Season 6 Episode 1

Sharpe's Challenge, Part 1

Aired Wednesday 8:00 PM Apr 23, 2006 on ITV
out of 10
User Rating
20 votes

By Users

Episode Summary


India 1817 Two years after Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo, the Duke of Wellington sends Sharpe to India to check out an Indian prince who appears to threaten British interests. The mission becomes dangerous when a general's daughter is kidnapped and Sharpe must find her.

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  • I really enjoyed this - a worthy remembrance of the brilliant series.

    I was slightly worried about this Sharpe because I have read both 'Sharpe's Tiger' and 'Sharpe's Fortress' which are both brilliant books but which are both set in Sharpe's early life. How then were they going to be portrayed by a much older Sharpe? And, since quite a lot of the plot line of 'Sharpe's Tiger' depends on Hakeswell, how were they going to make it work since by this time he was dead?

    I needn't have worried. This was a brilliant re-incarnation of the two novels and my only slight critiscm is that the producers were forced to leave some great plot lines out because they would no longer have worked (when Sharpe got flogged for instance.) But I can forgive these as they really could not have worked unless someone stuck Sean Bean in a time machine and made him look twenty.

    Sergeant Bickerstaff, although he couldn’t live up to Pete Postlethwaite's brilliant enactment of Hakeswell was a decent enough ‘baddie’ and Toby Stevens was brilliant as the infamous Dodd.

    It was a pity that none of the other chosen men could make an appearance in this episode but it would have been ridiculous to include them in either flashbacks or present action because Sharpe hadn’t met them when he served in India and by the time he is a retired colonel most of them are dead.

    Some of the scenes were a little gory but these were a minority, completely overshadowed by the battle sequence and the good acting from both Sean Bean and Daragh O Malley. Several of their scenes together were a joy to watch (especially the scene were Sharpe is told to shoot Harper) and you can really see the life-long friendship between the two characters.

    All in all a good remembrance of the excellent Sharpe series and an episode worthy of the books it is based on – which is really saying something as I found the Sharpe books which were set in India to be among the better of Cornwell’s works, along with Sharpe’s Prey, which unfortunately they never scripted for television.

  • A welcome return to Sharpe and Harper

    Retired Colonel Richard Sharpe (Sean Bean) is dispatched to India to stop a rebellion and search for a missing agent - one Patrick Harper (Daragh O'Malley). Once the mislaid Sergeant has been located, things take a turn for the worse as not only is the General too ill to be of any assistance, his acting replacement is none other than the obnoxious and Lily-livered Sir Henry Simmons, effortlessly played once more by Michael Cochrane.

    Add to the mix Toby Stevens as the traitor William Dodd, Peter-Hugo Daly as villainous Sergeant Bickerstaff and the kidnapping of the General's daughter (Lucy Brown) and we've got all the makings of a classic Sharpe instalment.

    This is pretty much a Sharpe-and-Harper episode, with none of the other familiar chosen men making an appearance. Hugh Fraser does appear as Wellington, but only fleetingly.

    The story was loosely based on Bernard Cornwall's novel 'Sharpe's Tiger', which was set prior to the Napoleonic campaign. Because of the shift in time, apparently due to Sean Bean's reluctance to play a 20 year old (fair enough!) Pete Postlethwaite's fantastically evil(but dead!) Obadiah Hakeswill was unfortunately replaced with Sergeant Bickerstaff. The similarities between the characters are certainly there, but for me, Hakeswill is the top villain.

    The scenes I really enjoy in Sharpe are the big battles, pitching one army against another. Although there were a few small skirmishes, this element was missing in the first part, although there were a lot more sub-plots than I remember in the previous seasons, so I think that a lot of the time was used to set up the scenes in the conclusion, which I hope will be be a lot more action packed.

    I can't wait until tonight!moreless
Toby Stephens

Toby Stephens


Guest Star

Padma Lakshmi

Padma Lakshmi


Guest Star

Aurélien Recoing

Aurélien Recoing


Guest Star

Daragh O'Malley

Daragh O'Malley


Recurring Role

Michael Cochrane

Michael Cochrane


Recurring Role

Hugh Fraser (II)

Hugh Fraser (II)


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (5)

    • Harper: What is it?
      Sharpe: Nowt.
      Harper: And you with a face on you like a dragoon's arse, from the minute we got lifted, hmm? Listen. I'd follow you through the gates of Hell if you gave me the word, so I think I deserve more than a "nowt" for my trouble.

    • Harper: So, wait a minute. You and me, we're, we're going to stop a rebellion, just the two of us?
      Sharpe: Well, I don't see no bugger else.
      Harper: Huh... Yeah. That, uh, that sounds just about right.

    • Sharpe: (asking Simmerson for permission to rescue the General's daughter) If Captain Singh and his Lancers help me, Mr Harper and I should prove sufficient to the job.
      Simmerson: You and Harper, eh? Well, God knows... I don't mind if you do die, Sharpe. It's long past your time, ain't it?

    • Singh: Mr Harper. Well, it would appear we have all been premature in our prayers at your passing.
      Harper: Luck of the Irish, Captain, you can't beat it.

    • Dodd: Too many damn Scots in the company these days, have you noticed that? Too many Scots and Irish, glib sorts of fellows they are. Then they aren't English, are they? Not English at all.

  • NOTES (4)

    • Sharpe's Challenge (1) was first broadcast in the US on BBC America on September 2, 2006.

    • This episode is only loosely based on Bernard Cornwell's books Sharpe's Tiger and Sharpe's Fortress, largely because it is set nearly twenty years after the action in the books. This is because of the problem of making the leading players appear so much younger.

    • Sharpe's Challenge was filmed on location in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India.

    • Obadiah Hakeswill appears in the books Sharpe's Tiger and Sharpe's Fortress, but as this production was moved forward in time until after the Napoleonic wars, so after Hakeswill's death, he had to be expunged.