Well, we have now had four episodes of ‘Wolf Hall’ and I read that audiences have been dropping faster than Anne Boleyn’s knickers. I have been glued to my recliner of late (not been too well – gout and a sinus infection), whilst my faithful secretary, Miss Mandy Balls (37), has helpfully provided me with Whisky Macs, port and Rothmans Superkings in an attempt to keep up my flagging spirits. So, I have had plenty of time to get to grips with this. If you are just about to dip into the series, or have had a go but, like many, feel a bit bamboozled, here is an easy to follow intro.
There’s a bloke called Cromwell. Not the usual Cromwell, who banned Christmas and was miserable; he’s called Thomas, or Mark, or something. Anyway he’s super bright and very clever. We know this because he walks about looking sad and thoughtful and then saying thoughtful things. Also slow and thoughtful lute music plays while he walks about, looking sad. He wears a silly hat. In fact everyone wears silly hats. Cromwell is rising to power, although it is not clear how, or why. He writes a lot on parchment. His wife and children all caught colds and died in one day, and he looked sad again. But then he started shagging Saskia Reeves, so he looked happy for a bit, as would I if I had been shagging Saskia Reeves. Anyway, I think she’s dumped him now, but I’m not sure why. He is keeper of the jewel house. We don’t know what that is.
Everyone has big beds, by the way – and, as I have mentioned, silly hats. It is all very historically accurate, because no one is allowed to be left-handed or have a Twitter/Facebook account. There was a cardinal, called Wolsey I believe, after whom a car was named. He is a bit mad. He was “out” and then “in”, but I think he’s “out” again now (that’s not a gay thing, by the way). I think he might be dead, but I’m not sure. He’s late, but what for?
There are some hatchet faced women who want to be On Top (phnaar! – see what I did there!), and they walk about looking cunning – and wearing silly hats. This is very serious. There is a king called Henry and he is very powerful. He wears a lot of fur. There is a lot of fur going on, in fact. PETA would not approve. He wants a son, I think, and for this reason he has married the monasteries – or…something. Anyway he wants something, but I am not quite sure what.
Then people wave parchment at each other. Bernard Hill is very angry. I don’t know why. Perhaps it is his silly hat that upsets him. There is a character called Gardiner, or who possibly is a gardener, I am not sure. I think he is played by Mark Gatiss, and he seems rather bad. I am not sure what he wants. Everyone is plotting, but I am not sure why. There are bibles being passed about. Anne Boleyn is very stroppy. She’s from Maidenhead, it seems. There’s a lot of talk about that. Also, she flies Virgin. There is also someone called Bill, He seems important, but I don’t know who he is.
Jane Seymour is in it, but she’s not the actress who was in one of the Bond movies (‘Live and Let Die’, I think) so that’s a bit confusing too. Especially when there is someone called Thomas More (not Roger Moore) but I don’t understand what he is up to, frankly. Anyway, some dramatic music is playing and everything seems ominous. People say things in a dramatic way. It seems to me that in the background, former English rugby player Mike Tindall (OBE) is pulling the strings. Having taken part in “The Jump”, he is now writing letters from Rotterdam. Very interesting. Who knew of his radical Protestant views? How does this fit in with his dwarf throwing activities?
There are whispers in corridors and people shoot arrows for fun, so that’s ok. People threaten each other, whilst wearing silly hats. They take them off, when speaking to the King. Cranberry is Archbishop. More is “out”. Cromwell still looks sad. I am still not sure why. He seems to be having a w**k over Anne Boleyn. Ah well, they didn’t have internet in those days.
Clear enough then?
Randy Hack is the author of 25 books, including “Drink Yourself Thin” and “The History of Gin in 100 Objects”.