BBC One orders Gunpowder from Kudos

Ronan Bennett's powerful scripts tells the visceral and resonant story behind the Gunpowder Plot and I couldn't be more delighted that J Blakeson is on board to direct and that Kit Harington, Peter Mullan, Mark Gatiss and Liv Tyler will star. Gunpowder will be unmissable event television.Piers Wenger, BBC Controller Drama Commissioning
Date: 19.02.2017     Last updated: 29.08.2017 at 12.08
17th century thriller written by Ronan Bennett starring Kit Harington, Peter Mullan, Mark Gatiss and Liv Tyler

BBC One today announces a brand-new three part drama series Gunpowder developed by Ronan Bennett, Kit Harington and Daniel West, written by Ronan Bennett (Top Boy, Hidden) and produced by Kudos.

The series will star Kit Harington (Game of Thrones), Peter Mullan (Top of the Lake), Mark Gatiss (Sherlock), and Liv Tyler (Lord Of The Rings), and will be directed by J Blakeson (The Disappearance of Alice Creed).

Every year on November 5 the English mark the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot in London in 1605 with bonfires and fireworks. It is often called Guy Fawkes Day because many people believe - erroneously - that the plot was devised by Guy Fawkes.

However, while Fawkes played a pivotal role, the man who dreamed up the plot and was its driving force was Robert Catesby (Harington), a 33-year old Warwickshire gentleman.

Diederick Santer, Chief Executive Officer of Kudos says; “The Gunpowder Plot is one of the best known stories in Britain and most people are aware of the basic facts. But what Ronan has achieved with his page-turning script, and what I hope Kit and Peter and the rest of the magnificent cast will do, is to take the BBC One audience behind the story, into the people, the passion and the politics. This will be a hugely engaging drama with a fascinating contemporary resonance, showing the consequences of what can happen when a religious minority is persecuted.”

Catesby is a committed Catholic at a time when Protestant England persecutes Catholics relentlessly. The authorities directed by King James’s spymaster in Chief Robert Cecil (Gatiss), hunt down, torture and execute priests while lay Catholics are subject to oppression and the loss of their property. They must practice their religion in secret, risking imprisonment, fines, harassment and even death.

Catesby’s refusal to abandon his religion has brought him to the edge of financial, social and psychological ruin. His wife and father have both recently died, leaving him to bring up a young son in an increasingly hostile world. Unable to stand by while his coreligionists suffer, and despite the peaceful protestations of head Jesuit Father Garnet (Mullan), doing nothing is not an option for a man like Catesby. He starts to recruit friends and relatives, swearing them to secrecy as he devises an audacious plan. His astute and capable cousin Anne Vaux (Tyler) becomes suspicious about his activities and fears the consequences will be the exact opposite of what Catesby intends.

This fast-paced 17th century thriller delves into the history behind the plot evolution, the selection of the team to carry it out, the gathering of the resources, and the obstacles they came up against. At the same time a deadly cat and mouse game is played out with Cecil’s ruthless spy network.

Piers Wenger, BBC Controller Drama Commissioning, says; “Ronan Bennett's powerful scripts tells the visceral and resonant story behind the Gunpowder Plot and I couldn't be more delighted that J Blakeson is on board to direct and that Kit Harington, Peter Mullan, Mark Gatiss and Liv Tyler will star. Gunpowder will be unmissable event television.”

Gunpowder has been commissioned by Charlotte Moore, Director of Content, and Piers Wenger, Controller Drama Commissioning, for BBC One. The 3x60’ series will be written by Ronan Bennett, directed by J Blakeson and produced by Kudos (Apple Tree Yard, Broadchurch, Grantchester and Humans) in association with Thriker Films.

Executive Producers are Ollie Madden for Kudos and Stephen Wright for the BBC. Kit Harington and Daniel West are Co-Executive Producers for Thriker Films. Laurie Borg is producing.

Filming will start this month. The series will be distributed by Endemol Shine International. Kudos is part of the Endemol Shine Group.

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