I went to a talk with Benard Cornwell and he said Paul McGann was originally Sharpe, but badly broke his leg shortly after filming started.
All the shortlisted actors had accepted other projects, and so they had to use this guy called Sean Bean
About 30 episodes later...
Fortuitous (if true) for all. Paul McGann (injured knee, not broken leg) is a fine actor but Sean quickly made this part his own.
Also fortune in finding Daragh O'Malley to play Harper to perfection (not bad for Harries and Hagman either).
Indeed Sulla. He can't have it both ways. His name is either pronounced Seen Been or Shaun Bjorn.
It's one with which to confuse Americans