Kit Harington Plays his Ancestor on ‘Gunpowder’

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Kit Harington will star in a new BBC One drama playing his own ancestor, one of the men behind the infamous Gunpowder Plot.

The series, entitled Gunpowder, has been described as being filled with “murder, intrigue, fireworks, and not a dragon in sight,” despite the presence of Harington, who has become infamous for his role as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones. Of course, while Game of Thrones is based on George R.R. Martin’s novels, which are in turn inspired by the War of the Roses, Harington’s new role will also be influenced by history, but in a much more personal way.

Apparently, Harington is an actual direct descendent of Robert Catesby, the mind behind the entire Gunpowder Plot, despite Guy Fawkes receiving most of the historical recognition. (Harrington’s actual name is Christopher Catesby Harington.) Catesby was inspired by the religious turmoil prevalent in England to take action against King James I, who had made it illegal to practice Catholicism. While Catesby was the mind behind the plot, Guy Fawkes was actually captured in a cellar, surrounded by barrels of gunpowder, and so became the face of the entire treasonous conspiracy.

Harington, in an interview with Front Row, discussed the role. “It’s been a family curiosity for as long as I can remember. Mum used to say ‘Robert Catesby was the leader of the gunpowder plot’ and not many people know that,” he said. “If you asked someone on the street they’d know the name Guy Fawkes. They know that barrels of gunpowder were put underneath parliament. They know the rhyme ‘remember, remember the 5th November’ but that’s pretty much all they know.”

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The entire project actually arose by Harington’s own hand, after he became convinced the story deserved some type of dramatization. His friend Daniel West assisted with realizing the idea, and they sought the help of writer Ronan Bennett. Bennett brought his own historical expertise to the project, stressing the importance of historical accuracy.

Harington is an executive producer on the series, which airs on Saturdays on BBC One.

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