts to investigate what led to the real-life explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power station near Pripyat, Ukraine.

Her character portrayed a whole group of scientists. Credit: HBO
Her character portrayed a whole group of scientists. Credit: HBO
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But while many of her co-stars portray real people from history, Ulana's character is actually an amalgamation of multiple people. The 'fictional composite character' - if you want to use the fancy media term - is the personification of a whole group of scientists who tried to get to the bottom of what went on at Chernobyl.

HBO confirmed this on its website, saying: "Soviet nuclear physicist Khomyuk is committed to solving the mystery of what led to the Chernobyl disaster. Her character is based on the many scientists who investigated the accident."

I mean, it's hardly surprising that there weren't many female scientists knocking around in the Soviet Union in 1980s - but her character is important, and Chernobyl creator Craig Mazin, spoke to TV Take about why.

In the interview, which is part of the podcast from Variety, he does mention that the show is 'accurate to how dude-heavy Chernobyl was' as many women weren't in positions of political power, but he created Ulana to reflect the real-life women who were prominent in medical and science fields in the Soviet Union.

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Craig Mazin is the creator and writer of the HBO miniseries. Credit: HBO
Craig Mazin is the creator and writer of the HBO miniseries. Credit: HBO

Mazin said: "Very few women were ever in the kind of overall ruling political body of the Soviet Union.

But one area where the Soviets were actually more progressive than we were was in the area of science and medicine, particularly medicine. The Soviet Union had quite a large percentage of female doctors."

He also said about how the Soviet Union lost so many men during WWII that women began to fill positions they had never had the opportunity to do before.

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He added: "She represents all of these other scientists that came in and risked quite a bit to fight a system - not just the system of government, but also the system of science, which in and of itself, had a certain patriarchy to it and was very interested in protecting itself from its own mistakes."

Featured Image Credit: HBO

Topics: TV and Film

Amelia Ward
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