The New 'Shardlake' Trailer Introduces a New Detective Favorite

Arthur Hughes as Matthew Shardlake on a horse in 'Shardlake's First Look

Arthur Hughes as Matthew Shardlake in 'Shardlake'

Adrienn Szabo/© 2022 Disney+, Inc.

Sir Patrick Stewart famously once said an actor can never have too many franchises, and the Walt Disney Company clearly agrees with this philosophy. Having snapped up previously successful long-running brands like Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, Doctor Who, and The Muppets, to name a few, to supplement their own animation domination, the company has been searching for a home-grown live-action brand to add to the stable. The latest bid for one comes out of the U.K. and has a good chance at sticking around: Shardlake, based on C.J. Sansom's popular novel series. Set in Tudor England, the titular detective, Matthew Shardlake, is a hunchback lawyer working in one of the dangerous places in England, the shadows of Henry VIII's court under the employ of Thomas Cromwell.

The series was initially commissioned in January 2023 for Disney+ UK and is expected to come to Hulu in the U.S., as most non-super-family-oriented series made for the U.K. version of Disney's streamer seem to always do. However, in the intervening time, Hulu has become a tile under the Disney+ banner in America. Though some still subscribe to Hulu as a stand-alone, this will be one of the first Disney+ UK shows that will be able to say it is genuinely a Disney+ global debut when it arrives in May 2024.

The first trailer for the U.K. market arrived in February 2024, along with a cast list revealing Arthur Hughes (Ordeal by Innocence) would play the titular Shardlake. Hughes will star opposite the great Sean Bean (Time) as his boss, Thomas Cromwell, whom Shardlake doesn't dare cross but also isn't sure isn't setting him up to take a fall. One reason Shardlake is so paranoid about Cromwell's true intentions is that Cromwell has saddled him with an unasked-for assistant, Jack Barak, who Shardlake is pretty sure is reporting back on his activities to the boss. Described in the novels as "cocky and good-looking," Jack is played by one of the U.K.'s hottest new actors, Anthony Boyle (Manhunt).

Here's the series full synopsis:

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. 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. 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 Jack Barak to Scarnsea, where 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.

Arthur Hughes as Matthew Shardlake and Anthony Boyle as Jack Barak discuss the case in 'Shardlake'

Arthur Hughes as Matthew Shardlake and Anthony Boyle as Jack Barak in 'Shardlake'

Adrienn Szabo/© 2022 Disney+, Inc.

Bean, Hughes, and Boyle co0-star alongside Ruby Ashbourne Serkis (Becoming Elizabeth), Peter Firth (Victoria), Matthew Steer (Partners In Crime), Mike Noble (Home Fires), and Kimberley Nixon (The Salisbury Poisonings). The religious order in the church who make up Shardlake's suspects are played by Babou Ceesay (We Hunt Together), Paul Kaye (Vera), Brian Vernel (Slow Horses), Irfan Shamji (The Ipcress Files), David Pearse (Dalgliesh), and Miles Barrow (Riches).

Babou Ceesay as Abbot Fabian staring into the middle distance in his chambers in 'Shardlake' Season 1

Babou Ceesay as Abbot Fabian in 'Shardlake' Season 1

Adrienn Szabo/© 2022 Disney+, Inc.

Stephen Butchard (The Child in Time) penned all episodes of Shardlake, with director Justin Chadwick (Bleak House) helming all installments and John Griffin producing. George Ormond and Mark Pybus executive produce the series for The Forge and Stevie Lee for Runaway Fridge. 

All four episodes of Shardlake will arrive on Disney+ around the globe (and Hulu for those in America who subscribe to it as a stand-alone service) on Wednesday, May 1, 2024.


Ani Bundel has been blogging professionally since 2010. A DC native, Hufflepuff, and Keyboard Khaleesi, she spends all her non-writing time taking pictures of her cats. Regular bylines also found on MSNBC, Paste, Primetimer, and others. 

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