Side-By-Side Chernobyl Show And Real Documentary Footage Almost Identical

by : Emily Brown on : 26 Jun 2019 11:57
Side by side footage of Chernobyl with TV showSide by side footage of Chernobyl with TV showHBO/Chernobyl 1986.04.26 P.S

Real documentary footage taken in the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster is almost identical to scenes from HBO and Sky’s TV show. 


The miniseries entertained millions of people and became the highest rated show ever on IMDb but the creators of Chernobyl didn’t need to use artistic licence in order to captivate viewers.

Although there are a few things in the show which are derived more from myth than fact, the 1986 nuclear disaster and its aftermath were so shocking and dramatic that for the most part recreating the events was enough.

Take a look at real footage side-by-side with scenes from the TV show:


Videos recorded during the aftermath of the explosion shows workers rushing to clean up dangerous graphite from the roof of the power plant, digging a tunnel beneath the reactor and washing down streets, scenes which viewers will be familiar with from Chernobyl.

Footage also shows how the events of the court hearing, where the explosion was investigated, were recreated.

One harrowing scene in the TV show showed a young worker having to go out and kill animals to prevent the spread of contamination. While the awful situation was, like the majority of the show, very much derived from real events, Chernobyl creator Craig Mazin revealed they actually toned it down for TV.

Chernobyl clean upChernobyl clean upHBO/Sky Atlantic

After the episode aired, he tweeted:

I know that was hard. Just so there’s no confusion— the story of the liquidators is real. It happened. And we actually toned it down from the full story.

War leaves all kinds of scars. These were the things men were ordered to do.

In an interview with Vice, Mazin pointed out he had to make some changes in order to fit the events of Chernobyl into five hours but added how he aimed to be as accurate as possible so as not to contradict the importance of truth which is emphasised throughout the show.


He said:

Well, at the heart of this story is a question about what happens when we disconnect from the truth. And the Soviet system was essentially an enormous monument to the useful lie.

They made lying an art: They lied to each other, they lied to the people above them, they lied to the people below them, and they did it out of a sense of survival.

ChernobylChernobylHBO/Sky Atlantic

Mazin continued:

Ultimately, it just became expected, and the truth was debased. When it did kind of peek its head out, it was attacked.

So I thought the worst possible thing I could do in telling a story like that would be to contribute to that problem by over-fictionalising, over-dramatising.

If the show itself wasn’t enough, the comparison proves just how harrowing the nuclear disaster and its aftermath really were.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Film and TV, Chernobyl, Craig Mazin, HBO, nuclear disaster, Sky


Thomas Flight/Youtube and 2 others
  1. Thomas Flight/Youtube

    HBO's Chernobyl vs Reality - Footage Comparison

  2. Vice

    Craig Mazin's Years-Long Obsession with Making 'Chernobyl' Terrifyingly Accurate

  3. Craig Mazin/Twitter