Sharpe (TV series)


Sharpe (TV series)

Infobox Television Film
bgcolour =
name = Sharpe


caption = Title screen from "Sharpe's Gold"
format = Historical drama
runtime = 100 min.
creator =
director = Tom Clegg
producer =
writer = Bernard Cornwell (novels)
John Tams (uncredited)
starring = Sean Bean
Daragh O'Malley
music = Dominic Muldowney
John Tams
country = United Kingdom
language = English
network = ITV
released =
first_aired = 5 May, 1993
last_aired = 24 April, 2006
num_episodes = 15
preceded_by =
followed_by =
website = http://www.sharpefilm.com
imdb_id =
tv_com_id =
amg_id =

"Sharpe" is a British series of television dramas about Richard Sharpe, a fictional British soldier in the Napoleonic Wars. Sharpe is the hero of a number of novels by Bernard Cornwell; most, though not all, of the episodes are based on the books. Produced by Central Independent Television for the ITV network, the series was shot mainly in Turkey and the Crimea, although some filming was also done in England, Spain and Portugal.

In 2004, as part of ITV's new set of drama, ITV announced that it intended to produce new episodes of Sharpe, in co-production with BBC America, loosely based on his time in India, with Sean Bean continuing his role as Sharpe. "Sharpe's Challenge" is a two-part adventure; part one premiered on ITV on 23 April 2006, with part two being shown the following night. More gory than earlier episodes, the show was broadcast by BBC America in September 2006.

At a book signing in Bath on 11 October 2006, Bernard Cornwell revealed that there were plans by ITV to film two more episodes. Filming was supposed to start in April, but was postponed due to the resignation of ITV's chief executive, at which point production was pushed back to September. However, Sean Bean was unavailable due to other commitments, so production has been postponed once more. When asked about the stories, Cornwell said that he believed that they were producing two new stories specially for television. It was announced that filming "Sharpe's Peril", produced by Celtic Film/Picture Palace, began on 3 March 2008 in India.cite web | title=Sharpe news | last= | first= | work=The South Essex | url=http://www.southessex.co.uk/news/index.htm | date= | accessdate=2008-02-22 ] [cite web | title=Sharpe's Peril | last= | first= | work=Compleat Sean Bean | url=http://www.compleatseanbean.com/sharpesperil/sharpesperil.html | date= | accessdate=2008-02-22 ]

Plot summary

At the beginning of the series, Richard Sharpe (Sean Bean) is a sergeant in the 95th Rifles serving in Portugal in 1809. When he singlehandedly saves the life of General Sir Arthur Wellesley (David Troughton in the first two films, then Hugh Fraser) from a group of French cavalrymen, Wellesley gives Sharpe a battlefield commission, promoting him to lieutenant. Sharpe is placed in charge of a detachment of the 95th Rifles - a group of elite riflemen ("chosen men"), among them Sergeant Patrick Harper (Daragh O'Malley), who eventually becomes his best friend.

Wellesley and his various spymasters, first Major Michael Hogan (Brian Cox), followed by Major Nairn (Michael Byrne), Major Mungo Monroe (Hugh Ross) and later Major General Ross (James Laurenson), find Sharpe to be an extremely capable and cunning officer and give him progressively more important tasks. Despite their backing, he has to fight against the strong prejudice of aristocrats (who often owe their army positions to money and social connections rather than military skill) against an uncouth commoner raised from the ranks. He makes a number of dangerous enemies, such as French Major Pierre Ducos (Féodor Atkine) and Colonel Sir Henry Simmerson (Michael Cochrane), and encounters one from his prior service in India, Sergeant Obadiah Hakeswill (Pete Postlethwaite). However, Sharpe's successes gain him steady promotion. By the end of the Napoleonic Wars, at the Battle of Waterloo, he is Lieutenant-Colonel Sharpe.

Along the way, Sharpe has a number of romances. During the course of the series, he marries first the Spanish guerrilla leader Teresa Moreno (Assumpta Serna), with whom he has a daughter. Teresa is killed by Hakeswill. Sharpe then marries Jane Gibbons (Abigail Cruttenden, Bean's real-life wife for less than three years), who deserts him, steals his hard-earned money, and takes a lover. He finally settles down with Lucille Castineau (Cécile Paoli), a Frenchwoman who passes away some time after Napoleon's final defeat, leaving Sharpe free once more. (However, according to the Starbuck Chronicles, another series of Cornwell books, she survives Sharpe.)

Casting

Initially, Paul McGann was cast in the title role; however, two days into filming of the first episode, McGann injured his knee playing football and was forced to withdraw. By the time production was ready to start again, Sean Bean became available and took on the role.

Author Bernard Cornwell was so impressed by Sean Bean's performances that he dedicated one of the novels, "Sharpe's Battle", "to Sean Bean".

Several actors have played different characters in the series. Peter-Hugo Daly portrayed first Sergeant Rodd in "Sharpe's Gold" and then Bickerstaff, another unruly sergeant who dislikes Sharpe. Julian Fellowes played Major Warren Dunnett in "Sharpe's Rifles" and also the Prince Regent in "Sharpe's Regiment". Tony Haygarth was "Marshal" Pot-au-Feu in "Sharpe's Enemy" and Sir Willoughby Parfitt in "Sharpe's Justice".

Discrepancies

There are some differences between the series and the novels. For instance, in the books, Sharpe was born in Wapping in London and has dark hair. Sean Bean is blond and, being from Sheffield, he speaks with a pronounced Sheffield accent. Sharpe is revealed to have been born in Keighley to local woman, Lizzie Sharpe in "Sharpe's Justice", this contradicts the books which often state his mother was a London "Cat Street whore". In the books, the issue of Sharpe's northern accent and roots is addressed by having him flee from London to Yorkshire when he is a teenager to avoid vengeance for a murder that he had committed.

In the first TV episode, Sharpe is a sergeant in the 95th Rifles in Portugal when he saves Wellesley's life. In the books, this occurs in India during the Battle of Assaye, while he is serving in the 33rd Foot.

In the most recent episode, "Sharpe's Challenge", Sharpe states that his latest lover, Lucille, has died, something never mentioned in the books. It should also be noted that the characters of Sergeant Bickerstaff and General William Dodd are killed off in this programme. "Sharpe's Challenge" is a composite of the three prequels that are set in India, creating a number of inconsistencies, since the TV version is set after the events at Waterloo. Bickerstaff's counterpart in the books is Hakeswill, who is killed off in "Sharpe's Enemy", which is why the rivalry between Sharpe and Bickerstaff is a little forced.

Harry Price is shot and apparently killed in "Sharpe's Company", when in the book the character killed is Captain Knowles; however Price, played by a different actor, is alive and well in "Sharpe's Waterloo".

The television series also makes more use of the soldiers Sharpe commands, whilst Harper is the only one of note in the books. This led to the addition of Harris and Perkins as riflemen in later Cornwell books, notably "Sharpe's Battle", which was written after the television series had commenced. Confusingly, these novels also feature Cooper, despite the fact that the character had been killed off in the books in "Sharpe's Rifles".

List of episodes

Production team

*Directed by: Tom Clegg
*Produced By: Malcolm Craddock, Muir Sutherland
*Writing Credits: :*Novels: Bernard Cornwell:*Screenplays: ::Eoghan Harris (8/15)::Charles Wood (3/15)::Russell Lewis (2/15)::Nigel Kneale (1/15)::Colin MacDonald (1/15)::Patrick Harbinson (1/15)

ee also

*95th Rifles
*South Essex Regiment
*Over the Hills and Far Away (traditional) - the theme song of the series

Footnotes

External links

* [http://www.sharpefilm.com The offical SharpeFilm.com website]
* [http://www.celticfilms.co.uk Celtic Films Entertainment, co-producer of the TV dramas]
* [http://www.southessex.co.uk/ Sharpe Appreciation Society]
* [http://www.riflemanharris.co.uk/ The Video Diaries of Rifleman Harris]
* [http://www.full-of-beans.net/sharpe/ Trailers, Audio Clips, and Plot Summaries]

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