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Robin of Sherwood

Robin of Sherwood (aka Robin Hood in the United States), was a British television series, based on the legend of Robin Hood. Created by Richard Carpenter, it was produced by HTV in association with Goldcrest, and ran from 1984 to 1986 for three seasons (26 Episodes).

In America it was retitled Robin Hood and shown on the premium cable TV channel Showtime and on PBS. The show starred Michael Praed and Jason Connery as two different incarnations of the title character. Unlike previous adaptations of the Robin Hood legend, Robin of Sherwood combined a gritty, authentic production design with elements of real-life history, 20th century fiction, and pagan myth. The series is also notable for its haunting musical score by Clannad, which won a BAFTA award.

Michael Praed played Robin of Loxley in the first two seasons. His ‘Merry Men’ consisted of Will Scarlet (Ray Winstone), Little John (Clive Mantle), Friar Tuck (Phil Rose), Much (Peter Llewellyn Williams), the Saracen Nasir (played by Mark Ryan) and Lady Marian (played by Judi Trott). He is also assisted by Herne the Hunter (John Abineri). As in the legend, Robin is opposed by the Sheriff of Nottingham (Nickolas Grace) and Guy of Gisburne (Robert Addie), as well as the Sheriff’s brother Abbot Hugo (Philip Jackson) (representing all the greedy abbots in the legends).

At the end of the second season, Robin of Loxley is killed, and Robert of Huntingdon (played by Jason Connery) replaces him as Robin Hood. During the course of the third season, the new Robin discovers that he is the half-brother of his nemesis Guy of Gisburne (an idea suggested to Carpenter by the fact that both actors had blond hair). This particular story arc was never resolved, as the show’s intended fourth (and final) season was never made. The sudden cancellation also broke off Robin and Marion’s intended marriage and left Marion at Halstead Abbey as a novice.

At the conclusion of Season Three, Goldcrest was forced to pull out of the venture, due to a downturn in the fortunes of their film arm. Goldcrest had been responsible for critical and commercial hits such as Chariots of Fire (1981) and Gandhi (1982) earlier in the 1980s, but had hit a lean period with such films as Revolution (1985) and Absolute Beginners (1986). The series was expensive to produce; HTV could not afford to finance it alone, and so Robin of Sherwood came to an unexpected end.

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