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Gunpowder, Treason & Plot (2004)

TV-MA | | Drama, History | TV Movie 14 March 2004
Mini series depicting the turbulent and bloody reigns of Scottish monarchs Mary, Queen of Scots and her son King James VI of Scotland who became King James I of England and foiled the Gunpowder Plot.


Gillies MacKinnon


Jimmy McGovern
4 wins. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Vulpe Adrian Vulpe Adrian ... Soldier
Carmen Ungureanu Carmen Ungureanu ... Mary of Guise
Clémence Poésy ... Mary, Queen of Scots
Tadeusz Pasternak Tadeusz Pasternak ... David Riccio
Maria Popistasu ... Lady Marie
Catherine McCormack ... Queen Elizabeth I
Steven Duffy Steven Duffy ... Lord James
Catalin Babliuc Catalin Babliuc ... Father Michael
Kevin McKidd ... Bothwell
Emil Hostina ... Bothwell's Lieutenant
Daniela Nardini ... Lady Huntly
Radu Andrei Micu ... Sir John Huntly
Iona Ruxandra Bratosin Iona Ruxandra Bratosin ... Young Mary
Gary Lewis ... John Knox
Garry Sweeney ... Lord Gunn


Mini series depicting the turbulent and bloody reigns of Scottish monarchs Mary, Queen of Scots and her son King James VI of Scotland who became King James I of England and foiled the Gunpowder Plot.

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Drama | History


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Did You Know?


Although the events are set in Great Britain, filming took place Romania. See more »


At the beginning Mary is depicted as a young, unmarried girl who had spent 13 years in exile in France. Actually, she was a widow. She had been married to the French king who had died very young. See more »


[first lines]
Mary, Queen of Scots: [narrating] When I was a child, the English waged war upon Scotland, and my mother sent me to France for safety. I remained in exile for 30 years, and never saw my mother's face again. But now I will have my revenge. One day my child, my mother's grandchild, will take the English throne.
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Now is the Month of Maying
By Thomas Morley
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User Reviews

Linear history
26 March 2004 | by paul2001sw-1See all my reviews

Given the pronounced anti-Catholic bias of most contemporary English history, one might think that any attempt to redress the balance might be welcomed. Alas, Jimmy McGovern's drama, 'Gunpowder, Treason and Plot', proves this not to be the case. Its greatest problem is its unfortunate tendency to encapsulate complex political issues in slogans, and those slogans, in turn, in characters - the portrayal of John Knox (who does little more than storm about and utter his most famous quote) exemplifies this. This, and the number of historical liberties taken (James I, for example, discovers the Gunpowder Plot in person) make the story a less accurate guide to the past than even 'Braveheart'.

The series is not helped either by some substandard acting. Clemence Posey, with her bizarre French-American-Scottish accent, is mostly inaudible as Mary Queen of Scots and seems to take most of the cues for her performance from Mila Jovovitch's disastrous turn as Joan of Arc in 'Messenger'. Sira Stampe is robotic as James I's wife, while Robert Carlyle's James is as unconvincing as he is unhinged. Also detracting from our enjoyment are the understaffed battle scenes, the histrionic tone, and a decidedly anachronistic portrayal of sexuality.

Surprisingly, given McGovern's own politics, there's almost no hint of republicanism here, although within a few decades Britain was engulfed by a civil war that disputed absolutely the relevance of monarchy: perhaps this is ignored because it was a Protestant rebellion. Instead, we get a boring, linear drama of good queen Mary, bad queen Elisabeth and mad king James. I'm still certain that somewhere, behind the propaganda, there's an interesting story - how did hatred of Catholocism spread so rapidly when only a handful of years previously, everyone in England was Catholic? But this film does little to open one's eyes.

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Release Date:

14 March 2004 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Gunpowder, Treason & Plot See more »

Filming Locations:

Romania See more »


Box Office


GBP12,000,000 (estimated)
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Technical Specs


(3 parts)

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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