BBC burns through £200k of candles for Wolf Hall

Damian Lewis as Henry VIII in BBC's Wolf Hall adaptation. Picture: BBC
Damian Lewis as Henry VIII in BBC's Wolf Hall adaptation. Picture: BBC
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The BBC burnt through £20,000-worth of candles during the filming of its hit period drama Wolf Hall, according to its director.

Peter Kosminsky said hi-tech cameras meant he could do away with traditional studio lights while filming the drama.

He told the Royal Television Society magazine Television: “With the Arri Alexa camera, for the first time on television it has become possible to shoot exclusively by candlelight. Some scenes were shot with just one candle.”

The lack of lighting has not impressed every viewer with former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell tweeting: “Not entirely persuaded by the lighting strategy.”

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The series, based on Hilary Mantel’s novels, stars Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell and Damian Lewis as Henry VIII.

Kosminsky also said he talked corporation bosses out of showing the drama on BBC1 instead of BBC2 because he was worried it would not get a big audience.

He said: “I am glad it is on BBC2. When we first started submitting the rushes there was a discussion, at a fairly high level within the BBC, about whether the show should move to BBC1.

“I argued with the producers that this would be a mistake. It wouldn’t meet the slot average and therefore the BBC would be put on the defensive.

“Transmitting it on BBC1 would open it to illegitimate criticism because it is aimed at a thoughtful audience and one prepared to give things a bit more time.”