23:17 GMT01 June 2020
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    The mini-series is currently untitled and no provisional cast list has been released, although it's being written by Adam Patterson and Declan Lawn - the former a veteran Panorama journalist, the latter a long-time Panorama producer.

    The BBC has commissioned a two-part drama inspired by the alleged nerve agent attack on former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

    "We feel extremely privileged to be telling this story. Extensive, meticulous research is at the heart of how we like to work and we've been overwhelmed by the generosity of the people of Salisbury who have opened up to us over the past few months and continue to do so. This is an extraordinary story full of ordinary heroes, the tale of how a community responded to an inconceivable event," the authors said in a press release.

    Comments elsewhere in the release suggest the drama will tell the story of how Salisbury's population lived through "the real life horror of an invisible threat…a story of tragedy but also of resilience, and pride".

    "The poisonings in Salisbury shocked the nation and had a huge impact on an unsuspecting community. This drama will capture the bravery, resilience and personal experience of the local people who faced a situation of unimaginable horror, so close to home," Piers Wenger, controller of BBC Drama, added.

    Narrative Spinning

    This focus on the impact of the poisonings on the local population, rather than the circumstances of the poisonings, means the British state broadcaster can avoid tackling the many issues with the government's official narrative of the affair, and indeed effectively rewriting key aspects of that narrative, which almost all the network's ‘factual' reporting on the incident has done ever since day one.

    For example, on 3rd March the BBC reported police only "realised the seriousness" of the Salisbury incident after Googling the name Sergei Skripal — while the information wasn't in fact new (similar claims were made in Panorama documentary Salisbury Nerve Agent Attack — The Inside Story in November the previous year), the article indicated the first police officer on the scene was Sergeant Tracey Holloway. Previously, government and police spokespeople, and the media, had unanimously claimed Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey had been the first police officer to attend to the Skripals, hailing his courage in rushing to help them without any regard for his own safety.

    It was also universally alleged his contact with them on the scene exposed him to the nerve agent, leading to his hospitalisation — it's now however established he was poisoned after visiting Skripal's home. Holloway also appears to have been entirely unaffected by Novichok, and there's no indication she was even admitted to hospital on the off-chance she had been. 

    Moreover, the most insightful local take on the episode, that of Pablo Miller — Skripal's MI6 recruiter and handler, and neighbour — is almost inevitably going to be absent from the programme. While he served in the same tank regiment as BBC diplomatic editor Mark Urban — who quite amazingly interviewed Skripal in the year prior to the incident, and subsequently wrote The Skripal Files, the only book published to date on the ever-mystifying case — meaning it would likely be extremely easy for Patterson and Lawn to get in touch Miller, he's unlikely to speak to the pair.

    After all, the former MI6 operative has done much to conceal himself from public view since the incident — immediately afterwards he deleted his LinkedIn for instance, which revealed him to be a Senior Analyst at Orbis Intelligence, the private "investigative consultancy" run by former MI6 operative Christopher Steele, author of the highly controversial 'Trump-Russia' dossier.

    The UK government seems keen his connections to Skripal not be investigated, issuing a D-notice related to the Salisbury incident on 7th March, effectively blocking mention of Miller in the mainstream media since.

    "The issue surrounding the identity of former MI6 informer Sergei Skripal is already widely available in the public domain. However, the identities of intelligence agency personnel associated with Sergei Skripal are not yet widely available in the public domain. The provisions of DSMA Notice 05 therefore apply to these identities. If any editor is currently considering publication of such material, may I ask you to seek [the] advice [of the Defence and Security Media Advisory Committee] before doing so?" the notice reads.


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    BBC series, espionage, propaganda, drama, Poisoning of Sergei Skripal, Sergei Skripal, United Kingdom
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