Category Archives: Robin Hood

Iz is ‘the hooded Newman’ on World Book Day

IMG_2486Every day is pretty much World Book Day in our house as we all love a good book, especially Isabelle.

Iz was excited to learn that at school they were able to go dressed up as their favourite character from a book, off her own back (with absolutely no direction from me) she chose Robin Hood.

Heralding from not just Nottinghamshire, but just outside Sherwood Forest*, and having once worked at The World of Robin Hood tourist attraction and starred as the hooded man himself in my final project film at uni I was more than a little pleased.

She has a sword but we’ve wisely kept that at home and staff at school applauded her for  not dressing up as a princess as she rocked up to breakfast club where she joined Captain America, Luke Skywalker, Tigger, a Zombie Ballerina (?) and Paddington…not sure he was eating marmalade sandwiches though.

Iz likes her Disney’s Robin hood film, and she’s shown her affinity for the outlaw from the very beginning, from aping his actions to that all important first visit to Sherwood Forest.

Robin Hood is back!
Robin Hood is back!

She had no chance really to be fair, but with that that love of Robin Hood proudly passed down (I blame my mum) perhaps I’ll have to pen a sequel to my own film, perhaps this time something like Robin Hood’s Daughter?

She’d be joining that great pantheon of Robin Hoods from Errol Flynn to Kevin Costner, Sean Connery to Michael Praed and er Keith Chegwin. Find out more about past screen Robin Hoods in my article ‘Hood do you think you are?’.

Either way she’ll always be our Princess of Thieves.

*On holiday my dad always said that we lived in Sherwood Forest which always made it sound like we lived in the actual trees or something!

Isabelle: Princess of Thieves

photo (3)Robin Hood, I’ve always been interested in anything to do with the Hooded Man, whether it be Robin of Sherwood, the Michael Praed TV series, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, the Kevin Costner film (the first time I skipped school was to go and see it on it’s opening day) and I’ve even been him – I don’t mean in a past life or anything wird like that.

I used to play him (on occasion) as I used to work at a Nottinghamshire tourist attraction called The World of Robin Hood, most of the time I was Much the Miller’s Son…and no I didn’t wear tights. To be fair I think I inherited that particular gene (Lincoln Gene?) from my mum.

I even stepped back in my Lincoln Green (stored under my old bed) to play him in a short film I made at university, which took in locations such as Nottingham Castle, the actual Sherwood Forest and Rufford Abbey, once rumoured to be home to none other than Friar Tuck. More on the latter two later.

Shares in The Early Learning Centre must have shot up this last year as Iz was fortunate enough to have an array of Little People characters from the store: including such diverse items as a pirate ship, house, zoo, dinosaur set and Sherwood Castle. When we saw the latter it was of course a must have (for Isabelle of I mean of course, not me). Either way she has some rather fantastic play times with that eclectic mix!

Isabelle had been introduced to Sherwood Forest when she wasn’t very old…but now, she was back! It did look like she was about to try and take on Everest or something with her sunglasses and Ben and Holly backpack.

photo (2)She was quite happy exploring round the main tourist centre, the exhibitions and the shops for a little while, even picking up a trusty sword along the way. Soon though it was a mini-mega tantrum (chewing scenery like Alan Rickman did as the Sheriff of Nottingham) saying that she wanted to be carried round by Sarah and nobody else. We are talking full polysterine sword (how very Xena Warrior Princess) brandishing meltdown followed by folded arms and then lots and lots of loud crying (the type that makes you look like the world’s worst parent and as if you are about to abandon your child in the forest to everyone else).

After an age we made it to The Major Oak, which Iz wasn’t all that fussed about, but she was excited when she spotted a couple of squirrels scurrying about in nearby trees. I think she could have stayed to watch them all day.

Thankfully some might say, but Isabelle wasn’t yet able to grasp the lyrics of Everything I Do (I Do It For You) but she did give the old Richard Greene TV show title music a go, here as something of a duet of sorts with my dad adding his bit from the kitchen.

Alas…or perhaps it was a blessing,,,this footage is lost forever on the camera that was snaffled.

Stars in Their Iz #6

Robin Hood

Its been a fair old while since there has been another entry in this limited series of photos taken that only afterwards seem somewhat familiar or ape a famous pose etc. The whole point is that it isn’t set up or organised, it must happen by pure chance.

Isabelle Newman

So, to this edition’s image, this time we’ve got Isabelle stretching out on a sofa, twist the image around and it’s almost as if she is firing an invisible bow and arrow (kind of).

Time travelling Robin Hood goes ‘Back to the Future’ in new feature film script

You wait for one Robin Hood script and then two come along at once. It happened back in 1991 with Kevin Costner pitted against Patrick Bergin’s version of the hooded man and it could be happening again if budding script writer, Dean Newman, from Westcliff-on-Sea, has anything to do with it.

Let the crusade begin!

The 34 year old, originally from only a few miles from Sherwood Forest and The Major Oak, the fabled outlaw’s hideout, has written a new action/adventure script that sees Robin Hood, Will Scarlet and Sir Guy of Gisbourne transported to present day Nottingham to find the scattered pieces of The Silver Arrow in a quest that could alter Robin Hood’s past and all of our futures.

Dean is hoping that his script will be on target and send the world a quiver for a tale of Robin Hood that has never been told before. He said: “My take on the legend is very different from that of Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe’s film as my script does for Robin Hood what Pirates of the Caribbean did for pirate films. There may have been plenty of Robin Hood films before, but never one like this where much of the action takes place in the present day.”

He added: “I also wanted to bring Robin Hood back home, quite literally, so I’ve got key action scenes that take in a whistlestop tour of Nottinghamshire including the Castle, the Caves and a motorbike and car chase across the City, as well as a few other surprises and new twists on the legend in Lincoln Green. It’s all Boy’s Own Adventure stuff and would make an amazing summer blockbuster to remember.”

Robin Hood is back!

“I wanted it to be the first Robin Hood film to be primarily shot in Nottinghamshire, in the actual locations that, like The Major Oak and the Castle that are an integral part of the legend. If the script gets picked up I guess you could call it a cinematic postcard to Nottinghamshire and my love of Robin Hood.”

However, this isn’t Dean’s first brush with Robin of Loxley, as he used to work at The World of Robin Hood, a popular tourist attraction which was created out of many of the film sets from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

A shorter version of Dean’s proposed action epic was made as his final project film whilst at University, which included everything from a swordfight on the steps of Nottingham Castle to location filming in Sherwood Forest and night time filming with the former Kevin Costner sets, not bad for a 30 minute film with a budget of only a few hundred pounds! Being on such a limited budget Dean even took on multiple roles including Producer, Director and even stepping in front of the camera as Robin Hood, which is something he obviously won’t be expecting to do if his new version of the story makes it to the big screen.

Dean commented: “To me, Robin Hood is the world’s first action hero and in the world of James Bond and Batman reboots I wanted to bring him and his exploits back for a whole new generation. Ridley Scott’s version may be the grittier one but I’m aiming more for a rollicking Raiders of the Lost Ark meets The Rock style adventure with plenty of action, humour and some big surprises as well. It really is quite breathless and I believe my vision is perfect for the big screen treatment.”

Having copyrighted his material, Dean is now actively contacting agents and studios in Hollywood hoping that his Robin Hood’s aim will be strong and true and hit the target, and with any luck bring Robin Hood back to the future.

Robin Hood (2010) – nothing to Crowe about

TO THE TREES! HERE BE SPOILERS!!

The trailers hadn’t given me much to get all goosebumpy about, so it was with trepidation that I set foot into my local cinema to see the latest cinematic exploits of Robin Hood burst out at me from the silver screen. I really, really did try to like this rendition of dear old Robin, but alas I found it mostly way off target.

Less Boy’s Own Adventure and more boy, did it drag (all the way from The Holy Land it seemed) the pace of the film was just so slow and meandering. Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t need to be edited like a Michael Bay movie (although it would have perhaps have had a bit more pace had it been directed by Ridley’s brother, Tony) but it just seemed to defy script writing law – nevermind Outlaw – with its long drawn out scenes of nothingness. And slow, didn’t equal worthy.

Confusion seemed to reign on what anyone, writers and actors themselves, wanted to do with the villains. It suffered with too many not really doing enough, with the Sheriff of Nottingham getting short changed with gold coins the most, his role was none-existent and surely could have been amalgamated into that played by Mark Strong.  Prince John ended up being effective value for money though.

There were some flickers of what might have been but these – certainly in the first half of the film – were very few and far between and it needed some culling at either the script or editing stage to give it some much needed pace. There was certainly an interesting story trying to get out, but one can’t help but feel they were just trying to be a bit too clever with their retelling and it ending up being convoluted

One of my biggest fears was that this was going to be Robin Hood in name only, now don’t get me wrong it’s not as if I’m against revisionist reboots as I loved both the recent Sherlock Holmes and Casino Royale , but this wasn’t even Robin Hood in name only, it was someone (Crowe) nabbing his name.

Now, I don’t mind people playing with the legend, adding new elements to it or skirting round it – after all this is how the legend has continued to evolve throughout the centuries – but that doesn’t mean that people should go around just writing off whole swathes of it and actually not give us a Robin Hood at all, but someone pretending to be him. I just felt rather cheated.

There wasn’t really a standout Robin Hood moment – until the final reel – where you felt that some Hood daring do had been done, but then that could be explained away by Crowe’s character being ‘reborn’ as Robin Hood from the water – in slow mo for those slow on the uptake of the metaphor – so he couldn’t perform anything really Robin Hood until he had become him. But, saying that, there didn’t even seem to be a proper introduction to the character, unlike the strong introduction of  Marian, a film stealing Cate Blanchett.

It was also nice to see Mark Addy turn up as Friar Tuck and continue the tradition, of sorts, of  portly Friar being played by actors best known for comedy roles, such as Ronnie Barker in Robin and Marian and Mike McShane in Prince of Thieves.

For me, one of the essential characters of any Robin Hood story, and as essential addition as the likes of Friar Tuck and Little John, is that of Sherwood Forest. The Forest is as an important a character to the Robin Hood story as say New York is to Sex and the City, and we did get plenty of forest areas…but most of them were listed as being in ruddy France.

I Sherwood like to say that I enjoyed this film, but this Robin Hood’s blade was more than a little rusty. The film had lots of bluster and show, but not very much in the way of tell. Looks like that Bluray purchase of Prince of Thieves was a good investment afterall.

2/5

Robin Hood…in space

Such was the basic premise of Blake’s 7 back in 1978, and that idea was pitch perfect for one of the most beloved TV series of the last 40 years. Always seen as something of Doctor Who’s younger sibling, it springing from the mind of Who-alumnus, Terry Nation, for many it was never held in as high regard or as beloved. But, for me, I probably loved it even more than the fellow in the blue box.

You can see the similarities to Sherwood’s finest with its original character set-up, with Gareth Thomas headlining as Roj Blake, who leads a rebellion against a tyrannical regime (hey, even in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), The Norman Soldiers were likened to Nazis). More ‘Marauding’ than ‘Merry Men’ his reluctant heroic crew, perhaps sharing as much with the likes of The Dirty Dozen and The Magnificent Seven as much as with those from the trees of Nottingham, comprise of

We are then introduced to corrupt computer genius, Avon, (Paul Darrow), essentially Will Scarlett, a man who you wouldn’t trust as far as you could throw him, even if he was classed as your friend, but you would far rather he be your friend than your enemy. Avon quickly become the shows’ favourite, with his sardonic wit and no nonsense behaviour, he had the same appeal as the likes of Han Solo.

Master thief, Vila, steps up as your Much the Millers Son, as he is essentially the light-hearted comedy foil who is something of a coward. Avon and Vila were the perfect foils for one another and have the zingiest dialogue this side of the galaxy that is still as crisp and clever to this day

Gan, is clearly the Little John of proceedings with his mighty frame and heart, but I’m not quite sure how a smart arse computer, Zen, fits into it all Merry Man wise, um, Friar Tuck…well he is at least the voice of reason and calm. The rest of the original crew were made up of Jenna, a smuggler, and Cally, a telepath, and these feisty, gung-ho women were clearly reminiscent, in their fighting spirit, of Maid Marian. After all, you have to remember that this was the late 70s and that women did as much of the rescuing as well as the being rescued.

The ship, The Liberator, a wondrous design whose Corgi model once bestowed my birthday cake as a child, which was a brilliant backward-looking design with its (Lincoln) green bubble at its rear, so my hats off to you Matt Irvine for a ship that even outclasses the Millennium Falcon for being so ugly and impractical – Einstein would have a fit on the Physics front – that it is a thing of beauty.

If Blake and his crew represent Robin Hood and his Merry Men, then the Federation forces, personified in the obsessive, psychopathic Space Commander Travis, complete with eye patch, and his superior, the ruthless Supreme Commander, Servalan, represent Sir Guy of Gisbourne and the Sheriff of Nottingham, respectively. You only have to look at the mid 80s rebirth of Robin of Sherwood on ITV, and latterly, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, to see how similar the working relationship between Servalan and Travis was to that of the Sheriff and his lapdog.

The show was quite revolutionary in terms of structure – the arcing plot is ahead of its time, something seen as commonplace in the likes of the Battlestar Galactica reboot – and characterisation. .It also features a surprisingly cynical world view with a healthy dash of dystopia and dash of moral ambiguity, this is no Star Wars black and white – which premiered in the UK the same year the show was launched – instead there are massive grey areas in the ensemble cast, like we see in everything from Lost to Flash Forward, people who aren’t just the well-rounded, good-looking good guys of programmes like, say the original Star Trek.

It may have had its peak and troughs throughout its four year series, not to mention cast changes galore and Blake jumping ship come the end of series two, but it had a fantastic concept, multiple major character deaths and perhaps the finest ending of any TV show past, present or future, an ending from which Planet of the Apes writers would find hard to get out of, an ending that gave my chin carpet burns from the force it struck the floor, an ending that had the balls to kill off the entire remaining cast and still have Avon going out (or did he?) in the coolest TV moment of my life.

Not bad, essentially being a kids teatime programme and taking in political intrigue and terrorism (remember the IRA were still out in force) and harrowing deaths of beloved characters. The sets may have wobbled and it was probably filmed in one too many quarries, but hey that is BBC budgets at that time for you, but the writing still holds true and is pretty blistering stuff most of the time, clearly helped in part with many of the main actors being RSC trained.

Crucially, it had drama and conflict and spades, and most of this came from within the crew, especially between Blake and Avon or Avon and Vila, which was full of crisp, foil-bag fresh dialogue that even JJ Abrams or Joss Whedon would be proud to have scribed today.

Hood do you think you are?

We all know that Kevin Costner and Errol Flynn donned tights and confounding archery trickery in the forests of Sherwood but Dean Newman packs a quiver full of people who have also brought the world’s most famous outlaw to life.

Daffy Duck

As featured in Robin Hood Daffy… (1958)

Following the same well drawn lines as his other alter ego Duck Dodgers, Daffy Duck, heads to Sherwood with fine support from Porky Pig as Friar Tuck. Directed by animation legend, Chuck Jones.

 

Rocket Robin Hood

As featured in Rocket Robin Hood… (1968)

The series was high concept to say the least: in the year 3000, a descendant of the original Robin Hood reforms the Merry Men, complete with namesakes of the originals, to combat a new Prince John, despotic ruler of the National Outer space Terrestrial Territories, and the Sheriff of N.O.T.T.(National Outer-Space Terrestrial Territories).

While the bow and arrow was still Robin’s weapon of choice, almost everything else was updated. He now had rayguns, electro-quarter staves and rocket ships at his disposal…and jet-packs! Think Space Ghost style animation meets the original animated Spiderman.

Keith Chegwin

As featured in Robin Hood Junior… (1975)

Cheggers plays pop-ular action folk hero in his Children’s Film Foundation classic (think the Robin Hood version of Bugsy Malone minus those custard pie guns and all that singing). A fantastically fun romp that deserves to be released on DVD with Keith Chegwin commentary!

Sean Connery

As featured in Robin and Marian… (1976)

Talking of Bond…one of the few Robin Hood’s to die on screen and indeed to show him in his twilight years. Slower paced and had a fantastic Guy of Gisbourne in the shape of Robert Shaw. Acting, of course, runs in the family and Jason got to step up to the plate in the third series of Robin of Sherwood as Robert of Huntingdon.

 

John Cleese

As featured in Time Bandits… (1981)

There’s more than a bonkers feel to this Terry Gilliam film fest with Python face as perhaps the oddest choice big screen aloof Hood ever, in charge of some perhaps too Merry Men.

Michael Praed

As featured in Robin of Sherwood… (1984 – 1986)

For me this was as much a part of early 80s Saturday teatime as Doctor Who. Still looks great nearly 30 years later and features a fantastic turn from Ray Winstone as the screens greatest ever Will Scarlet. Had a brilliant two-part opener that fused together would have made one of the best Robin Hood films ever! Famously full of mysticism, it was the first Robin Hood to take in the notion of the green man and introduce us to Herne the Hunter. It was also the first to introduce a Saracen character from the Crusades that has now – with Prince of Thieves and the recent BBC TV series – become the norm.

Praed bowed out after series two, succumbing to the Sheriff and his men, or in TV terms, moved to America to only be shot at his own wedding in Dynasty, surely the Hood equivalent of George Lazenby jacking in Bond after one film. Interesting fact: Neil Morrissey, from Men Behaving Badly and Boon, almost got to play the Hooded Man.

Patrick Stewart

As featured in Star Trek: The Next Generation… (1987 – 1994)

It’s in one of those dastardly Q moments that expertly lampoons the look and feel of Flynn’s Adventures of Robin Hood, albeit with a Klingon and an android, it also some brilliant knowing dialogue. Stewart also parodied the Sean Connery role in Prince of Thieves, complete with strong Scottish accent, at the close of Men in Tights.

Patrick Bergin

As featured in Robin Hood… (1991)

The ‘other’ Robin Hood of 1991, this Irishman played Robin Hood with a tache in what was released as a TV movie in America but theatrically over here in Blightly. Billed as gritty, it certainly rhymed with that, as it added elements into the mix that were just downright odd/dull. Uma Thurman made an interesting Maid Marian however. Not a lot really happens.

Cary Elwes

As featured in Robin Hood: Men in Tights… (1993)

“Unlike other Robin Hoods I speak with an English accent.” Cary Elwes showed he was good with a blade in The Princess Bride and actually would have made an impressive bonafide Hooded Man. Was actually born in England, which is something of a rarity for big screen Robin Hoods in Hollywood. Certainly not Mel Brook’s greatest film ever but has aged well and still manages to raise more than a titter.

Rik Mayall

As featured in Blackadder: Back and Forth… (1999)

One of those oh so special programmes produced for the millennium, indeed it was produced to be shown at The Dome, which generally means they miss the mark more than they hit with a parade of famous people trying to be oh so funny, also see Comic Relief specials etc, in the days before Extras. Blackadder’s very own Lord Flash heart managed to stuff himself in his tights and brought along Kate Moss as Maid Marian. Beware, not as good as the original series. Close, but no cigar, Darling.

Keira Knightley

As featured in Princess of Thieves (did you see what they did there)… (2001)

Before playing with Pirates this young moppet played Robin Hood’s daughter in this little seen Disney TV movie which also saw Malcolm McDowell as the scowling Sheriff. Directed by Peter Hewitt, who helmed both Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey and The Borrowers.