Friday, 13 May 2016

Theme Time : John Tams - Sharpe

One of the best dramas of the 1990s, one that all the family could watch, was Sharpe which originally ran from '93 to '97 and whose stirring exploits of a rough and ready British solider during the Napoleonic Wars of the 1800s and made a star of lead actor Sean Bean.

It could have all been so very different of course, as Paul McGann was originally cast as Richard Sharpe, but had to pull out once a game of football between the cast and crew on location saw him suffer a knee injury that made his position untenable. He would go on to appear as Lt. Bush in ITV's Hornblower in the subsequent decade, which was very much the natural heir to this series.  

This thrilling Boy's Own series was based on a series of best selling novels from author Bernard Cornwell that commenced in 1981 and continued until the late '00s. I have fond memories of watching these two hour epic adaptations sprawled across *I think* either a Tuesday or Wednesday evening on ITV. I even bought a boxset of all the films a few years back, but when they seemed to be repeated endlessly on a loop by ITV2 or 3 or whatever, I didn't see much point in actually owning the boxset and passed it on. In 2006 and 2007 Bean returned to the role of Sharpe for two further films, alongside his faithful sergeant Harper, played by Daragh O'Malley, that big Irishman famous for calling Richard E Grant a 'ponce' (and thus scaring his would-be Sharpe co-star McGann) in Withnail and I.

The theme tune comes from the traditional English folk ballad Over The Hills and Far Away, a song which dates back to the 17th century and was performed for the series by John Tams who played the character of Dan Hagman in the series, the oldest man in Sharpe's 'Chosen Men' a former poacher from Cheshire and is the regiment's best shot.

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