Marina Litvinenko shares son’s reaction to David Tennant role

Marina Litvinenko: Putin's attitude to spy poisoning proves "he did it"

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Litvinenko retells the story of how a Russian defector, named Alexander Litvinenko, was poisoned in central London in 2006. His widow Marina helped producers and directors create the series, despite how painful it was to revisit those tragic memories. She spoke to and other media about how she and her son felt about David Tennant taking on the titular role. 

Alexander, known as Sasha by his loved ones, was an ex-Russian Federal Security Service officer who moved to London with his family to start a new life. 

He started to feel extremely ill after a meeting in central London and was subsequently rushed to hospital where he was convinced he had been poisoned at the hands of Vladimir Putin. 

As he was dying, two detectives listened to his story, and a photograph of Sasha lying on his hospital bed was published across the globe. 

Following his death, just days later, it was confirmed he had been poisoned by a lethal radioactive substance.

Marina would spend the next decade of her life fighting for justice for her late husband and pushed the UK government for a public inquiry into his death.

Sasha is portrayed by Doctor Who legend David Tennant who also executive-produced the series. 

Margarita Levieva, who lived in Russia for the first decade of her life, stars as Marina in the series.

David, Margarita and Marina recently opened up to and other media about creating the series.

Marina revealed her son, Anatoly, told her it was important to make the series to share his father’s story. 

“It was very stressful,” Marina began. “But I always tried to reflect on what [Anatoly] might say and I knew it would get public attention and his life might be destroyed too. 

“But he told me, ‘Mummy we have to do it.’”

“When he joined me for the public inquiry he was so nervous as it wasn’t easy, but he did it.”

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Marina continued: “Sasha was a real man, there were many different sides, both good and bad. 

“I didn’t want [my son] to have this last image of his father [in the hospital].”

David said it was important to retell Sasha’s story to the world to remind people what happened. 

He explained: “It’s also the emotional fracturing of a family, the terrible truth of what was attempted by this gangster [Putin] who has all this power.”

“It was unjust and unfair,” he added. “What Litvinenko set out to do was to make sure this story was told, that’s how it felt.”

“The most important thing we can do is tell the story again and again and again because that way Putin loses,” the Scottish actor said. 

However, he said: “It’s a story which has repercussions, you are very aware of that.

“You’re not only carrying the story as a fable for our times, but you are also carrying the story of a family and that felt very precious and very delicate.” 

 Litvinenko episodes are available to watch on ITVX. 

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