A WORCESTER man will star alongside Tom Hardy in a new Ridley Scott drama after a chance meeting with the star in a park.

Danny Ligairi, from Callow End, makes his acting debut in Hardy's new BBC One drama series in the new year and it's all thanks to an unruly dog.

Producers whisked Mr Ligairi to London to cast him in Taboo after Mr Hardy suggested him for the role.

Mr Ligairi, who is also known as Danny Badham, said: "Four and a half years ago I was coaching rugby on a field in Richmond and this dog interrupts the coaching.

"The kids are saying, 'it's Tom Hardy.'

"He came over and said, 'dogs know good people.'

"He sat with the lads and talked about filming and spent about 45 minutes with them."

Mr Ligairi, who was adopted by Callow End couple John and Ann Badham as a baby, said he met Mr Hardy in the park again and the two struck up a conversation about his birth father, Ilisoni Ligairi, a former SAS major.

He said: "He spent 40 minutes talking to me about my Dad. He was doing an action role.

"We stayed in contact after that.

"In January the producers phoned me and said, 'get a train to London, it's to do with Tom Hardy.' I thought they were joking.

"Three days later I was sat in my own trailer with security outside and people running around after me.

"It was surreal.

"The rumour on set was they were looking for this character and Tom turned around and said, 'I know this guy, ask him if he wants to do it' and that's what happened."

Mr Ligairi, 45, a former Dyson Perrins High School pupil, plays a tattooed Polynesian character called Martinez in six of the eight episodes of the show about the East India Trading company in the early 1800s.

His character will be seen rowing through underground tunnels and taking part in dramatic fight scenes.

Mr Ligairi, who has a home in Worcester and whose son Reece lives in the city, said: "I put it down to being a boy running around the Malvern Hills playing army."

He now lives in Manchester with girlfriend Nina and is a brand ambassador for J9 Foundation, an organisation set up by rugby legend, Joost van der Westhuizen, to help those with motor neurone disease.

But he has spent the past few weeks rubbing shoulders with stars at London premieres, including the new Star Wars film, and attending castings for shows.

He said: "At the wrap party, Tom gave me a hug and said, 'see you on the other side, your life is about to change.'

"Everyone else has been in films already and I haven't."

He added: "It has been surreal but at the end of the day I can say I took every opportunity."

The series begins at 9.15pm on Saturday, January 7.