The highly anticipated BBC Two adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Booker Prize-winning novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, stars
Mark Rylance (Bing), Damian Lewis (Homeland) and Claire Foy (Crossbones), and is directed by Peter Kosminsky.
In the first episode of the 6-part historical drama Thomas Cromwell’s (Mark Rylance) patron, Cardinal Wolsey (Jonathan Pryce), is dismissed as Lord Chancellor and forced to flee his palace at York Place.
The old noble families of England, jealous of their own right to advise the King (Damian Lewis), have long waited for this moment. Cromwell readies Wolsey’s palace in exile at Esher and sets forth a plan to return him to the King’s favour. Thomas More (Anton Lesser) is appointed Lord Chancellor in the Cardinal’s place.
The Cardinal has not endeared himself in Court, with many believing him to be too powerful and greedy. Eight years ago, at the height of the Cardinal’s career, he made an enemy of Thomas Boleyn (David Robb) by chastising him for his daughter Anne’s (Claire Foy) far from virtuous reputation. As rumours circulated in Court that Anne was secretly betrothed to Harry Percy (Harry Lloyd), the Cardinal insisted that no such match would be allowed.
Still lacking a male heir, the King is desperate for an annulment from his marriage to Katherine of Aragon (Joanne Whalley), claiming she was not a virgin on their wedding day. The Cardinal’s efforts to persuade the Pope to grant the annulment are fruitless. An alliance between the Pope and Katherine’s nephew, the Holy Roman Emperor, diminishes the Cardinal’s position even further.
As Henry grows impatient, the pressure increases on the Cardinal. To add to this, rumours reach the Cardinal that the King’s new mistress is Anne Boleyn, who has sworn vengeance on him over Harry Percy. Cromwell visits Anne, urging her that only the Cardinal can secure what she wants, but Anne is unmoved.
The Duke of Norfolk (Bernard Hill), nervous of the Cardinal’s continuing proximity to the King, insists on Wolsey moving north to his archdiocese in York. A desperate Cromwell finally meets directly with Henry, but the King is nothing if not ambiguous. Will he recall the Cardinal, or turn on him?
Wolf Hall airs on Wednesday 21 January at 9.00 pm on BBC Two
Watch the preview clips below:
Picture Credit : BBC/Company Pictures