11:00am Saturday 1st November 2008
ACTOR Sean Bean has become a big fan of India while filming two Sharpe adventures there.
"It's a different pace of life. You get there and it's such a change from the fast pace of, say, London or America," he explains.
"You've just got to accept that it's a slower way of life. Once you do that, it's wonderful. There is a language barrier and it does have a different culture, but I could film there every year. I love the country and think it's an extraordinary place to visit."
The people he's met and worked with have had such a positive energy, he continues.
"I've never been anywhere like it. I've travelled extensively, but never experienced the sense of goodwill these people have in their lives.
"People have nothing, but they're genuine and happy.
I'm not sure whether it's their religion or their culture, but they have real pride in themselves and their lives."
He's going back in January for a friend's wedding and says he can't wait.
He stars as Richard Sharpe in a new ITV1 adventure, Sharpe's Peril, set in 19th Century India.
This follows his return in Sharpe's Challenge after the hero's eight-year absence from TV.
Once again, he's joined by Darah O'Malley as best friend Sgt Patrick Harper in a story taking up where the previous adventure left off. Sharpe and Harper are on their way to Calcutta, helping an East India Company baggage train through enemy territory.
Bean, who has starred in 15 Sharpe films, is proud of the latest two-parter.
"We've achieved something that's rarely done on television these days – a period drama filled with action, with everything from fights to drama and all the costumes.
"It was ambitious, and that's what people like to see. All these shows about the police and forensics, personally they bore me stiff. I think people want to see this kind of thing without having to go see a feature film."
The film was shot entirely on location in India, sometimes in 120 degree heat.
"We'd be filming a scene and people would say their lines and then throw up.
But what we were doing was so exciting, it got us through it. Fortunately, I was fine this time, but that's India for you at the end of the day."
Once again he was keen to do his own stunts, whether galloping along mountain tracks or being blown up.
"The director, Tom Clegg, says 'stand here' and I'm thinking 'hang on, there's some bloody Semtex about to go off' and he'll say 'you'll be all right'. It's not even tested, you don't rehearse it, and it just goes BANG!
"We've always been like that on Sharpe, just chuck ourselves in. Daragh will always say to me before we start filming a stunt 'god bless' and I'll say 'you too'.
"The next thing you know there's guns going off, carriages and horses flying everywhere. You finish the scene and think, 'that wasn't really acting, that was real terror'."
* Sharpe's Peril: tomorrow, ITV1, 9pm.