Sunday Tittle Tattle: Gunpowder, Treason and – Turn that Bloody Phone Off!

gunpowder bbc one

I’ve been trying to watch the BBC series Gunpowder, which is the story of how Guy Fawkes and Robert Catesby devised to blow up the Houses of Parliament, and stars Kit Harrington of Game of Thrones fame. Gunpowder has received many complaints from the general public about its ‘hideously violent’ scenes; at the start of episode one, a woman is squashed to death beneath a gigantic, heavy board and a young priest is hung, drawn and quartered. (If you don’t know what that is then you’d do well to remain blissfully unaware.)

Apparently (reported The Sun, so, you know, probably not true) some horrified viewers were left “throwing up” at the extreme violence. Why they didn’t just look away I don’t know – there was plenty of build-up to the main, gruesome events! I mean, the woman being squashed had a number of heavy weights hoisted on top of her before she took her last breath (unfortunately wasn’t as peaceful as that sounds) so it would have been easy to avert their eyes. The hanging, drawing and quartering of the priest happened even after this, so anyone feeling queasy would, if they were being sensible, turn off the telly rather than carry on watching and vomit all over their living room floor. The mind boggles.

Anyway, I say that I’ve been trying to watch Gunpowder because I have actually only managed the first episode. We’re currently ploughing a series on Amazon called Bosch*, which is a brilliant American detective series, and because it’s so good Mr AMR keeps vetoing my requests to “just pop on the next instalment of Gunpowder”. He bribed me last night with a mint choc Magnum, because there was only one left!

So I’ve just seen the first episode, and I have to say that the opening scene had me so tense that I almost broke a tooth from grinding my jaw so furiously. In it, a load of King James I’s men go to a country house in Warwickshire where a Catholic mass is being (illegally) held. The family (led by Robert Catesby, played by Kit Harrington) have to quickly hide the priests in all of the clever nooks and hiding holes they have built into the room, because at this particular time in history (very early 1600s) Catholics are being persecuted and forced to worship in secret.

There follows a protracted, horrible scene where the main Catholic hunter-outer (William Wade) sniffs around the room, knocking on the panelling and having his men measure the thickness of the walls and seek out any oddities or discrepancies with the way the house has been built, in an attempt to locate the priest holes. In the end the tension, which could be cut with a knife, is broken when something that was packed away from the altar jangles about and reveals the location of the youngest priest, who is hiding beneath a bench. Oh God, it’s terrible. I mean, it must have been absolutely terrifying to have been holed up in the walls, or beneath the floor, or inside the fireplace, and hear soldiers tip-tapping about, getting ever closer.

The whole thing made me thing about how crap we would be at hiding these days. Mainly because nobody seems capable of turning their bloody phones off. Honestly, since I’ve been going backwards and forwards from Bath to London on the train, I’ve been gobsmacked at the number of people who don’t turn their ringtones off or who leave the alert sound on for their texts when it’s obvious they are accustomed to receiving dozens of them an hour. I can’t believe how many people listen to music or watch videos without any headphones on! Or type – and this one drives me mad – with the key sounds set to “click click click”.

If people had to hide in the walls nowadays, in 2017, they wouldn’t stand a chance. The soldiers wouldn’t have to measure the depth of the brickwork, or tap on the wooden panels, they’d just have to stand there quietly for ten seconds and someone would be bound to receive a Whatsapp. And they’d never be able to resist the temptation to answer it, because God forbid we don’t engage with our iPhones for more than five minutes!

“Hold on a sec,” the hider would whisper to their co-hider. “It’s Gerald, he wants to know what time we’re thinking of leaving for the capital tomorrow.”

“Can’t it wait?” the co-hiding priest would say.

“He put a sad face emoji and I’ve started typing now. He can see I’m online, it would look slack not to reply.”

They’d not stand a chance. At any rate, they would have probably Instagram Storied their whereabouts the night before anyway. “We’re at Robert Catesby’s doing an illegal Catholic Mass!” they’d have tweeted. “Their house is GOALS – you should see how many bedrooms it has! #God #Cribs.”

And even if they didn’t tweet, or Instagram story themselves away, or answer a phone call, or turn on their iPhone torch to “feel less scared inside the dark hidey hole”, I can bet you a million dollars that they wouldn’t remember to turn Airplane mode on. Because nobody likes to turn Airplane mode on, do they? It’s like a last resort. Incommunicado. It’s the equivalent of doing that thing that they do in cop films, where they take out the sim card and then smash the handset with a hammer. The 2017 Gunpowder Plot gang, or hiding priests, would never switch on their Airplane modes. And so the soldiers, with their own modern technology, would probably be able to pinpoint their exact whereabouts with some sort of handheld device. FBI style.

“There’s one behind the flat screen TV, Bob,” bearded soldier would say to soldier 6 (an extra), “and another in a cavity that’s been hollowed out at the back of the pink Smeg fridge-freezer.”

“You may as well come out, Clive,” the 2017 Kit Harrington equivalent would sigh, rolling his eyes towards the panelled ceiling. “And you, Gareth. You both forgot to disable your GPS.”

Anyway, enough of this nonsense. I only started writing this post to see if anyone had finished the whole three parts and to ask whether it was worth the effort. I only have one episode of Bosch left (season 2), so by tomorrow I’ll need something to occupy all of my free time… Ha.

You can watch Gunpowder on BBC iPlayer and online here.

© 2018 A Model Recommends®: all opinions are my own and any sponsored or paid posts will always be clearly marked as an AD in the title. I accept press samples and receive product and services to review as part of my job. *Outbound links are affiliate links, which means that I receive a very small percentage of any sale made. This does not affect my content in any way and does not cost you anything, but you are most welcome to Google the products on a new page if you prefer. Please see here for full "about" section and disclaimer. A Model Recommends and Ruth Crilly are registered trademarks.



  1. November 5, 2017 / 7:20 am

    Definitely watch Gunpowder – I think it’s great! Have seen 2 episodes and recorded the final one last night – I think they’re doing an amazing job with it and it gives you a real sense of what it was actually like back then.

    Didn’t the young priest deliberately make a noise in his hiding hole in order to save his older colleague that the soldiers were about to discover? That was my take on it anyway … :( :(

    • Laurie
      November 6, 2017 / 7:29 pm

      I came to the comments to make this very comment! He definitely knocked the silver cup thing over on purpose

    • November 7, 2017 / 9:29 pm

      Oooooohhhhhhhhh! Perhaps!!! Do you think?

  2. Laura
    November 5, 2017 / 7:32 am

    I’ve only watched episode one too. I loved it! Wasn’t at all shocked by the gore…wasnt even that bad…does that make me a bad/strange person? I’ve honestly seen worse in the news.

    I remember when I was little and we learnt about Guy Fawkes at school, hung drawn and quartered they said…”what did they draw on him for?” I said…

    Watching the second episode tonight.

    • November 7, 2017 / 9:30 pm

      Have none of these people seen Braveheart? Mel Gibson gets properly butchered at the end. ALSO, Game of Thrones is about 7 million times worse. I mean, I hate gore but I just close my eyes and go LALALALAA!!

  3. Angie guest
    November 5, 2017 / 8:22 am

    Love the series gunpowder albeit a bit gorey in parts..I too can’t stand the clickety click sound of mobiles gets right on my pips lol X

    • November 7, 2017 / 9:30 pm

      “right on my pips” I love you.

  4. Emma
    November 5, 2017 / 9:03 am

    I loved Gunpowder. Definitely worth finishing!

  5. Rosie
    November 5, 2017 / 9:15 am

    It’s perfectly serviceable standard period drama fayre. I think it’s probably worth it but I don’t think it really needed 3 hours.

    I’ve heard AMAZING things about Alias Grace on Netflix and will be binging that next!!

  6. Alison
    November 5, 2017 / 9:37 am

    You just made my Sunday morning Ruth! That was funny, though I felt myself nodding in agreement about people using their tech on public transport like it’s their front room.

  7. November 5, 2017 / 9:40 am

    You had me at Kit Harrington, even though I would probably avert my eyes to prevent violent vomiting on my living room floor. And now will turning my phone of before I attempt to watch it, otherwise the sudden sound of a WhatsApp would probably have me squeaking and revealing my whereabouts.

  8. November 5, 2017 / 10:04 am

    Hahaha! This made me laugh. GPS would stuff them up no doubt at all. I’ve watched all three and it was great! Can’t believe people moaned about the gore. This is how times used to be and I loved the authenticity of it. If they don’t like it, why not just switch over?lol xx

  9. Alex
    November 5, 2017 / 10:15 am

    Hi Ruth, I haven’t seen Gunpowder, but you if you’re stuck for something to watch, Stranger Things on Netflix is just brilliant. It’s filmed and produced as though it’s in the 80s, and features classic 80s songs too. If you haven’t seen it already, you really need to! Xx

    • November 7, 2017 / 9:31 pm

      Yes, I loved the first series, going to start the second this week!! x

  10. Jane
    November 5, 2017 / 11:00 am

    I just have one question Ruth, when are you getting your book published? Your writing is hysterical!

    • November 7, 2017 / 9:32 pm

      If only someone would publish it! Apparently it’s “not what my audience would expect” (ie not about lipsticks) so people don’t know how to deal with it. *insert eye roll* Maybe I’ll just publish it here as a serial. x

      • Saundra
        November 12, 2017 / 2:34 am

        Self-publish on Amazon! There are some amazing authors who would never have gotten a deal while the old publisher system was the gatekeeper, but now everyone can just upload their works to Amazon. Why not give it a try?

  11. SuWu
    November 5, 2017 / 11:27 am

    Hi Ruth, you drew me in…again! Hilarious.

  12. Deborah Barker
    November 5, 2017 / 12:35 pm

    Oh Ruth, you’ve had me in stitches, so so funny! Thank you for brightening my Sunday!

  13. Rachel
    November 5, 2017 / 1:18 pm

    It gets more horrific. I had to concentrate very hard on my patchwork stitches but the sounds were bad enough. However wonderfully done and definitely worth a watch. Off to check out Bosch

    • November 7, 2017 / 9:32 pm

      “I had to concentrate very hard on my patchwork stitches” – I feel as though I have stumbled into a Jane Austen novel! : )

  14. Kalyna
    November 5, 2017 / 1:47 pm

    Love this! You are the best writer and have an amazing sense of humor. Thank you for making me smile.

  15. WWM
    November 5, 2017 / 2:40 pm

    I can’t get over your writing. Your creativity gets me every time. Always making me laugh. Thanks!

  16. Eliza
    November 5, 2017 / 3:41 pm

    Haha so clever your comparison/ analogy? I don’t know the proper term, but whatever it is, man do I agree. Basically, this world would be utter crap today had everyone been on an iphone since the beginning of recorded history. We’d have nothing great. And the future is on its way there since one day, the only people on it will have been born with an iphone in their mouth and a Snapchat account. In the words of Ferris Beuller’s Principal, Ed Rooney – ‘I weep for the future’. ANYWAY. If I was on your train to London, I’d be tapping those perpetrators on the shoulder with a curt ‘can you please put your ear phones in?’ No hesitation on that. Manners people – get em. Wee what a rant I’ve displayed!! haha.

    • November 7, 2017 / 9:33 pm

      ARGH! You see I’d love to be the sort of person who could do that, but I just sit there stewing. x

  17. Sarah
    November 5, 2017 / 4:44 pm

    My husband got super into Bosch but I just couldn’t follow it. The plot was too long, too confusing, with too many bad guys. I feel like I needed a flow chart to follow it. It’s like they tried to do an LA version of the wire, but instead of breaking themes up every season, they jumbled them all together.

    The again we started watching it when baby was two weeks old and I was sleeping less than three hours a night. Putting on my underwear backwards was a daily occurrence. That may have more to do with it.

    • November 7, 2017 / 9:34 pm

      Forgetting to put my breast away after feeding is my current forte. I think because they have no feeling in them, it’s hard to tell when they’re in or out.

  18. Grace
    November 5, 2017 / 5:06 pm

    I loved your post! Thanks for the tips.(I am Catholic)
    Not planning to watch though. When I do watch or read the violent bits I ignore them as you said.

    Read about St. Campion. Very true and very frightening.
    Robert Hugh Benson wrote several great fictional accounts as well that are
    free from

    I suggest “Come Rack, Come Rope”.

    • November 7, 2017 / 9:35 pm

      Off to read it. Though I do tend to dwell on these things so perhaps I’ll skim-read first.. x

    • Grace
      November 19, 2017 / 5:16 pm

      Bit of a correction. The free books by Robert Hugh Benson are found at

  19. Lisa Fusco
    November 5, 2017 / 9:36 pm

    We’ve watched all three episodes – brilliant!!
    It was extremely gory in parts but I just looked away – semples!!
    I particularly wanted to watch it as a lot of the activity was local to where I live (and I think where you’re also originally from Ruth).
    Coughton Court where a lot of the “gunpowder gang/wives” hid is 2 mins away as is The Throckmorton Inn. Kit Harrington is distantly related to Robert Catesby who in turn was the son of William Catesby and Ann Throckmorton.
    So all very local and interesting and I loved it.

    • November 7, 2017 / 9:35 pm

      YES! Coughton Court! Is it in the episode then?

      • Lisa Fusco
        November 26, 2017 / 10:07 pm

        No – it wasn’t. Baddesley Clinton was though which is also very local. ( Sorry for late reply) xx

  20. Leticia Warwick Justus
    November 5, 2017 / 9:44 pm

    You’re such a talent Ruth ! An excellent writer that is like a mini mystery to read and my mind just swirls with the pictures you paint. I had not heard of this show before. It sounds like it would just keep you on the edge of your seat! Also, just as edgy is how you point out our cultures obsession to our devises/phones. You make a valid point of how attached we are. It’s like oxygen….We often can’t seem to live with out it anymore. I think we are missing a lot of real life going on right on front of us. the mind a little wake up call.

  21. Sue Moran
    November 6, 2017 / 12:24 am

    Oh Ruth as always you are hilarious in your observations. I turn into a crotchety old man when someone uses their phone in public but feels it unnecessary to mute for the rest of us!! My husband had surgery this year that required an overnight stay and his roommate thought nothing of playing his television and music out loud. In a hospital, people!
    I loved the Bosch books but not sure I gave the tv series enough time to hook me.

  22. Jenni
    November 6, 2017 / 6:34 am

    As ever, came for the beauty, stayed for the writing. Superb.

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