Disney+ is working with The Forge and Runaway Fridge to produce a new series based on the internationally popular Shardlake Tudor murder mystery novels by C.J. Sansom.

Production has started, with filming taking place in Hungary, Austria and Romania.

The four-part drama takes the first novel in Sansom’s series, a whodunnit adventure, set in 16th century England during the dissolution of the monasteries. 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.

Arthur Hughes (The Innocents, Then Barbara Met Alan) has been cast as 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.

Shardlake is written by Stephen Butchard (Baghdad Central, The Last Kingdom). The series is executive produced by George Ormond and Mark Pybus for The Forge, Stevie Lee for Runaway Fridge, and Lee Mason for Disney+ EMEA. Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl) is on board to direct the series with John Griffin as producer.

Shardlake works for Thomas Cromwell, played by Sean Bean, the dangerous and all-powerful right-hand man to Henry VIII. Despite Shardlake’s unwavering loyalty to Cromwell and the Crown, his position in society is unfavoured due to his appearance, as a person living with scoliosis during the Tudor period, suffering the indignity of being abused as a “crookback” wherever he turns.

Anthony Boyle (Masters of the Air, Tetris) also joins the cast as Jack Barak alongside Babou Ceesay (Wolfe, Damilola) as Abbot Fabian, Paul Kaye (The Stranger, Game of Thrones) as Brother Jerome and Ruby Ashbourne Serkis (The Greatest Beer Run Ever, Becoming Elizabeth) as Alice.

Lee Mason, Director, Scripted Content, Disney+ comments “C.J. Sansom’s novels have captivated millions of readers across the globe, and we’re thrilled to be joining forces with The Forge and Runaway Fridge, introducing the exceptional Arthur Hughes as Matthew Shardlake to fans and new audiences alike. Stephen and Justin’s vision for this chilling tale of murder, mystery and politics promises to thrill and delight, and joins a growing catalogue of unmissable original drama for adults on the service.”

Stephen Butchard, Writer, adds “Writing Shardlake has been nothing short of a joy. C.J. 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 past – but humankind and what makes us tick has changed little.”

On the Disney + platform, Extraordinary is the newest UK Original series to launch , following rom-com action thriller Wedding Season and docu-series Save Our Squad with David Beckham.

Pippa Considine

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