Sharpe’s Most Memorable Characters

From cowardly aristocrats to evil soldiers to scheming seducers, they’ve all made quite an impression on Sharpe…

Pete Postlethwaite and Sean Bean

Pete Postlethwaite and Sean Bean


Played by Hollywood star Paul Bettany, Prince William of Orange may have been the heir to the Dutch throne, but his bravery fell rather short of his status. In fact, he was an inept coward whose antics in combat lead to the deaths of far better men. As you can imagine, Sharpe didn't take very kindly to this foppish prince parading around the battlefield and putting crucial skirmishes in jeapordy - especially as the war against Napoleon nears its grand finale. Ultimately, Sharpe was pushed over the edge by the prince's selfish incompetence, with dramatic results.

This Christmas, Come Home to Drama


The sheer acting intensity of the great Pete Postlethwaite was put to perfect use in the role of Obadiah Hakeswill. He was arguably Sharpe's ultimate nemesis - a fact that's all the more awful when you consider he was a fellow British soldier. Behind the respectable, uniformed façade, Hakeswill was a delusional psychopath who regards himself as somehow "un-killable" after escaping execution as a boy. Obsessed with his mother and saddled with a facial tic, Hakeswill was a liar, a cheat, a sexual predator and an all-round snake, fueled only by hatred and self-interest. Next to him, even the worst of Napoleon's chiefs looked angelic by comparison.


A strikingly youthful Daniel Craig showed his nasty side as Lieutenant Berry. He was a member of the South Essex Regime, overseen by the corrupt Sir Henry Simmerson, who despised Sharpe and used Berry as a blunt weapon against him. Not that Berry minded - he looked down on Sharpe for his "low birth", and deliberately provoked our hero by behaving in a nasty way to a woman under Sharp's protection. The rivalry between the two men featured a memorable fist fight, but the only real reckoning only came on the battlefield, while they were supposed to be fighting on the same side...


How to describe Lady Farthingdale? She perhaps said it best: "I have no morals, yet I'm a very moral person." Ravishingly beautiful (and played by a young Elizabeth Hurley), her looks had propelled her from a humble background to the most lavish, gilded echelons of high society. Once a working girl, she went from "a whore to a duchess" after catching the eye of Sir Augustus Farthingdale, who mistakenly believed her to be a high-born lady. Well, that's what a ravishing appearance and exquisite command of etiquette will do for you. Naturally, Sharpe himself wasn't immune to her seductive charms, though their romance was... well, a fleeting one.


Captain Jack Spears wasn't just another handsome, suave soldier. Played by the dark-haired and doe-eyed James Purefoy, he had a kind of melancholy, Byronic magnetism, like someone whose mind was forever soaring above the battlefield to loftier concerns. But just what were those concerns? Was he hiding something from Sharpe and the other men he fights alongside? Or was he simply burdened by the horrors of war? The man was an enigma, and seeing his story unravel made for one of the most memorable sagas within the larger epic of Sharpe.


The one man with a personality as big as Richard Sharpe's? That has to be Major Hogan, played with blustering gusto by veteran actor Brian Cox. A gruff, no-nonsense soldier with a taste for taking snuff and deploying witty put-downs of the more hapless members of his circle, Hogan was one of Britain's intelligence operatives during the war, and entangled Sharpe in his various schemes. He didn't suffer fools gladly ("Take my advice, and a pistol, and go behind that tent to blow out what's left of your brains") and was also suitably impressed by Sharpe's fighting skills, warning one of Richard's rivals: "Sharpe would have shot out your left eye at a minute past six, and you'd have spent all day tomorrow looking up at nothing with the other."


We first met Colonel Brand in a flashback sequence, showing an early skirmish he fought alongside Sharpe. Played by Mark Strong, Brand came across as the strong, silent type - a hardened warrior who thought nothing of charging straight into enemy gunfire when the situation demanded it. For this, he earnt not only Sharpe's respect, but the awe of the whole army. "My fame follows me like a bucket tied to a dog's tail," he mused. "It makes a great deal of noise but is damned inconvenient." And yet, behind the bravado, all was not as it seemed with Brand, and the inner darkness soon made itself apparent...