Robin Hood News-Line:
Jan
03

Brian Blessed becomes an honorary member of the World Wide Robin Hood Society

Brian Blessed becomes an honorary member of the World Wide Robin Hood Society

Brian Blessed becomes an honorary member of the World Wide Robin Hood Society supporting "Sherwood the Living Legend"

 

Jan
03

Finding Fame in The Forest

Finding Fame in the Forest

Robin Hood –Theatrical Agent , may seem an unlikely role for Nottingham's outlaw hero but a glance at the galaxy of celebrity names whose career path has taken them "through Sherwood Forest" shows that the legendary archer far outshines Simon Cowell as a star maker! The impressive list of well-known actors who have appeared in Robin Hood-related productions on television and the big screen contains many familiar names who subsequently went on to become high profile national and international stars.

The 1950's TV series "The Adventures of Robin Hood" catapulted Richard Greene into one his best-known roles and other actors who appeared in some of the 165 episodes included Donald Pleasence (You Only Live Twice/Halloween), as Prince John; Paul Eddington (The Good Life and Yes Minister), as Will Scarlet and Bill Fraser and Alfie Bass from The Army Game and the Carry-On films. Jane and Peter Asher also appeared as young siblings in one episode and while his sister later grew up to become an early girlfriend of Beatle, Paul McCartney, Peter was one half of the Sixties chart-topping duo Peter and Gordon and later moved to America as a record producer /manager for Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor. The successful series (which grossed millions of pounds world-wide) also helped make a name for impresario Sir Lew Grade's ITC production company. Vocalist Dick James had a hit record with the title song, then later became a music publisher for the Beatles and Elton John and also created his own DJM record label!

In 1984, award winning film producer David Putnam's Goldcrest Television company and HTV made another ground-breaking Robin Hood television series "Robin of Sherwood" that, with its hints of Celtic folklore and mysticism became hugely popular with a cult following and a cast of relatively unknown actors who went on to greater things. Starring Michael Praed (Dynasty) as the original Robin; Ray Winstone (Sexy Beast/The Departed) as Will Scarlet, it also featured Phil Davis (Quadrophenia/Whitechapel) as Prince John. Other names who made an appearance include John Rhys Davies (Lord of the Rings); Richard O'Brien (The Rocky Horror Show writer and Crystal Maze presenter); Clive Mantle (Casualty); Nickolas Grace (Heat and Dust) and Anthony Valentine(Performance). When Michael Praed left the cast to join the American drama series "Dynasty, the scriptwriters pulled off a clever and seamless switch by successfully introducing Jason Connery (son of the Bond actor, Sean Connery) as the replacement Robin Hood! . Scriptwriter/author Anthony Horowitz (Foyle's War) was also offered one his first breaks by the series creator, Richard Carpenter, to write for some of the episodes - an opportunity for which he has frequently expressed his gratitude and from which he believes he learnt many valuable lessons that helped hone his scriptwriting skills.

When the BBC and Time Life jointly made a new "Robin Hood" television drama serial in 1975, actress Diane Keene starred as Maid Marian. She subsequently went on to star in the original screen version of "The Sweeney" with John Thaw and Dennis Waterman; later played opposite "The Professionals" star Lewis Collins in the comedy series "The Cuckoo Waltz" and currently appears on daytime television in the BBC's afternoon drama "Doctors".

The next BBC Robin Hood television series was first broadcast in 2006 and as well as featuring some popular names such as Keith Allen (the Sheriff of Nottingham ) and Richard Armitage (Guy of Guisbourne), some new young actors got a break including Jonas Armstrong (Robin); Lucy Griffiths (Marian) and Sam Troughton (Allan-a-Dale) who was the son of actor Patrick Troughton, one of the first ever television Robin Hood's in 1953, who also played an early Doctor Who and appeared in the cult supernatural film "The Omen"

Of course, the global popularity of the Robin Hood legend is not just confined to television and several stars have also made early career appearances in big screen versions of the story. Two years before her breakthrough role in "Bend It Like Beckham, a young Keira Knightley starred as Robin Hood's daughter in "Princess of Thieves" (2000) and actor /presenter Keith Chegwin had played a young Robin in the Children's Film Foundation movie "Robin Hood Junior" (1975). Fifties Western star Roy Roger's famous golden palomino stallion "Trigger" also made his early big screen debut as Olivia de Havilland's horse, when she played Maid Marian in the classic 1938 movie "The Adventures of Robin Hood".

From the very early traditional, medieval folk plays, the Robin Hood story has always had a prominent place in popular drama and entertainment for the masses. Even established stars cannot resist the temptation to accept a role in a Robin Hood related production if offered the chance, so consequently the formidable roll call of talented actors who have shown off their acting skills "in Sherwood's leafy glades" includes: Douglas Fairbanks; Errol Flynn; Basil Rathbone; Richard Todd; Peter Finch; James Robertson Justice; Peter Cushing; Robert Shaw; Sean Connery; Audrey Hepburn; Richard Harris; Patrick Bergin; Uma Thurman; Kevin Costner; Alan Rickman; Morgan Freeman; Mel Brooks; Carey Elwes; Russell Crowe; Cate Blanchett ; William Hurt and Vanessa Redgrave.

Former screen Tarzan, Lex Barker has also played Robin Hood many times in versions made by various European film studios and numerous lesser known actors and actresses have appeared in the many spin-offs and adaptations of the legend such as "The Bandit of Sherwood Forest" (1948) with Cornel Wilde; "Rogues of Sherwood Forest"(1950) with John Derek; "Son of Robin Hood" (1958)with David Hedison (later to star in the television series "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea") and "Sword of Sherwood Forest"(1960) where Richard Greene brought his popular television interpretation to the big screen in a full-length movie!
Even former Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan played Robin Hood in the touring production of War Horse author Michael Morpurgo's stage play "Robin of Sherwood".

All of which proves beyond doubt, that in his own unique way, Robin Hood really has fulfilled a significant role as a successful theatrical agent – extraordinaire!!

Jan
03

Jonathan Ross joins the World Wide Robin Hood Society

Jonathan Ross joins the World Wide Robin Hood Society.

Jonathan Ross joins the World Wide Robin Hood Society.



Richard Rutherford-Moore presents Jonathan Ross with an honorary Robin Hood Society membership.

Jan
03

New Comedy sees Cannon and Ball and Su Pollard romp through the legend of Robin Hood!

New Comedy sees Cannon and Ball and Su Pollard romp through the legend of Robin Hood!

"Ha Ha Hood and the Prince of Leaves" is the title of a new spoof comic romp based around the tales of Nottingham's traditional Sherwood Forest hero - but not as we know them!

Currently touring regional theatres, it stars veteran comedy-duo Cannon and Ball alongside Su Pollard in a version of the story that humorously reflects the ageing process! Maid Marion is nearly a pensioner and Friar Tuck and Little John are in their 70's and rougher round the edges! - but ten years after a messy divorce, Robin and Marian are forced back together to fight the Sheriff once more and join their merry companions to try to save the citizens of Nottingham!

Jan
03

USA scriptwriters look to Sherwood Forest to escape the McCarthy 'witch hunt'

USA scriptwriters look to Sherwood Forest to escape the McCarthy 'witch hunt'

American politician, Senator Joe McCarthy is probably best known for his obsessive and unsubstantiated accusations in the early 1950’s, when he repeatedly insisted that communists had infiltrated the State Department! Following his appointment in 1953 as chairman of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, he embarked on a crusade of persecution that involved aggressive cross-examination and damaging innuendo aimed at many innocent citizens, celebrities and officials.

The movie and television industry was particularly targeted and several US scriptwriters and technicians sought sanctuary in the UK, where commercial television was beginning to take-off. Using assumed names, they wrote scripts for many early ITV drama series, including the popular “Adventures of Robin Hood” black and white television series starring Richard Greene, which Sir Lew Grade’s ITC company had just agreed a deal to produce and so was eager to learn and benefit from some American expertise.

Because the series became extremely popular in America and eventually ran for a staggering 143 half-hour episodes, ironically, certain scriptwriters occasionally slipped in some hidden meanings within their plot-lines that indirectly made subtle comment about the McCarthy era “witch hunt” back home!

In 1989, the critically acclaimed thriller movie “Fellow Traveller”, starring Daniel J. Travanti (of Hill Street Blues fame) used the background to these Robin Hood links to great effect and the film was scripted by local Nottingham writer, Michael Eaton. Described by one reviewer as “crackling with great one-liners” the story cleverly intertwined the production of the television series with the intelligent plot.

Back in the USA, Senator McCarthy had found his power substantially diminished when in 1954, the Senate formally censured him for his methods.

Jan
02

Film company claims MI5 interface blocked release of footage shot at Robin Hood's Yorkshire gravesite

Film company claims MI5 interface blocked release of footage shot at Robin Hood's Yorkshire gravesite

In 2005, the Red Monkey Film Company were producing a documentary film about Robin Hood’s links to Yorkshire and they included in their location schedule the filming of a blessing ceremony held at the gravesite that is reputed to be the outlaw’s burial place in the grounds of Kirklees Priory in North Yorkshire.

Although it was only a short sequence, there were rumours that Lady Armytage, the estate landowner, was apparently being particularly “difficult” and it appears that the documentary film was never actually completed or released.

Despite pressure from several different quarters, the reasons why the film never made it to the screen have always remained a mystery but according to Barbara Green of the Yorkshire Robin Hood Society , in 2007, Drew Hartley, a director/producer at Red Monkey Films stated that MI5 had somehow become involved related to concerns from the Heritage Lottery Fund that strongly promoting Yorkshire’s Robin Hood connections could damage Nottinghamshire’s tourist industry and lead to possible job losses ! It appears that Mr. Hartley learnt these facts from high profile executives he met while filming at the BAFTA Awards.

A more probable reason for any government secret service intervention is likely to be that the Rev. David Farrant, who conducted the blessing ceremony, had a dubious reputation linked to vampirism and occult practices and there had also been speculation of a local councillor being involved. Whatever account you choose to believe, apparently Red Monkey Films continued to adamantly refuse to answer any questions about why the film was not made!

Jan
02

New stage interpretation links legend to six social eras!

New stage interpretation links legend to six social eras!

Specially commissioned to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of Nottingham's Theatre Royal, "HOOD – The Legend Continues" is a unique play that weaves the traditional characters and principles from the Robin Hood legend into the historic time-frame that reflects some of the social issues and events over the century and a half of the Theatre's existence. This dual celebration of both the theatre and the legend represents a real challenge for any theatre company to take on but New Perspectives, as their name suggests, have creatively interwoven the interesting and varied approaches from six of the region's best writers and managed to deliver an entertaining and thought-provoking production. Congratulations to Jack McNamara and all his team of actors, writers and behind the scenes staff, who all helped to "pull-it-off"!

Combining some "laugh-out-loud" moments with some serious social comment, the difficult balance between humour and drama are generally effectively maintained throughout the performance. Lots of "in" jokes mirroring local politics and events etc. drew knowing, appreciative responses from the press night audience but "outsiders" might struggle to pick up on their significance?

Excellent performances from a competent and professional cast all helped to give each storyline a degree of plausibility and the creative ways in which the transition from one era to the other was achieved ensured a pretty much seamless progression between acts that kept the play moving at a pace that held your attention.

The musical contributions of Ed Thorpe as Alan A dale and Adam Morris's sharp wit as the Sheriff of Nottingham (including his white-suited, John Travolta-style dance routine) all helped capture the mood and the production as a whole encapsulated all the essential elements from the traditional stories, including Robin's feuding with the Sheriff; his romance with Maid Marian and the camaraderie of the Merry Men (although Friar Tuck only got mentioned in the narrative and never actually put in an appearance?)

The simple but effective stage set readily adapted to the changing situations and there were some really nice touches, such as the silent movie-style sequence, featuring authentic looking captions and I also enjoyed the protest rally against the Sheriff's Way.

The unique concept of the play and its Nottingham focus make it somewhat difficult to explain what the audience can expect but it is definitely a production worth seeing and I recommend that you go along and see if it works for you! But you will have to hurry as "Hood" concludes its run on Saturday September 26th so telephone the Box Office on (0115) 9895555 or book on line at trch.co.uk.

Dec
20

Sad farewell to two actors who gave us special moments in Robin Hood movies

Sad farewell to two actors who gave us special moments in Robin Hood movies

The World Wide Robin Hood Society were saddened to hear of the passing of two celebrated English actors, Brian Bedford (80) and Alan Rickman (70) who both lost their fight against cancer on January 14th, 2016.

Both actors had made names for themselves in a variety of roles on stage and screen, including adding some special magic to two iconic Robin Hood movies. Brian Bedford was the voice of the lovable fox who played the Robin character in Walt Disney’s 1973 popular animated version of the legend and Alan Rickman was the cynically evil Sheriff of Nottingham in Kevin Costner’s 1991 blockbuster, “Robin Hood:Prince of Thieves” - where, in a scene-stealing performance, he delivered the classic line “That’s it then! Cancel the kitchen scraps for lepers and orphans, no more merciful beheadings and Call off Christmas!” – creating a phrase which ultimately found its way into movie history’s popular culture!

The talents of both actors will be sadly missed but for Robin Hood fans they both leave behind a legacy that will continue to entertain audiences for generations to come.

Bob White, Chairman, World Wide Robin Hood Society

Dec
20

Society honours composer Neil Brand for his new Robin Hood film score

Society honours composer Neil Brand for his new Robin Hood film score

The World Wide Robin Hood Society have made composer and broadcaster, Neil Brand, an Honorary Member in recognition of his emotive new film score for the iconic 1922 silent movie classic “Robin Hood” starring Douglas Fairbanks.

The new score was premiered at London’s Barbican on 24th October, 2016, where the 90-piece BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Timothy Brock, carried an enthusiastic audience with them as they complimented the action played out on the screen behind them. From rousing fanfares and clashes in combat, to more subtle emotional encounters, the exciting new score faithfully reflected the changing moods of the film.

Society Chairman, Bob White was at the premiere and commented, “The combination of the film with this vibrant new musical score really captured the imagination and breathed a fresh vitality into the 94 year old movie. The composer was clearly delighted with the performance and rushed on stage at the end to congratulate the orchestra and to thank the audience for their generous response and it was at that point that I decided that Neil Brand’s work was most definitely worthy of recognition by the World Wide Robin Hood Society.”

“It’s hardly the New Years Honours List!” said Mr. White, “But it has been a long time since the Society last inducted an Honorary Member and Neil Brand will be joining the exclusive company of existing honorary members that includes Jonathan Ross, Brian Blessed and the present day Earl of Huntingdon, William Hastings-Bass.”

Neil (photo on the left) was delighted to accept the honorary membership and said he had wanted to score a Fairbanks film for many years because he loved the actor’s sense of joy. To mark his induction he will receive a framed, specially designed Honorary Membership Certificate, together with a World Wide Robin Hood Society fleece and a pair of Robin Hood cuff-links.

The Barbican premiere was described in the programme as “The chance to watch a blockbuster film with a full orchestra makes this no ordinary trip to the pictures, but a gala event.” And it certainly didn’t disappoint. Now there will be the chance to see the spectacle again on Friday, February 25th, 2017 at SaffronHall, Saffron Walden,  Essex.  (Details at: Robin Hood - Saffron Hall).  Don’t Miss It!

Dec
20

Robin Hood Lives again! - Through Neil Brands exciting new musical score

Robin Hood Lives again! - Through Neil Brands exciting new musical score

Douglas Fairbanks’ 1922 silent film, “Robin Hood”, has always been regarded as a movie classic because of the sheer scale, drama and magnificence of the production. Well, Neil Brand’s vibrant new musical score to accompany the film certainly matches all of that - and more!

Its recent premiere at the Barbican in London was an absolute delight, when the 90-piece BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Timothy Brock, carried an enthusiastic audience with them as they complimented the action played out on the screen behind them. From rousing fanfares and clashes in combat, to more subtle emotional encounters, the score faithfully reflected the changing moods of the film, breathing a fresh vitality into the 94 year old movie!

The premiere was described in the programme notes by Pamela Hutchinson as “the chance to watch a blockbuster film with a full orchestra makes this no ordinary trip to the pictures, but a gala event.” .... and it certainly didn’t disappoint!

The talents and enthusiasm of the composer, conductor and orchestra all combined perfectly with the film to make the Barbican resonate with the boundless energy from their performance and the genuine audience appreciation of this “larger-than-life” event. A wide age range were present at the premiere and glancing around I could see that they were all captivated by the on-screen drama and Neil Brand’s cohesive score, willingly letting it carry them on a journey that embraced both the childhood adventure of the traditional tales of Robin Hood and the darker references to the greed, envy and romantic sides of human nature.

The composer said that he had wanted to score a Fairbanks film for many years, so I hope that this will not be the only time that it gets performed with a full orchestra and that many more music, movie and Robin Hood fans will have an opportunity to share the magical, live audio visual experience of blending the classic silent film with Neil Brand’s exciting new score.

Bob White, World Wide Robin Hood Society. (17th October. 2016)