Acclaimed drama Chernobyl was nearly a very different show

Chernobyl has been a huge hit with critics and viewers.

The director of critically acclaimed TV drama Chernobyl has revealed it would have been his “dream” to film the show in Russian.

Chernobyl has been praised for its unflinching portrayal of the horrific events surrounding the 1986 nuclear disaster in the Soviet Union.

The five-part miniseries stars The Crown’s Jared Harris as a scientist battling both the fallout from the accident and government bureaucracy.

2019 Producers Nominee Reception
The producers of Chernobyl at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards (Mark Von Holden/Invision for the Television Academy/AP Images)

Critics applauded its portrayal of life behind the Iron Curtain, but director Johan Renck said he originally wanted to give it another layer of authenticity.

He told the PA news agency: “When I first got into this, when I met with the producers and the writers for the first time, the first thing I said is ‘I guess it’s out of the question to do this in Russian’.

“And everybody said ‘yes’, unfortunately. It would have been the dream but it’s just not feasible to do this in Russian.

“We had a lot of cultures that are not in any way used to subtitles, and it’s just going to get dubbed into other language, there’s no point.”

Jared Harris
Jared Harris has won critical acclaim for his portrayal of a beleaguered nuclear scientist in Chernobyl (John Stillwell/PA)

While Renck did not get his wish to film the show in a foreign language, he was adamant on another aspect of Chernobyl’s production.

Stars including Harris, Stellan Skarsgard and Emily Watson play Soviet scientists and officials, though all use their native accents rather than adopting Russian ones.

Renck said it was “a given on day one” the actors would speak using their normal voices, adding it would be “ridiculous” to do otherwise.

He said: “It’s ridiculous that they run around in Ukraine speaking English with a Russian accent.

“So I said let’s just trust language for what it is and my feeling is that pretty immediately people will accept it and not think more about it.”

Chernobyl picked up seven wins at last week’s Creative Arts Emmy Awards and could add another three prizes at the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday, including the coveted gong for outstanding limited series.

Chernobyl is a Sky original available to catch up on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV.

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