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Wolf Hall – BBC Two

Wolf Hall finally opened its dark doors on Wednesday evening.

I loved Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies and so I had been eagerly waiting for this adaptation.

The bloody story of the Tudors has held a special fascination for me ever since I was little.

But Hilary’s re-telling of a well known, long ago history is very different. The use of the historical present tense makes well-trodden events feel fresh and unexpected, the well-known ending is not in sight. We see through Thomas’s eyes and are given uncanny access to his thoughts.

I was intrigued to see how the books would make the transition from page to screen.

With a stellar cast including the great theatre actor Mark Rylance as Cromwell and Jonathan Pryce as Cardinal Wolsey, this was a gorgeously complex and twisting hour of historical drama where political loyalties shifted with the wind.

It’s still very much Thomas’s story. The camera often lurks just over his shoulder, seeing events from his perspective.

Filming by candlelight to provide an extra layer of authenticity was made possible by the Alexa camera. The flickering shadows made this adaptation feel very dark and real indeed.

I am very much looking forward to watching this story twist and turn out to its violent conclusion.

If you’re interested in how books are adapted, you might find my BBC Academy podcast (featuring Sarah Phelps who adapted the much discussed Great Expectations with Gillian Anderson as Miss Havisham) of interest.