Belfast Telegraph

NI writer Bennett splits viewers over graphic Gunpowder plot content

By Cate McCurry

A BBC drama written by a Northern Ireland author has been criticised for its "graphic and violent" content.

Ronan Bennett is behind the primetime show Gunpowder, which details the 1605 plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament.

The first of a three-part series aired on Saturday and showed a woman being pressed to death by a stone slab and a priest being hung, drawn and quartered.

Viewers hit out at what they described as "overtly violent" scenes.

Ofcom confirmed it received seven complaints about the programme.

The drama aired after the 9pm watershed and included a warning.

But some Twitter users slammed its depictions of historical events.

One wrote: "Catching up on Gunpowder and I feel physically sick. I can't stomach violent scenes."

Another said: "We all know the stories, we know how it all ends, but why make something so violent for people to struggle to watch?"

The BBC defended the programme.

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Ronan Bennett

"The scenes aired after 9.30pm with a clear warning given to viewers before the episode started," it said.

"The methods depicted are grounded in historical fact and reflect what took place during the time of the Gunpowder Plot."

Others people praised the programme online, with many saying it was an accurate reflection of history.

"Fantastic historical drama," said one. "Life was violent and we tortured many innocent people. This was how people were entertained."

Stars of the show include Kit Harington of Game Of Thrones fame and Liv Tyler.

The novelist and screenwriter was born in England, but brought up here. Bennett's third novel, The Catastrophist, was nominated for the Whitbread Award in 1998.

His fourth, Havoc In Its Third Year, was listed for the Booker prize in 2004.

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