It had more betrayals, affairs, alliances and scheming than a soap opera.
Now the BBC is to turn best-selling novel Wolf Hall, which laid bare the vicious realities of the court of Henry VIII, into a mini-series.
The six-part adaptation will be based on Hilary Mantel’s Booker Prize winning bestseller, and her follow-up Bring Up The Bodies.
Set in England in the 1520s, it will show a nation on the brink of disaster and civil war because the ageing king has no male heir.
The book follows Thomas Cromwell who came from humble beginnings as the son of a brutal blacksmith to become chief minister of King Henry VIII of England
A self-confessed ‘ruffian’ in his younger days, Cromwell rose out of the slums of Putney to become a mercenary, merchant and member of Parliament and eventually the right hand of the king, helping Henry VIII get his marriage to Queen Catherine annulled.
Viewers can expect to see his role in the downfall of Anne Boleyn, his manipulation of the king and the court and how he re-shaped English politics and the balance of power.
The series has yet to be cast but follows the huge success of the BBC’s Shakespeare season, which saw Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes adapt Richard III, Henry IV Parts I and II, and Henry VIII.
The season was watched by millions and lauded by critics.
Wolf Hall features skullduggery, intrigue and politics in the court of Henry VIII and won the Booker Prize.
Boosted by audience desire for quality drama and a boom in historical fiction, BBC2 controller Janice Hadlow said commissioning an adaption of Mantel’s work was the perfect fit for the corporation.
Wolf Hall, which was Miss Mantel’s debut novel, won the Booker Prize in 2009. It beat works from literary giants JM Coetzee and AS Byatt and was hailed by the judges, chaired by veteran broadcaster Jim Naughtie, as ‘an extraordinary piece of storytelling’.
He added: ‘Hilary Mantel has created a modern novel that happens to be set in the sixteenth century.’
It has gone on to sell more than 200,000 copies.