Well David Tennant is- Saturday 20th BBC Radio 4 Saturday Play- Murder in Samarkand
David Hare’s witty portrait of an unlikely hero, based on the memoir by Craig Murray. Craig is proud to be sent as Ambassador to Uzbekistan, eager to work hard and also eager for fun. The combination takes him on a dangerous course both professionally and personally, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. Starring David Tennant as Craig Murray.
Murray has yet to hear the play and joked: “I’m a bit surprised they couldn’t find a better looking actor.” He added: “Obviously I’m delighted David Tennant was me, it’s a tremendous honour in many ways. I’ve been a big Doctor Who fan all my life.” Hare had put a “huge amount of work” into the play, he added. “It is slightly different from the book because he went to Uzbekistan and interviewed people who were present for key events. To go to Tashkent is extraordinary dedication when you think about it. I think the play is positive towards me, but he’s reached that conclusion himself rather than taking my word for it.”
Murray is portrayed as an intelligent but slightly naive diplomat given the ambassador’s job, aged 43, in Uzbekistan, a country ruled then and now by the human rights-ignoring Islam Karimov. The play is set in 2003 when the “war on terror” was at its height and information obtained by the regime’s torturing of Muslim terror suspects was proving useful to the west.
It is the shocking torture and murder of one victim, who was boiled alive while being beaten, that pushes Murray to make a stand. He gives a lecture accusing the Uzbek regime directly.
Recalled to the Foreign Office, Murray is given a dressing down and told that “moral questions aren’t our business”.
The story of Murray’s personal life is told in parallel to the diplomatic one. While still married, he had fallen in love with a lap dancer, Nadira Alieva, whom he wed last year, and who plays several small roles in the radio play, although not herself.
After his sacking by the Foreign Office in 2004 he stood unsuccessfully for parliament in Blackburn against his nemesis, the foreign secretary, Jack Straw. He now campaigns on human rights and African development issues.