Sharpe's Waterloo (TV programme)

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Sharpe's Waterloo
Written by Charles Wood
Bernard Cornwell (characters)
Directed by Tom Clegg
Starring Sean Bean
Daragh O'Malley
Abigail Cruttenden
Hugh Fraser
Cecile Paoli
Oliver Tobias
Paul Bettany
Alexis Denisof
Neil Dickson
Theme music composer Dominic Muldowney
John Tams
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
Producer(s) Malcolm Craddock
Muir Sutherland (exec.)
Running time 100 min.
Original release 1997
Preceded by Sharpe's Justice
Followed by Sharpe's Challenge

Sharpe's Waterloo is a British television drama, the 14th and final part of a series that follows the career of Richard Sharpe, a fictional British soldier during the Napoleonic Wars. The adaptation is based on the novel of the same name by Bernard Cornwell.


In 1815, war breaks out once more as Napoleon returns to France from exile on Elba. Richard Sharpe (Sean Bean) cannot resist the chance to finally see his enemy and breaks his promise to his French lover Lucille (Cécile Paoli) to fight no more. However, unlike his adulterous wife Jane (Abigail Cruttenden), she forgives him and accompanies him to the battlefield, where he finds employment as a lieutenant colonel on the staff of Prince William of Orange (Paul Bettany) and makes the acquaintance of his aide de camp Colonel Rebecque (Oliver Tobias).

Sharpe then scouts far south of Quatre Bras. He spots French troops and sends a Dutch cavalryman on patrol to alert the Allied command. However, the cavalryman and his patrol are attacked and killed by French cuirassiers (who were pursuing Sharpe).

Meanwhile, Lord Rossendale (Alexis Denisof) has joined the staff of Lord Uxbridge (Neil Dickson), Wellington's second-in-command, and has brought his lover, Sharpe's estranged wife Jane, with him to Brussels, but they find that not only will polite society refuse to accept or even acknowledge Jane but also that Sharpe is also in Brussels and close by.

Sharpe then returns to the Prince of Orange's camp. There, he is reunited with his former sergeant major and best friend, Patrick Harper (Daragh O'Malley), and two of his long-time "chosen men": Hagman (John Tams) and Harris (Jason Salkey).

Sharpe scouts the French forces, while a contingent of Dutch musketeers holds a French column off. He then alerts the Duke of Wellington (Hugh Fraser) at a ball in Brussels that Napoleon is on the move. As Sharpe is leaving, he runs into Jane and Rossendale; he chases Rossendale and challenges Rossendale in front of the guests. When Rossendale shows his cowardice by refusing to fight (and wetting himself in the face of Sharpe's rage), Sharpe extracts a promise that he will get back the money Jane stole from him. Previously, Jane had persuaded Rossendale that he must kill her husband during the coming battle.

Sharpe is sent to command the defence of a crucial farmhouse at La Haye Sainte, which is manned by the King's German Legion and the 95th Rifles. He saves a King's German Legion officer, Macduff. Believing that La Haye Sainte has fallen, Prince William orders an English regiment to reform from square to line and re-capture the farm. However, French cavalry are nearby and, with the British in exactly the wrong formation, destroy the unit and capture its colours, while Sharpe watches in disgust.

As the battle rages, both Lucille and Jane wait for news; Lucille praying for Sharpe's safe return and Jane writing in her diary that she is pregnant with Rossendale's bastard child. Sharpe re-encounters Rossendale on the field; Rossendale draws a pistol on Sharpe, but doesn't have the courage to fire as Sharpe calmly rides up to him. Sharpe takes both Rossendale's sword and pistol and breaks them. He makes Rossendale write the required promissory note for Sharpe's money (which is actually worthless, since Jane has the money and Rossendale has no money of his own) and then tells Rossendale that he can have Jane since he has just bought her.

That night, Rossendale invents a story for his fellow officers to explain the destruction of his sword and pistol, but later confesses the truth to Witherspoon. Witherspoon tells him the only way for Rossendale to regain his lost honor is to fight like a demon in the coming battle.

Sharpe witnesses more instances of the absolute military incompetence of Prince William. The last time, it costs the lives of Harris and Hagman while the Prince gallops away to save his own skin, leaving his men to be slaughtered by the French. Furious, Sharpe shoots the prince at long range from a secluded spot, but only succeeds in wounding him. (The real William of Orange played a large role in and was wounded at the Battle of Waterloo.) Meanwhile, on another part of the battlefield, Rossendale finally manages to fight bravely, but is killed fighting French cuirassiers.

Sharpe then rejoins his old unit, the Prince of Wales' Own Volunteers, taking over when its commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Ford, becomes a casualty. At the crucial point of the Battle of Waterloo, Napoleon sends in his elite Imperial Guard. Sharpe repels the last-ditch assault, much to Wellington's delight. As the Prussians finally arrived, Wellington gives Sharpe command of the regiment and tells him to pursue the retreating enemy. Whilst advancing, Sharpe glimpses Napoleon as he rides off in defeat.

Production notes[edit]

The programme was shot in Turkey.
Although however Rifleman Harris dies in the TV series adaption where's in the book Harris is absent from Waterloo and instead in the novel series Harris is a living member.
Although Daniel Hagman dies alongside with Harris in the TV series adaption where's in the novel he is mortally wounded when the Prince of Orange led his men into slaughter where's Hagman died of his wounds in Sharpe's Arms in the book he died in the TV series as well but a different way,
It is unknown why characters like Charlie Weller was absent from the TV series adaption and Clayton, because Clayton died in the TV series adaption episode Sharpe's Company, where's in the novels Clayton survived the Peninsular War, and fought at Waterloo he was mortally wounded after the Prince of Orange led his men into a suicidal charge Clayton died in Sharpe's arms at Waterloo, Weller survived in the book although Weller did not appear in the TV series adaption for unknown resins,
It is unknown why they added Harris in the TV series episode when he did not appear in the novel it's likely to make the series more entertaining,
In the novels the characters to appear at Waterloo where, Daniel Hagman, Major Dunnett, Harry Price, Peter D'Alembord, Charlie Weller, Clayton, and several others, although in the TV series adaption Dunnett whom was killed in Sharpe's Rifles is absent, while Peter D'Alembord is absent along with Weller and Clayton, however Harry Price mysteriously reappears in Sharpe's Waterloo when previously he had been killed by Obadiah Hakeswill in the TV series it's unknown why Tom Clegg decided to have him reappear which is odd since he was killed off previously in Sharpe's Company adaption, in the novels the character whom died was Captain Robert Knowles whom was killed by Hakeswill, where's Captain Harry Price lived in the books and he survives Waterloo as well,


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