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The first trailer for Chernobyl, the must-watch television show of the year, is here

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Hannah-Rose Yee
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This HBO and Sky Atlantic co-production is going to be the most talked-about television show in the coming months.

Where were you on 25 April, 1986?

If you were alive (and old enough) at the time, chances are you have distinct memories of the Chernobyl disaster. A routine safety test at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine turned catastrophic when the reactor exploded, causing unprecedented levels of radiation contamination in the surrounding region. Though estimates vary, the World Health Organisation believes that as many as 4,000 deaths could be attributed to the explosion. It is considered by many to be the most disastrous nuclear power plant catastrophe in history.

This year, a dramatisation of the Chernobyl incident will make its way onto televisions around the world. Called Chernobyl, the miniseries is a co-production between HBO and Sky Atlantic, and will premiere next month. So what can you expect from the television show being dubbed the must-watch drama of the year?

What is Chernobyl about?

According to the official synopsis, Chernobyl tells “the true story of one of the worst man-made catastrophes in history and tells of the brave men and women who sacrificed to save Europe from unimaginable disaster.” 

An image of the explosion, as dramatised in Chernobyl

It will feature five episodes, each an hour long, and will be based partly on the true stories of real nuclear engineers and chemists working at the power plant as well as additional fictionalised characters. The series filmed in Lithuania in 2018. 

Is there a trailer for Chernobyl?

There is. The first trailer is here and it tells you everything you need to know about this series and its nail-biting, tense mood. You can watch the clip below.

Who is in the cast of Chernobyl?

Chernobyl has assembled a great cast for its five episodes. Jared Harris, star of Mad Men and The Crown, is leading the series as Valery Legasov. 

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This is one of Chernobyl’s real-life characters, that of a Soviet chemist investigating the disaster on behalf of the government. It was Legasov who discovered how devastating the impact of the reactor’s explosion had been, and who desperately tried to convince the world of its severity.

Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgard will play Boris Shcherbina, a civil servant sent to manage the fallout from the disaster and organise the post-accident clean up. In the fictional role of scientist Ulana Khomyuk is Emily Watson. Khomyuk is a composite of a few different scientists who aided the investigation into the disaster, as is described as a nuclear physicist from Minsk who frequently butts heads with her male superiors. (She sounds like our kind of woman.) 

Stellan Skarsgard in Chernobyl

Jessie Buckler, Adrian Rawlins, Paul Ritter and Adam Nagaitis also star as firemen, engineers and supervisors on the ground at the nuclear power plant as the explosion took place.

In a hilariously candid interview, Skarsgard said “I think [Chernobyl] will be good. It’s very well written.”

Skarsgard added: “It’s with Emily Watson who I haven’t worked with since [Lars von Trier movie] Breaking the Waves. We don’t fuck in this one though! There’s no market for it any more. Jared Harris is playing the main role and he’s fantastic.”

Jessie Buckley in Chernobyl

“What’s interesting about it is not the catastrophe itself but what makes or creates a catastrophe like that,” Skarsgard added. “Why don’t we immediately say we have a catastrophe and we need all the help we can get? No they said nothing happened; they said it’s all fine. Then of course that wasn’t correct.”

When can I watch Chernobyl?

Chernobyl will premiere on 6 May on HBO in the US and Sky Atlantic in the UK. 

Images: Liam Daniel/HBO

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Hannah-Rose Yee

Hannah-Rose Yee is a writer, podcaster and recent Australian transplant in London. You can find her on the internet talking about pop culture, food and travel.

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