Here at Must TV, we don’t generally care for awards and industry back-patting. We prefer the heart-warming accolades we receive from our readers. However, it didn’t escape our notice that Chernobyl garnered a whopping 14 nominations for 2020s BAFTAs. And it’s clear why.
The worst nuclear disaster in history is not the most optimistic premise for a TV miniseries, but Chernobyl’s brilliant account of what happened after the eponymous nuclear reactor failed one spring morning in 1986 is superlative television.
Lorraine Ali in the Los Angeles Times said that Chernobyl “is not a horror show. It’s a suspenseful, tragic and illuminating drama about government corruption, systemic incompetence and the unyielding will of the people to drag their country back from the brink of ruin.” Despite this bleak assessment she says it’s still “riveting drama that’s full of payoffs. It’s a thoroughly researched account of an event that’s still misunderstood, and it captures the sacrifices made by the Russian people — knowingly and inadvertently — in their efforts to clean up another state-sponsored mess.”
In The Telegraph Benji Wilson felt the detail in the series was “simply excruciating as, step by step, second by second, officials and managers got it wrong. Dumb bureaucracy and frantic covering of backs was intercut with stark horror as the camera followed the engineers trying to uncover what had happened to the No 4 nuclear reactor.” And, he thought, “The performances were universally brilliant”. Reflecting on its 14 BAFTA nominations during lockdown, Mark Lawson in the Guardian thought “the fact that voting took place at a terrifying stage of the pandemic infection curve may have given Chernobyl, a story of political incompetence and cover-up amid catastrophe, an additional resonance.” However, he is in no doubt that “It deserved to do well in any case, as one of the greatest pieces of fact-based drama ever made.”
Thoroughly deserved nominations we think, and Must TV reckons that Chernobyl will come out on top at both the craft awards on 17th July and the main television awards two weeks later.
First shown May 2019. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.