‘There’s a big footprint where the drama will travel, as period drama is a safe bet, particularly with this cast’

Distributor Banijay
Producers Playground Entertainment; Company Pictures
Length 6 x 60 minutes
Broadcaster BBC (UK); PBS Masterpiece (US)

The long wait is almost over. Almost a decade in the works, half of which was spent waiting for the writer to finish penning the source material, BBC1 and PBS Masterpiece in the US are finally set to unveil the concluding six-part adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall trilogy.

Based on the 2020 novel, which weighed in at a whopping 883 pages, Wolf Hall: The Mirror And The Light reunites the creative team behind the Bafta- and Golden Globe-winning Wolf Hall – the 2015 adaptation of the late author’s previous two books, Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies – director Peter Kosminsky (The Undeclared War), screenwriter Peter Straughan (Tinker Tailor Solider Spy) and producer Colin Callender (All Creatures Great And Small).

Banijay last year scooped the global rights to both Wolf Hall: The Mirror And The Light and the 2015 series, and is spending 2023 taking them to market as a complete 12-part drama, with Mark Rylance portraying Thomas Cromwell across both series.

Damian Lewis is also back as King Henry VIII, along with Jonathan Pryce (Cardinal Wolsey), Kate Phillips (Jane Seymour) and Lilit Lesser (Henry and Catherine of Aragon’s daughter, Mary).

Succession and Killing Eve star Harriet Walter and The Sixth Commandment’s Timothy Spall are among those adding even more star power this time around.

Meanwhile, with both series in its catalogue, Banijay can capitalise on Claire Foy’s stratospheric ascent, from playing Ann Boleyn in series one to portraying the young Elizabeth II in Netflix’s The Crown.

Back in 2015, BBC Worldwide sold Wolf Hall across the globe, kicking off with ARTE in France and Germany, Sweden’s SVT, Danish network DR, Finland’s YLE and BBC First in Australia.

Armed with the drama’s off-the-scale international star wattage, the global success of Mantel’s books and the sumptuous Tudor backdrop, Banijay executive vice-president of acquisitions Simon Cox sees no barriers to building on Wolf Hall’s established profile.

While the drama fully stands on its own, Banijay will invite territories that want to build up interest in the story and time period to dip into its history documentary archive.

“I imagine we will get a sale in all territories that buy drama – there’s a big footprint where it will travel, as period drama is such a safe bet, particularly with this cast,” he says.

By staying true to Mantel’s intricate plotting, he adds, the arc of the drama “flows naturally from the first series to the second”, despite the huge gap in filming.

“Production styles have changed in the past decade, but it feels consistent, especially as Peter has directed every episode. Both series have this real opulence that draws you in. You want to be in those royal palaces with them. And there is real depth to the story, and Hilary’s storytelling, that still resonates today.”

Cameras are still rolling on the series, but Banijay will be unveiling an extended sizzle of what’s to come at the London TV Screenings.