Sharpe's Rifles (TV programme)

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Sharpe's Rifles
Written byEoghan Harris
Directed byTom Clegg
StarringSean Bean
Brian Cox
Daragh O'Malley
Assumpta Serna
David Troughton
Theme music composerDominic Muldowney
John Tams
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
Running time100 minutes
Original networkITV
Original release5 May 1993
Followed bySharpe's Eagle

Sharpe's Rifles is the first of the Sharpe television dramas, based on the Bernard Cornwell novel of the same name. Shown on ITV in 1993, the adaptation stars Sean Bean, Daragh O'Malley and Assumpta Serna. It began a long series of successful and critically acclaimed television adaptations of the novels.

The drama tells the story of Richard Sharpe, an ambitious and hardened soldier from Yorkshire. The story follows the exploits of Sharpe and his band of chosen men through Spain after they survive an ambush by French cavalry.

Filming took place in the Crimea,[1] Portugal and England, during which Paul McGann who was the original actor cast for the role of Richard Sharpe, broke his leg and was quickly replaced with Sean Bean.[2]

Plot summary[edit]

In 1809, Sir Arthur Wellesley (David Troughton), the commander of the British army fighting the French in Portugal, is saved from three pursuing French cavalrymen by Sergeant Richard Sharpe (Sean Bean). Wellesley rewards Sharpe with a field commission to lieutenant and command of the "chosen men", a handful of sharpshooters previously led by Rifleman Patrick Harper (Daragh O'Malley). The two men take an instant dislike to each other.

Wellesley has no money to pay his men; however, he has arranged for a loan from the Rothschild family. James Rothschild has set out from Vienna with a badly needed bank draft, but is overdue. Sharpe, his men, and a company under Major Dunnett (Julian Fellowes) are sent out to search for him. While Sharpe and his men are out scouting the terrain, the company is surprised and wiped out by enemy cavalry led by Colonel de L'Eclin (Malcolm Jamieson) and a man in dark civilian clothes (Anthony Hyde), with only Perkins and a gravely wounded Captain Murray as survivors.

The band takes refuge in a small cottage and Captain Murray succumbs to his wounds. Harper tells Sharpe that the men have decided that they want to go back; he and Sharpe end up fighting and are taken unawares by a band of Spanish guerrillas led by Commandante Teresa Moreno (Assumpta Serna) and Major Blas Vivar (Simón Andreu). Sharpe declares Harper a mutineer and joins forces with the Spanish guerrillas for mutual protection, since they are headed in the same general direction. Sharpe begins to bond with his men and also with Teresa. The guerrillas are protecting a chest; when Harper kills two French cavalrymen to save it, Sharpe frees him and drops the mutiny charge. Along the way, they encounter the Parkers, a Methodist missionary couple and their niece, whom they take under their protection.

Major Hogan, Wellesley's chief of military intelligence, shows up and orders Sharpe to assist Vivar with his mission to rouse the people. The Spaniard has brought a thousand-year-old family heirloom with him - the Gonfalon of Santiago or "Banner of Blood". Legend has it that Santiago (Saint James) himself will appear to defend Spain when the flag is raised over the chapel in the town of Torrecastro. Sharpe, Teresa, Vivar and their men attack and defeat the French garrison. Vivar crosses swords with the man in black, who turns out to be his own brother, the Count of Matamoros, and kills him. He then raises the flag. At the end of the battle, Colonel de L'Eclin is about to shoot an unarmed Sharpe, but is shot and killed by Rifleman Perkins. Sharpe rewards the young Perkins by making him a "chosen man". Hogan advises Perkins to decline the favour.

Sharpe reports back to Wellesley. When the general expresses his disappointment that Sharpe did not find Rothschild, Sharpe reveals that "Mrs. Parker" is the banker in disguise, to Wellesley's delight. Afterwards, Sharpe and Teresa make love, before she leaves to continue fighting the French.


Actor Character
Sean Bean Sergeant/Lieutenant Richard Sharpe
Daragh O'Malley Rifleman/Sergeant Patrick Harper
Assumpta Serna Comandante Teresa Moreno
Brian Cox Major Michael Hogan
David Troughton Sir Arthur Wellesley
Simón Andreu Major Blas Vivar
Anthony Hyde Count of Matamoros
Malcolm Jamieson Colonel de L'Eclin
Michael Mears Rifleman Francis Cooper
John Tams Rifleman Daniel Hagman
Jason Salkey Rifleman Harris
Lyndon Davies Rifleman Ben Perkins
Paul Trussell Rifleman Isaiah Tongue
Julian Fellowes Major Dunnett
Richard Ireson Sgt. Williams
Jack McKenzie Mr. Parker
Tim Bentinck Captain Murray
Kerry Shale James Rothschild

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Programme end credits
  2. ^ Ferrier, Morwenna (15 March 2009). "Paul McGann, actor, 49". My body & soul. The Guardian. Retrieved 24 February 2019.

External links[edit]