Kit Harington on the end of Game of Thrones and his new BBC1 drama Gunpowder

Kit Harington is famous all around the world now, thanks his to his career-defining role as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones – he has admitted to us feeling “soppy” about the fantasy drama ending next year!

But the London-born star has come back home to the UK for a very personal, British drama, about his ancestor Robert Catesby, the brains behind the famous Gunpowder plot of 1605.

Shot in Yorkshire, the three-part series tells the brutal but captivating story of Catesby and his fellow Catholics, facing persecution under King James I’s Protestant rule, and eventually feeling compelled to put together the most famous plot in our nation’s history.

Kit Harington acts as the executive producer and star of the new drama and has told TV Times all the gory details…

TV Times: Kit, why were you so keen to make this drama?

Kit Harington: “The idea spawned from a piece of family curiosity – my mother’s maiden name is Catesby, it’s my middle name and I’m a direct descendent of Robert. I didn’t know much about him and I wondered for a while why there was no defining drama about the Gunpowder plot. I learned that Catesby was a widower, he didn’t connect with his son and he experienced huge religious persecution. He loses his humanity and eventually leads other people to their deaths.”

TVT: Will we sympathise with Catesby at all?

KH: “Weirdly, in my head, when we started, he might have been a heroic character who was doing this for glory and for God, but as we’ve gone on I’ve realised how unheroic and messed up he is. He eventually caused the Catholics much greater problems after the plot than before. In some ways you can see him as troubled and angsty, but he’s got a real demon inside him. I’m very confused as to how I feel about him now.”

Gunpowder

Kit Harington as Robert Catesby with Thomas Wintour as Edward Holcroft and Tom Cullen as Guy Fawkes

TVT: Do you think there are any parallels to today’s religious extremists?

KH: “Absolutely, that’s one the reasons we’re making this. We don’t want to make a historical drama that has no resonance with today, I’m very bored by those kinds of series. We absolutely want to make something that people will relate to and this feels like a story that’s very prevalent today. We’re careful not to use the word ‘terrorist’ though – in this context these men technically weren’t terrorists, they saw themselves as revolutionaries. A terrorist is someone going around creating terror to instill fear and chaos. These men wanted to bring about change by replacing King James with their own monarch.”

TVT: How violent is the drama?

KH: “It’s a dark series, it’s going to be entertaining but also grisly. It was a very violent time and we have to show that violence, so that the audience can see why the Catholics were driven to their plot – you can’t avoid the torture and executions these men experienced. It’s not gratuitous though, and I think, as with Game of Thrones, viewers will accept a greater level of violence as long as it’s justified.”

TVT: Game of Thrones finishes next year, how are you feeling about the end of this era?

KH: “We’re getting quite emotional and soppy about it, but it will be liberating not being tied up with filming for six months a year. It’s coming to an end at the right time for me and I’m looking forward to finishing now. I would like to do more producing and play some contemporary roles, maybe something set in the 1960s. But then I’m in Gunpowder with a cloak and a sword – maybe I secretly love it!”

Gunpowder starts on BBC1 this Saturday at 9.10 pm.