TV - Robin of Sherwood

Robin of Sherwood

This week's Cult TV sees Steve Taylor-Bryant don his hood and grab his bow as he remembers Robin Hood in the 1980's...

Blaise Castle in Bristol is just up the road from where I grew up and a venue I often take my kids and dogs to for a day trip. It is also the set for HTV and Goldcrest Films epic 1980's mini series Robin of Sherwood. You don't get much more cult than Robin Hood and, as we approach the 30th anniversary of the show, it is time to wear my tights and run around in the woods, at least until my medication kicks in.

Robin of Sherwood was hugely expensive to make, filmed entirely on location and the launch pad for some great actors. It featured all the 'Merry Men' and was very close to the legends and stories that we all grew up with, a point of pride for creator Richard Carpenter. The show was originally set for four series but due to Goldcrest, who had made Ghandi a few years earlier, struggling financially and HTV's inability to fund the show alone, it was unfortunately cancelled after the third series leaving a few plot lines unresolved.

The show started in 1984 with Michael Praed as Robin of Loxley, the son of a nobleman who ends up being raised by a local miller after his father, Alric, is killed. Robin grows up with the miller’s son, Much (Peter Llewellyn Williams), and after meeting Herne the Hunter (John Abineri) a Shaman often seen as a spirit guide, decides to don a hood and fight for the freedoms of the down trodden population who suffer at the hands of the Sheriff of Nottingham. Robin joins up with Will Scathlock (Ray Winstone) who sees his wife raped by the Normans and his thirst for blood as revenge leads to the new name Scarlett, a mountain of a man John Little (Clive Mantel) who is rescued from possession under the spells of an evil Baron by Robin, and Nasir (Mark Ryan) also rescued from the Baron who had imprisoned the Saracen Warrior after capturing him in Palestine during the Crusades.

Lady Marion of Leaford (Judi Trott) seems to be permanently being captured and forced into marriage but is rescued by the Sheriff's Chaplain, Friar Tuck (Phil Rose) and flees into Sherwood where she falls in love with Robin. After many adventures and battles with The Sheriff of Nottingham (Nickolas Grace) Robin of Loxley is killed by two Norman crossbow bolts through the chest, the same way is father was killed, and Herne the Hunter is left looking for another a protector of the poor. Enter Robert of Huntingdon (Jason Connery) who re-assembles the disbanded and captured Merry Men and, although he was uncomfortable with leadership, once again takes on the Sheriff. At the end of the third series Marion is captured and Robert finds out he is the half brother of Guy of Gisbourne (Robert Addie), although neither story line was explored in great detail due to the cancellation of the show before the fourth series could film.

It was a travesty that Robin of Sherwood never reached its natural conclusion, and when you think how much money is wasted on television that is so poor nowadays, it still rankles with fans to this day. I implore you to buy the DVDs and see how Robin Hood looks when done properly. Although the most recent version was okay, it wasn’t anywhere near the class of the 1980's. Oh, and below is opening theme from Irish folk band Clannad. It won a BAFTA award and the entire soundtrack was beautifully moody.

Image - IMDb.

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