The publishing event of a lifetime? Prepare for more Mantel mania | Richard Brooks

Mark Rylance prepares to don Cromwell’s black cap again, Asian cinema continues to shine, and Ian McKellen helps out a north London theatre pub

Mark Rylance, a good source tells me, is to reprise his role as Thomas Cromwell in the BBC adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s final instalment of her Wolf Hall trilogy, The Mirror and the Light. So far the BBC has simply said it will film the next novel, published on 5 March, without confirming the Oscar-winning actor.

Finally with us eight years after Bring Up the Bodies (Mantel says she struggled to “kill off” her hero Cromwell, but you can’t change the historical fact of his 1540 execution), the book is under the heaviest of wraps. But I can reveal that screenwriter Peter Straughan, who adapted Mantel’s first two Cromwell novels for the award-winning 2015 TV series, was given an advance copy last autumn so he could start writing his version. This means that filming, with Peter Kosminsky directing again, can go ahead this year, with the series coming to BBC One in 2021 to coincide with the paperback edition of The Mirror and the Light.

Publishers 4th Estate are being coy about the hardback print run, but it will be well into six figures. At more than 800 pages, the novel costs an equally hefty £25, unusually high for fiction, but some shops have pre-order deals at £12.50. Combined sales for the first two books, in hard and paperback, are more than 5m worldwide. James Daunt, boss of Waterstones, calls Mantel’s new novel “the most significant publishing event of my 30-year bookselling career”. But will the last part of the trilogy bring up a treble by winning the Booker – as did the first two of the Wolf Hall novels?

It’s the Baftas tonight, with the extraordinary South Korean film Parasite one of five shortlisted for best movie. I’d be surprised if it won, partly because another foreign language film, Roma, took the top spot last year. However, it might stand more chance at the Oscars next Sunday, where voters could be split over Joker (some hate its depiction of mental illness), The Irishman (it’s Netflix) and 1917, which began superbly but tailed off into fantasy. Oscar voters must also redeem last year’s bizarre Green Book victory.

Park So-dam and Choi Woo-sik in Parasite.
Park So-dam and Choi Woo-sik in Parasite. Photograph: Allstar

The King’s Head pub theatre in Islington, north London, has been a stepping stone in the careers of many since its foundation half a century ago. Its alumni include Joanna Lumley, Tom Stoppard, Hugh Grant, Dawn French and Quentin Crisp. It now plans to move to a new purpose-built venue just yards away on Upper Street.

But, with no lottery money, it has so far only raised £1.3m of the £3.5m required. Ian McKellen will generously donate a proportion of the takings from his one-man UK tour, and a fundraising dinner, with Mark Gatiss and Su Pollard among big name attendees, will be held next Sunday. Details are on the King’s Head theatre website. I hope it turns out to be a happy 50th birthday year.

The King’s Head theatre pub in north London.
The King’s Head theatre pub in north London. Photograph: Jeffrey Blackler/Alamy


Richard Brooks

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
There’s more to Anne Lister’s life than Gentleman Jack
Sally Wainwright has so far missed the wider story of a woman who crossed continents and scaled mountains

Richard Brooks

07, Jul, 2019 @8:00 AM

Article image
A book, then a play, now Litvinenko’s story is coming back to the small screen | Richard Brooks
The murdered Russian dissident’s case is to become an ITV drama. And the National Gallery gets first dibs on a baroque masterpiece

Richard Brooks

08, Sep, 2019 @8:00 AM

Article image
The week in radio: Reith Lectures; Ear Hustle; Chuck Berry: 40 Years On
Hilary Mantel revived the dead, there was a fascinating look inside San Quentin prison and overlooked interviews with the late guitar hero

Miranda Sawyer

18, Jun, 2017 @6:00 AM

Article image
This week's best culture, at home – from Korean ballet to a David Nicholls-inspired radio play
The Observer’s critics recommend the best new arts shows to enjoy on TV, on the radio and online

17, May, 2020 @7:30 AM

Article image
David Hare turns his attention to the new political order
The great playwright’s latest project

Richard Brooks

28, Jul, 2019 @8:00 AM

Article image
Sharon D Clarke: ‘I’d like to see more multiracial casts on stage and TV’
The actor and singer on her new role in the civil rights musical Caroline, Or Change – and playing the baddie in panto

Interview by Nick Curtis

30, Apr, 2017 @6:00 AM

Article image
The week in TV: The ABC Murders; Watership Down; You; The Dead Room; Mrs Brown’s Boys
John Malkovich’s turn as an ageing Hercule Poirot fleshed out the Belgian sleuth, while Watership Down offered gory lessons in team management

Euan Ferguson

30, Dec, 2018 @7:00 AM

Article image
New talent: the rising stars of culture, science and food 2019
A film director bringing women’s stories to the fore; a chef serving up vegan Afro-Caribbean classics… plus activism, art and jazz – we profile the hottest new talent for 2019

06, Jan, 2019 @8:00 AM

Article image
On my radar: Daisy Edgar-Jones's cultural highlights
The Normal People star on livestreamed theatre, the best TV show she’s ever seen and a gem from her dad’s record collection

16, Aug, 2020 @8:00 AM

Article image
Mark Gatiss: ‘I’m currently very, very ashamed of being English’
The former League of Gentlemen star on his love of low-budget British spinechillers, his loathing of Brexit and a slew of projects opening this winter

Claire Armitstead

31, Oct, 2021 @12:00 PM