Missing The Last Kingdom? Get Ready for Tudor-Set Murder Mystery Shardlake

These monks have bad habits.

Sean Bean as Thomas Cromwell in Disney+ murder mystery Shardlake
Photo: Disney+

It’s the battle of the TV Cromwells! On BBC One later this year, Mark Rylance returns in the role of Henry VIII’s right hand man in series two of Wolf Hall, adapted from Dame Hilary Mantel’s acclaimed novels. But before then, Sean Bean will play Thomas Cromwell in Disney+ British historical crime mystery Shardlake

(Incidentally, if Bean wanted to dispel his reputation for playing characters who meet sticky, early ends, then his agent may want to get their head in a history book before forwarding the next script…)

Thomas Cromwell is a supporting role in Shardlake, a new four-part series adapted from the first in C.J Sansom’s successful mystery novels about Matthew Shardlake, a 16th century lawyer born with what would now be understood as scoliosis, and who investigates murder mysteries for the Crown.

Working for Cromwell, Shardlake must navigate the dangers of his powerful boss and the period’s cruel response to his physical difference alongside the murders he solves.

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Take a look at the first trailer below:

Arthur Hughes (Then Barbara Met AlanThe Innocents), who received plaudits for his performance as Richard III for the RSC in 2022, and was also the first actor with a physical disability to play the role for the RSC, takes the lead part of Matthew Shardlake.

Hughes is joined by Anthony Boyle (Masters of the Air) as Cromwell’s potential spy Jack Barak, Paul Kaye as Brother Jerome and Babou Ceesay as Abbot Fabian, two residents of the monastery resisting the king and Cromwell’s attempts to dissolve it. Ruby Ashbourne Serkis also stars as Alice, with Fresh Meat‘s Kimberley Nixon as Joan. 

The series has been adapted by screenwriter Stephen Butchard, who was also behind the initial seasons of the TV version of Bernard Cornwell’s The Last KingdomShardlake is obviously a different historical period, a different genre, and has a very different kind of hero to that show’s Uhtred of Bebbanburg, but with Butchard adapting the story, there’s hope it will share the same careful world-building, gripping pace, clear-eyed characterisation and entertainment value. We’ll bring you a release date when one is confirmed.

Shardlake comes to Disney+ soon.