Tracking down evidence of John Tams on film is marginally easier than the theatre work. The list at the bottom of this page is the basic details, if anyone would like to mail me with information about exactly what form his contribution took I would be grateful! But we start with the thing most people have heard of...
There is a whole cult following for these TV films, set in Napoleonic times, starring Sean Bean as the eponymous hero. John Tams did some singing, wrote some music (with Dominic Muldowney, "a proper crotchet and quaver man") and storylines, and played the crack shot Rifleman Daniel Hagman..."I don't judge distances very well - I tend to be very careful with bayonets."
Now I'm a sucker for a "behind the scenes" movie and Jason Salkey (who played Rifleman Harris) has released the video diaries he shot during the making of the series. John Tams does appear, but almost more enlightening for me was the parallel between the actors' lifestyle and that of the soldiers they were portraying. They moan obsessively about the bad conditions. They fret over subtle or imagined favoritism. They lark around, they drink, they are bored, hot and dirty. Occasionally they spring into action! I found this film fascinating and enjoyable and the scenery is stunning too. For ordering details check out the Rifleman Harris website. Please mention this website if you do order!
But which came first, the part or the music? "Oh, the part. I was cast, yes. And then we were doing a night shoot and somebody says, 'does anybody know a song?' And I sang something he hadn't heard before... and he said, 'do you know any more?'" At this point the series was nearly shelved. However after reconvening with some new personnel, "the inheritance was that the new director had seen the footage and said 'Are you doing all the singing? Carry on, if you spot a moment chuck a song in.' And then at the end of the shoot, the producer said 'Do you want to write the music?' He thought I was cheap! I said no I can't, I'm completely sick and worn out, I want to go home to my wife and daughter. We ended up doing it with the Moscow Symphony Orchestra and I never really got home for six years." John Tams
If you want to know more try this Sharpe fansite. There is also the Sharpe Appreciation Society which rejoices in the glorious address of www.southessex.co.uk I haven't yet seen all the episodes, but I do own these four:
"I kept shedding bits of me kit. I started off with a water bottle and a bayonet. But every time I jumped into a trench I landed on the bottle or the bayonet and I was getting quite bruised. I got rid of the bottle early on - I made sure it was in shot, there's a big explosion and you see the bottle go flying off, so after that Dan didn't have a bottle. And the bayonet had a twenty four inch blade plus the handle, it kept tripping me up, so I lost that too. We all had shakoes to start with, but I stamped on another lad's and we had a deal, he'd stamp on mine in the next battle. They had to make seven or eight for Sean, 'cos he kept losing them, he hated wearing them. He's got this long face and a tall hat... By the end of the series I was travelling quite light. I had a violin neck made specially, to stick out the top of the backpack, but it kept falling out." John Tams
Other TV and Film Work
My Uncle Silas
When Saturday Comes
The Raggedy Rawney
The Holy City
Ill Fares the Land
Sons and Lovers
Here We Go A-Wassailing
also: A Question of Leadership, Clapperclaw, Assembled Memories, The Ruth Rendell Mysteries, God Speed Co-operation, Back to the Roots, A Little Night Music, Crimestrike, The Gifted Adult, You Don't have to Walk to Fly, Albion Market, Floodtide, No Further Cause for Concern, Investigation, The Fool, As You Like It, Six Characters in Search of an Author, Elidor