New TV version of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall will be true to the book

Bring up the bodiesBBC2’s six-part adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Tudor novels Wolf Hall  and Bring up the Bodies has been filmed and the BBC is convinced that the drama is going to be a hit.

The production stars Damian Lewis as Henry VIII and Mark Rylance as his wily chief minister Thomas Cromwell

Hilary Mantel recently said at the Cheltenham Literature Festival that she hoped the series would not reflect the “nonsense” of previous inaccurate historical dramas- ‘As soon as you decide this is too complicated for the viewer, or history is an inconvenient shape and can’t we just tidy it up a bit, then you fall into a cascade of errors which ends in nonsense.’

Referring to The Tudors TV series, broadcast on the BBC in 2007,  she accused its creators of dumbing-down, saying: ‘At some point, someone had decided that it was too complex for Henry VIII to have two sisters, so they rolled them into one. ‘Then they had to find a fictitious king for her to marry, so I think they invented a king from Portugal unknown to history. It’s so shaming, and it stems from not trusting the intelligence of the viewer. I think the problem was that there would be too many Marys in the story. But what do I do? Every second man in Henry VIII’s England is called Thomas.’

She added: ‘At any one time, there are five Thomases on the page, all shouting at each other. The only thing to do is let the reader in on it. Admit the difficulty. No one ever pretended historical fiction was easy and we should share that difficulty.’

Damian Lewis shas aid: “I think she was quite rightly concerned that her books might be abused in some way. But she needn’t worry because of the people who are involved in this particular project. Peter Kosminsky (the director) is known for his attention to detail and his love of politics. This is really a political book, they’re not presented as roister-doistering Tudor romps, that’s not what she wrote and that’s not what we’ve filmed.”