From 1529 to 2024, ‘Wolf Hall’ alumni team up for ‘The Undeclared War’

Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell in Wolf Hall. Photo: PBS/Masterpiece 2015

For Wolf Hall director Peter Kosminsky and series star, Mark Rylance, it’s long, long way from the year 1529 and the dismissal of Cardinal Wolsey followed by the rapid rise to power of Thomas Cromwell in the court of Henry VIII to 2024 and their new collaborative effort, The Undeclared War.

Deadline reports that The Undeclared War takes place in the post-pandemic world against the backdrop of an upcoming British general election involving the UK’s first Black Conservative prime minister. It tracks a leading team of analysts at the heart of the UK’s NSA-style spy agency GCHQ as they attempt to ward off a cyber-attack on the country’s electoral system.

Rylance will star alongside Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End, Mission Impossible) and Adrian Lester (Hustle, Undercover). Pegg stars as Danny Patrick, GCHQ’s head of operations, with Rylance playing John Yeabsley, a GCHQ old hand, who is brought back into the fold to support former colleagues in combatting the heightened threat level and Lester as the UK’s first Black Conservative prime minister.

It’s hard to believe it’s been six years since Wolf Hall premiered on BBC2 and PBS in 2015. As the world awaits the sequel to Wolf Hall, which will be based on Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror and the Sky, Kosminsky has been busy researching his newest effort for the past three years, gaining unprecedented access to the cyber security industry on both sides of the Atlantic which should present a realistic picture of the threat faced by the Western world to be depicted in the drama.

In a statement, Kosminsky said of the project: “The series is based deep within the least-known arm of the U.K.’s intelligence infrastructure, GCHQ. The story we’re now able to tell casts an extraordinary, revelatory light on the hot, undeclared war taking place right now in the world’s newest and most invisible domain of conflict — cyber.

The series reads as being eerily current in an age when elections have scarcely been more vulnerable to cyber warfare. While producers continue to emphasize this is ‘a fictional piece’, let’s hope life doesn’t imitate art or vice versa as 2024 isn’t that far into the future. The series will air on Channel 4 in the U.K. and streaming on Peacock in America.

In: Drama