‘Cho­sen man’: TV star heads north to tell Sharpe sto­ries

‘Su­per­fan’ gives ‘Ri­fle­man Har­ris’ his king’s shilling to plant his colours in Angus for the first time at speak­ing event

The Courier & Advertiser (Fife Edition) - - NEWS - GRAEME STRA­CHAN gstra­chan@the­courier.co.uk

A Sharpe “su­per­fan” has asked one of TV’s most fa­mous ri­fle­men to plant his colours in Angus for the first time.

From over the hills and far away, 95th Reg­i­ment ‘Ri­fle­man Har­ris’ has been en­listed for a spo­ken word event in Mon­trose on Jan­uary 22.

Lo­cal man Barry Gra­ham, 56, said he has given Har­ris – ac­tor Ja­son Salkey – his king’s shilling for a one-off oral his­tory of how Bernard Corn­well’s epic nov­els were brought to the small screen.

Mr Gra­ham said: “I’m just a big fan of the se­ries Sharpe. I per­son­ally re­gard the se­ries al­most as an in­sti­tu­tion and of leg­endary sta­tus.

“I think that it is a fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­nity for the ‘lucky few’ to meet Ja­son and hear his fas­ci­nat­ing in­sights and his per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences dur­ing his Sharpe years, with a ques­tion and an­swer ses­sion in­cluded.

“Whether oth­ers in Mon­trose will agree has yet to be seen.”

Salkey has writ­ten a new book, From Crimea with Love, about his role in the Napoleonic War-set drama along­side Sean Bean that changed his life for­ever.

The se­ries was shot mainly in Crimea, in the rapidly dis­in­te­grated Soviet Union, where Salkey and the crew went on to cre­ate one of Bri­tain’s most suc­cess­ful and crit­i­cally ac­claimed tele­vi­sion pro­grammes.

Mr Gra­ham, who is an au­thor, poet, com­poser and his­tor­i­cal re­searcher, said Salkey got in touch via so­cial me­dia to in­quire if he would be in­ter­ested in his up­com­ing book. He said: “I’m guess­ing he found me through his co-star, Daragh O’Mal­ley, who is on my friend list.

“I’m also a great ad­mirer of John Tams, who was ri­fle­man Daniel Hag­man, and his mu­sic and have been priv­i­leged to have met him.

“Af­ter some mu­tual mes­sag­ing, we have made a plan and I con­trib­uted £270 to­wards Ja­son’s book in or­der to have the lec­ture in Mon­trose.

“I will cover his ex­penses and try to off­set some of them with a small, £5 door charge on the night. I’ve ar­ranged he and his wife’s ac­com­mo­da­tion and the lec­ture venue – 7 Sins, here in Mon­trose – with the help of its own­ers, Scott Lear­month and Rhys Gourlay.”

Mr Gra­ham and his late cousin, John Mol­loy, founded The Ge­orge Beat­tie Project and pub­lished a his­tory book con­tain­ing ex­ten­sive re­search on events oc­cur­ring in Mon­trose and St Cyrus around the Napoleonic era.

Salkey’s mem­oir prom­ises to be an “eye-open­ing, jaw-drop­ping in­sider’s ac­count” that will doc­u­ment the “mishaps, blun­ders, in­com­pe­tence and down­right cor­rup­tion that made Sharpe’s Ri­fles go down in Bri­tish tele­vi­sion and film pro­duc­tion folk­lore for its tales of hard­ship, dis­as­ter and chaos only ri­valled by the Ukraine it­self”.

He will ap­pear in Mon­trose on Tues­day Jan­uary 22 at 7 Sins on Hume Street at 8pm, with tick­ets on sale now at the venue.

Pic­ture: Paul Reid.

Barry Gra­ham has ar­ranged for Ja­son Salkey to visit Mon­trose.

Ja­son Salkey, left, was cast in Sharpe’s Ri­fles in 1992 and played Har­ris, one of Sharpe’s ‘cho­sen men’. Salkey, pic­tured with John Tams, is a huge fan of the se­ries and the his­tory be­hind it and of­ten par­tic­i­pates in re­lated mil­i­tary events.

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