Gunpowder BBC One – Episode 1 – Thoughts & Cast

Gunpowder’s first episode, shown on BBC One on Saturday 21st October, 2017, leaves nothing to the imagination, nothing at all. In some of the most brutal and graphic scenes I’ve ever witnessed on british television, Gunpowder promises to push the boundaries and promote a high degree of storytelling and drama. Within the first quarter of an hour, not long after the watershed we see a woman stripped naked and crushed to death and a young Priest hung, drawn and quartered in a bloody and yet utterly compelling scene. It’s impossible to look away but the executions only serve to solidify how savage and bloodthirsty 17th Century Britain was.

Tom Cullen as Guy Fawkes

England, 1603. Elizabeth I is dead and King James of Scotland has taken the throne. With the country at war with Catholic Spain, English Catholics are persecuted and priests caught saying Mass are punished with death. Several attempts have already been made on the new King’s life. All so far have failed. But deep in the heart of the Warwickshire countryside a new plot is brewing. A plot that will become legend, and leave a mark on the country that will still be felt over 400 years later.

Harington as Robert Catesby

We learn early on in the episode the terrifying persecution of the Catholics and the lengths of those tasked with hunting down the Catholic sympathisers would stoop. Shaun Dooley, who plays Sir William Wade gives an outstanding role and for me the actor of the episode. Determined to find his pray he is ruthless but it’s his sinister mannerisms and sheer arrogance that come to the fore. He’s not a man to be messed with and although he shows a touching side to his personality at the gallows – albeit briefly – he carries out his duty with a unwavering ruthlessness.

Kit Harington and Liv Tyler share the execution scene as horrified bystanders

Some have questioned if the drama is too gory for British television but for me, the BBC got it spot on. In Gunpowder they have given us a violent yet classy drama, a true reflection of the times and believe you me, there’s more to come in episodes two and three!

Gunpowder – all three episodes – is now available to watch on the iPlayer.

Gunpowder Cast – Episode 1

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
Executive Producer Ollie Madden
Executive Producer Ronan Bennett
Executive Producer Daniel West
Executive Producer Kit Harington
Writer Ronan Bennett
Producer Laurie Borg
Director J Blakeson
Production Company Kudos Film & Television Company