A selection of reviews of the Harris Video Diaries:
If you like Sharpe, if you're interested in how the TV films were made, if you enjoy wit, adventure and cock-ups,and if you can't get enough of Sean Bean, then you'll love Harris's Video Diaries!
"Jason Salkey and Drew Sutton have captured a fantastic, accurate and unique account of life on one of the most difficult and glorious television series ever made.Anybody even remotely interested in any aspect of the film industry should have a copy of this series.It's a testimony of five years of dedication from actors, crew and everybody involved"
A unique insight by a unique film-maker into the off-screen life of a major television series!
These exclusive documentaries, never before attempted, are viewed through the journalising eyes of Jason Salkey, himself
a leading actor in the production with an access all areas pass that only an embedded cast member could hold.
A personal and singular companion to a classic series.
Thine, John Tams
alias Daniel Hagman
'Jason's video diaries are indispensible viewing for anyone passionate about SHARPE. I've just watched number 4, and was completely gripped. The rigours of night-shooting as the weather turns cold; the brilliance of the Russian stuntmen - without whom would the series be half as exciting? ; the glimpses of street life in the Crimean towns where filming took place (including a very funny and also poignant conversation with a local about a nearby statue of Lenin); all this and so much more gives a real flavour of what went on behind the scenes, the grit and grind as well as the gleeful partying that went into the making of SHARPE. And then the move to Portugal and some welcome home comforts for cast and crew - and yet they were only there six days. They'd endured nearly four months of hard graft in the Crimea, which as Jason makes clear wasn't remotely glamorous, but which he also makes clear was an experience he and and the whole team wouldn't have missed for the world. Full of funny touches, clever use of music, and bags of affection, all put across with Jason's own inimitable voiceover, Harris 4 also leaves us on a cliffhanger. Will there be another series? Fortunately there was. Which means of course - more video diaries of Rifleman Harris. Come on!!
Chosen Man Cooper
For anyone interested in Sharpe, The Video Diaries of Rifleman Harris are a must. They are a fascinating and detailed journey to the heart of filming an action movie - irreverent, funny and irresistible.
Sir Henry Simmerson
Jason Salkey's amazing Video Diaries are not to be missed. If you enjoyed the Sharpe series, you'll love these films.
Father Curtis, Sharpe's Sword
In a nutshell, Jason Salkey's Harris' Video Diaries are fantastic!
They're the perfect, high-quality companion to the Sharpe TV series, giving an in-depth and often humorous behind-the-scenes commentary to the long-running British TV series. Intimate without being intrusive, Jason brings you along to the varied locales used for filming, both on-set and off.
Jason shows us the less glamorous side of film making...it's certainly not all champagne and caviar...it's mud, water shortages, searing heat, heart-break as well as jovial banter, camaraderie, successes and bickie-breaks. For those of us who enjoy the bonus items on DVDs such as director commentary, and behind-the-scenes featurettes this brings you the best of both worlds from the lads who were there from the beginning.
The fans are eagerly awaiting the next episodes!
Well, I'm still laughing!
We, my husband and I, were most fabulously entertained by The Video Diaries of Rifleman Harris'. They're absolutely terrific!
God, how we miss this kind of humour.
There was one point during watching the DVDs when we did have to stop to reach for Kleenex to wipe the tears away caused by laughter:
"No Beans were spilled while making this picture"
I'm certain the "Beanomaniacs" spread over the planet appreciated that fact.
Mr. Bean appears to be a rather quiet sort of man, if one can judge from watching your Diaries.
The Harris diary should be on the MUST-SEE list of every aspiring actor and spectator so they can gain a close-up look at the glamorous life behind the scenes. The "Crimean Enterprise" would teach them that acting skills are not the only requirement in your profession....survival instincts have to be strong, too.
We were surprised they did not send you into the woods, hunting for food.
The end of Episode 5......I must bow to your brilliance. Telling about "Harper's injury" and then closing, that is one bloody hell of a hook! It took a while until relief set in, triggered by the memory that "Harper continued to march on Sharpe's side"..
Well, thank you so much for hours of fun! We can't wait until the next DVD is on the market.
I just have finished the diaries and here I am waiting for much more. It was a pleasure taking part in that experience and I love your sometimes wicked sense of humour and ironic comments.
I do think that nobody can resist the charm these diaries have - and that they are a must for every fan of Sharpe and the Chosen Men.
So thank you very much and I am waiting for the next.
All the best
Thank you very much for the DVDs. I have just finished watching them and they have given me a great deal of pleasure.
What I really like about the presentation is the wonderful mix of rehearsal footage, off screen activity, breathtaking scenery and little snippets of historical information. I also enjoy the honesty and humour of your commentary. I still wonder how the series maintained such a high standard with all the problems that arose. It says a lot about the cast and crew that they could overcome all the difficulties and produce a quality drama that is as good today as when it was first broadcast.
Another reason I enjoy the diaries so much is because they really challenge my emotions. One minute I am laughing out loud, the next I am almost in tears. I am so glad that you have released your videos as they are a wonderful record of how a series is made and the ups and downs of everyday life on a film set.
I look forward to seeing further episodes and many thanks for all your hard work in putting the diaries together.
Jason kindly gave me the latest Harris video diary number 6 the other day, and after a long day at the office I decided to put it on for just a few minutes to wind down.
It was late, but I enjoyed the film so much, that I watched it right through to the end. Harris 6 has it all, comedy, drama, great insight into the filming and lots of Chosen Men.
Need I say more, if you haven't already got a copy, get one! The most professional episode yet, Harris's exploits just get better and better!
Chris Clarke - Sharpe Appreciation Society
I'd like you give you feed back on the Harris diaries.
I doubt I am writing anything original because everything must have been said before by other fans. But after seeing your odyssey I think know why Sharpe got under my skin so much. You reached all your limits, you committed emotionally and physically, crossing the line between "performing" and identification with the characters. I do believe you literally lived through the episodes with them. I expected pure fun - I didn't think it could have been so bad.
Going through the diary episodes with Harris as my guide, I was allowed to see all the work from all possible angles. Crowds of people around "organised chaos"; the living conditions - literally "blood, sweat and tears" the spirit, the ups and downs,
You offer all the ugly moments sensitively and the good ones are just beautiful. Yes, sometimes I didn't know if I should laugh or gasp with tears leaking, but I am absolutely sure you have done a great thing.
Nil Desperandum ever. Sir!
I really enjoyed the Harris Diaries. You have a flair for capturing the essence of people and situations. Until I watched your videos, I had no idea of the hardship that you all went through during the Crimean shoot. I don't think I would have lasted that long without water.
You guys really toughed it out, which is impressive! I just recently became a Sharpe's fan. After exploring the English section' of my video store in the West Village, I've always been into Shakespeare and Sharpe's was in the history shelf, so I gave it a shot and then I was hooked.
Then I started looking on the websites to see if they were going to do anymore and that's where I saw the Harris Diaries. Please keep my posted on when you'll come out with the next series, or I'll check your website.
After I've watched H4 about a million times (my poor telly! ) What I really like is the way you inter-cut scenes of the actual shooting and the "backstage" stuff with everyone sitting around talking etc. That way we get a nice overview of the whole shoot.
The little segment where you filmed the Ukrainian people and that singing session showed the environment and the atmosphere and that it was a little like "family". That was very nice.
As a Sean fan I also have to thank you for the few minutes with bare-chested Sean! And no, I have no clue why there was such an abundance of women around to help wrap Sean with these bandages. That story of the train ride to Moscow of Sean and John was very funny and a bit shocking (a gun!!).
Thank you so much for this series. It's getting better every time. Can't wait for H5, no pressure!
All the best
I got round to actually watching Harris 4. I have to say - it's getting more and more professional looking. It really does have all the hallmarks of a network-style behind the scenes documentary, now.
There's less "home movie" footage, more set-ups, long scenes, framing and that sort of thing.
I've been enjoying the saga. I hope you have lots of footage for the next two years of Sharpe...
I thought all the little titbits of info you provided about the evolution of the Harris character were really interesting.
If you think being an actor is all glamour and glitz, you won't be so sure after watching those interminable night shoots and all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into making most Sharpe episodes. (I loved Daragh O'Malley's new lyrics to "Over the Hills and Far Away" in Harris 7).
The Harris films are fascinating for fans of the Sharpe books as well as the series, to see the work involved by all these talented people in bringing what's on the page to the screen. It's wonderful also to get a glimpse of the real people behind some of our favourite Sharpe friends and villains. Oh yes, and great tantalizing encounters with our hero, Sean Bean as Sharpe, looking fine in that green uniform, and very funny in his own quiet way.
I highly recommend the Video Diaries of Rifleman Harris as a "must see" for any and all fans of the Sharpe series and the Sharpe books.
Serials…don't you just love 'em / hate 'em.
Either way they get you like a good book that you can't put down.
So - if you were smitten by Sharpe you'll definitely be hooked by Harris!
The Diaries show how a spark of interest and imagination; seeing beyond what you're doing; can send you off on another journey and produce something special of your own.
Spielberg started somewhere!
It's an actors eye view, a must see for Sharpe fans as it personalises everything
and a valuable insight into the world of film and television makers.
Jason Salkey gives Michael Palin a run for his money with his informative dialogue, touched with more than an irreverent sense of humour! He can be both serious and hilarious.
The Holy Grail, the insiders view, oops…another Monty Python reference!
Each episode acts as a social documentary recording how life in other countries can differ so much and can change so much over time.
It's also fantastic for film and media students because the Harris diaries offer a fascinating insight into how a programme is produced, a wonderful behind the scenes journal of life on location. The triumphs and the tears, the upside and the downside,
a warts and all account.
The technical details, the planning, the pre and post production stages are very inspirational for aspiring camera crew, directors, floor managers, PA's, and anyone who wants to be involved in the industry.
It's also a cracking good watch!
BA (Hons) Media and Communication
University of Central England
THE SHARPE AND HARRIS SHOW
The books, television show and, now, the Harris Diaries.
I came relatively late to Sharpe having emigrated to Australia before the television series started. After Waterloo, what then? No more Sharpie. And then, after getting into the Sharpe related websites I discovered the Harris Diaries.
I've always enjoyed behind the scenes extras on DVD's but wasn't sure what I would get with the Diaries. However, I have been really impressed with them and have enjoyed them all.
One aspect of the Diaries which I do enjoy greatly is the commentary by Jason Salkey - Chosen Man Harris himself. He gives a completely personal view of proceedings which is so enjoyable, whether he is discussing the "politics" involved in producing "Sharpe", the water shortages or the wind-downs in the bar at night, there is an honesty which is refreshing to hear. He can also be quite witty at times too!
On the whole, I think Jason has made an excellent job of producing the Harris Diaries. I am a bit "Sharpie" obsessed hence the "Sharpe" screensaver/wallpaper and photos of him and the Chosen Men - thanks, Jason- on the fridge.
And, yes, I do have a life. I would say that the Diaries are a must for all "Sharpe" fans.
Read other reviews; consider Jason Salkey's consummate acting skill; examine teasers from "The Video Diaries of Rifleman Harris" and you will conclude "Documentary!"
We watch movies for two reasons: 1) Entertainment; and, 2) Interest. I bought "Diaries" expecting intense entertainment; I was mildly entertained. I expected them to be mildly interesting; they were engrossing.
We Americans have a penchant for knowing the actors behind our favorite cinema heroes; to us, their real character often means more than the character they play.
Let me suggest a perspective. You are a professional actor filming a popular television series under difficult circumstances. Professionally, you live or die by your image. Along comes Mr. Salkey and his camcorder with a desire to film you behind the scenes, under duress, without makeup, and in unscripted situations. Do you trust him? You do, but only if your bond rivals that of the Chosen Men; only if you are "family."
Two tips: First, watch the Diaries in order; each episode is better than its predecessor. Second, start lobbying Mr. Salkey to write a book.
Dear Mr. Salkey,
There is no doubt that you have created something special!
Overall, from other's comments, I got the impression that "The
Diaries" were some sort of "director's cut" or "DVD Extra" about
"Sharpe" or, perhaps, a behind-the-scenes documentary on
filmmaking. I do not believe that any of those assessments is
For one thing, "The Diaries" are certainly not a stand-alone
product; one must be familiar with "Sharpe" to glean full value from
your videos; however, one need not like "Sharpe" to appreciate,
admire, and treasure "The Diaries." The irony, in my opinion, is that
"Sharpe" actually becomes the 'background' for the "Harris Diaries."
To me, the true "Story Behind Sharpe" is that the people involved
rose to the occasion and created one of the best TV series ever --
and bonded with one another while doing it! That's what makes "The
Diaries" inspirational; that's what makes them worth possessing;
that's why, had I known their true nature up front, instead of believing
the reviews, I would have mortgaged my other "inside story" books
(or perhaps even *sold* all three of them :) to fund purchase of "The
It's like a treasure chest for fans of Sharpe series.
The familiar faces of actors, many staffs whose faces have become also familiar to me through 6 episodes, the shooting scenes, some great or exotic landscapes ... any of those elements is very attractive and I could learn how they had made the series.
In this behind-the-scenes video the actors are so natural & real that I thought I was watching Sean Bean, Jason Salkey & John Tams, not Sharpe and the Chosen Men despite their green jackets and rifles. But I could find some special moments when the actors were gone and our beloved characters appeared.
With the call 'Action!', with some expression on their faces, with
small motions with their hands or just with some light or shade --
sometimes even on their off day -- I found the brilliant charms of the characters.
Then there's no Sean but Richard Sharpe though he was surrounded by camera and other modern equipments, having the 19th Century soldier air. Daragh had Sgt. Harper's eyes in certain light, no Jason's look but Harris' grin; Michael's smile changed him into Francis Cooper.
They are the magic moments wonderful to see, and I learned a pile of these moments had truly created the fascinating atmosphere of 'Sharpe'.
So, I again watch the Video Diary, and when redheaded actor turn to his fellow and say "Nil desperandum!" I don't see Jason Salkey any more, instead, find my favourite character rifleman Harris.