Gunpowder is centred around the 1605 Gunpowder plot, as Guy Fawkes wants to blow up the Houses of Parliament.
However, this three-parter begins in 1603, at which point Elizabeth I has died, and James I has taken over, although it doesn’t take long before everyone wants HIM dead, too… as if any further replacements would be an improvement.
Kit Harington‘s in loads of things, and this time, he’s not portraying a Channel 4 newsreader, as he does in Game Of Thrones, but that said, the BBC aren’t just featuring him because it’s another TV show with a bit of gore, but because he’s actually playing his own ancestor, Robert Catesby, the man who instigated said Gunpowder plot. The plot thickens? Well, it kinda starts.
Shaun Dooley enters like Lord Flashheart, aka Sir William Wade in this, kicking up a stink and looking for a Jesuit Priest, namely Friar Henry Garnet (Peter Mullan), and if people keep schtum, in order to get to the truth, he’ll bump off anyone he wants, by fair means or foul… nah, foul… always foul.
Initially, Dooley was about as threatening as an episode of Horrible Histories, but before long, there was a death scene that would take your breath away… Okay, so it was violent, but it was only ‘BBC1 just past the watershed’ violent. I’ve never watched Game of Thrones, but from clips I’ve seen, that does look pretty gory, and this is only a 15-certificate, so I expect it won’t satiate the bloodlust of that show’s fans… although it will still be an extra three hours of viewing for Kit Harrington fans.
Meanwhile, Lord Robert Cecil (Mark Gatiss) tasks Captain William Turner (Fergus O’Donnell) – a man sentenced to death for killing a innkeeper – with seeking out Sir William Stanley (Robert Gwilym), in return for freedom… one assumes. Gatiss looks like he has evil intent, so I wouldn’t trust him to be happy if he found Stanley Tucci!
There’s complex government negotiations to come in their treaty with Spain… so a preamble to the Brexit dicussions, no doubt.
Throw in a ton of overacting, and the series is now in full on BBC iPlayer, yes, including parts 2 and 3, ahead of their broadcast over the next two Saturdays. However, neither episode are in HD.
With the first episode, I’d seen more gore from my eczema! But in watching episodes 2 and 3… they’re a bit of action and a lot of chat, chat, chat, chat, chat, chat, chat, chat, chat, chat, chat, chat… plus… (and I’ll put this under a spoiler heading in case you DON’T know how the gunpowder plot played out)
Gunpowder continues next Saturday on BBC1 at 9.10pm, and is available to pre-order on Blu-ray and DVD, ahead of its release on November 20th. If you missed it, you can watch it on BBC iPlayer for 30 days after transmission, and click on the packshot for the full-size version.
Complete Series Score: 3/10
Director: J Blakeson
Producer: Laurie Borg
Executive Producers: Ollie Madden, Ronan Bennett, Daniel West and Kit Harington
Writer: Ronan Bennett
Music: Volker Bertelmann
Robert Catesby: Kit Harington
Father Henry Garnet: Peter Mullan
Anne Vaux: Liv Tyler
Lord Robert Cecil: Mark Gatiss
Sir William Wade: Shaun Dooley
Thomas Wintour: Edward Holcroft
Guy Fawkes: Tom Cullen
Father John Gerard: Robert Emms
Thomas Percy: Daniel West
Jack Wright: Luke Neal
Thomas Bates: Luke Broughton
Digby: Philip Hill-Pearson
Slater: Richard Glover
King James I: Derek Riddell
Sir Philip Herbert: Hugh Alexander
Lord Northumberland: David Bamber
Lord Howard: Simon Kunz
Constable of Castille: Pedro Casablanc
De Tassis: Andy Lucas
Lady Dorothy: Sian Webber
Father Daniel: Thom Ashley
Young Robert: Tom Sweet
Lady Dorothy’s Servant: Eleanor Inglis
Captain William Turner: Fergus O’Donnell
George Farwell: Josh Moran
Jailer #1: Murray Taylor
Jailer #2: William Fox
Sir William Stanley: Robert Gwilym
Wade’s Underling: Scott Berry
Elizabeth Catesby: Beatrice Comins
Susan Whinniard: Kate Wood
Kennan: Ewart James Walters
Monteagle: Sean Rigby
Alford: Andrew Jarvis
Bald Drinker: Karl Haynes
Hawksworth: Kevin Eldon
Anne Hudson: Shelley Draper
Strangled Madrid Woman: Yolanda Calzado Gill
Football Dad: Sean Croke
Mary Sparrow: Vivienne Sloan
Court Clerk: Richard Hand
Merchant: Peter Rylands
Protestant Priest: Gordon Mounsey
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.