Davi Lal was a thirteen year old street urchin from Seringapatam who Richard Sharpe discovered stealing from the armory cookhouse. After giving the boy a "clout around both ears" to teach him respect for Army property, Sharpe had treated the boy to a proper meal. He discovered Lal was an orphan, had no relative he knew of, and he lived by his wits on the streets.
Sharpe saw something of his own childhood there, and dragged the boy off to the river to scrub him free of vermin before taking him on as his errand boy. Davi learned to whiten uniform cross belts with pipeclay, how to blackball boots, and played interpreter when needed.
He was smart and mischievous and was a fairly successful thief when not in conflict with Sharpe, a former thief himself.
The soldiers under Sharpe all called him "Hedgehog" because his hair always stuck up in spikes, no matter how greasy or short, his hair always arranged itself in unruly spikes.
He knew that Sharpe never let his pack out of his sight because the contents included the Tippoo Sultan's jewels, taken when Sharpe killed the man and looted the body some four years previously. A fact that Sharpe kept secret. When asked about the pack by the six privates he accompanied to Chasalgaon, he told the truth, but the truth was so outrageous he was not believed.
Despite the vast differences between the television movie Sharpe's Challenge and the Sharpe novels it is loosely based upon, the role of Davi Lal is virtually the same.