Gunpowder, Treason and Plot New To BBC2
Original Article Date: March 2004
Award-winning writer Jimmy McGovern and film director Gillies MacKinnon bring the story behind the Gunpowder Plot to BBC TWO in two original films exploring the lives of Mary Queen of Scots and her son James 1st.
Starring Robert Carlyle as James and French newcomer Clémence Poésy as Mary, Gunpowder, Treason and Plot also features Kevin McKidd, Emilia Fox, Tim McInnerny, Catherine McCormack, Richard Coyle, Daniela Nardini and Paul Nicholls. Gunpowder, Treason and Plot is a Box TV production for BBC Northern Ireland directed by Gillies MacKinnon, whose credits include such films as Pure, Regeneration, Hideous Kinky and Small Faces. He also directed Jimmy McGovern’s 1990 BBC TWO drama Needle.
Filmed entirely on location in Romania with key Scottish crew, McGovern’s script concentrates on Mary’s short-lived reign and the battles she has to fight with both her Protestant subjects and the English Queen, Elizabeth 1st (Catherine McCormack). She conspires with the Earl of Bothwell (McKidd) to assassinate her miscreant husband Lord Darnley (Nicholls).
The story continues with her son James VI of Scotland (who, on Elizabeth’s death, became James 1st of England), and the plot against his reign masterminded by the influential Catholic Robert Catesby (Coyle) – a plot planned by Guy Fawkes (played by newcomer Michael Fassbender) to blow up the Houses of Parliament in order to rid the nation of an oppressive Protestant monarch. The drama reunites McGovern with producer Gub Neal. The pair created Cracker together and were also responsible for the award-winning drama-documentary, Hillsborough.
The executive producers are Robert Cooper, former Head of BBC Northern Ireland Drama, and Gareth Neame, BBC Head of Drama Commissioning.
Robert Cooper says: “Gunpowder, Treason and Plot is a signature drama from one of Britain’s most accomplished television writers, who is known for exploring such universal themes as injustice, prejudice and intolerance in Sunday, Liam, Hillsborough, Priest and Cracker. “In Gunpowder, he explores the nature of power and kingship with a drama inspired by historical characters and events, in much the same way as Shakespeare interpreted the past in the history plays. “It’s a personal vision, a dramatic interpretation of history.”
Gareth Neame adds: “It’s become a cliché that nations should learn from their past and that history repeats itself. “However in Britain in 2004 we live with the threat of terrorism as revenge for perceived religious persecution. “400 years ago Britain was under the same threat as a small group of disaffected Catholics, sickened by the persecution they suffered at the hands of their king, fought back in the first attempted act of modern terrorism with a strike at the heart of the nation.” Gunpowder, Treason and Plot was shown on BBC TWO in March 2004
Clémence Poésy is Mary, Queen of Scots | Kevin McKidd plays Bothwell | Robert Carlyle plays James VI of Scotland, James 1st of England | Tim McInnerny plays Lord Cecil
Richard Coyle plays Robert Catesby