Period drama Wolf Hall looks to further enhance UK’s reputation as high-end TV royalty

The UK’s tradition for high-end television production looks set to continue on Wednesday, with the UK premiere of Wolf Hall, a six part adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s novels which depict the court of Henry VIII. The series was produced by Playground Entertainment and Company Pictures, who have previously worked together on the hugely popular production The White Queen.

Wolf Hall will air tonight at 9pm on BBC2 in the UK, while US audiences will have to wait until 5 April for the programme to air on Masterpiece on PBS.

The production was based at Bristol’s Bottle Yard Studios, a popular destination for high-end television productions, with ABC’s Galavant having also shot there in 2014. The studio offers productions up to 300,000 sq. ft of stage space, with up to 65 ft clear height, and Wolf Hall producer Mark Pybus was quick to sing the facility’s praises: “The Bottle Yard is the perfect place for us to base Wolf Hall. It is convenient for our locations across the West of England and the adaptable space allows us all the flexibility and facilities we need.”

These locations are Boleyn me over, let’s go Seymour

Beyond the Bottle Yard, Wolf Hall’s Tudor setting was perfectly served by the wealth of stunning historical locations available throughout the UK. Guided by Location Manager David Johnson, the production shot at over 20 sites in England and Wales, with the stunning architecture of locations such as Bristol Cathedral, Gloucestershire’s Chavenege House, Caerphilly Castle and Cardiff’s Castell Coch perfectly complimenting Pat Campbell’s production design, along with Gavin Finney’s cinematography and Joanna Eatwell’s costume design, to create an immersive recreation of the era.

Johnson, Campbell, Finney and Eatwell were not the only UK talent working on the production, with Wolf Hall’s predominantly UK crew also including Director Peter Kominsky, Executive Producer Colin Callender, Writer Peter Straughan, Composer Debbie Wiseman and Editor Josh Cuncliffe. In front of the camera Wolf Hall features a host of UK acting talent, with leading theatrical actor Mark Rylance being joined by TV drama alumni Damian Lewis (Homeland) and Claire Foy (Upstairs Downstairs).

Post made easy

The UK expertise contributing to Wolf Hall was not confined to the set though, with London based company LipSync Post providing all of the drama’s post production, including audio post, VFX, grading and titles, an example of the one-stop-shop services offered by many of the UK’s post facilities.

Wolf Hall is one of several high-end television productions to premiere this spring, with HBO/BBC’s much anticipated JK Rowling adaptation The Casual Vacancy due to air in February, and Pivot TV/Sky Atlantic/Tiger Aspect’s Fortitude to start on 29 January. The Arctic set thriller Fortitude is due to make history in the process, as the first production to be broadcast simultaneously throughout Europe on broadcaster Sky’s European networks, as well as also premiering in the US on Pivot.