David Tennant “put in so much work” on new show Litvinenko

This month David Tennant will appear on our screens as poisoned former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko as part of a new ITVX drama Litvinenko that is sure to be one that attracts a lot of attention for the new streaming service.

However, the path to delivering brilliant television isn’t always an easy one, and the writer behind the show, George Kay, has revealed just how much effort and work David Tennant put into his transformation for this programme.

As well as spending “several hours” each day in make-up, Tennant also put in a lot of work on his Russian accent as part of his preparations.

“What I would say about [him playing Litvinenko] is it is about the incredible work he did with the Russian dialect coach,” Kay told the Metro at a screening event of the series.

Adding: “His accent is absolutely on point.”

Kay also talked about how the show could have not worked so well if Tennant has not been prepared to go the extra mile with the project as he did.

David Tennant, Margarita Levieva, Mark Bonnar, Neil Maskell, director Jim Field Smith and special guest Marina Litvinenko attend the premiere launch of ITVX drama

“There is a terrible version of this if you think about how it could have gone wrong,” he said.

“‘If he [Tennant] didn’t put in the incredible amount of effort into it and speaking to Marina (Litvinenko, Alexander’s wife) and researching the character and the symptoms of what was happening.

“The wonderful and make up is a nice icing on the cake but there is also so much work going on beneath the surface in terms of being ready for those scenes.”

Heaping more praise upon Tennant, Kay said: “‘What you get with David Tennant is a man who turns up to set 1000% prepared.”

Adding: “It’s always astonishing what he brings—he put in so much work. He is amazing.”

Litvinenko will relate how in November 2006 two police officers were called to University College Hospital in London to interview a patient in declining health. The patient was Alexander Litvinenko, a Russian dissident who claimed to have been poisoned on the direct orders of Vladimir Putin.

During the police interviews, Alexander provided meticulous details from his hospital bedside about the events leading up to his illness, which he knew would prove fatal. His information would ultimately help detectives track down two Russians who had poisoned Litvinenko with Polonium-210, a highly toxic radioactive substance.

The drama also focuses upon the story of Marina, portrayed by Margarita Levieva (The Deuce, The Blacklist), Alexander’s fearless, dignified widow who fought tirelessly to persuade the British Government to publicly name her husband’s killers and acknowledge the role of the Russian State in his murder.

David Tennant will be back on TV screens in 2023 with the second season of Good Omens on Prime Video and the 60th anniversary episodes of Doctor Who on the BBC and Disney+ which will be the precursor to series 14 of the show starring Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson.

Litvinenko launches December 15 on ITVX