Here's where to watch Sky Atlantic’s Bafta-nominated disaster drama Chernobyl on TV - for free

When the nominations for this year’s Virgin Media British Academy Television Awards were announced, Sky Atlantic’s miniseries about the 1986 disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant received 14 nominations.

As such, it tied Killing Eve – which received 14 nominations last year – as the most nominated show in BAFTA history.

Chernobyl debuted on UK screens in May 2019 on Sky Atlantic, and quickly become a huge talking point among television fans.

At one point it was even the highest rated show ever on IMDb, beating out classic like Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad.

Here’s everything you need to know:

What is Chernobyl about?

(Photo: Sky Atlantic)(Photo: Sky Atlantic)
(Photo: Sky Atlantic)

A drama co-produced by HBO and Sky, Chernobyl follows the events of the nuclear disaster of 1986, and the monumental clean-up efforts that followed.

The catastrophic incident occurred at night, when uncontrolled reaction conditions were created during a test which simulated a station blackout power-failure.

As part of the test, emergency safety and power-regulating systems were intentionally turned off, and the inadvertent explosion ripped through the nuclear power plant.

The resultant fires took over a week to bring under control, and were so hot that they melted firefighters' boots.

The explosion sent plumes of radioactive materials into the atmosphere - equivalent to the amount released in the initial explosion - which rained down onto Western Europe and parts of the then-Soviet Union.

The Chernobyl disaster is one of only two classified as a level seven event (the maximum classification) - the other is the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011.

The area remains radioactive to this day, and while it is officially safe to visit (it's unlikely you'd spend enough time in a radiated area for your health to be affected), there are strict guidelines visitors must follow to ensure their safety.

What did critics say?

(Photo: Sky Atlantic)(Photo: Sky Atlantic)
(Photo: Sky Atlantic)

Reviewers universally praised the show, focusing particularly on the programme's attention to detail and realism, which drives home the horror of the incident without ever glamorising it for TV.

Aside from the human story at its heart, Chernobyl has political diversions too, as top Kremlin officials scrambled together a PR plan that limits the incident's damage further afield.

"This isn't just a gripping five-part disaster film but an examination of Soviet news-speak in its late-stage death throes," said Newsday's Verne Gay. "It's intelligent, at times intricate, explanatory journalism, especially about nuclear power technology."

"They've done a really great job depicting the emergency," said Eric Deggans from NPR. "And it's this amped-up version of the debate that we have now about issues like global warming and our inability to agree on facts apart from political spin."

But it's not for the faint of heart - Chernobyl is notably bleak, and doesn't shy away from delivering the true extent of the pain caused to workers and those who lived in the shadow of the plant.

"Chernobyl is a thorough historical analysis," says Sophie Gilbert of The Atlantic. "A gruesome disaster epic replete with oozing blisters and the ominous rattle of Geiger counters."

How can I watch it?

The series is available to stream in full on NOW TV. There's even a seven day free trial for new customers.