It has been announced, can exclusively reveal, that Disney Plus is in production on a new drama series starring Arthur Hughes (Then Barbara Met Alan) and Sean Bean (The Lord of the Rings), based on the popular Tudor murder mystery novels by CJ Sansom, Shardlake.


In the series, which has already started filming in Hungary, Austria and Romania, Hughes (seen in character above) will play Matthew Shardlake, a lawyer with an acute sense of justice and one of the few honest men in a world beset with scheming and plots.

Sean Bean, Ruby Ashbourne Serkis and Paul Kaye
Sean Bean, Ruby Ashbourne Serkis and Paul Kaye. Disney Plus/Andy Gotts

Meanwhile, Bean will play Thomas Cromwell, Shardlake's employer and the dangerous and all-powerful right-hand man to Henry VIII. Shardlake has unwavering loyalty to Cromwell and the Crown, but as a person living with scoliosis during the Tudor period he is abused as a 'crookback' wherever he turns.

Anthony Boyle
Anthony Boyle (John Phillips/Getty Images, SD)

Other central cast members announced as joining the series include Anthony Boyle (Tetris) as Jack Barak, Babou Ceesay (Wolfe) as Abbot Fabian, Paul Kaye (Game of Thrones) as Brother Jerome, and Ruby Ashbourne Serkis (The Greatest Beer Run Ever) as Alice.

The official synopsis for the series says: "Drenched in mystery, suspense and deception, this four-part drama, based on the first novel in Sansom’s series, is an eerie whodunnit adventure, set in 16th century England during the dissolution of the monasteries.

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"Shardlake’s sheltered life as a lawyer is turned upside down when Cromwell instructs him to investigate the murder of one of his commissioners at a monastery in the remote town of Scarnsea."

It continues: "The commissioner was gathering evidence to close the monastery and it is now imperative for Cromwell’s own political survival that Shardlake both solves the murder and closes the monastery. He leaves Shardlake in no doubt that failure is not an option.

"Cromwell insists that he is accompanied by cocky, good-looking Jack Barak and Shardlake is left unsure whether Barak is an assistant, or Cromwell’s spy. At Scarnsea, the duo are met with hostility, suspicion and paranoia by the monks who fear for their future and will seemingly stop at nothing to preserve their order."

The series has been adapted by The Last Kingdom writer Stephen Butchard, who said in a statement: "Writing Shardlake has been nothing short of a joy. CJ Sansom’s novels are incredibly rich in story, character and history; full of intrigue, excitement, cruelty and compassion – and at the centre of it all is Matthew Shardlake, a hero like no other.

"Although these stories are set in Tudor England, the themes absolutely engage and resonate with today’s world. Hundreds of years may have passed – but humankind and what makes us tick has changed little."

The cast for the series will also include Peter Firth as Norfolk, Matthew Steer as Goodhap, Brian Vernel as Brother Mortimus, Irfan Shamji as Brother Guy, David Pearse as Brother Edwig, Miles Barrow as Brother Gabriel, Mike Noble as Bugge, and Kimberley Nixon as Joan.

Shardlake will stream on Disney Plus. Sign up to Disney Plus now for £7.99 per month or £79.90 for a full year.

Check out our list of the best movies on Disney Plus and best shows on Disney Plus, or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to see what's on tonight.


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