Daragh O’Malley admits that after fighting wars in Portugal, Spain and France he thought his days in uniform would end with the Battle of Waterloo. "After five years filming in Russia in nightmare conditions, nearly losing half my face in Turkey when I suffered a terrible injury in a fight scene, I didn’t think I’d be back filming more Sharpe! Despite that, all my memories of Sharpe are fond ones and although I did consider I was too old to go back it was a happy and exciting time for us all."
Daragh was returning to the role of Sgt Patrick Harper after more than eight years. Alongside Sean Bean he is the only regular cast member to have appeared in all the Sharpe films. "It was bizarre but straight away we fell back into it. When I got out of the car at the read-through and saw Sean for the first time in nearly nine years he just said ‘alright Daragh’ and that time apart was eclipsed.”
Speaking of his character Daragh explains: “When Sharpe gave up soldiering and became a farmer in France, Harper returned to Ireland. But he couldn’t settle and was soon working undercover as a spy for the Duke of Wellington. It’s like every boy’s dream working on Sharpe. You never really grow up on that set. There is always some action shot to be filmed and we do most of it ourselves. There was one very fast scene on a horse that I had a double for, but that was it. It takes a lot of energy to film those scenes and none of us is 25 any more! And it’s all done so quickly. One take and that’s your lot. You look around and the unit is packing up and moving onto the next location. The director Tom Clegg is as fast as a speeding bullet! He has directed all 31 hours of Sharpe and his enthusiasm is our inspiration to give everything we’ve got on screen.”
Daragh had never visited India before, let alone filmed there, but says it is an experience that has changed his life. "It’s different universe. In eight weeks there I never saw anybody get angry or heard anyone raise their voice. Despite the extremes of devastating poverty and wealth, I didn’t meet an Indian who didn’t smile back at me even if it was from the gutter. One morning I went to see a film at 9am and there were 1600 people in there with me, all jumping up to join in the songs and get involved. They love the movies.
“We filmed in the desert sands of Western Jaipur where men on camels are living a life untouched by the last few centuries, in incredible palaces and fortresses, with pigs and goats and monkeys under our feet. Of all the places we’ve filmed Sharpe this is by far the greatest and it’s probably the best film we’ve ever made. But then I think this is the role Sean is happiest in too. It’s a big motion picture on a TV budget!”