Wolf Hall: Lighting sparks Twitter complaints while others praise atmospheric use of candles

Some viewers struggled to see Mark Rylance in last night's BBC drama

It might have been met with glowing reviews this morning, but viewers have been complaining that they simply could not see Wolf Hall in its full glory – quite literally.

The BBC2 drama, starring Mark Rylance and Damian Lewis, debuted last night but, while their performances were acclaimed, Twitter users soon began to bemoan the dim lighting.

Candlelight scenes designed to bring the atmosphere of Hilary Mantel’s Tudor novel to life left many squinting at their TVs, including comedian Jason Manford and former Labour spin-doctor Alastair Campbell.

Director Peter Kosminsky spoke at a recent BFI screening about the new cameras used to give Wolf Hall an authentic feel and help the cast immerse themselves in their roles.

“So we were lighting a room that existed at the time in the way it was designed to be lit all those years ago,” he said.

Claire Foy, who plays Anne Boleyn, admitted bumping into props in the “incredible but bonkers” darkness, while Mantel added that candlelight “does something amazing to your imagination”.

Claire Foy as Anne Boleyn in Wolf Hall

Other than the gloomy visuals, some viewers also commented on “shaky” filming, an overly-loud soundtrack and the absence of Lewis’ Henry VIII until the very end.

Despite some criticism, Wolf Hall was primarily applauded, winning five stars from numerous TV critics and attracting much praise from the audience.


Some viewers complained that the plot was “slow”, but Mantel herself has defended it. “It is complex, there’s no point in dumbing down the story,” she said. “Why do it if you have to reduce it to clichés and over-simplifications?”

The first episode of six drew 3.89 million on Wednesday night to become BBC2’s highest original drama series launch in a decade.