Directed by: Peter Kosminsky
Written by: Peter Straughan
Produced by: Colin Callender, Mark Pybus
Other cast: Mark Rylance, Damian Lewis, Claire Foy, Bernard Hill, Anton Lesser, Mark Gatiss, Mathieu Amalric, Joanne Whalley, Jonathan Pryce, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Harry Lloyd, Jessica Raine, Saskia Reeves, Charity Wakefield, Edward Holcroft
Premiere date: 21 January 2015
Episodes: All Episodes
Genre: Historical drama
Running time: ~360 minutes
After the downfall of Cardinal Wolsey, his secretary, Thomas Cromwell, finds himself amongst the treachery and intrigue of King Henry VIII’s court and soon becomes a close advisor to the King, a role fraught with danger.
Three Card Trick 21 January 2015
In 1529, King Henry VIII dismisses Lord Chancellor Cardinal Thomas Wolsey for his failure to have the Pope annul Henry’s marriage to his wife, Catherine of Aragon, in order to marry Anne Boleyn. Wolsey’s lawyer, Thomas Cromwell, reminisces over his time with the Cardinal, his dealings with the Boleyn family and his own personal life, including the death of his wife and two daughters from the sweating sickness in 1528.
Entirely Beloved 28 January 2015
In December 1529, following Cardinal Thomas Wolsey’s departure as Lord Chancellor, Thomas Cromwell gains favor from King Henry VIII and is sworn into the king’s Privy Council.
Anna Regina 4 February 2015
In 1531, King Henry VIII pushes his cause of marrying Anne Boleyn by proposing a bill that would make him, and not the Pope, the head of the Church in England. Thomas Cromwell’s influence in the king’s affairs continues to grow, but he seeks more power.
The Devil’s Spit 11 February 2015
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 sanctify the royal marriage.
Crows 18 February 2015
In 1535, King Henry VIII’s attempt to be declared head of the Church in England has been denied by the Holy Roman Emperor. Meanwhile, Anne Boleyn’s failure to produce a male heir leads Henry toward Jane Seymour.
Master of Phantoms 25 February 2015
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.
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.
The drama series features 102 characters, and director Peter 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 & Horton Court in Gloucestershire, Penshurst Place in Kent, Broughton Castle & Chastleton House in Oxfordshire, Barrington Court, Cothay Manor & Montacute House in Somerset, St Donat’s Castle in the Vale of Glamorgan, and Great Chalfield Manor & Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire.
The series, which was made in association with Masterpiece Entertainment and Playground Entertainment, consists of six episodes and was was filmed from May to July 2014 before beginning its broadcast on BBC Two in the UK on 21 January 2015.
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 then-upcoming final novel in Mantel’s trilogy, The Mirror and the Light, which was eventually published in 2020. A second series of Wolf Hall was confirmed on 27 May 2019.
After its premiere, critics lauded praise on 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.
In Australia, BBC First premiered the series on 11 April 2015 and it was watched by 46,000 viewers. In the United States, PBS broadcast the series on Masterpiece from 5 April 2015 to 10 May 2015. The series was subsequently licensed to Amazon Prime. In Germany and France, Arte broadcast the series on 21 and 28 January 2016.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the first series has a 98% rating based on 41 reviews, with an average rating of 8.45/10.
Mark Rylance has stated that the codpieces on the otherwise historically accurate costumes were made smaller at the request of PBS who felt that American audiences might be offended.
Peter 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.
Matthieu Almalric and Johnathon Pryce have both played the main villain in James Bond movies.