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Dec
13

Missing a few tricks - 40 years on

Missing a few tricks - 40 years on

Coincidentally, over 40 years ago in September 1973, I had just resigned a secure, executive career in the Civil Service for a risky new role in Nottingham City Council's Publicity and Information Office and it was there that I first became aware of the extensive global interest in the Robin Hood legend!

Central Government had published the Baines Report, which was highly critical of local government's lack of communication with residents and the business community and so, as I began to look into how I might improve the City Council's inter-action with the Nottingham public I was somewhat surprised to find that Robin Hood already had a substantial impact on the daily correspondence and enquiries!

The daily post bag invariably contained requests for information on the City's legendary outlaw and at times even accounted for as much as 40% of the mail! The Council also produced a range of public information leaflets and the title that was by far and away in the most demand was Robin Hood! No surprise then that the first task I was given in my new communications role turned out to be to write a Robin Hood article for the Council's monthly Civic News magazine!

So now, some 4 decades later, I looked up a copy of that article, "So Many Strings To His Bow" and in re-reading its contents I was surprised to recall that, even 40 years ago, there were numerous examples of the global impact the Robin Hood legend had created and how extensively business and commerce had used the "brand" to their advantage.

The source of my research had been 3 filing boxes tucked away on a shelf in the Local Studies section of the Public Library and amongst items mentioned in my article were a programme for the performance of "Once Upon A Time – or A Midsummer Night's Dream in Merrie Sherwood" at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham on April 13th 1868: an advertisement from the early 1900's, where Robin was depicted as one of the famous Hoods who hopefully increased sales of "Hood's Sarsaparilla – the most approved alternative tonic and blood-purifying remedy of the vegetable kingdom": a bold illustration of Robin on a polythene bag from the 1950's, used by a local wholesaler to market selected washed potatoes (The versatility of our legendary hero is astounding!): a letter from RKO (Walt Disney) Productions concerning their preliminary visit to Nottingham regarding potential shooting of their Robin Hood movie starring Richard Todd as Robin and Peter Finch as the Sheriff: a 2" high cast figure of Robin Hood manufactured by a Nottingham engineering firm for a trade exhibition: a card announcing the re-decoration of the lounge of the Welbeck Hotel on Milton Street, that showed the various Robin Hood Murals that were to be painted on the walls and a political pamphlet issued in 1952 by the East Midlands Communist Party that left readers in no doubt as to Robin Hood's role as "the People's hero fighting their Class enemy."

Sadly, looking back, it appears that even 40 years ago, the local community were far more capable of exploiting the promotional benefits of Robin Hood than today's so-called "creative" marketers!
Now there's an indictment!!

Dec
13

How Robin Hood Helped Originate "Brand" Marketing!

How Robin Hood Helped Originate "Brand" Marketing!

When the festive pantomime season approaches, I'm reminded how, over recent years, our local folk hero, Robin Hood has worked his way from being a minor role in a traditional panto to the "star billing" he now gets in the many latter-day productions that are re-titled "Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood"!

For centuries, numerous alehouses and hostelries, along with countless geographical locations and landmarks, have been given a Robin Hood related name and, in its way, this represents the origins of one of the earliest forms of what in today's commercial and marketing "savvy" world is known as "branding"!

Popular culture has always eagerly clamoured to seek out ways to become associated with the world famous legend and you have only to look at the vast range of books, plays, poems, films and television scripts etc. to see that creative writers of all genres have frequently stepped up to ride the "Robin Hood Merry Go Round" for inspiration, because they know that Robin's reputation as "the people's hero" still strikes an enduring chord with the global public.

Consequently, quite apart from all the classic film and television dramas, we have also seen Robin Hood appear in "cameo" roles in such films as "Shrek" and "Time Bandits" and make guest appearances in television series as diverse as "Star Trek" and "Morecambe and Wise"! Ever since the advent of moving pictures, the animated cartoon industry has had an on-going fascination with the legend and Mickey Mouse, Tom and Jerry, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck are just a few who have taken on the Robin Hood role.

In fact, surprisingly, there have also been several other high profile ventures under consideration that for one reason or another did not materialise and became "the Robin Hood's that never were"! When "Jesus Christ Superstar" first struggled to make an impact, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice were quoted as saying "Back to the drawing board - let's do one on Robin Hood!" Hugh Grant and Liz Hurley also planned to star as Robin and Marian and secured the options on a rom-com script provisionally titled "Bows and Arrows" and Rupert Wainwright (director of the much-acclaimed 1999 movie "Stigmata") also bought the rights to a horror-style interpretation of the Robin Hood story called "Blood of Sherwood".

So, while everyone else seemingly recognises the phenomenal power of Robin Hood as a global "brand", here in his home city we still seem to be missing a trick! However, it was encouraging to see City Councillor Nick McDonald recently quoted in the Post saying "We're a bit like a band that refuses to play its biggest hit!" - Perhaps, at last, the penny might have dropped!!

Dec
13

Hats, Hood & Tights

Hats, Hood & Tights

While Nottingham's recent "48 Hours of Fashion" event was showing off the City's talents to the fashion industry, I wonder how many realised that our ubiquitous folk hero, Robin Hood, also knows how to set trends in the style and costume business – and it's not just down to him wearing green tights!

In 1938, when the classic Errol Flynn movie "The Adventures of Robin Hood" was breaking box office records and receiving Oscar nominations, Hollywood's fashion conscious designers were quick to adapt the influences of the iconic Robin Hood hat into stylish millinery that tastefully complimented the tailored suits and smart dresses being paraded on the catwalks. Originally used by Medieval foresters as practical, working headgear, the traditional features of the hooded cowl and the long pointed brim with decorative feather were innovatively interpreted into fashionable feminine hats and hoods that appeared in numerous films of the era and often also became a focal point of consumer advertising in magazines and on billboards. (One of the most famous designs was used to promote the Craven A brand of cigarettes in a perfect blend of taste and style!).

In more recent times the Robin Hood "brand" was even developed by Far Eastern fashion entrepreneurs into the Robin Hood of China casual clothing range, featuring jeans, sweaters, jackets and leisure wear accessories that carried the image of Robin shooting an arrow as the trademark embroidered logo.

Apart from always being in the Top Ten designs for fancy dress (hired or homemade!), Robin is also a popular theme in the world of canine couture! That's right – dressing up your pet pooch is a passion with certain sectors of America's doggy-doting community and among the selection of themed apparel for dogs on the internet is – you guessed it – the obligatory Robin Hood outfit!

It seems that even now, many centuries after their Medieval origins, hats, hoods (and tights) can still set the fashion!

Dec
13

Truth & Lies

Truth & Lies

With today's media headlines often being dominated by high profile cases like the Leveson phone hacking enquiry and the Jimmy Saville scandal, we are constantly reminded that issues of mistrust, deception and speculation frequently lie at the heart of such investigations.

So it should come as no surprise to learn that, with its lack of hard evidence and abundance of unsubstantiated facts, the Robin Hood legend has been frequently subjected to numerous false claims, blatant distortions of historic events and down-right outrageous lies!

For a start, for Robin to have been active in all the contradictory periods in history that different academics suggest, he would have had to have been nearly 200 years old! Equally confusing are the literally hundreds of places around the UK with Robin Hood related names, even though there is still no undisputed proof that the outlaw hero even existed! Consequently, the legend has fascinated writers and historians for centuries and they have often let their imagination run riot and carried their interpretation and speculation "beyond reasonable doubt"!

Here are just three diverse examples that illustrate the dubious extremes into which the legend has been drawn:


*American psychic and author, Barbara Lynne Devlin claimed in 1977 to have experienced being part of Robin Hood's outlaw band in one of her "regression" sessions (the process of returning to an earlier time through hypnosis and psychoanalysis). In her "other life" she claims to have become a sixteen year old girl who sought refuge in Sherwood Forest to escape the attentions of Leonard de Lacey, the Sheriff of Nottingham at the time. She became Allan-a-Dale's mistress but was killed at 19 by a pack of soldiers.

*In July, 1999, academics from all over the world gathered at the University of Nottingham to discuss Robin Hood's influence on folklore, literature, geography and culture and Dr. Stephen Knight put forward a controversial paper ,"The Forest Queen", that suggested the outlaw was gay! Needless to say, his views caused a stir in the international media and the subsequent publicity no doubt also significantly helped sales of his newly published book!

*On 19thJuly 1992, the sensationalist tabloid the "Sunday Sport" carried a world exclusive, front page, headline story stating "Robin Hood Died Clutching Maid Marian's Knickers", in which it claimed that a University of Utah study group had found the outlaw's perfectly preserved body in a shallow grave in Sherwood Forest! A total pack of lies of course but the global media loved it and had a field day!

These brief examples reflect just how far the traditional Robin Hood story has been plundered and distorted in the search for "the truth" and the desire to put forward new imaginative theories to satisfy the public's insatiable fascination with the world famous hero of English folklore. Weaving its web of "truth and lies", such constant interest makes Robin Hood one of the most recognised icons of popular culture and, whether you consider Nottingham's legendary association with the outlaw to be a blessing or a curse, don't knock the fact that Robin Hood has become a powerful global "brand" with significant marketing and promotional benefits for our city and county.

Dec
13

Has Robin Hood Got Too Big For His Boots?

Has Robin Hood Got Too Big For His Boots?

Bob White, chairman of the World Wide Robin Hood Society, takes a look at how much the Robin Hood "brand" is really worth!

THE Robin Hood Festival in Sherwood Forest has just celebrated its 30th year, and once again we have seen how the story of his adventures captures young children's imagination as they chase through the shrubbery in their green felt hats, waving their wooden swords and bows with rubber-tipped arrows.
All the principles and qualities that the outlaw hero stands for have come to mean so much more, however, and around the world Robin's name has been adopted, adapted, manipulated and developed in a variety of ways to reflect his role as a universal champion of the oppressed.
You only have to go on the internet to see just how extensive his influence is. Google comes up with over 16 million results for 'Robin Hood' but that barely scratches the surface of what is really out there.
So just how big is the Robin Hood legend – and what is it really worth to the local economy?
To try to determine this, I made some comparative studies with other places that had associations with celebrated famous figures, and found that the majority of their data was actually extrapolated from visitor numbers recorded through accommodation, attractions and travel statistics.
In Stratford-on-Avon, for example, the Shakespeare's Birthplace Trust estimated that in 2012 Shakespeare-related activities alone had contributed some £45m to Stratford's visitor economy.
Meanwhile Warwickshire and Staffordshire County Councils said their estimated combined value for day visitors and overnight stays was £582m and £687m respectively – and that the majority of this volume was influenced by the Shakespeare connection.
Closer to home, Experience Nottinghamshire stated in 2011, that the Russell Crowe 'Robin Hood' film had generated £9m of spin-offs for the county.
Scotland appear to have produced the most in-depth valuation exercise – they commissioned a National Audit and Economic Impact Study on the value of the poet Robert Burns, and in 2005 estimated his brand to be worth £157 million annually to the Scottish economy.
Based on these figures, I would conservatively estimate that the Robin Hood brand could be worth at least £300m-£350m to the Notts economy.
Ironically, however, Robin Hood just may have grown too big for his boots - making his legend and its subsequent influences somewhat hard to handle.
It is my own belief that the extensive scale and diversity, which the Robin Hood legend now embraces is one of the main reasons why the city and county currently have no major Robin Hood related visitor attraction. Quite simply, the numerous aspects and connections associated with the legend make it extremely difficult to comprehensively provide an experience that meets all the wide, general expectations of the visiting public.
Our Sherwood hero may not have Richard III's legitimacy of unequivocal historic proof; but I can recall that when local Robin Hood expert, the late Jim Lees, was quizzed about Robin he would ask the enquirer if they wanted the truth or the legend. And nine times out of 10 they would say "the legend!

Over the last 15 years, the World Wide Robin Hood Society has been collating a wealth of information about Robin's impact.
And the sheer scale, extent and diversity of the areas and issues that the Robin Hood legend has managed to embrace are quite staggering.
They range from the academic, historical viewpoints of the American University of Rochester's digital Robin Hood Project, to the simple down-to-earth enjoyment of 'The Green Velvet Outlaws of Sherwood' – a women's 'Rapper Sword' dance team, who enter traditional folk dance competitions.
There are big corporate organisations like New York City's charitable Robin Hood Foundation, medium ones like the Robin Hood Flour Company in Ontario, and small enterprises like the tiny launderette in Florida that bears his name.
In Spain's Lloret de Mar, there's a Robin Hood Fun Pub, at the Walibi Holland amusement park in The Netherlands you will find a Robin Hood Rollercoaster, there's a Robin Hood Land in Donnerswachbald, Austria... the list just goes on and on and on.
Town planners seem to have a particular fondness for Robin, from Logan City in Queensland, Australia, which has roads such as Friar Street and Sheriff Road, to Kingston-on-Thames where there are lots of Robin Hood-themed roads despite there being no real connection to the outlaw.
There is a big housing estate in Tower Hamlets called Robin Hood Gardens.
And transport seems to hold an attraction as well, with a railway line, airport and at least one ferry bearing the Robin Hood name.

Dec
13

USA Writer and artist team up to create a new Robin Hood graphic novel

USA Writer and artist team up to create a new Robin Hood graphic novel

There have been several varied graphic novels that have focussed on the tales of the English folk hero, Robin Hood and in this latest version, writer Peter Dabbene and artist Lee Milewski have teamed up to deliver a fast-moving take on the globally famous traditional stories.

They describe their adaptation as one that "blends the various stories and anecdotes into a single narrative" and it doesn't disappoint, with some sharp writing and dramatic illustrations effectively weaving the story-line together to produce a credible and interesting presentation of the popular legend.

Lee Milewski's somewhat geometric artistic style and simplistic facial representations may take a little getting used to but his images create striking depth and a strong use of light and shade that, together with the browns, greens, greys and oranges of his muddy colour palette, ideally reflect the dark environments of the forest glades and dimly lit stone castles.

It is always difficult to present a familiar, well-known tale in a fresh light that maintains the reader's interest but Dabbene and Milewski have produced a plausible and visually dramatic version that does the job well.

They dedicate their 96 page novel to "Howard Pyle and all the writers and artists who've kept the legend of Robin Hood alive" and they can take some satisfaction that, in my view, this new graphic re-telling will help continue that tradition.

The new interpretation is available in print from Amazon.com and digitally from Comixology.com

Dec
13

Creating the look of a legend - Why Robin Hood is a Graphic Artist's dream character!

Creating the look of a legend - Why Robin Hood is a Graphic Artist's dream character!

Across the centuries, artists and illustrators have produced millions of images of Robin Hood, based on the picture they conjured up of him in their mind's eye! Although the mystery and speculation surrounding the outlaw's actual existence left artists with no "real" person to refer to - it also uniquely presented them with the gift of a "blank canvas" on which the freedom of their imagination could create and interpret the key characters and locations in their own personal, artistic style. The invention of the printing press and the later advent of moving pictures heralded an explosion of popular culture that imprinted Robin's story and graphic profile in hearts and minds all around the world, firmly establishing his iconic reputation as a global folk hero. The resultant artistic legacy was a vast gallery of illustrations, bounded only by visual imagination - so here are just a few examples of ways in which artists have pictorially captured Robin Hood in various aspects of popular culture.

The timeless popularity of the traditional Robin Hood tales ensured that new versions of the stories constantly appeared in books, newspapers and magazines, along with a selection of accompanying images and dramatic cover illustrations, often in colour. Certain illustrators developed their own distinctively recognisable graphic styles and artists such as Howard Pyle, Louis Rhead and N.C.Wyeth are famously renowned for their classic interpretations of the Robin Hood story and often also wrote the texts. Modern day book illustrators are also attracted to depicting the legendary outlaw, resulting in several successful collaborations with popular children's writers and Michael Foreman's drawings for Warhorse author, Michael Morpurgo's "Robin of Sherwood" and award-winning Graham Baker-Smith's illustrations for David Calcutt's "Robin Hood" are two fine examples of visually stunning contemporary artwork that help bring the stories to life. A really dramatic interpretation of the world of the Sherwood outlaw was also created by illustrator Clifford Harper and poet John Gallas in their hard-hitting work "The Ballad of Robin Hood and the Deer".

Robin Hood was one of the first ever "comic book heroes"! Originating from the type of black and white line drawings that illustrated early "Penny Dreadful" style books and magazines of the Victorian and Edwardian eras, publishers soon realised that the popular appeal of Robin's action-packed adventure stories with his band of Merry Men were much-loved, and ideally suited to the bold, graphic style interpretations of the comic book genre. Thousands of comic book-style publications have told the traditional Robin Hood tales in many different ways, including the USA's Classics Illustrated series; the weekly comic strip version by artist Frank Bellamy that appeared in The Swift during the 1950's; DC Comics longest running Robin Hood-styled super-hero, "Green Arrow" and a spoof feature of the Kevin Costner blockbuster "Prince of Thieves" movie in Mad Magazine.

The birth of the motion picture industry also recognised the power of the Robin Hood legend and studios around the world frequently interpreted and dramatised the story for both big screen and television productions. As the Hollywood publicity machine got into gear, many talented illustrators produced literally thousands of colourful posters that throughout the 20thcentury were displayed in cinemas in towns and cities the world over to advertise the wave of A and B feature films that would be "coming soon"! Printed using the lithographic colour process that was the backbone of the printing industry until the arrival of the digital age, they included many iconic Robin Hood film productions, such as the Errol Flynn 1938 classic "The Adventures of Robin Hood" and Walt Disney's 1973 cartoon version with the lovable fox and his friends playing the various Sherwood Forest characters.

Promotion and merchandising became key factors in successfully marketing the television series and blockbuster cinema productions through links to books, magazines, toys and games etc. so yet more illustrators were required to design the covers, boxes and packaging to appeal to the fans. Robin Hood images began appearing on all kinds of items and in the USA, the ITC "Adventures of Robin Hood" series, starring Richard Greene, capitalised on its huge popularity by using illustrations to promote the sales of a diverse range of products from hair tonic to bed linen! Here in the UK, the words to the popular theme song from the series were reproduced in the October 1956 edition of the Hotspur weekly boys comic, which also carried a full page Robin Hood illustration on the front cover.
The advertising industry phenomenon was taking off "big-time" and sowing the seeds for the celebrity style publicity that is now so much a part of everyday life. Local cigarette manufacturers, John Player and Sons even featured Robin Hood alongside the iconic sailor image that appeared on their Navy Cut brand packaging.

Green Arrow - The worlds longest running super-hero!

Having first appeared in More Fun Comics in November 1941, Green Arrow went on to even beat Superman and become DC Comics longest running comic book super hero. Depicted as former rich industrialist, Oliver Queen, who is forced into bankruptcy by an unscrupulous business rival, he turns himself into the Robin Hood-styled urban hunter known as Green Arrow and declares himself willing to fight for the weak and downtrodden, even when that cause sets him up against the establishment and the law! Operating in the US city of Seattle, Green Arrow is regarded as the world's greatest archer, who is also a superb hand-to-hand combatant and a brilliant hunter and tracker.

In one specific episode, he is even invited by an English solicitor to visit Nottingham to help investigate a client's death and the illustrator pictures some of the buildings in the city's streets as being a kind of "contemporary mock Tudor", alongside turreted stone towers!!
Green Arrow's continuing popularity also resulted in it becoming adapted as a 22 episode prime time drama series for Sky Television in 2012.

Dec
13

Hats off to Robin! – How the outlaw’s headwear became such an iconic symbol.

Hats off to Robin! – How the outlaw’s headwear became such an iconic symbol.

There are many types of recognisable headgear that instantly identify the group the wearer belongs to - including the cowboy's stetson, the knight's armoured helmet, the pirate's bandana, the fireman's hard-hat and the American Indian's head-dress etc. - but the one item of headwear that immediately establishes an association with a single person's name is the traditional Robin Hood Hat!

The familiar, triangular-shaped cloth cap with a feather in it has become an iconic and recognisable item of clothing that universally identifies the wearer as "Robin Hood"! Historians tell us that it was probably originally designed as a practical piece of medieval headgear used primarily by foresters, as its slim forward-pointing brim avoided it catching the string of their longbows when firing an arrow. The simplicity of the style, with some decorative additions, later saw the hat evolve into the mainstream fashion of the period. The familiar shaped hat has also been used as the distinguishing feature on numerous illustrations and commercial brands ranging from the giant US Walmart supermarket chain to, at a more local level, "The Nottingham" building society and it is frequently worn by campaigners for social justice such as Oxfam's Robin Hood Tax initiative and representative groups such as the California Nurses Association.

One of the most famous uses of the hat "brand" is by the Robin Hood Flour Company based in Saskatchewan, Canada, who first introduced it on their stylised logo when the business was founded in 1909. In fact, the flour brand became so well known as a household name in North America that the original logo was actually used as the reference that inspired Errol Flynn's iconic hat and costume for Warner Brothers classic 1938 movie "The Adventures of Robin Hood".

Another, somewhat unusual, Hollywood connection was recounted by film star, Katharine Hepburn in her memoirs of the making of the 1951, Oscar nominated movie, "The African Queen." She recalls being on location in Uganda, South Africa and on a break from filming, accompanying her co-star, Humphrey Bogart and director, John Huston on an expedition into the bush. Describing the party setting-off, she states, "We were walking along in single file, each one carrying his own things. We were led by the black native that knew this country. He carried a sort of spear about six or seven feet long. He was naked except for a pair of vey short shorts and he wore a dark-green Robin Hood hat, pointed in crown and in brim."

There are of course literally hundreds of pubs, inns and hotels with Robin Hood related names and on the pictorial signs that usually hang outside these establishments, Robin is frequently shown wearing the characteristic hat with a feather and, on some of the older signs, the artists often disproportionately over-emphasised the size of the feather, making the hat look more like a cavalier's headwear from the English Civil War!

Over the centuries that the Robin Hood tales have been told and re-told, the Robin Hood Hat has been the simplest of costumes by which to define the character and has become an essential stock wardrobe item in schools, amateur dramatic productions and theatre and repertory companies. Easy to make and store - yet instantly recognisable.

It has also proved indispensable to cartoonists who found that by just adding a simply drawn Robin Hood hat to their illustrations the figures quickly conveyed the context of the character they were trying to create. So whether they were a political satirist depicting David Cameron as the "Sheriff of Notting Hill" or Mickey Mouse, Tom and Jerry or Bugs Bunny on a Sherwood Forest caper in an animated film short, showing them wearing a Robin Hood hat with feather immediately put their drawings in character.

However, not everyone saw the traditional hat in an attractive light. To some it seemed twee and hackneyed and (excuse the pun!) old hat and a look-back at a few of the more recent portrayals of Robin Hood on the big and small screen shows that Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Patrick Bergin and Jonas Armstrong preferred to ditch the iconic Errol Flynn headgear as being out-dated and old-fashioned. Perhaps they felt it was not masculine enough for a hard-hitting, modern day film hero and so their costumes incorporated the use of a hood or cowl, more in keeping with the outlaw's name and ability to slip un-recognised into the safety of Sherwood Forest.

But the Robin Hood hat still remains a firm favourite with the general public ; a fact that is confirmed by its popularity as a top-selling visitor souvenir and fancy dress costume. So, whether it's young boys wearing one to act out their hero in a wooden sword fight or "big boys" with one jauntily perched on their heads on a Nottingham Stag Night, the Robin Hood hat still survives and is here to stay!

Additional suggested panel: A FEATHER IN HIS CAP!

The most essential and recognisable feature of a traditional Robin Hood hat is, of course, the feather and the origins of this symbolic decoration lie in a general world-wide custom adopted by hunters and warriors. The forester who killed his first game-bird signified the honour of his achievement by putting a single feather in his cap, just as the American Indians added a feather to their head dress for every enemy slain and many other tribes and civilisations throughout history had similar practices.

However, the recent "Feather In Your Cap" Awards promoted by the World Wide Robin Hood Society reflect a more docile and non-violent use of the popular phrase! The new quarterly awards are made to business and commerce in recognition of the innovative use of links with the Robin Hood legend in marketing and promotion practice and the winners receive a framed certificate that features a specially commissioned logo with a distinctive Robin Hood hat with a feather!

Dec
13

Parliament bans the riotous ribaldry of the traditional Robin Hoods day customs

Parliament bans the riotous ribaldry of the traditional Robin Hoods day customs

In their quest to find the true origins of the Robin Hood legend, historians often link it to the early pagan festivals of “Robin Hood’s Day” (May 1st) and “Midsummer’s Day” (June 30th).

Celebrated to signify the arrival of Spring, a feature of the traditional event was the customary performance of a play in which a youth acting as Robin Hood would take the Queen of the May or “Maid Marion” into the woods where the Abbot of Unreason (otherwise known as Friar Tuck) would “bless” their coupling! The lewd and immoral content of these performances was greatly enjoyed by the common people and became the excuse for loutish behaviour and riotous feasting and drinking.

Inevitably, the authorities in England and Scotland grew increasingly concerned over the ribald tone of the celebrations and the fact that the parody of matrimony, combined with all the drink-fuelled merrymaking, gave Robin Hood’s Day a notorious reputation for producing an increased number of illegitimate children born around the end of each January! Often referred to as “the sons of Robin”, some historians claim this was how the surname Robinson may have been derived?

Even though the Scottish Parliament decreed in 1555 that “ no one should act as Robin Hood, Little John, the Abbot of Unreason or Queen of the May”, it wasn’t until the Puritanical influences of the 17th century that the English Parliament banned Robin Hood’s Day outright. The festival was re-introduced during the Restoration period but the celebration became known as May Day and the Church and Civic authorities could finally acknowledge that they had successfully erased Robin Hood’s Day from public memory!

Dec
13

“Happy Valley” Writer speaks of her idea about a female Robin Hood!

“Happy Valley” Writer speaks of her idea about a female Robin Hood!

Speaking at the recent Edinburgh Television Festival, Sally Wainwright, writer of the award-winning “Happy Valley” drama series, revealed that she would love to re-visit a project that she once started but never finished: a drama about a female Robin Hood.

With a third series of “Happy Valley” now confirmed, plus Wainwright being currently committed to working on a TV musical, fans will have to wait and see if her former venture actually makes it to the production stages - and wonder if they might eventually see a Robina Hood accompanied by a band of “Happy Valley-style”, not-so-merry women?? Once again, in yet another form, the legend lives on!