Review of "Wolf Hall" on PBS From The TV MegaSite

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scene from Wolf Hall

"Wolf Hall" review by Suzanne 4/3/15
Premieres Sunday, April 5, 2015, 10pm ET on PBS

This is a really good historical drama about King Henry VIII and, more specifically, about Thomas Cromwell and his rise to the king's court. It has a lot of political intrigue and more. At first it seemed a bit slow, but it got better.

I'm not a history buff, so I was a little lost throughout part of it, but only a little. I read about Cromwell and others on Wikipedia, to help me put it all in context. There's also a PBS special this week, "Inside The Court of Henry VIII" Tuesday, April 7, that will probably be enlightening as well.

There are many great actors in the series. Mark Rylance is wonderful as Cromwell. The fabulous stage and screen actor Jonathan Pryce has a small but pivotal role as Cardinal Wolsey. Homeland's Damian Lewis plays the king, and Claire Foy is Anne Boleyn.

It's very good, like most PBS Masterpiece presentations. Don't miss it!



Those Who Are Made Can Be Unmade

Wolf Hall

Based on Hilary Mantel’s Booker Prize-winning novels

And starring Mark Rylance and Damian Lewis


Sundays, April 5-May 10, 2015 at 10pm ET on PBS

Tony® Award-winning actor Mark Rylance (Twelfth Night) and Emmy® and Golden Globe® Award-winner Damian Lewis (Homeland) star in the six-hour television miniseries adapted from Hilary Mantel’s best-selling Booker Prize-winning novels: Wolf Hall and its sequel, Bring Up the Bodies. The television event presents an intimate and provocative portrait of Thomas Cromwell, the brilliant and enigmatic consigliere to King Henry VIII, as he maneuvers the corridors of power at the Tudor court. MASTERPIECE brings both of these works to life in Wolf Hall, airing on Sundays, April 5-May 10, 2015 at 10pm ET on PBS. BAFTA Award-winner Peter Kosminsky (White Oleander, The Government Inspector) directs this flagship MASTERPIECE production adapted by Oscar® nominee Peter Straughan (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy). Filmed entirely on location in England at National Trust properties, Wolf Hall is a Playground Entertainment and Company Pictures production for BBC and MASTERPIECE in association with BBC Worldwide, Altus Media and Prescience. MASTERPIECE is presented by WGBH Boston. Viking River Cruises is the exclusive corporate funder of Wolf Hall on MASTERPIECE.

Mark Rylance is Thomas Cromwell, a brutal blacksmith’s son who rises from the ashes of personal disaster, and deftly picks his way through a court where ‘man is wolf to man.’ Damian Lewis is King Henry VIII, haunted by his brother’s premature death and obsessed with protecting the Tudor dynasty by securing his succession with a male heir to the throne. Told from Cromwell’s perspective, Wolf Hall follows the complex machinations and back room dealings of this pragmatic and accomplished power broker – from humble beginnings and with an enigmatic past – who must serve king and country while dealing with deadly political intrigue, Henry VIII’s tempestuous relationship with Anne Boleyn and the religious upheavals of the Protestant reformation.

A historical drama for a modern audience, this unromanticized re-telling lifts the veil on the Tudor middle class and the internal struggles England faced on the brink of Reformation. At the center of it all is Cromwell, navigating the moral complexities that accompany the exercise of power, trapped between his desire to do what is right and his instinct to survive. The cast also includes Claire Foy (Little Dorrit) as the future queen Anne Boleyn, Bernard Hill (Five Days) as the king's military commander the Duke of Norfolk, Anton Lesser (Endeavour) as Thomas More, Mark Gatiss (Sherlock) as Cromwell’s rival advisor Stephen Gardiner, Joanne Whalley (The Borgias) as Henry’s spurned first wife, Katherine of Aragon, and Jonathan Pryce (Cranford) as Cardinal Wolsey, the powerful Lord Chancellor who recognized Cromwell’s potential.

Also appearing are Mathieu Amalric (The Grand Budapest Hotel) as the Spanish ambassador Eustace Chapuys, Charity Wakefield (Sense & Sensibility) as Anne Boleyn’s sister Mary, Richard Dillane (The Dark Knight) as the king’s brother-in-law the Duke of Suffolk, Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Game of Thrones) as Cromwell’s ward Rafe Sadler, Natasha Little (Breathless) as Cromwell’s wife, Liz, and Saskia Reeves (Worricker) as her sister Johane.

The novel Wolf Hall was hailed as “dazzling…historical fiction at its finest” (, “spellbinding” (The New York Times) and “a brilliant portrait of a society in the throes of disorienting change” (Washington Post). And Bring Up the Bodies inspired the following: “(Mantel’s) characters are real and vivid people who bring to life the clash of ideals that gripped England at the time. She makes the past present and vital” (The Economist).

Wolf Hall is a Playground Entertainment and Company Pictures production for BBC and MASTERPIECE in association with BBC Worldwide, Altus Media and Prescience. Executive producers are John Yorke for Company Pictures, Polly Hill, BBC Head of Independent Drama, for BBC TWO, Rebecca Eaton for MASTERPIECE, Martin Rakusen and Ben Donald for BBC Worldwide and Tim Smith for Prescience. Executive Producer is Colin Callender. Producer is Mark Pybus. The writer is Peter Straughan. The director is Peter Kosminsky.

MASTERPIECE is presented on PBS by WGBH Boston. Rebecca Eaton is Executive Producer. Viking River Cruises is the exclusive corporate funder of Wolf Hall on MASTERPIECE on PBS, with additional funding provided by The MASTERPIECE Trust.

PBS is the home for drama on Sunday nights this winter/spring season. Viewers are transported back to the 1960s for heartwarming tales of the nuns and midwives of Poplar’s neighborhood, when season four of Call the Midwife returns on March 29 at 8:00pm ET. Also premiering that same night at 9:00pm is MASTERPIECE’s Mr. Selfridge, Season 3, starring Jeremy Piven as the flamboyant American entrepreneur of London department store fame.


PLAYGROUND is an independent theater and television company founded by Emmy and Tony Award-winning producer Colin Callender in 2012. Last year Playground received five Emmy and six Golden Globes nominations, with Jacqueline Bisset winning Best Supporting Actress for Stephen Poliakoff’s DANCING ON THE EDGE.

Productions this year include the critically acclaimed Golden Globe- nominated THE MISSING starring James Nesbitt and Frances O’Connor for BBC and Starz, and the BBC/Masterpiece mini-series WOLF HALL based on Hilary Mantel’s best-selling novels starring Mark Rylance, Damian Lewis and Claire Foy. Playground is currently in pre-production on the television adaptation of Ronald Harwood’s THE DRESSER starring Anthony Hopkins and Ian McKellen directed by Richard Eyre for BBC.

On Broadway, Playground produced Nora Ephron’s multiple Tony-nominated LUCKY GUY starring Tom Hanks, this season’s Tony nominated CASA VALENTINA by Harvey Fierstein and Ken Branagh’s New York debut in MACBETH. Currently on Broadway are Jez Butterworth’s THE RIVER starring Hugh Jackman and HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH, winning Callender a Tony Award for Best Musical Revival. 

MASTERPIECE: CLASSIC "Wolf Hall: Episode 1"


Sunday, April 5, 2015, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET

Check your local listings

Wolf Hall_Ep-Main


See how Wolsey’s restoration to the king’s favor lies with the loyal Cromwell.


  • Airdate(s):4/5/2015, 10:00 - 11:00 PM ET
  • Original Broadcast: 4/5/2015


Having failed to secure the annulment of the King Henry’s marriage to Katherine of Aragon, Cardinal Wolsey is stripped of his powers. His hopes of returning to the king’s favor lie with the ever-loyal Thomas Cromwell.


MASTERPIECE: CLASSIC "Wolf Hall: Episode 2"


Sunday, April 12, 2015, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET

Cardinal Wolsey has been forced to move to York. Cromwell remains in London, seeking to return the cardinal to the king’s favor. As Cromwell’s relationship with Henry deepens, there is unexpected news from the north.


MASTERPIECE: CLASSIC "Wolf Hall: Episode 3"


Sunday, April 19, 2015, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET

With the cardinal dead, it falls to Cromwell to orchestrate a marriage between the king and Anne Boleyn. The king rewards Cromwell for his loyalty, but he is being closely watched by his enemies.



MASTERPIECE: CLASSIC "Wolf Hall: Episode 4"


Sunday, April 26, 2015, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET

Anne gives birth to a baby girl, failing to produce Henry’s longed-for male heir. Cromwell demands the nobility and church swear an oath acknowledging Anne as lawful queen, but will Thomas More agree?



MASTERPIECE: CLASSIC "Wolf Hall: Episode 5"


Sunday, May 5, 2015, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET

With Anne pregnant again and away from court, Henry begins to take notice of Jane Seymour. Anne hears of this and threatens Cromwell to make terms with her before her son is born. But has she overplayed her cards?


MASTERPIECE: CLASSIC "Wolf Hall: Episode 6"


Sunday, May 10, 2015, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET


Henry’s love for Anne Boleyn has given way to anger and distrust. Henry instructs Cromwell to rid him of his second queen. Sensing her loss of favor, the queen’s enemies gather.











































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