Well, we have now had four episodes of âWolf Hallâ and I read that audiences have been dropping faster than Anne Boleynâs knickers. I have been glued to my recliner of late (not been too well â gout and a sinus infection), whilst my faithful secretary, Miss Mandy Balls (37), has helpfully provided me with Whisky Macs, port and RothmansÂ 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.
Thereâs a bloke called Cromwell. Not the usual Cromwell, who bannedÂ Christmas and was miserable; heâs called Thomas, or Mark, or something. Anyway heâs 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 shaggingÂ SaskiaÂ Reeves, so he looked happy for a bit, as would I if I had been shaggingÂ Saskia Reeves. Anyway, I think sheâs dumped him now, but Iâm not sure why. He is keeper of the jewel house. We donât know what that is.
Everyone has big beds, by the way â 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 âoutâ and then âinâ, but I think heâs âoutâ again now (thatâs not a gay thing, by the way). I think he might be dead, but Iâm not sure. Heâs late, but what for?
There are some hatchet faced women who want to be On Top (phnaar! â see what I did there!), and they walk about looking cunning â 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 â orâ¦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 donât 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. Sheâs from Maidenhead, it seems. Thereâs a lot of talk about that. Also, she flies Virgin. There is also someone called Bill, He seems important, but I donât know who he is.
Jane Seymour is in it, but sheâs not the actress who was in one of the Bond movies (âLive and Let Dieâ, I think) so thatâs a bit confusing too. Especially when there is someone called Thomas More (not Roger Moore) but I donât 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 âThe Jumpâ, 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 thatâs ok. People threaten each other, whilst wearing silly hats. They take them off, when speaking to the King.Â Â Cranberry is Archbishop. More is âoutâ. Cromwell still looks sad. I am still not sure why. He seems to be having a w**k over Anne Boleyn. Ah well, they didnât have internet in those days.
Clear enough then?
Randy Hack is the author of 25 books, including âDrink Yourself Thinâ and âThe History of Gin in 100 Objectsâ.