The series ran continuously from 1993 to 1997, with three episodes produced each year.
It was filmed under challenging conditions, first in Ukraine and later in Portugal.
After attending courses at two other colleges, one for half a day and the other for less than a week, he returned to Rotherham College, where he subsequently enrolled in a drama course.
As Paul Mc Gann was injured while playing football two days into filming, the producers initially tried to work around his injury, but it proved impossible and Bean replaced him.
The series was based on Bernard Cornwell's novels about the Peninsular War, and the fictional experiences of a band of soldiers in the famed 95th Rifles.
Starting with Sharpe's Rifles, the series followed the fortunes and misfortunes of Richard Sharpe as he rose from the ranks as a Sergeant, promoted to Lieutenant in Portugal, to Lieutenant Colonel by the time of the Battle of Waterloo.
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Bean became an established actor on British television.
In 1990, Bean starred in Jim Sheridan's adaption of the John B. Also in 1990, his role as the journalist Anton in Windprints examined the difficult problems of apartheid in South Africa.