A step back in time will mark a stride forward in Arthur Hughes’ career, as he takes on the title role of Disney+’s Shardlake. The upcoming Tudor-set miniseries, also starring Sean Bean, is adapted from the mystery novels by CJ Sansom and centres on crookback lawyer Matthew Shardlake.

“I had a ball, I loved playing him,” says Hughes, who has radial dysplasia affecting his right arm. “He’s a decent man, born into this brutal Tudor period of politics and power and he’s a lawyer with a good sense of justice, but he is a disabled man and some parts of society treat him badly. I think disabled people have a different sense of perspective and justice and humanity to a lot of non-disabled people.

“I wanted him to be strong, I wanted him to be handsome. I wanted him to be this kind of hero who’s got scoliosis but can fight and can command respect and power, while also, occasionally, being really hurt by how certain characters treat him.”

The Nottingham-born 31-year-old, who trained at Cardiff’s Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, shot Shardlake on location including in Budapest and castles in Austria and Romania. The foreign locales are a far cry from the BBC Radio Drama Company where Hughes began his career, although he still loves playing the role of Ruairi Donovan for Radio 4’s The Archers. His theatre work includes Richard III at the Royal Shakespeare Company last year — the first time an actor with a disability had taken on the role for the RSC.

Hughes also featured in Net­flix series The Innocents and starred alongside Ruth Madeley in the BBC’s Then Barbara Met Alan — portraying disabled activist Alan Holdsworth. “You get nervous portraying a real person,” he says. “You want to do them justice and do the script justice.”

Looking forward, the actor says he hopes film and TV sets will become more accessible to people with disabilities. “I’m quite easy because I don’t have any access needs, whereas for those who do, there are films that can be massively inaccessible — there’s a way to include people.” Hughes adds there is nothing better than working with a director with “a great vision that you can clearly see as well. That’s the greatest feeling as an actor.”

Contact: Lara Beach, Curtis Brown