ONE of the writers of a new drama centred around last year’s Novichok poisonings say they felt a "huge sense of responsibility" to those portrayed in the series and the city.

The three-part factual drama for BBC Two, Salisbury, has been written by Adam Patterson and Declan Lawn and produced by Dancing Ledge Productions.

Filming, which will take place mostly in Bristol, has started.

The drama focuses on the impact the 2018 Novichok poisonings had on local community.

Salisbury Journal:

Declan, who worked as a journalist on Panorama before moving into screenwriting, said: “The thing about this drama is it is not a spy story, it's the consequences of a spy story.

“We’re not trying to get to the bottom here of the spy angle or exactly who did it, why or when. This is about ordinary heroes in the community who responded to the events. That is across the emergency services, the public services.

"We have come away with the impression that the response by the public services in Wiltshire, I mean the police, the council, public health was just absolutely exemplary and remarkable. It shows in our opinion the best of British public service. Local people dealing with something on their doorstep in a really brilliant way.”

He says it looks at the “heroism” shown and the determination for the city to get back on its feet.

“I’m not denying that for some individuals they might find it quite difficult but I think the nature of the story we are telling is a story that has never been told and we all feel, everyone who has read the scripts feels, you couldn’t tell that story soon enough,” he said.

“It is such a remarkable story, now feels a really good time to tell it.”

The pair spent about a year researching for the drama and have worked closely with those portrayed in the drama and agencies like the police, ambulance service and Wiltshire Council.

Declan added: “We have a huge sense of responsibility to the people we are portraying but also to Salisbury as a city. Salisbury as a city has collectively been through a trauma and there is always going to be a question ‘is this the write time?, is it too soon?, should we be doing it at all?’. We weighed that up a lot and the BBC weighed it up a lot. But really when people see it they’ll realise it is actually a very uplifting story about ordinary heroism, about people with ordinary lives in situations who rise to the occasion.

“Everyone in the drama, every step of the way, has been working very closely with us so that we are telling the story that is sensitive to them and to any kind of trauma that they still have. We have been very careful about that and just trying to make sure we don’t unduly cause any unnecessary mental anguish here.”

Leading the cast is Anne-Marie Duff (Shameless, His Dark Materials), who is joined by Rafe Spall (The War Of The Worlds, Denmark), Mark Addy (Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey) Annabel Scholey (The Split, Britannia), Johnny Harris (This is England ‘86, Jawbone) and MyAnna Buring (The Witcher, Ripper Street).

The drama also stars Ron Cook, Stella Gonet, Faye McKeever, Kimberley Nixon and Duncan Pow.

It is directed by Saul Dibb (Dublin Murders, The Duchess, Bullet Boy) and produced by Karen Lewis (Years and Years, Happy Valley, Last Tango In Halifax).

On what audiences can, expect Declan said: “They can expect to see a story about the Salisbury Novichok poisoning that hasn’t been told before. A story that is quite unexpected and a story that shows the resilience of Salisbury. I think they can prepared to be a little bit surprised in a good way about the story we are telling.”