Rest assured Wolf Hall fans: as soon as Hilary Mantel finishes the third novel in the Thomas Cromwell trilogy, the BBC will be ready to make a second series.
Director Peter Kosminsky told RadioTimes.com that he has been promised a manuscript copy of the third book The Mirror and The Light as soon as it is finished, currently expected to be in the first half of 2016.
He has also been talking regularly with author Mantel about how the third instalment will play out, in preparation for reuniting Mark Rylance and Damian Lewis on screen.
“The BBC and Company Pictures have an option on The Mirror and the Light which is the next book,” Kosminsky said at the Cheltenham Literature Festival. “Hilary is writing it at the moment, and as you probably know she writes in an unusual way. She doesn’t write chronologically, she writes episodically. It’s a bit like making a documentary: you shoot a lot of scenes, and then work out how to put them all together in the cutting room.
“I don’t think she can give a very clear idea of when it’s going to be ready, but the sense we have is it’s some time in the first half of next year,” he added.
Once the book is completed, work can begin on Wolf Hall series two, with all the actors and writers keen to delve back into the deadly politics of King Henry VIII’s court.
“We’ve been promised a manuscript, so we will get it as soon as it’s ready. It then becomes an issue of when Peter Straughan our screenwriter is available,” Kosminsky explained. “He’s a very in-demand guy, currently working on at least two or three different projects to my certain knowledge, but I know this would be a priority for him.
“And then, of course, we need Mark Rylance to be available and Damian Lewis to be available, and they’re both, I’m happy to say, extremely busy and successful actors. There are a lot of moving parts, but in principle I’d love to do it, if I can get all these plates spinning at the same time.”
Plot “very exciting”
Kosminsky, along with the Wolf Hall producers, have been in touch with Mantel to find out plot details, and he confirmed that the author has already written the ending.
“She’s very kindly given Colin Callender the exec producer, Peter Straughan, Mark Pybus the producer and myself a sense of where the story’s going. It’s very exciting. [From] the things she’s told me, which unfortunately I can’t repeat, it sounds absolutely great.”
“Hilary has three children. She has the novels themselves, she has the stage play, with which she’s had a very direct personal involvement,” he said. “And then there’s the television drama, and although she was very closely involved with Peter Straughan in the early stages, guiding him and helping, she was much less involved in the making of the TV show than she was in the stage play.
“That was a conscious decision on her part which we understood and respected. It’s certainly true to say that when she sat down to watch the TV series, she had very little idea about what she was going to see. She’d read the scripts, but inevitably you shoot something and get it in the cutting room, it changes.
“The script in this case was an amazing starting point, but inevitably things develop in the production process. She genuinely didn’t know what she was going to see.”
Thankfully, she liked what she saw.
“Luckily she seems to have been fairly pleased!” Kosminsky said. “I guess probably there’s a little bit more confidence now than before, now she’s seen our first effort.
“From my point of view it was an absolute joy working with her, incredibly supportive, and once she had seen the show, couldn’t be more publicly supportive if she tried.”