The Documentary on OnePolonium and the Piano Player – Part 1

As heard on Documentary On One

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A searing new insight into one of the world’s most notorious assassinations – the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko.

On 1 November 2006, ex-KGB spy Litvinenko was attacked with one of the deadliest substances known to man: polonium-210.

At the time, he was in the piano bar of the five-star Millennium Hotel in London’s Mayfair.

Polonium-210 is a highly radioactive material made in a nuclear facility. Just one gram of the substance has the potential to kill millions.

On that November afternoon, it was dropped into Litvinenko’s cup of green tea by two secret agents.

(Photo by Natasja Weitsz/Getty Images)

But the ex-spy was not the only victim of an attack believed to have been sanctioned by Russian President Vladimir Putin, and which left a trail of radioactive contamination right across Europe.

Hundreds of members of the public were exposed to the nuclear poison – none more so than this documentary’s central character, Derek Conlon.

Mr Conlon, from Dublin, was the resident piano player at the Millennium Hotel.

Pianist Derek Conlon, accidentally drank from the same radioactive cup used to poison Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006

That day, his life became forever intertwined with Litvinenko’s and he crossed into a world of espionage, murder and deceit.

Narrated by Diana Magnay

Produced by Robert Mulhern

Polonium and the Piano Player is a Sky News Storycast production, first published in July 2020 as a 4-part podcast series

First broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1, Saturday 19th September at 1pm.


An Irish radio documentary from RTÉ Radio 1

The home of Irish radio documentaries

© The Listener 2020

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