|Based on||Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies|
by Hilary Mantel
|Written by||Peter Straughan|
|Directed by||Peter Kosminsky|
|Composers||Original music by|
Tudor music by
Claire van Kampen
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||1|
|No. of episodes||6|
|Executive producer||Colin Callender|
|Running time||60–65 minutes|
|Production company||Company Pictures|
|Original release||21 January –|
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 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 2015 in the United States on PBS and in Australia on BBC First. It was reported in 2022 that a second series, covering the final novel in the trilogy, was in pre-production, with Mark Rylance and director Peter Kosminsky returning.
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 series centres on the character of Thomas Cromwell, a lawyer who has risen from humble beginnings. The action opens at a point in Cromwell's career where his master, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, is about to fall from power because of his failure to secure a marriage annulment for King Henry VIII of England. It proceeds through Cromwell's own rise to political power, and ends with the execution of Anne Boleyn.
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 from 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 programmes such as 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 at 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. Some scenes were filmed at Stanway House in Gloucestershire.
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 was published in 2020. Callender said that lead performers Mark Rylance and Damian Lewis were "eager" to return.
A second series of Wolf Hall was confirmed on 27 May 2019.
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date|
|U.S. air date||UK viewers|
|1||"Three Card Trick"||Peter Kosminsky||Peter Straughan||21 January 2015||5 April 2015||5.99|
|In 1529, as Cardinal Wolsey receives news of his dismissal as Lord Chancellor, his lawyer Thomas Cromwell reminisces about how he and Wolsey met and the events leading up to the Cardinal's downfall.|
|2||"Entirely Beloved"||Peter Kosminsky||Peter Straughan||28 January 2015||12 April 2015||4.46|
|As 1529 draws to a close, Cardinal Wolsey moves to York while Thomas Cromwell attempts to gain support for him from King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn and, in the process, gradually wins favour for himself.|
|3||"Anna Regina"||Peter Kosminsky||Peter Straughan||4 February 2015||19 April 2015||4.13|
|In 1531, King Henry VIII has proposed a bill which will make him the head of the Church in England and allow him to marry Anne Boleyn. However, his plans are met with a series of complications.|
|4||"The Devil's Spit"||Peter Kosminsky||Peter Straughan||11 February 2015||26 April 2015||4.29|
|In 1533, Anne Boleyn has given birth to a daughter, much to King Henry VIII's disdain. As Anne's paranoia over her inability to produce a son grows, Thomas Cromwell tries to convince Sir Thomas More to show approval for the royal marriage.|
|5||"Crows"||Peter Kosminsky||Peter Straughan||18 February 2015||3 May 2015||3.72|
|In 1535, King Henry VIII's becoming head of the Church in England has antagonised the Holy Roman Emperor. Meanwhile, Anne Boleyn's failure to produce a male heir leads Henry toward Jane Seymour.|
|6||"Master of Phantoms"||Peter Kosminsky||Peter Straughan||25 February 2015||10 May 2015||3.74|
|The Exeter Conspiracy is in the works. In 1536, King Henry VIII's request that Thomas Cromwell find a way to rid him of Anne Boleyn—a sentiment supported by others who wish for Jane Seymour to take her place—leads to a series of allegations and revelations.|
Critics have been "almost unanimous" in their praise of the series, with particular reference to the attention to period detail, the faithful adaptation of the source novels, Kosminsky's direction, and the performances of the leading cast members, particularly Rylance as Cromwell and Foy as Boleyn. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave the show a 98% rating based on 41 reviews with an average rating of 8.45/10. The website's critical consensus states, "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 in The Independent felt that it did not compare favourably with the stage adaptation of the book, yet he predicted that 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." Mick Adam Noya from the television review show Channel Crossing called Wolf Hall "the best show of 2015".
A few dissenting voices found some flaws. The Daily Telegraph alleged that there was a substantial drop in ratings between the first and second episodes, despite all the following episodes holding high and consistent ratings. Simon Schama stated concerns about how the series depicted historical figures. Emily Nussbaum of The New Yorker cited "small weaknesses", but wrote "the show’s deliberately paced six hours turn out to be riveting, precisely because they are committed, without apology or, often, much explanation, to the esotericism of their subject matter." Sophie Gilbert of The Atlantic wrote, "Magnificent...a tour de force."
The lighting design, which used historically accurate natural light sources (such as candlelight for evening scenes) prompted criticism from viewers who felt parts of the series appeared too dark.
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.
|BAFTA TV Awards||Best Drama Series||Wolf Hall||Won|
|Best Actor||Mark Rylance||Won|
|Best Actress||Claire Foy||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actor||Anton Lesser||Nominated|
|BAFTA TV Craft Awards||Best Editing – Fiction||David Blackmore||Nominated|
|Best Costume Design||Joanna Eatwell||Nominated|
|Best Photography and Lighting – Fiction||Gavin Finney||Nominated|
|Best Sound – Fiction and Entertainment||Rodney Berling, Simon Clark, Peter Gates, James Hayday, and Rob Hughes||Won|
|British Society of Cinematographers Awards||Best Cinematography in a Television Drama||Gavin Finney (for "Entirely Beloved")||Won|
|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|
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Miniseries or Television Film||Wolf Hall||Won|
|Best Actor||Mark Rylance||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actor||Damian Lewis||Nominated|
|2015 Peabody Awards||Entertainment||Wolf Hall||Won|
|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|
|Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards||Outstanding Casting for a Limited Series, Movie, or Special||Nina Gold and Robert Sterne||Nominated|
|Outstanding Costumes for a Period/Fantasy Series, Limited Series or Movie||Joanna Eatwell, Ken Lang, and Clare Vyse||Nominated|
|Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Limited Series or Movie||David Blackmore||Nominated|
|Royal Television Society Programme Awards||Drama Serial||Wolf Hall||Nominated|
|Actor: Female||Claire Foy||Nominated|
|Royal Television Society Craft & Design Awards||Editing - Drama||David Blackmore||Nominated|
|Photography - Drama||Gavin Finney||Nominated|
|Sound - Drama||Sound Team||Nominated|
|Judges' Award||Production Team||Won|
|Satellite Awards||Best Miniseries or Television Film||Wolf Hall||Nominated|
|Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film||Mark Rylance||Won|
|Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film||Claire Foy||Nominated|
|Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie||Mark Rylance||Nominated|
|TCA Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries, and Specials||Wolf Hall||Nominated|