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Thursday, 22 January 2015

Review of Episode 1 "Wolf Hall"

Last night saw the first episode of “Wolf Hall”. This historical drama made authenticity part of its marketing and a lot of historians were involved in the process to bring Hilary Mantel’s two novels, “Wolf Hall” and “Bringing up the Bodies” to the small screen. When it comes to period fiction, the Tudors have received the lions share, especially during the reigns of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. However, Hilary Mantel’s work definitely qualifies as an original take on the era in many respects. She chooses to view her tale through the eyes of an individual who is nearly always depicted as a Machiavellian villain: Sir Thomas Cromwell. However, don’t expect a sneering Francis Urquhart type politician who wins his audience over by revelling in his cunning and cleverness. Mantel’s  Cromwell is a truly sympathetic character. By taking this highly unconventional tactic, we are provided with a genuinely different perspective on the Tudor court, its various characters and the politics of Henry VIII. The term “game-changer” has become a buzzword in the promotion of this current golden age of drama, often attributed to US series like “True Detectives”, however, with this interpretation of Tudor life I believe it could be applied with confidence.