Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Sigh: Saturdays with Sean Bean!

Every Saturday night this summer, BBC America takes viewers on a sweeping two-hour journey to a new land, a new battle, and a new set of potential love interests with the epic romantic war saga Sharpe. Created by novelist Bernard Cornwell and starring Sean Bean (Lord of the Rings, North Country), Sharpe chronicles the victories and loves of the legendary fictional Napoleonic war hero, Richard Sharpe. BBC America is showing the complete fifteen-episode series from the first episode, Sharpe’s Rifles, through to the U.S. premiere BBC America co-production, Sharpe’s Challenge, shot in India. Sharpe’s Rifles premieres Saturday, May 27, 2006 9 p.m. ET/10:00 p.m. PT.

Sharpe’s Rifles begins in 1809 when Sharpe is a scrappy Sergeant. After bravely saving the life of a distinguished Captain, he is quickly promoted to Lieutenant and charged with a company of men slated for a rescue mission in Portugal. Throughout June, BBC America features channel premieres Sharpe’s Eagle, Sharpe’s Company, Sharpe’s Enemy and Sharpe’s Honor. In July and August, BBC America features channel premieres, Sharpe’s Gold, Sharpe’s Battle and Sharpe’s Sword and the brand-new, never before seen U.S. premieres Sharpe’s Regiment, Sharpe’s Siege, Sharpe’s Mission, Sharpe’s Revenge, Sharpe’s Waterloo and Sharpe’s Justice.

September brings the U.S. premiere of BBC America co-production, Sharpe’s Challenge, shot entirely in India. The fate of an empire rests in one man’s hands in Sharpe’s Challenge. Two years after the battle of Waterloo, dispatches from India warn that a local Maharaja is threatening British interests. Wellington sends Sharpe to investigate on what turns out to be his most dangerous mission to date.



Episode one – Sharpe’s Rifles

Portugal 1809 - After saving the life of a distinguished Captain, Sir Arthur Wellesley, Sergeant Richard Sharpe is rewarded with a promotion to Lieutenant. His first mission is to go behind enemy lines to locate a missing agent, James Rothschild, who carries badly needed funds for the British army. Sharpe is given command of the 95th Rifles under Captain Murray, but soon finds that they are an undisciplined bunch, and neither Murray nor the men of the Rifles are prepared to accept Sharpe's command as “proper” officers are not raised from the ranks. After Captain Murray is killed in a surprise French attack, Sharpe is left in sole command. Two Spanish allies, Major Blas Vivar and Comandante Teresa, offer to lead Sharpe to Rothschild at Casa Antiga. There is no sign of Rothschild upon arrival and Sharpe becomes increasingly suspicious of his Spanish companions. He discovers their real mission is to transport one of Spain’s holy relics to Torrecastro to inspire an uprising against the French. Sharpe’s Rifles is sponsored by American Honda Motor.

Sharpe’s Rifles premieres Saturday, May 27, 9:00 p.m. ET/10:00 p.m. PT.

Episode two – Sharpe’s Eagle

Spain 1809 - Colonel Sir Henry Simmerson arrives with his new regiment, the South Essex. Wellesley decides to keep in Simmerson's good graces by arranging for the South Essex to blow up the bridge at Valdelacasa. Aware that Simmerson is incompetent, Wellesley orders Sergeant Sharpe to see that the mission is a success in exchange for a promotion to Captain. Simmerson is infuriated to learn that Sharpe is not a gentleman and was raised from the ranks by Wellesley. In revenge, he orders Sharpe to train his men to fire three rounds a minute by nightfall, or they will be flogged as punishment for failure. Sharpe manages to succeed, which infuriates Simmerson even more. The following day, Simmerson orders Captain Lennox to lead the South Essex across the bridge in the attempt to chase away a small French patrol. However, an ambush by the French cavalry brings a rescue attempt with Sharpe in control. Will this mean further promotion and even more enemies? Sharpe’s Eagle is sponsored by OppenheimerFunds, Inc.

Sharpe’s Eagle premieres Saturday, June 3, 9:00 p.m. ET/10:00 p.m. PT.

Episode three – Sharpe’s Company

Spain 1812 - After victory at Ciudad Rodrigo, Wellesley (now Duke of Wellington) sets his sights on Badajoz. Sharpe is reunited with his love, Teresa, and learns that he is the father of a baby girl — but he’s alarmed to learn the baby is in Badajoz. As new men arrive from England, Sharpe discovers his old nemesis, Obadiah Hakeswill, is among them. With his speciality of preying on soldiers while being servile towards the officers, Hakeswill was responsible for having Sharpe flogged for a crime he did not commit. After attempting to rape Teresa, Hakeswill realises her affection for the Sergeant and uses her in a wicked game to get back at Sharpe. With his captaincy in tatters, Sharpe's fears soon turn to the safety of Teresa and their baby daughter. Sharpe’s Company is sponsored by OppenheimerFunds. Sharpe’s Company is sponsored by OppenheimerFunds, Inc.

Sharpe’s Company premieres Saturday, June 10, 9:00 p.m. ET/10:00 p.m. PT.

Episode four – Sharpe’s Enemy

Portugal 1812 - The Spanish village of Adrados has been overtaken by a horde of French, Spanish and British deserters and they have taken two English women hostage, Sarah Dubreton and Lady Isabella Farthingdale. Captain Sharpe is assigned the task of delivering the ransom, much to the disgust of Sir Augustus Farthingdale. Sharpe and Harper enter the convent where the women are being held and are confronted by two French officers. Sharpe learns one of the officers is the husband of Sarah Dubreton and they are on the same mission. To Sharpe's dismay, he learns that Hakeswill is involved and he has increased the ransom price, giving Sharpe five days to come up with the extra money or the women will be raped. Nairn receives information that the French intend to invade Portugal from Adrados and decides to thwart the plan. Sharpe is promoted to Major and given command of the 60th Rifles in order to secure the safety of the women and prevent the French from taking the town. Sharpe’s Enemy is sponsored by OppenheimerFunds, Inc.

Sharpe’s Enemy premieres Saturday, June 17, 9:00 p.m. ET/10:00 p.m. PT.

Episode five – Sharpe’s Honor

1813 - In an attempt to remove Sharpe from the British ranks, French forces create a plot in which Sharpe is unjustly portrayed as an adulterer and murderer. A Spanish Marques, who insists Sharpe forced his attentions on his wife, challenges Sharpe to a duel. Sharpe protests that he has never met La Marquesa and is innocent of any wrongdoing, refusing to apologize. The duel goes ahead and just as Sharpe holds his sword against the Marques’ throat, Nairn steps in and insists this is just friendly sword practice. Later that night the Marques is murdered and, the following day, Sharpe is arrested. Witnesses testify that Sharpe was the murderer and he is sentenced to death. However, in the middle of the night, Harper is reunited with Sharpe and they are given the task of capturing the beautiful La Marquesa so the British can discover the enemy’s next move. Sharpe’s Honor is sponsored by OppenheimerFunds, Inc. and Audi.

Sharpe’s Honor premieres Saturday, June 24, 9:00 p.m. ET/10:00 p.m. PT.

Episode six – Sharpe’s Gold

Summer 1813 - An angry Sharpe goes in search of the British infantry who failed to prevent the French retreat from a recent battle. He discovers that the infantrymen are deserting and is unable to prevent their retreat. Meanwhile, Ellie Nugent, a relative of Wellington, rides into camp accompanied by her mother. They are searching for Ellie’s father, who has gone missing while looking for Aztec gold in the hills nearby. Wellington refuses to help them and orders them to return home. Wellington has more serious problems to contend with as he is running short of men in the army and has agreed to exchange 52 captured deserters for rifles. Sharpe is ordered to make the exchange and is followed by Ellie and her mother. Sharpe’s Gold is sponsored by American Honda Motor.

Sharpe’s Gold premieres Saturday, July 1, 9:00 p.m. ET/10:00 p.m. PT.

Episode seven – Sharpe’s Battle

September 1813 - While in the Spanish hills, Sharpe and his men come across a scene of devastation in the town of Casa Antiga. The town has been sacked by the fearsome French commander, Brigadier General Guy Loup and his Wolf brigade. One of Sharpe’s men rescues a young woman from two of Loup's soldiers and they are arrested. When Loup rides into town demanding his soldiers are released, Sharpe refuses and has them executed in front of him. Loup vows revenge. Sharpe’s Battle is sponsored by American Honda Motor.

Sharpe’s Battle premieres Saturday, July 8, 9:00 p.m. ET/10:00 p.m. PT.

Episode eight – Sharpe’s Sword

The Franco-Spanish Frontier, 1813 - A carriage travelling through the Spanish countryside is ambushed by French soldiers and a young nun flees in terror. Later, the soldiers themselves are attacked by the English and the French colonel kills his captain and trades uniforms. The French soldier claims to be Captain Dumas and surrenders himself to Sharpe. Sharpe is suspicious, but before he can question Dumas further, Colonel Berkeley of the South Essex accepts the man’s parole. A terrified, young nun emerges from the woods and attaches herself to Sharpe. Struck dumb with fear she is unable to tell Sharpe who she is or what has happened. Sharpe’s Sword is sponsored by American Honda Motor.

Sharpe’s Sword premieres Saturday, July 15, 9:00 p.m. ET/10:00 p.m. PT.

Episode nine – Sharpe’s Regiment – U.S. PREMIERE

June, 1813 - South Essex is seriously short of men and when Wellingtion is informed that there are no recruits available, he orders Sharpe to go to England to investigate. When Sharpe and Harper arrive in England, they are informed that there are 700 men waiting for them in Chelmsford, but on arrival, he finds the barracks deserted with no sign of his missing regiment. Later, while visiting an old friend, Harper and Sharpe are attacked. They decide to feign death, assume other identities and enlist in order to get to the bottom of this mysterious situation. Sharpe’s Regiment is sponsored by American Honda Motor.

Sharpe’s Regiment premieres Saturday, July 22, 9:00 p.m. ET/10:00 p.m. PT.

Episode ten – Sharpe’s Siege – U.S. PREMIERE

Winter 1813 - Wellington is informed by the debonair Comte de Maquerre that Bordeaux is ready to rebel against Napoleon. Wellington's master spy, Ross, is suspicious and tests Maquerre by suggesting that they use his own castle as a base. Maquerre reluctantly agrees, but informs them the castle is in Napoleon’s hands. Wellington appoints Colonel Bampfylde to lead the attack on the castle with Sharpe in support. Sharpe, newly married to Jane Gibbons, is outraged that he has lost his command to Bampfylde. However he’s soon distracted by an outbreak of yellow fever to which Jane falls victim. Sharpe’s Siege is sponsored by American Honda Motor.

Sharpe’s Siege premieres Saturday, July 29, 9:00 p.m. ET/10:00 p.m. PT.

Episode eleven – Sharpe’s Mission – U.S. PREMIERE

France 1813 - The war is entering its final stages and the French formulate a desperate plan to capture Wellington's master spy, Major General Ross. Sharpe is ordered by Wellington to accompany Colonel Brand, who is intent on destroying the French’s main powder supply in the caves of Rocha. Wellington and Ross are both suspicious of Brand’s apparent loyalty, but they do not reveal this to Sharpe. Their suspicions are well-founded as Brand secretly meets with the French and makes plans for capturing Ross. On the home front, Sharpe’s wife is showing signs of being bored with army life and enjoys the attentions of a young poet.

Sharpe’s Mission premieres Saturday, August 5, 9:00 p.m. ET/10:00 p.m. PT.

Episode twelve – Sharpe’s Revenge – U.S. PREMIERE

After the last battle has been fought, the Peninsula war is finally over for Britain and her allies, but the action does not end here for Sharpe. He is framed by his long-time enemy, Ducos, and accused of stealing Napoleon’s treasures. Sharpe is also abandoned by his wife, Jane, who returns to England, where she meets the handsome Lord Rossendale. On the run now from both the English and the French, Sharpe must find a way to prove his innocence.

Sharpe’s Revenge premieres Saturday, August 12, 9:00 p.m. ET/10:00 p.m. PT.

Episode thirteen – Sharpe’s Waterloo – U.S. PREMIERE

Sharpe has settled down to an idyllic lifestyle with Lucille on her French farm, when the news of Napoleon’s escape from Elba compels him to return to the army to fight at Waterloo. There, he joins the forces of the Prince of Orange. Reunited with his Chosen Men, Sharpe abandons the inept prince and organises the defence of key British positions on the farm of La Haie Sainte.

Sharpe’s Waterloo premieres Saturday, August 19, 9:00 p.m. ET/10:00 p.m. PT.

Episode fourteen – Sharpe’s Justice – U.S. PREMIERE

The war is over. Sharpe returns to England with his reputation restored. He is ordered to the North of England to command a local militia force in his hometown, which is troubled with unrest. Sharpe soon finds himself torn between the gentry and the locals, while discovering secrets from his own past. Sharpe also has the chance to confront Jane, when Lord Rossendale inherits a mansion near where Sharpe is stationed.

Sharpe’s Justice premieres Saturday, August 26, 9:00 p.m. ET/10:00 p.m. PT.

Episode fifteen – Sharpe’s Challenge – U.S. PREMIERE

The fate of an empire rests in one man’s hands in Sharpe’s Challenge. Two years after the battle of Waterloo, dispatches from India warn that a local Maharaja is threatening British interests. Wellington sends Sharpe to investigate on what turns out to be his most dangerous mission to date. This two-part BBC AMERICA co-production is shot entirely in India.

Sharpe’s Challenge premieres Sunday, September 3, 8:00 p.m. ET and concludes on Monday, September 4, 9:00 p.m. ET.