David Tennant hails poisoned Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko’s widow Marina a ‘hero’

David Tennant hails poisoned Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko’s widow Marina as a ‘hero’ after meeting her while he prepared to play her late husband in a harrowing ITV drama

  • David Tennant says the widow of poisoned Russian ­dissident Alexander Litvinenko is a ‘hero’
  • The actor, 51, met Marina as he prepared for his role as her assassinated husband in upcoming ITV drama Litvinenko, which is due to premiere on ITVX on December 15
  • Doctor Who actor David said Marina was his incentive for taking on the part of ex-Federal Security Service officer Alexander, hailing her as ‘remarkable’
  • Russian federal security services and KGB officer, and outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin, Alex, died in 2006 after ingesting a radioactive substance 

David Tennant says the widow of poisoned Russian ­dissident Alexander Litvinenko is a ‘hero’.

The actor, 51, met Marina as he prepared for his role as her assassinated husband in upcoming ITV drama Litvinenko, which is due to premiere on ITVX on December 15.

Doctor Who actor David said Marina was his incentive for taking on the part of ex-Federal Security Service officer Alexander, hailing her as ‘remarkable’.

Praise: David Tennant, 51, says the widow of poisoned Russian ­dissident Alexander Litvinenko is a 'hero'

Praise: David Tennant, 51, says the widow of poisoned Russian ­dissident Alexander Litvinenko is a ‘hero’

He told the Mirror: ‘I think she became the motivation for telling this story. Marina is a remarkable human. She’s the hero of this in many ways. 

‘When you meet her all you get is this extraordinary woman who just wants to shout about this as loudly as she can for the rest of her life.’

The first look at the show saw David transform into the Russian spy and Putin critic for the tense drama.

TV part: The actor met Marina (pictured) as he prepared for his role as her assassinated husband in upcoming ITV drama Litvinenko

TV part: The actor met Marina (pictured) as he prepared for his role as her assassinated husband in upcoming ITV drama Litvinenko

He is seen lying in a hospital bed before his death from poisoning in the first trailer for the new miniseries.

Alexander, a former Russian federal security services and KGB officer and outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin, died in agony in November 2006 after ingesting a rare radioactive substance.

David said Marina has ‘fearlessly’ devoted her life to ensuring Alexander’s death ‘does not go for nothing’, with the widow continuing to talk about her late partner publicly, making sure ‘the world knows what happened’.

Television drama: The first look at the show saw David transform into the Russian spy and Putin critic

Looking back: Alexander is seen in his hospital bed in 2006 before his death

Television drama: The first look at the show saw David (left, in the show) transform into the Russian spy and Putin critic (right, in 2006 before his death) or the tense drama 

Marina will be portrayed in the series by Russian-American actress Margarita Levieva who starred in The Deuce and The Blacklist.  

A UK public inquiry concluded in 2016 that Russians Dmitri Kovtun and Andrei Lugovoi, had deliberately poisoned Alexander by putting Polonium-210 into his drink at the Millennium Hotel in Mayfair.

Headed by the former High Court judge Sir Robert Owen, the inquiry found the tea poisoning had ‘probably’ been carried out with the approval of the Russian president.  

On screen: Marina will be portrayed in the series by Russian-American actress Margarita Levieva (right) who starred in The Deuce and The Blacklist

On screen: Marina will be portrayed in the series by Russian-American actress Margarita Levieva (right) who starred in The Deuce and The Blacklist

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) also ruled last year, following a case brought by Marina, that Russia was responsible for his killing.

Russia has always denied any involvement in the death and had refused to comply with international arrest warrants issued for Kovtun and Lugovoi.

Sir Robert’s inquiry said the use of the radioactive substance – which could only have come from a nuclear reactor – was a ‘strong indicator’ of state involvement and that the two men had probably been acting under the direction of the Russian security service the FSB, for which Alexander used to work.  

Possible motives included Alexander’s work for British intelligence agencies after fleeing Russia, his criticism of the FSB, and his association with other Russian dissidents, while it was said there was also a ‘personal dimension’ to the antagonism between him and Putin.

Kovtun died in June of Covid-19 in Moscow, according to state-owned Russian news agency Tass.

On air: TV drama Litvinenko, is due to premiere on ITVX on December 15

On air: TV drama Litvinenko, is due to premiere on ITVX on December 15 

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