You can’t beat a 17th century execution and a few severed heads for a bit of rollicking Saturday night entertainment, and that’s what the new BBC 1 mini-series Gunpowder has to offer, as well as a really gripping house search for some Jesuit priests in the opening episode. The BBC said it would be putting on some different drama on a Saturday, and it did so with Taboo earlier in the year (new series currently in production), and Gunpowder starring Kit (Jon Snow Thrones) Harington is certainly that.

Harington plays Robert Catesby who sets up the ill-fated Gunpowder Plot as revenge on the way Catholics are being treated, including the execution of his mother. Shuan Dooley plays the enforcer looking to wipe out any Catholic sympathisers, with Mark Gatiss offering his usual good value as Dooley’s boss. Add Liv Tyler as Catesby’s cousin, and you can tell this is a good cast in a very watchable (if you can endure the torture scenes) piece of fare put together by the always reliable Kudos production company. And in case you wondered, Tom Cullen makes a final scene appearance as a nasty-looking Guy Fawkes.

Was the graphic violence necessary? I would say yes, on the basis of showing exactly what the Catholics had to put up with if they didn’t follow the party line, and having been brought up just five miles from the Catesby house, there was some added personal interest for me to check out Gunpowder. It’s just a shame that we know what happens in the end! Incidentally the other Kudos drama running at the moment, Tin Star starring Tim Roth, has really delivered in quality and intrigue for Sky Atlantic, and has been deservedly booked for a second series, which doesn’t happen in the majority of Sky-commissioned dramas.

I cannot believe that The Walking Dead (FOX UK, amongst the many outlets) has just started an eighth season, and I say that in a good way. Doesn’t time fly? It’s disappointing that it doesn’t get the awards that it deserves for some wonderful performances, including that of Andrew Lincoln as Rick. The series opener was bang on the buck as the the coalition of good folk take their revenge on nasty Negan, but we have two intriguing curve balls thrown into the mix, with two flash-forwards, one of which suggests a happy ending  some five years down the line. It’s one of the things that I like about this terrific show, as it always enjoys playing with the viewer and you just don’t know what might be around the corner, including which characters are set for the chop!

I’ve been impressed with the acts on The X Factor which hits the live shows this weekend, on the back of the ever entertaining Judges Houses sequence, which didn’t feature any of the actual Judges Houses! The return of Cheryl Tweedy/Cole/Fernandez-Versini/soon-to-probably-be Payne was a strong hint that she is being lined up to take over from Nicole Scherzinger who is almost certainly leaving the show next year to concentrate on her music career. Meanwhile, thank heavens that we have some really good performers and no joke acts in a “on the mark” series, though the big viewing figures are long gone.

Sky have hit the jackpot in getting the rights to the biggest new US drama of the autumn, which starts tonight on Sky Living. I’m talking about The Good Doctor featuring young Brit star Freddie Highmore, which I reviewed a few weeks ago. Five episodes in, I’m loving every aspect of this show about a young autistic doctor, with a mix of all emotions from sadness through to raising a smile in the same way the equally brilliant This Is Us has achieved (series two by the way is just as good). The Good Doctor is must-watch TV, and has achieved the best drama ratings for the ABC network in 21 years, which shows that high quality can get a foothold on a non-cable network. It really is that excellent and passes my simple test of wanting the next episode a.s.a.p. as the final credits start rolling on the current instalment. Watch and enjoy a show that has a little bit of magic about it.

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