The Brit lost far from Homer
... and enjoys Sean Bean blowing up India
I'd never watched Sharpe before. I have never seen the point of Sean Bean - if I've ever needed what Sean Bean (see interview, page 42) offers to my life, it's been adequately met by staring at next door's lav while shouting: "There's many a mickle makes a muckle, Gandalf."
Still, Bean's been making these pugilistic Napoleonic-era TV movies for 13 years now - always wearing the same, presumably by now quite rancid, black jerkin. Major Sharpe, it seems, has a long-term commitment to baling out whole armies, thanks to his status as the only bloke with enough BALLS to single-handedly storm a fort, or with enough UP TOP to know about the whole fortitudinous mickle/muckle arrangement.
Well blow me down and indeed, as it turns out, up, but it all turns out to be quite enjoyable. While the bodycount in Sharpe's Challenge escalates into the thousands over the course of two episodes, and scarcely ten minutes go by without a massive explosion and/or an artillery attack, it all has a happy, wryly amused brio that keeps the whole thing galloping along. Having previously taken his BALLS and what he's got UP TOP all across Europe, this time Sharpe is in colonial India, fighting an evil rajah. Deciding to stop the rebellion singlehandedly - "I don't see no bugger else doing it" - Sharpe ends up with a "whole bloody armeh" to save, which he does with typical stoicism and irritability. My favourite bit is when a dying Hindu explains reincarnation to him. "We all keep coming back," he explains to Sharpe, who is squatting next to him.
"Aye, I know," Sharpe replies, clearly thinking of his previous 13 episodes.