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Shardlake (TV series)

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Crime drama
Period drama
Based onShardlake series
by C. J. Sansom
Screenplay byStephen Butchard
Directed byJustin Chadwick
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of episodes4
Executive producers
  • Lee Mason
  • George Ormond
  • Mark Pybus
  • Stevie Lee
ProducerJohn Griffin
CinematographyFelix Cramer
Production companies
  • The Forge
  • Runaway Fridge
Original release
Release1 May 2024 (2024-05-01)

Shardlake is a four-part television series on Disney+ based on the Shardlake series of historical mystery novels by C. J. Sansom set in the reign of Henry VIII in the 16th century. The series is adapted by Stephen Butchard and directed by Justin Chadwick and produced by The Forge. Arthur Hughes stars as the eponymous Matthew Shardlake, alongside Sean Bean as Thomas Cromwell. C. J. Sansom died on 27 April 2024, just four days before the series premiere.[1]


During the dissolution of the monasteries in the Tudor era, the physically handicapped barrister Master Matthew Shardlake is sent by Thomas Cromwell to investigate the death of a commissioner in the remote town of Scarnsea.[2]




Author C.J. Sansom granted the rights to his first Matthew Shardlake novel, Dissolution, to producer Stevie Lee in 2003. Lee initially planned to make a film with Kenneth Branagh. In 2007, the BBC optioned the novels, with Branagh still attached. However, they prioritised their production of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Branagh shifted focus to Wallander instead. Later discussions with ITV did not materialise into a production.[3]

In January 2023 it was announced that Disney+ had greenlit an adaptation of the Shardlake novels to be produced by The Forge, part of Banijay.[4] The series consisting of four episodes, that are directed by Justin Chadwick from a script written by Stephen Butchard. John Griffin is producing the series, with executive producers George Ormond and Mark Pybus for The Forge, Stevie Lee for Runaway Fridge, and Lee Mason for Disney+.[5][6]


Arthur Hughes was confirmed in the role of Shardlake.[7] Sean Bean was confirmed in the role of Thomas Cromwell.[8] In February 2024 Irfan Shamji, David Pearse, Miles Barrow, Mike Noble and Kimberley Nixon were confirmed in the cast.[9] The cast also includes Babou Ceesay, Paul Kaye, Ruby Ashbourne Serkis, Peter Firth, Matthew Steer, Brian Vernel,[10] and Joe Barber.[11]


By March 2023 principal photography had begun with filming locations including Hungary, Romania and Austria.[12] For the monastery, they used Hunedoara Castle, in Transylvania, and Kreuzenstein Castle, outside Vienna.[3]


The series was available on Disney+ from 1 May 2024.[13]


The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 79% approval rating with an average rating of 7.0/10, based on 19 critic reviews. The website's critics consensus reads, "Well acted if a bit unconvincing in its verisimilitude, Shardlake's fast pace keeps it from feeling like a dry tutoring lesson on Tudors intrigue."[14] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 70 out of 100 based on 13 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[15]

Anita Singh in The Daily Telegraph called it a "solid, intelligent offering" and that Hughes "imbues Shardlake with a sense of fairness and decency without making him too much of a goody-two-shoes".[16] Joel Golby in The Guardian wrote that "Hughes is superb" and that his "Holmes-Watson dynamic with Boyle's rogueish Jack Barak is very enjoyable".[17] Vicky Jessop in The Evening Standard described it as "a tightly plotted, gorgeously atmospheric piece of television".[18]


  1. ^ Smith, Harrison (29 April 2024). "C.J. Sansom, bestselling author of historical mysteries, dies at 71". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 4 May 2024. Retrieved 29 April 2024.
  2. ^ Dray, Kayleigh (30 March 2023). "A Tudor murder mystery drama starring Sean Bean? Shardlake sounds like perfect TV, honestly". Stylist. Retrieved 1 April 2023.
  3. ^ a b Hoggard, Liz (13 April 2024). "'It's taken a Tudor lifetime to get it made': How Shardlake finally got the TV treatment". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 13 April 2024.
  4. ^ "Banijay UK acquires leading scripted producer The Forge". Banijay. 2 November 2023. Retrieved 2 November 2023.
  5. ^ Kanter, Jake (4 January 2023). "Disney+ Lines Up Series Adaptation Of CJ Sansom's Shardlake Tudor Detective Novels". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  6. ^ Ramachandran, Naman (31 March 2023). "Disney+ Sets Series Adaptation of C.J. Sansom's 'Shardlake' Murder Mystery Novels". Variety. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  7. ^ Buglass, Lucy (31 March 2023). "Shardlake first look reveals major change from book series". Whattowatch. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  8. ^ Body, Jamie (31 March 2023). "Game of Thrones star Sean Bean lands Disney+ murder mystery role". Digital Spy. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  9. ^ Mensah, Katelyn. "Shardlake trailer gives first look at Arthur Hughes, Sean Bean and Anthony Boyle". Radio Times. Retrieved 8 February 2024.
  10. ^ Whittock, Jesse (8 February 2024). "Disney+ Drops Trailer For Tudor Detective Series 'Shardlake' Starring Arthur Hughes, Sean Bean & Anthony Boyle". Deadline Hollywood.
  11. ^ Cornack, Morgan (18 March 2024). "Coma cast: Who stars in the Channel 5 drama". Radio Times. Retrieved 19 March 2024.
  12. ^ Hibbs, James (31 March 2023). "Arthur Hughes and Sean Bean to lead Disney Plus Tudor mystery Shardlake". Radio Times. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  13. ^ Rowan, Iona (10 April 2024). "Sean Bean's new show confirms release date". Digital Spy. Retrieved 10 April 2024.
  14. ^ "Shardlake: Season 1". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 4 May 2024.
  15. ^ "Shardlake: Season 1". Metacritic. Retrieved 2 May 2024.
  16. ^ Singh, Anita (29 April 2024). "Shardlake, Disney+, review: Disneyfication of Wolf Hall rival is still solid, intelligent drama". Retrieved 29 April 2024.
  17. ^ Golby, Joel (27 April 2024). "Shardlake: murder mysteries don't get more fantastically creepy than this". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 April 2024.
  18. ^ Jessop, Vicky (29 April 2024). "Shardlake on Disney+ review: Arthur Hughes is magnetic in this Tudor murder mystery". Retrieved 29 April 2024.

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