BBC America is co-producing TV drama 'Sharpe's Challenge' in India

MUMBAI: BBC America and Picture Palace Productions will co-produce the two part television miniseries Sharpe's Challenge which will star Sean Bean who played the villain in the Bond film Goldeneye. The miniseries will be shot in India in Rajasthan from 3 November 2005 till Christmas and tells a story set during the time of the British Raj.

Written by Russell Lewis and produced by Malcolm Craddock and Muir Sutherland, Sharpe's Challenge sees Sean Bean reprising his role as the swashbuckling hero. This is a prequel to the television series which had a succesful run in the UK on ITV and other territories in the 1990's. In the story of the new project a year after Wellington crushes Napoleon at Waterloo, dispatches from India tell of a local Maharaja who is threatening British interests there. Wellington sends Sharpe to investigate on what turns out to be his most dangerous mission to date.

When a general's daughter is kidnapped by an Indian warlord, the tension mounts, leaving Sharpe no option but to pursue the enemy right into its deadly lair. Deep in the heart of enemy territory he also has to keep at bay the beautiful but scheming Regent, Madhuvanthi, who is out to seduce him. the production crew will take advantage of

fort and palace locations that will showcase Rajasthan's exotic locales. Needless to state there will be fight sequences featuring thousands of extras.

BBC Worldwide has completed a deal with Celtic Films Entertainment / Picture Palace Films to distribute both the ITV1 drama and the above mentioned international version of Sharpe's Challenge. BBC Worldwide head of commercial development, independents Matt Forde said, "We are delighted that we have agreed a deal to distribute Sharpe's Challenge. We feel this has all the ingredients to be a major international hit and we are thrilled to be taking Sharpe to the global market."

Producers Muir Sutherland and Malcolm Craddock said, "We are excited to be making a new Sharpe production on location in India and are delighted that it will be shown in the UK on ITV1 and in the USA on BBC America. We also look forward to working closely with BBC Worldwide and 2|entertain in maximising Sharpe's international value." Meanwhile Bean who has gone on to star in high profile Hollywood films like Flightplan opposite Jodie Foster which will be released in India in a few days time is said to be keen to reprise his role as Sharpe.

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