StoryCast: Polonium And The Piano Player – podcast unravels how a musician was sucked into a notorious assassination

A piano player unwittingly sucked into one of the world’s most notorious assassinations is the focus of a new four-part podcast documentary series from Sky News.

Polonium And The Piano Player, from Sky News’ multi-award winning podcast unit, StoryCast, tells the story of Derek Conlon, a piano player who crosses into the murky world of international espionage and murder when he accidentally drinks from the same radioactive cup used to poison Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006.

The former Russian spy was attacked, in a hit believed to have been sanctioned by President Vladimir Putin, in the piano bar of the five-star Millennium Hotel in Mayfair.

Dublin-born Conlon, 57, was in the piano bar on the afternoon of 1 November 2006 when two Russian agents poured a deadly nuclear poison, Polonium-210, into Mr Litvinenko’s cup of green tea.

The hit left a trail of radiation across London and was dubbed “a miniature nuclear attack” by Mr Litvinenko’s family.

The fallout from the poisoning saw a return to the kind of high stakes politics not seen between London and Moscow since the height of the Cold War and it forever intertwined the lives of the two men.

:: The first episode of Polonium and the Piano Player will be released on Monday – subscribe now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker

Sky News launched its dedicated documentary podcast unit, StoryCast, in June 2019.

Just over 12 months on, the platform is closing in on a million listens and has picked up three prestigious international awards for its first two seasons, The Hunt For The Brink’s-Mat Gold and What Happened To Annie?, a six-part investigation which won gold in the best podcast documentary series at the New York World Radio Awards in May.

That series has since attracted TV and movie development interest from the UK’s top broadcasting networks.

In November 2019, the Brink’s-Mat series was highly commended at the Association of International Broadcasters awards and was awarded a finalist certificate in the best narrative documentary category at the 2020 New York Radio Festivals.

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