Wolf Hall (miniseries)

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Wolf Hall
File:WolfHall.png
Genre Historical drama
Based on Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies
by Hilary Mantel
Written by Peter Straughan
Directed by Peter Kosminsky
Starring
Composer(s) Debbie Wiseman (Original music)
Claire van Kampen (Tudor music)
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 1
No. of episodes 6
Production
Executive producer(s) Colin Callender
Producer(s) Mark Pybus
Cinematography Gavin Finney
Running time 60–65 min (episode)
Production company(s) Company Pictures
Distributor BBC Worldwide
Release
Original network
Original release 21 January (2015-01-21) – 25 February 2015 (2015-02-25)
External links
Website

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.

Cast

The cast is as follows:[1]

Principal cast

Supporting cast

Production

On 23 August 2012, BBC Two announced several new commissions, one of which was Wolf Hall.[7] According to The Guardian £7 million was to be spent on the adaptation.[8] 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".[9][10]

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.[8]

The drama series features 102 characters and Kosminsky began casting the other parts in October 2013. Although originally set to film in Belgium,[11] 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.[12][13] The series was filmed in May to July 2014. The series, which was made in association with Masterpiece Entertainment and Playground Entertainment,[14] 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.[8] 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."[8]

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.[15]

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.[16]

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.[17] Callender said that lead performers Mark Rylance and Damian Lewis were "eager" to return.[17]

Episodes

No. / Year Title Directed by Written by Original air date U.S. air date[18] UK viewers
(million)
1 / 1529 "Three Card Trick" Peter Kosminsky Peter Straughan 21 January 2015 (2015-01-21) April 5, 2015 5.99[19]
2 / 1529 "Entirely Beloved" Peter Kosminsky Peter Straughan 28 January 2015 (2015-01-28) April 12, 2015 4.46[19]
3 / 1531 "Anna Regina" Peter Kosminsky Peter Straughan 4 February 2015 (2015-02-04) April 19, 2015 4.13[19]
4 / 1533 "The Devil's Spit" Peter Kosminsky Peter Straughan 11 February 2015 (2015-02-11) April 26, 2015 4.29[19]
5 / 1535 "Crows" Peter Kosminsky Peter Straughan 18 February 2015 (2015-02-18) May 3, 2015 3.72[19]
6 / 1536 "Master of Phantoms" Peter Kosminsky Peter Straughan 25 February 2015 (2015-02-25) May 10, 2015 3.74[19]

Reception

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.[20] 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."[21] Sam Wollaston in The Guardian called it "sumptuous, intelligent, event television."[22] 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."[23] 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."[24] Audience figures did not reflect this, however, with a substantial fall between the first and second episode and complaints about the slow pacing.[25]

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".[26]

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.[27] Several American Catholic bishops have been similarly critical.[28]

Elsewhere, several historians (including non-Catholics) have expressed concerns about historical inaccuracy in the series.[29][30]

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.[29]

When pressed, Starkey stated a slight preference for More for dying "nobly with magnificent insouciance".[29]

Simon Schama has stated concerns about how it depicts historical figures.[30]

International broadcast

Accolades

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.[36]

Year Award Category Recipients Outcome
2015 Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Limited Series Wolf Hall Nominated
Best Actor in a Movie/Miniseries Mark Rylance Nominated
Best Supporting Actor in a Movie/Miniseries Jonathan Pryce Nominated
Best Supporting Actress in a Movie/Miniseries Claire Foy Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Limited Series Wolf Hall Nominated
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie Mark Rylance Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie Damian Lewis Nominated
Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special Peter Kosminsky Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special Peter Straughan Nominated
Outstanding Casting for a Limited Series, Movie, or Special Laura Rosenthal, Carolyn Pickman Nominated
Outstanding Costumes for a Period/Fantasy Series, Limited Series or Movie Joanna Eatwell, Ken Lang, Clare Vyse Nominated
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Limited Series or Movie David Blackmore Nominated
TCA Awards Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries, and Specials Wolf Hall Nominated
2016 73rd Golden Globe Awards Best Miniseries or Television Film Wolf Hall Won
Best Actor Mark Rylance Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Damian Lewis Nominated

References

  1. Cast & Credits, Wolf Hall, PBS.
  2. "Mark Rylance set for Hilary Mantel TV drama". BBC News. 8 March 2013. Retrieved 13 October 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  4. Vincent, Alice (2 May 2014). "Wolf Hall TV cast to include Damian Lewis and Mark Rylance". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 3 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  17. 17.0 17.1 Ben Dowell, BBC poised to commission Wolf Hall series two, Radio Times (February 9, 2015).
  18. Lisa de Moraes, 'Wolf Hall' Premiere Crowd Hits 4.4 Million, Deadline Hollywood (April 30, 2015).
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 19.5 Weekly Top 10 Programmes – Broadcasters' Audience Research Board
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External links