Sharpe’s Rifles is the first Sharpe television drama, and it is based on Bernard Cornwell’s 1988 novel of the same name. The adaption, which aired on ITV in 1993, starred Sean Bean, Daragh O’Malley, and Assumpta Serna. It began a long line of profitable and critically praised television adaptations of the novels. The plot follows Richard Sharpe, an ambitious and rugged soldier from Yorkshire. The story follows Sharpe and his company of selected men as they travel across Spain after surviving an ambush by French troops. During filming in Crimea, Portugal, and England, Paul McGann, the original actor cast for the character of Richard Sharpe, fractured his leg and was swiftly replaced by Sean Bean.
About the show Sharpe Rifles:
During the Peninsular War of Spain, even against the French, Sergeant Richard Sharpe saves the life of the future Duke, Arthur Wellesley, and is promoted to Lieutenant. Wellesley requires money from financier Rothschild to pay the troops, but he worries he has been taken by the French and sends Sharpe into enemy lines to find him. Sharpe is given the freedom to choose his platoon of crack riflemen, commanded by the gruff Irishman Harper and featuring Hagman and Harris, who dislike Sharpe for not being a “real commander” and revolt, but gradually learn to appreciate him. Sharpe’s troop encounters a gang of Spanish partisans commanded by Teresa, with whom Sharpe is in love.
The beginning plot of the TV show Sharpe Rifles:
Sergeant Richard Sharpe (Sean Bean) of the 95th Rifles saves Sir Arthur Wellesley, leader of the British army against the French in Portugal, in 1809. Sharpe is promoted to lieutenant by Wellesley. Wellesley has negotiated for a loan from the Rothschild family to pay his soldiers. James Rothschild left Vienna with a much-needed bank draught, but he went lost in the Spanish Pyrenees. Major Dunnett’s 95th company is being deployed to find him, and Sharpe’s first job is to lead the Chosen Men, a group of sharpshooters assigned to the company. Still uneasy in his new position, Sharpe makes a poor first impression.
The happy ending of Sharpe Rifles:
Sharpe, Teresa, and their men launch an attack on the French garrison and beat it. Vivar fights and kills the guy in black, who turns out to be his brother. He then raises the flag. Colonel de L’Eclin is ready to shoot an unarmed Sharpe at the end of the battle when he is shot and killed by Perkins. Sharpe honors him by designating him as a Chosen Man, but Hogan tells Perkins to renounce the honor. Sharpe returns to Wellesley. Sharpe reveals that “Mrs. Parker” is the banker in disguise, much to Wellesley’s joy, after the general expresses his dismay that Sharpe could not discover Rothschild. Sharpe and Teresa have loved before she departs to continue battling the French.
The cast of Sharpe Rifles:
Sean Bean plays Sergeant/Lieutenant Richard Sharpe. Daragh O’Malley in the role of Rifleman/Sergeant Patrick Harper. Assumpta Serna plays Comandante Teresa Moreno. Brian Cox plays Major Michael Hogan. Harper informs Sharpe that he and the soldiers have chosen to defy instructions and return to the army. Sharpe challenges Harper in a savage fistfight to show his dominance, but they are stopped by a gang of Spanish insurgents commanded by Commandante Teresa Moreno and Major Blas Vivar. David Troughton plays Sir Arthur Wellesley. Michael Mears play rifleman. Cooper, Francis Rifleman (John Tams), Hagman, and Daniel Rifleman Harris are played by Jason Salkey. Rifleman Lyndon Davies Perkins, Ben Rifleman, is played by Paul Trussell. Tongue, Isaiah Major Dunnett is played by Julian Fellowes.
The locations covered for the shooting of Sharpe Rifles:
This is the first prologue in the Sharpe series, transporting him to the winter preceding Sharpe’s Eagle. Bernard Cornwell had stated that he swore not to write a prequel, wanting to run the series smoothly from Sharpe’s Eagle to Sharpe’s Waterloo, but was convinced to alter his mind when the makers of the intended Sharpe movie begged him to. The film’s producers wanted a beginning to Richard Sharpe’s narrative. With a Spanish business investing in the TV series, it seemed appropriate to redress the balance by including a Spanish character in a critical role. “Their request was also a reproof to me, for the Sharpe novels tend to give the impression that the French were defeated in Spain solely by the British army, but that army, while its achievements were magnificent, could never have won without the aid of Spanish.
Sharpe’s actions following the retreat to Coruna are recounted in the narrative. Sharpe’s battalion, serving as the army’s rearguard, is scattered by a troop of French horsemen. From there, the tale follows a small band of 31 isolated 95th Rifles riflemen as they attempt to spark an insurrection in the city of Santiago de Compostela. Sharpe’s Spanish ally is Major Don Blas Vivar, who is also Sharpe’s adversary, Vivar’s brother, Tomas, Count of Mouromorto. Rifleman Patrick Harper, as well as the core nucleus of the surviving company, is presented. Captain Michael Hogan, an exploring officer, and engineer is introduced briefly at the end of the narrative. When Sharpe’s officer is slain in this novel, he is handed Captain Murray’s heavy cavalry sword.