Gunpowder plot

Prior to broadcasting the repeat of the BBC series Elizabeth I’s Secret Agents, the BBC has re-edited two of the episodes following a complaint about misleading statements about a Jesuit priest. The series tells the story of how Elizabeth I’s spymasters kept ahead of plots to overthrow her, and later her successor James I. The Jesuit priest Fr John Gerard, famous for his daring escape from the Tower of London in 1597, features heavily in episode 2 and especially in episode 3.The...
Peter Mullan as Henry Garnet SJ in Gunpowder
The opening half of episode 3 of Gunpowder was a vast improvement on the episode that preceded it.Thankfully it kept fairly close to the broadly known facts, and was a simple but presentable visualisation of the events. It covered the final loading of the parliamentary undercroft with barrels of explosives; the breakdown of the Gunpowder Plot (either via an anonymous letter to Lord Monteagle or a creative twist hinting at betrayal by the Spanish); the fleeing of the plotters to the Midlands;...
As the UK prepares for the annual Bonfire Night celebrations, the BBC will be airing the final episode of its ‘explosive’ three-part drama, Gunpowder. As part of the main cast, the series has portrayed two English Jesuits: Frs John Gerard and Henry Garnet. The first episode saw them involved in a tense opening scene which set the tone for the series, and of the times, of an intense atmosphere of persecution and paranoia. Forced into priest holes at the house of a Catholic recusant by the...
Gunpowder
This really is becoming something of a dog’s dinner.Except for the central fact that a group of blokes are planning to blow up the English parliament, the details of Gunpowder are becoming somewhat disconnected to the known facts of the Gunpowder Plot. People and places are adrift, incidents and portrayals are going badly out of focus, and time is bending more than in an episode of Star Trek.As in episode I, the production values of episode 2 are high, and obviously money has been poured into...
Liv Tyler, Edward Wintour and Kit Harington in 'Gunpowder'
There is a famous philosophical proposition that if an infinite number of monkeys sat at an infinite number of typewriters, all combinations of letters of the alphabet would eventually be made and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare would emerge.The American comedian, Bob Newhart, picked up this conceit in one of his stand-up monologues by suggesting that, if such an experiment was to be attempted, it would need monitors to go around and observe what the monkeys were writing.In the sketch...
Robert Emms as John Gerard SJ and Peter Mullan as Henry Garnet SJ, BBC iPlayer
By the time she died in 1603, Queen Elizabeth’s succession had been planned carefully by Robert Cecil and the Queen’s Council.  As Elizabeth had no heir and many remembered the years of confusion over the succession after the death of Henry VIII, Cecil was convinced that stability was best achieved by paving the way for King James VI of Scotland, a great-grandson of Henry’s sister Margaret, to succeed to the English throne. On Cecil’s secret advice, James VI cultivated the elderly...
The BBC has launched a three-part drama on the Gunpowder Plot, but this time the story is being told from a different perspective. Every school child in the UK will be able to tell you about Guy Fawkes, but this time the drama is told mainly from the point of view of Robert Catesby, the mastermind behind the plot. Written by Ronan Bennett, who has a PhD in seventeenth-century English history, the project was promoted and developed by the actor Kit Harington, recently famous for his role as Jon...
Detail of the canvas of Fr Henry Garnet SJ. Photos: Ken Vance SJ
Paintings of three English Jesuit martyrs have been located in the crypt of St Chad’s Cathedral in Birmingham. It is possible they are companions to a canvas of Blessed Edward Oldcorne SJ that is displayed in the Catholic college dedicated to him in Worcester.The canvases of Br Ralph Ashley SJ, Br Nicholas Owen SJ and Fr Henry Garnet SJ are believed to date back to Victorian times and have been described by the Curator of the Stonyhurst Collection, Jan Graffius, as “really special...
The Great Fire of London
Viewers of ITV’s The Great Fire, which concludes this week, will have seen the unfolding of a conspiracy theory in which the finger of blame for the Great Fire of London is pointed directly at Catholics. This is not pure dramatisation – there was no shortage of anti-Catholic sentiment in 17th century England, not least because of the events of 5 November 1605. Historian Thomas M. McCoog SJ surveys the religious and political landscape in which Catholics – and particularly...