The Real People Whose Stories Lie Behind The Chernobyl Series
Casting for a TV show that's based on a true story is never going to be an easy task, but Nina Gold absolutely nailed it with Chernobyl - and based on the reviews, it seems the cast did a stand-up job of portraying their real life counterparts.
The Sky and HBO mini-series, the finale of which airs tonight on Sky Atlantic, is based on the real disaster that happened at the Chernobyl power plant in Ukraine in 1986 - but who are the real people that the characters are based on?
Jared Harris played Valery Legasov. The British actor, who you'll recognise from shows such as The Crown and Mad Men, portrayed the scientist who was one of the first to respond to the disaster.
In real life, Legasov demanded that the surrounding areas should be evacuated, but in an effort to keep up the front of the Soviets having everything under control, his request was denied.
He was also pressured into lying in the official report of the incident. He attempted suicide in 1987, but was found dead in his apartment a year later, the day before he was due to present the results to the politburo. A section of his recording was deliberately deleted shortly after his death - as in the scene which opens the show in the first episode.
Adam Nagaitis played Vasily Ignatenko, the firefighter who was first on the scene to put out the blaze on the roof. He died two weeks later.
His pregnant wife Lyudmilla, played by Jessie Buckley, actually took care of the decomposing firefighters - as other nurses didn't want to approach them. Their baby girl Natasha died of cirrhosis and congenital heart disease four hours after her birth.
In another scene, we see Lyudmilla holding Vasily's shoes at his funeral - this was revealed to be because the firefighter was buried barefoot, as no shoes would fit him because of the effects of the radiation. HBO has been commended for keeping it as close to real life as possible
Remember that harrowing speech which results in three men volunteering to go into the reactor to die, in order to save millions?
Known as the 'Suicide Squad' thanks to their hopeless task, Valeri Bezpalov (played by Philip Barantini), Alexei Ananenko (Baltasar Breki Samper) and Boris Baranov (Oscar Giese) entered the chamber to release the water.
This is possibly the most mysterious set of characters - nobody really knows what happened. Some say they all died shortly after, while other sources say they lived a long life, as the water absorbed much of the radiation.
Anatoly Dyatlov, played by Paul Ritter, was the supervisor on the night of the disastrous test.
Dyatlov supervised the test at Reactor 4. In 1987, he was sentenced to 10 years in a labour camp - he was released early but died of heart failure in 1995.
Prior to his death, he wrote a book, saying he was a scapegoat and blaming the bad design of the reactor. it was later found that he threatened to sack staff if they didn't comply - but this could be a reflection of the pressure on him from his superiors.
The finale for Chernobyl airs tonight on Sky Atlantic at 9pm.
Featured Image Credit: Sky/HBO
Topics: TV and Film