Apparently it’s 35 years ago since the start of a rather iconic British TV series – Robin of Sherwood. The anniversary has been brought to my attention by Mary Anne Yarde, who will be posting a series of blogs involving reminiscences from cast and crew and others less directly involved in the programme:
Robin was a retelling of the Robin Hood tale, steeped in the myriad myths and legends of ancient Britain, including that of Herne the Hunter. All your favourite Robin Hood characters were there – although many were portrayed somewhat differently to more traditional retellings. Will Scarlet, for instance, was a rough vengeful ex-soldier (played by a very young, very Cockney Ray Winstone), not the rather effete, lute-strumming Errol-Flynn-sidekick of 1938’s The Adventures of Robin Hood.
Despite the series’ mysticism and pagan roots, it was also a pretty gritty version of medieval England – similar in some ways to its predecessor Arthur of the Britons, also made by ITV more than a decade earlier, which depicted a King Arthur (Oliver Tobias) very much mired in British v. Saxon conflicts of the post-Roman period, rather than the High Medieval morality tales of Morte d’Arthur. Perhaps it also drew on the Monty Python-style of portraying medieval England in Monty Python and the Holy Grail – all filth and rebellious peasants, with a bit of fantasy thrown in. Rewatching that film recently, I was strongly aware of the influence it must also have wielded over The Blackadder, the original series of course (I have to offer at least one sideways glance at something Ricardian in every blog post…)
I’ve not watched Robin of Sherwood since it first aired in 1984, when I was a wee bit older than Mary Anne – old enough to rush out and buy the soundtrack album by Donegal group Clannad (on vinyl of course – what else was there?) as soon as I could. I guess it helped that I’d been smitten by Clannad a couple of years before when they provided the haunting theme for Belfast drama Harry’s Game, starring Ray Lonnen, a favourite actor from another fave series Sandbaggers (I could go on with this TV-favourite-head-tennis for ages!) I still have that album – now on CD too for listening in the car – and it still takes me back to the mystic forests of ‘The Hooded Man’. Maybe it’s time to watch it all again…
I’ll be looking forward to reminiscing along with Mary Anne and her guests over the next few weeks.
Mary Anne’s blog spot, Myths, Legends, Books and Coffee Pots, can be found at:
Alex Marchant is the author of two books telling the story of the real King Richard III for children aged 10+: