Definitely not for the fainthearted

It is hard to know what will last longer: The radiation surrounding the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, or people’s fascination with the world’s worst-ever nuclear disaster. (In case you’re wondering, scientists, estimate it will be at least 20,000 years before the area around the now-encased reactor is safe once more for human habitation.)“Possibly the most gruesome way to die is by severe radiation poisoning.

The body melts from the inside out and the outside in.” This line is spoken not by any of the characters, but by Daniel Parker – the special effects expert charged with the unenviable task of recreating the nightmarish deaths people suffered after being exposed to tremendous amounts of radiation on that fateful April night.

The numbers about the disaster remain staggering: Some 6,000 cases of thyroid cancer in Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia have been linked to the explosion; an area twice the size of London remains closed off to the public, and a fire burned at the site for 10 days straight. (As revealed in the eye-opening recent BBC documentary “Our World: In the Shadow of Chernobyl,” about 200 locals have returned to live in the exclusion zone over the intervening years and claim to have suffered no side effects, and the area has become the world’s most unlikely nature reserve.)

I actually had to watch the first episode twice to try to separate my Vasilys from my Anatolys and my Viktors from my Nikolais, struggling to work out which mustachioed Soviet worker was inhaling a lungful of iodine-131 and which was speaking in front of an executive committee, hoping to convince them that the nuclear reactor’s core was no more.