The Salisbury Poisonings is biggest new drama since Bodyguard

The Salisbury Poisonings
(Image credit: BBC/Dancing Ledge/James Pardon/Ray Burmiston)

Monster figure for first episode

The Salisbury Poisonings pulled in 10 millions viewers, making it the biggest new drama since Bodyguard (opens in new tab).

The BBC revealed that the first episode received the huge seven-day consolidated figure, making it the most-watched new drama across all channels since 2018 when Bodyguard had everyone gripped.

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The Salisbury Poisionings couldn't quite match Bodyguard, which had everyone talking in 2018

The Salisbury Poisonings 10 million figure was just shy of the 10.4 million (seven-day consolidated) figure for Bodyguard, which starred Keeley Hawes and Richard Madden.

The three-part drama, starring MyAnna Buring, Anne-Marie Duff and Rafe Spall, focusses on the extraordinary impact the Novichok poisonings had on the local community. It’s based on the true story of ex Russian spy Sergei Skirpal and his daughter Yulia who were targeted with the deadly never agent in 2018.

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TV tonight The Salisbury Poisonings

The Salisbury Poisonings has become a big hit for the BBC, with 10 million watching episode one (Image credit: BBC/Dancing Ledge/James Pardon)

Both were in a critical condition, but managed to recover. However, British national Dawn Sturgess was fatally positioned in the attack, which the British government blamed on Russia.

Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, says: “We are delighted The Salisbury Poisonings had such an impact and resonated with the nation. We are incredibly proud to have celebrated members of a city whose bravery and resilience kept safe an entire community, and can’t thank Adam, Declan and the production team enough for their meticulous efforts in bringing their story to screen.”

Laurence Bowen, Dancing Ledge Productions CEO, adds: “We're thrilled The Salisbury Poisonings has had such a positive response. It was a privilege to be able to tell the extraordinary real-life stories that lie at the heart of the drama and wonderful they have resonated in the way they have.”

The Salisbury Poisionings is still available to watch on BBCiPlayer.

David is the What To Watch Editor and has over 20 years of experience in television journalism. He is currently writing about the latest television and film news for What To Watch.


Before working for What To Watch, David spent many years on TV Times magazine, interviewing some of television's most famous stars including Hollywood actor Kiefer Sutherland, singer Lionel Richie and wildlife legend Sir David Attenborough. 


David started out as a writer on TV Times before becoming the title's deputy features editor and then features editor. During his time on TV Times, David also helped run the annual TV Times Awards. David is a huge Death in Paradise fan, although he's still failed to solve a case before the show's detective! He also loves James Bond and controversially thinks that Timothy Dalton was an excellent 007.


Other than watching and writing about telly, David loves playing cricket, going to the cinema, trying to improve his tennis and chasing about after his kids!