TELEVISION / BRIEFING: A lean, mean act revisited

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The Independent Culture
One of the benefits of winning your ITV franchise with a nominal bid is that you have money to spend on lavish, pounds 10m period dramas like SHARPE (8pm ITV). Central's big-budget, two-part adventure story boasts enough splendid Napoleonic costumes to fill the Imperial War Museum. By the by, it is a marvellous promo for the Crimean Tourist Board. Sean Bean was a compelling thug in Patriot Games and Fool's Gold. In 'Sharpe's Rifles', Eoghan Harris's straightforward adaptation of the novel by Bernard Cornwell, he reprises that lean, mean Sean Bean act, this time in the guise of a British soldier in 1809. Sgt Richard Sharpe's reward for saving Wellington's life is to be promoted from the ranks and kicked by his snobby fellow officers who think he is 'not one of us'. As if that wasn't bad enough, he is then sent on a dangerous mission behind enemy lines with a motley crew of ex-cons and pub brawlers known as the Chosen Men. His only compensation is meeting the alluring guerrilla leader Assumpta Serna, whom you may not recognise with so many clothes on. She was last seen romping with Mickey Rourke in Wild Orchid.

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