The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - SEANNA CRONIN

There was much more to the in­cen­di­ary events that led to Guy Fawkes Day than one man get­ting caught red-handed with a cache of ex­plo­sives.

The new BBC minis­eries Gun­pow­der ex­plores the events which cul­mi­nated in the failed as­sas­si­na­tion of King James I, fo­cus­ing on mas­ter­mind, and devout Catholic, Robert Catesby.

Game of Thrones star Kit Harington pro­duces and stars in the his­tor­i­cal drama, draw­ing on his di­rect fam­ily lin­eages to both Catesby and Lord Harington, who was in the Houses of Par­lia­ment at the time Catesby plot­ted to blow it up.

“This is one of my favourite pe­ri­ods of his­tory,” says Mark Gatiss, who plays the King’s chief min­is­ter and spy mas­ter Lord Cecil.

“When I was a kid, what Guy Fawkes was to us was a scare­crow with a pa­per plate for a face that peo­ple would push around and beg for money. Then on Novem­ber 5 we’d set him on fire.

“The fas­ci­nat­ing thing is Guy was al­ways the poster boy for it be­cause he was caught red-handed, but Catesby is the pro­gen­i­tor of the plot.”

Lord Cecil was the shad­owy fig­ure be­hind the throne, urg­ing King James to stamp out Catholic traitors.

“Ef­fec­tively he was the Prime Min­is­ter be­fore the term was coined,” Gatiss says. “The King was the King but he re­ally ruled the coun­try in terms of mak­ing the state tick over.

“There’s a school of thought that he (Lord Cecil) let the plot ma­ture and may have been be­hind it. Who knows?”

De­spite Harington and Gatiss both star­ring in Game of Thrones and now Gun­pow­der, they have never shared a scene to­gether.

“The only time I meet him (on cam­era in Gun­pow­der) is when I look at his sev­ered head at the end,” Gatiss says. “But he was there all the time as a pro­ducer. He was very en­cour­ag­ing and very help­ful. It was quite a tough shoot. The weather was bad but the mud and the cold was good for the au­then­tic­ity of it. He was ob­vi­ously pas­sion­ate about it.”

Gatiss doesn’t see Cecil, or Catesby, as the bad guy. Both men have their places on op­po­site sides of the Gun­pow­der Plot.

“It all de­pends on whose side you’re on. Cecil is do­ing his job and Catesby is do­ing his,” he says.

“The show is morally am­bigu­ous – tak­ing sides is a mug’s game.

“I was struck im­me­di­ately by the mod­ern par­al­lels, and you don’t have to force them, when it comes to ter­ror­ism and gov­ern­ments try­ing to pro­tect them­selves but also in do­ing so in­tro­duc­ing ex­tremely dra­co­nian leg­is­la­tion. De­pend­ing on which side you’re on, those laws can look like an­other form of ter­ror­ism.”

Gun­pow­der also stars Liv Tyler, Peter Mul­lan, Tom Cullen, Derek Rid­dell , Ed­ward Hol­croft and Shaun Doo­ley.

Gun­pow­der pre­mieres on Tues­day, May 1 at 8.30pm on BBC First


Game of Thrones star Kit Harington in a scene from fas­ci­nat­ing new BBC his­tor­i­cal drama Gun­pow­der.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.