Wolf Hall (miniseries)
|Based on||Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies
by Hilary Mantel
|Written by||Peter Straughan|
|Directed by||Peter Kosminsky|
|Composer(s)||Debbie Wiseman (Original music)
Claire van Kampen (Tudor music)
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||1|
|No. of episodes||6|
|Executive producer(s)||Colin Callender|
|Running time||60–65 min (episode)|
|Production company(s)||Company Pictures|
|Original release||21 January 2015– 25 February 2015|
Wolf Hall is a British television serial first broadcast on BBC Two in January 2015. The six-part series is an adaptation of two of Hilary Mantel's novels, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, a sympathetic fictionalised biography documenting the rapid rise to power of Thomas Cromwell in the court of Henry VIII through to the death of Sir Thomas More, followed by Cromwell's success in freeing the king of his marriage to Anne Boleyn. Wolf Hall was first broadcast in April in the United States on PBS and in Australia on BBC First.
The series was a critical success and received eight nominations at the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards and three nominations at the 73rd Golden Globe Awards, winning for Best Miniseries or Television Film.
The cast is as follows:
- Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell
- Damian Lewis as Henry VIII
- Claire Foy as Anne Boleyn
- Bernard Hill as Duke of Norfolk
- Anton Lesser as Thomas More
- Mark Gatiss as Stephen Gardiner
- Mathieu Amalric as Eustache Chapuys
- Joanne Whalley as Katherine of Aragon
- Jonathan Pryce as Cardinal Wolsey
- Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Rafe Sadler
- Tom Holland as Gregory Cromwell
- Harry Lloyd as Harry Percy
- Jessica Raine as Jane Rochford
- Saskia Reeves as Johane Williamson
- Charity Wakefield as Mary Boleyn
- David Robb as Sir Thomas Boleyn
- Joss Porter as Richard Cromwell
- Emma Hiddleston as Meg More
- Jonathan Aris as James Bainham
- Natasha Little as Liz Cromwell
- Ed Speleers as Edward Seymour
- Kate Phillips as Jane Seymour
- Edward Holcroft as George Boleyn
- Hannah Steele as Mary Shelton
- Richard Dillane as Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk
- Florence Bell as Helen Barre
- Iain Batchelor as Thomas Seymour
- Paul Clayton as William Kingston
- Felix Scott as Francis Bryan
- Luke Roberts as Harry Norris
- Alastair Mackenzie as William Brereton
- Max Fowler as Mark Smeaton
- Robert Wilfort as George Cavendish
- Aimee-Ffion Edwards as Elizabeth Barton
- Bryan Dick as Richard Rich
- Lucy Russell as Lady Shelton
- Kerry Ingram as Alice Williamson
- Enzo Cilenti as Antonio Bonvisi
- James Larkin as Master Treasurer FitzWilliam
On 23 August 2012, BBC Two announced several new commissions, one of which was Wolf Hall. According to The Guardian £7 million was to be spent on the adaptation. BBC Two controller Janice Hadlow said it was "very fortunate to have the rights" to the two novels and called Wolf Hall "a great contemporary novel".
Peter Kosminsky, the director of the series, said:
This is a first for me. But it is an intensely political piece. It is about the politics of despotism, and how you function around an absolute ruler. I have a sense that Hilary Mantel wanted that immediacy. ... When I saw Peter Straughan's script, only a first draft, I couldn't believe what I was reading. It was the best draft I had ever seen. He had managed to distil 1,000 pages of the novels into six hours, using prose so sensitively. He's a theatre writer by trade.
The drama series features 102 characters and Kosminsky began casting the other parts in October 2013. Although originally set to film in Belgium, most of the filming took place on location at some of the finest British medieval and Tudor houses and buildings: Berkeley Castle, Gloucester Cathedral and Horton Court in Gloucestershire, Penshurst Place in Kent, Broughton Castle and Chastleton House in Oxfordshire, Barrington Court, Cothay Manor and Montacute House in Somerset, St Donat's Castle in the Vale of Glamorgan, and Great Chalfield Manor and Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire. The series was filmed in May to July 2014. The series, which was made in association with Masterpiece Entertainment and Playground Entertainment, consists of six episodes and was broadcast on BBC Two in the UK from 21 January 2015.
The Guardian speculated that the BBC's hiring of Kosminsky with Straughan showed they wanted "a darker and grittier take on British history" than more fanciful programs like The Tudors or The White Queen. Mantel called Straughan's scripts a "miracle of elegant compression and I believe with such a strong team the original material can only be enhanced."
Kosminsky's decision to film many of the interior scenes by candlelight led to the actors bumping into things, and fearing they might catch fire.
Wolf Hall was filmed in two locations in Kent: Dover Castle doubled for the Tower of London, and the Long Gallery, Tapestry Room, and Queen Elizabeth Room in Penshurst Place were used as specific rooms in Whitehall (York Place), which was Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII's residence. The Long Gallery doubled as Anne Boleyn's chamber.
The series' executive producer, Colin Callender, stated in February 2015 that he hoped that the BBC would commission an extension of the series based on the final novel in Mantel's trilogy, The Mirror and the Light, which Mantel is currently writing. Callender said that lead performers Mark Rylance and Damian Lewis were "eager" to return.
|No. / Year||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||U.S. air date||UK viewers
|1 / 1529||"Three Card Trick"||Peter Kosminsky||Peter Straughan||21 January 2015||April 5, 2015||5.99|
|2 / 1529||"Entirely Beloved"||Peter Kosminsky||Peter Straughan||28 January 2015||April 12, 2015||4.46|
|3 / 1531||"Anna Regina"||Peter Kosminsky||Peter Straughan||4 February 2015||April 19, 2015||4.13|
|4 / 1533||"The Devil's Spit"||Peter Kosminsky||Peter Straughan||11 February 2015||April 26, 2015||4.29|
|5 / 1535||"Crows"||Peter Kosminsky||Peter Straughan||18 February 2015||May 3, 2015||3.72|
|6 / 1536||"Master of Phantoms"||Peter Kosminsky||Peter Straughan||25 February 2015||May 10, 2015||3.74|
Critics have been "almost unanimous" in their praise of the show with particular reference to the costumes, sets and direction, as well as the performances of Rylance as Cromwell and Foy as Anne Boleyn. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave the show a 100% rating based on 29 reviews with an average rating of 8.6/10. The critical consensus reads: "Beautifully filmed and brilliantly acted, Wolf Hall masterfully brings Hilary Mantel's award-winning novels to life." Sam Wollaston in The Guardian called it "sumptuous, intelligent, event television." Will Dean, writing for The Independent, gave it four out of five stars. He did not believe it compared favourably with the stage adaptation of the book, yet predicted it would "secure a devoted following." James Walton in The Daily Telegraph gave the first episode five stars out of five, commenting: "it’s hard to see how this one could have been done much better." Audience figures did not reflect this, however, with a substantial fall between the first and second episode and complaints about the slow pacing.
Discussions on historical accuracy or ideological bias
There has been criticism by some Roman Catholics of bias and inaccuracy in the series (a similar claim made with the novels), particularly regarding a perceived favorable depiction of Thomas Cromwell and an unfavorable depiction of Thomas More. Among Catholics, George Weigel has referred to the series as "Upmarket Anti-Catholicism".
Gregory Wolfe wrote in The Washington Post that Wolf Hall "will entertain millions – and threaten to distort history in the process", and noted scholarly opinions on Cromwell, More, and Henry VIII in support of his argument. Several American Catholic bishops have been similarly critical.
Constitutional historian David Starkey has said:
To reach such a conclusion about More and Cromwell from the very difficult and complicated 16th-century sources is just silly. Both men believed in the idea of enforcing ideas on others by persecution and execution. They only disagreed which ideas.
When pressed, Starkey stated a slight preference for More for dying "nobly with magnificent insouciance".
- Australia: BBC First premiered the series on 11 April 2015 and it was watched by 46,000 viewers.
- United States: PBS broadcast the series from 5 April 2015 to 10 May 2015. The first episode was broadcast on PBS's Masterpiece on 5 April 2015.
- Germany / France: Arte broadcast the series on 21 and 28 January 2016.
For the 5th Critics' Choice Television Awards, the series received four nominations: Best Limited Series, Mark Rylance for Best Actor, Jonathan Pryce for Best Supporting Actor, and Claire Foy for Best Supporting Actress.
- Cast & Credits, Wolf Hall, PBS.
- "Mark Rylance set for Hilary Mantel TV drama". BBC News. 8 March 2013. Retrieved 13 October 2013.
- Barraclough, Leo (31 January 2014). "Damian Lewis Set to Star as Henry VIII in ‘Wolf Hall’". Variety. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
- Vincent, Alice (2 May 2014). "Wolf Hall TV cast to include Damian Lewis and Mark Rylance". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
- "Emma Hiddleston Resume". Hamilton Hodell. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
- "Wolf Hall Series 1 Episode 2 Cast & Credits". PBS. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
- "BBC Two announces raft of new commissions". BBC. 23 August 2012. Retrieved 13 October 2013.
- Brown, Maggie (11 October 2013). "Peter Kosminsky and Mark Rylance team up for BBC's Wolf Hall adaptation". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 October 2013.
- "Wolf Hall adaptation planned for BBC Two". BBC News. 24 August 2012. Retrieved 13 October 2013.
- "Wolf Hall is to be a BBC drama". The Daily Telegraph. 23 August 2012. Retrieved 13 October 2013.
- Conlan, Tara (18 January 2015). "Wolf Hall sticks to England after director rejects plan to film in Belgium". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 January 2015.
- Frith-Salem, Benjamin (20 January 2015). "Wolf Halls: take a look inside the properties where the new BBC series is filmed". BBC History Magazine. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
- "The stately homes of Wolf Hall". BBC News.
- Daniels, Nia (10 January 2014). "Wolf Hall now to film in the UK". The Knowledge Online. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
- Furness, Hannah (21 Jan 2015). "Wolf Hall: the perils of filming by candlelight". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2015-02-26.
- Kent Film Office. "Kent Film Office Wolf Hall Article".
- Ben Dowell, BBC poised to commission Wolf Hall series two, Radio Times (February 9, 2015).
- Lisa de Moraes, 'Wolf Hall' Premiere Crowd Hits 4.4 Million, Deadline Hollywood (April 30, 2015).
- Weekly Top 10 Programmes – Broadcasters' Audience Research Board
- "Wolf Hall: Critics hail TV debut". BBC Online. 22 January 2015. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
- "Wolf Hall: Series 1". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 8, 2015.
- Wollaston, Sam (22 January 2015). "Wolf Hall review – 'event television: sumptuous, intelligent and serious'". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
- Dean, Will (21 January 2015). "Wolf Hall review: An imperious Mark Rylance revels in darkness in Hilary Mantel adaptation". The Independent. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
- Walton, James (22 January 2015). "Wolf Hall: episode one, review: 'subtle & surprising' – Telegraph". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
- Anita Singh, Wolf Hall a turn-off as a million viewers switch over, Daily Telegraph, 29 January 2015
- ""Wolf Hall" and Upmarket Anti-Catholicism". First Things.
- "How Wolf Hall will entertain millions and threaten to distort history in the process" The Washington Post Gregory Wolfe
- "America's Catholic bishops attack Wolf Hall as BBC drama hits US screens – Daily Mail Online". Mail Online.
- Stanford, Peter (2015-01-20). Sir Thomas More: saint or sinner? The Daily Telegraph, 20 January 2015.
- Schama, Simon (13 February 2015). "What historians think of historical novels". Financial Times. Retrieved 2015-08-20.
- "APRIL on FOXTEL: Game Of Thrones, Mad Men, Wentworth, Deadline Gallipoli and 200+ other new shows". The Green Room. Foxtel. March 30, 2015. Retrieved March 31, 2015.
- "Ratings: Saturday 11th April 2015". Mediaspy. Archived from the original on 25 July 2015. Retrieved 25 July 2015.
- "Wolf Hall". Masterpiece. PBS. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
- "Wölfe (1/6)". ARTE Programm. 21 January 2016.
- "Wolf Hall (1/6)". Programmes ARTE. 21 January 2016.
- "Justified, Broad City, Empire, Mom, 24, Jane The Virgin, Transparent Lead the 2015 Critics Choice Nominations". Team TVLine. May 6, 2015. Retrieved May 8, 2015.