Based on the novels by Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe
(1993-7) ran to 14 full-length television films that follow the adventures of the titular soldier through the later years of the Napoleonic Wars. The programmes are an outstanding achievement for the small screen, dominated by Sean Bean's central performance as the heroic, troubled outsider who turns out to be a resourceful and loyal leader. Bolstered by a strong supporting cast, particularly Daragh O'Malley as Harper and (in later episodes) Abigail Cruttenden as Jane, Sharpe
is often visually striking, the action tense and gripping. Consistency is maintained by all 14 episodes being directed by Tom Clegg.
On the DVD: Sharpe's sound is full-bodied stereo while the very "sharp" picture has been transferred slightly letterboxed at 14:9. Though looking much better than the original TV transmissions the occasionally cropped framing makes it apparent the films were shot in 16:9 widescreen, so it is regrettable they have not been transferred to DVD in that format. Otherwise these are first-rate releases. --Gary S Dalkin