Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Nerdversity Reviews: Sharpe's Company (TV)

In 1993, Sean Bean took the role of Richard Sharpe in a series of TV Movies, made for ITV. These made him a household name and were among some of the highest rated drama serials broadcast at the time.

Sharpe's Company was written by Charles Wood, based on the novel by Bernard Cornwell. It was directed by Tom Clegg. The plot is It is 1812. General Wellesley (Hugh Fraser) is ready to invade Spain from Portugal. But two formidable fortresses stand in the way. When the first, Ciudad Rodrigo, is taken, Colonel Lawford is severely wounded and forced to relinquish command of the South Essex Regiment, depriving Captain Sharpe (Sean Bean) of an influential friend.
Colonel Windham (Clive Francis), the new commander, brings his own officers, so Sharpe is demoted to lieutenant and is humiliated by being put in charge of the baggage and losing command of his "chosen men" to an aristocratic officer (Marc Warren) who purchased the commission of the South Essex's Light Company. Worse, one of the reinforcements is Sergeant Obidiah Hakeswill(Pete Postlethwaite), an old enemy from Sharpe's days in India.
Meanwhile, Sharpe's lover, Teresa (Assumpta Serna), tells him that he has a baby daughter living with her family in Badajoz, the second fortress town. Not knowing who she is, Hakeswill tries to rape her, but proves no match for her. Teresa then slips into Badajoz to spy on the French and to see her baby.
To cause trouble for Sharpe, Hakeswill steals from the officers and plants a picture frame belonging to Windham in the kit of Sharpe's right-hand man, Sergeant Harper (Daragh O'Malley). When it is found, the colonel has Harper flogged. Later, during a night skirmish, a turncoat French soldier escapes the besieged town, bearing a dispatch and a letter from Teresa, but he is shot and killed. Sharpe recovers the letter, which contains a map showing where she is staying, but on his way back Hakeswill tries to shoot Sharpe in the confusion, but kills a young ensign (William Mannering) who has the misfortune to step in front of him at that exact moment.
Eventually the walls of Badajoz are breached, but the first assault falters. Sharpe rallies the men and leads them into the town. Hakeswill gets to Teresa first due to the letter he stole from Sharpe, Harry Price, one of Sharpe's officers, intervenes and is shot and apparently killed by Hakeswill while trying to protect Teresa. (Harry Price reappears however in Sharpe's Waterloo, this time played by Nicholas Irons.) Sharpe is not far behind and stops Hakeswill, who is wounded in the process, but Hakeswill still manages to get away.
For his bravery and because many of the other officers have been killed, Sharpe gets back command of his Light Company. Harper is exonerated when he finds the missing portrait of Windham's wife hidden in Hakeswill's shako and returns it to the colonel.
The TV Movie was broadcast on ITV in 1994. It was later released on VHS and is also available on DVD.