Ben Miles will play Thomas Cromwell and Lucy Briers will play Katherine of Aragon in the Royal Shakespeare Company's forthcoming adaptation of double bill of Hilary Mantel's Booker prize-winning novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies.

Ben Miles
Ben Miles
© Dan Wooller
Also in the principal cast are Paul Jesson, who will play Cardinal Wolsey and Nathaniel Parker, who will play Henry VIII. The plays will perform in repertoire from 11 December in the Swan Theatre, adapted by Mike Poulton and directed by Jeremy Herrin. Press opening is the 8 January 2014.

Hilary Mantel said: "It's very exciting for me to see the characters from the Cromwell novels spring to life, ready for the stage this winter. I'm delighted we have secured such gifted actors for four of the major figures in the plays, and look forward to meeting the rest of the cast in the near future."

Ben Miles began his career at the RSC, last performing with the company in The Two Gentlemen of Verona in 1993. His subsequent theatre credits include The Norman Conquests (Old Vic/Circle in the Square Theatre); My Child, Love, Love, Love (Royal Court) and Richard II (Old Vic). His TV work includes Coupling, Peak Practice and Cold Feet.

Lucy Briers makes her RSC debut; her previous theatre credits include Out of Joint's Top Girls (Chichester Festival Theatre and Duke of York's). She is currently appearing in BBC2's new comedy Count Arthur Strong and her previous TV credits include Parade's End, Ashes to Ashes and Pride and Prejudice. She will also appear in the Alan Partridge film released in August.

Nathaniel Parker in The Audience
Nathaniel Parker in The Audience
Paul Jesson returns to the RSC having last appeared in Troilus and Cressida as part of the Complete Works Festival. His other theatre credits include Sam Mendes' productions of The Winter's Tale and The Cherry Orchard (BAM).

Nathaniel Parker's credits include three series of the BBC's Inspector Lynley Mysteries and the television adaptation of Bleak House. Nathaniel is back at the RSC after 26 years. He recently played Gordon Brown in the West End production of The Audience.

Director Jeremy Herrin said: "I'm delighted to have made such a strong start to assembling a world class company to deliver these fantastic plays."

The BBC is also preparing an adaptation of the novels, starring Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell, the lawyer who rose to become chief minister to Henry VIII.