8 Facts vs Fiction of HBO’s Chernobyl – How Accurate The TV Show Is?

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After ‘Game of Thrones’ aired its last episode, everybody has started watching another HBO top series ‘Chernobyl’ which is currently ranked as IMDB’s highest-rated TV series in history. 

As viewers reach the mid-way point, many are wondering just how accurate of a depiction the series really is. Nexter.org explains which of the most iconic scenes and character really happened and what is just a fiction.

Were Valery Legasov, Boris Shcherbina and Ulana Khomyuk real people? 

Source: HBO

Both Soviet nuclear scientist Valery Legasov (played by Jared Harris) and Soviet Deputy Prime Minister Boris Shcherbina (played by Stellan Skarsgård) are real people; however, Soviet nuclear physicist Ulana Khomyuk (played by Emily Watson) is not.

Khomyuk is a fictional character that represents “the dozens of scientists who helped investigate the crisis as it unfolded,” according to an Ars Technica report.

 

Did Legasov commit suicide?

Source: HBO

Episode 1 of Chernobyl opens with Legasov hanging himself. Valery Legasov did die by suicide approximately two years after the incident, according to Screen Rant. His recordings made prior to his death were also used afterward to piece together exactly what happened at Chernobyl.

 

Did the miners work nude?

Source: HBO

Miners, engineers and subway workers were indeed drafted into the tunnel beneath the reactor, as part of a series of different efforts to control the meltdown, but perhaps not quite in the circumstances depicted.

There is plenty of films and photographic footage suggesting that the miners worked clothed, not naked.

 

Did a helicopter really crash when it was trying to drop the sand over the fire at Chernobyl?

Source: HBO

No. The helicopter crash that is, I assume, digitally recreated in the show took place in early October, long after the fire-fighting was complete, and was caused by the aircraft rotor-blades striking a chain or cable on one of the construction cranes being used to build the Sarcophagus. You can find video footage of the crash on YouTube.

 

Yes, evacuation really started that late

Source: HBO

As HBO’s Chernobyl makes viewers painfully aware, Pripyat wasn’t evacuated until approximately 36 hours after the disaster began. At that point, buses – as shown in the miniseries – arrived to take people away, but at that time, the citizens believed they were only being evacuated for a few days, not permanently. The message delivered to the people in Pripyat ended with, “Please keep calm and orderly in the process of this short-term evacuation.”

 

‘We’ll be dead in five years’ and Shcherbina

Source: HBO

Unfortunately, very little is known about the real-life Shcherbina, but it is true that he oversaw Chernobyl’s crisis management, which was a responsibility for being on the Council of Ministers. But as Legasov says in “Please Remain Calm”, they would both be dead in five years. And that fact is, sadly, very true. Shcherbina died four years later.

 

Lyudmilla Ignatenko’s story, pregnancy, and Vasily’s shoes 

Source: HBO

Lyudmilla Ignatenko’s story is highlighted in Chernobyl episode 3, especially how she dealt with losing her husband, Vasily.

Some aspects of Lyudmilla’s story have been accurately translated onto the screen, such as her bribing her way into the hospital and being allowed only 30 minutes to see her husband. However, while Lyudmilla in HBO’s Chernobyl says she wasn’t pregnant, in real life, she told the nurse that she already had two children so they let her in.

Source: HBO

At various points, Lyudmilla is shown touching and even hugging her husband, but the real-life Lyudmilla once said that the doctors wouldn’t let them come near each other. Sadly, once Vasily had died, he was buried in formal wear but without shoes, since his feet were too swollen.

That’s why episode 3 of HBO’s Chernobyl ends with Jessie Buckley’s Lyudmilla holding a pair of shoes in her hands, at her husband’s funeral.

 

How many people died?

Source: Getty Images

According to the official Soviet account, the explosion killed two plant workers, while 28 engineers and firefighters died of acute radiation syndrome in the weeks following the disaster.

There were 600 people working on-site during the explosion, and 134 in total were sickened with acute radiation poisoning. The first responders and plant personnel who didn’t survive had agonizing deaths, suffering vomiting and diarrhea, severe, full-body burns, and eventual organ failure.

 

Where and when to watch

The five-part miniseries airs on HBO on Mondays at 9 p.m. ET, with the fourth episode airing May 27.


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8 Facts vs Fiction of HBO’s Chernobyl - How Accurate The TV Show Is?
Title
8 Facts vs Fiction of HBO’s Chernobyl - How Accurate The TV Show Is?
Description
After 'Game of Thrones' aired its last episode, everybody has started watching another HBO top series 'Chernobyl' which is currently ranked as IMDB’s highest-rated TV series in history.  As viewers reach the mid-way point, many are wondering just how accurate of a depiction the series really is. Nexter.org explains which of the most iconic scenes and character really happened and what is just a fiction.
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