Monday, November 03, 2008, 09:30

By Sian Brewis
Modern telly villains are, frankly, too much like hard work sometimes. TV schedules are full of psychos hunted by the FBI, confusing plots involving cyber crime or tortured types haunted by some trauma suffered in their formative years.
Sometimes you long for the easy life. Thankfully, Sharpe’s Peril (ITV 1, 9pm) made it all delightfully simple.
Like the cartoon burglar carrying the Swag bag, here it’s easy to tell the bad guys.
%3Cbody%3E%3Cdiv%20id%3D%22adDiv%22%3E%3CA%20HREF%3D%22http%3A//ads.anm.co.uk/ADCLICK/CID%3Dfffffffcfffffffcfffffffc/AAMSZ%3D452x118/SITE%3DTHISISLEIC/AREA%3DENTERTAINMENT/SUBAREA%3DHEADLINES/ARTICLE%3D442125/acc_random%3D6695405145/pageid%3D/RS%3D10187.10177.10183.10216.10241.10242.10257.10253.10297.10307.10323.10330.10341.%22%20target%3D%22_new%22%3E%3CIMG%20SRC%3D%22http%3A//iad.anm.co.uk/anmdefaultad.gif%22%20ALT%3D%22%22%20border%3D0%20style%3D%22margin-bottom%3A%200px%3B%22%3E%3C/A%3E%3C/div%3E1) Are you French? 2) Are you bald? 3) Are you posh? There you go. Colonel Sharpe must dread the follicly-challenged Frenchman.
It’s been ages since I last saw Sean Bean grumpily save the world and I’d forgotten what cracking fun it all is.
The plot hasn’t changed. Neither has his uniform. You have to hope he’s got at least one spare. Bad guys get shot/hung/blown up, girls get rescued and heave their bosoms at him, and somewhere along the line foxy Sharpe takes his shirt off. (After 23 minutes, in case you were wondering).
This time, he was in India, hoping for something that action heroes never should: the quiet life. "Two more days and we’ll be home, Pat," muses our hero to the loyal Harper as they ride into a soldiers’ camp. You just know that’s not going to end well.
Minutes after accepting an invite to tea with the camp captain, the bloke next to him gets a flaming arrow through the chest. Nice.
From then on, the action’s pretty much non-stop: bandit raids, massacres, and a particularly grim pegging out of a naked man under the burning Indian sun.
Turns out baddies - a treacherous Frenchman AND his bald mate, yikes! - have nicked a load of opium, massacred soldiers, women and children.
And Sharpe‘s also got his own soldiers plotting against him: a fat, bald colour sergeant Wormwood and his band of drunk idlers.
After gets a particularly lurid telling off from Sharpe they decide to kill him. "It’s him or us boys, him or us," says Wormwood, who tries to shoot him dead and only manages to wing him. Thus proving Sharpe was right and he is, indeed, rubbish.
Last night’s opener ended with the bad guys winning and a tremendous turn by Pascal Langdale as traitor Major Joubert, a near-perfect study in oily sneers.
As he cemented his evil credentials by killing an innocent girl, he actually twirled his moustache. Splendid stuff.
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