History Files



One of the few really successful British fantasy series of the 1980s was Richard Carpenter's definitive version of the Robin Hood legends. It told the story in a modern way with fully up-to-date costumes, scenery and production values. There were no Merry Men in this series, and no green tights, either. The watchword was realism, in the sets such as Nottingham Castle, full of smoke, gloom and litter, and an atmosphere of superb authenticity. The outlaws lived in real woodland which, through the programme's run, passed in regular phases through the seasons, some of the Season Three episodes being set in what looked like a particularly harsh winter. The series was a great success in its time, always generating a lot of interest and enjoying good publicity. The cast gelled well, the outlaws producing the image of a fighting team successfully living on its wits and enjoying the support of the people while their overlords, the Normans, seethed at the ineffectuality of their attempts to capture or kill their enemy. 

The performances weren't wholly natural; there were moments of embarrassingly wooden acting, but it was all done with enthusiasm, and Michael Praed, who played Robin-in-the-Hood, perfectly portrayed a young and idealistic rebel leader who fought the tyranny of the Normans with the heartfelt belief that every man should be free, whether he be Norman or Saxon. It was a belief that fuelled the unfading loyalty of his band. Alongside the air of realism, there was also a supernatural side to events. Mystic powers frequently made an appearance, whether it was in the simple mixing of a potion, or the calling together of a large and powerful cult bent upon drawing Satan into the world. The Baron de Belleme was the most powerful and dangerous of Robin's enemies, and even death was not a barrier to his plans. This side of the programme's construction complemented its realism perfectly, the two often seeming impossible to tell apart. Even Robin owed his allegiance to Herne the Hunter, ancient god of the forests, a god who was also a man, and who provided Robin with the inspiration and understanding to continue his freedom-fighting task. Overall, the series was remembered as being an atmospheric and imaginative production, receiving a good deal of affection from a fickle general public.

Soon after becoming an outlaw, Robin, son of the Thane of Loxley, a Saxon village near Nottingham, was joined by Marion of Leaford, daughter of Sir Richard, a Saxon nobleman presumed lost in the Crusades. A redhead with a fiery temperament, Marion knew her own mind, and did not take kindly to her guardian, a sheriff who was so obviously bent on acquiring as much power and wealth as possible, whoever suffered as a result. Friar Tuck, an independent monk who was Marion's friend and teacher while she was under the sheriff's care, decided that his place was by Marion's side when she joined Robin. Will Scarlet (or Scathlock, his real surname) had been a soldier of King Richard, but when his wife was murdered by drunken soldiers he abandoned the military life and drifted into brigandry. Nasir was the Saracen slave of the Baron de Belleme, who, once freed from the Baron's power, join the outlaws in Sherwood. John Little of Hathersage, a shepherd by profession, was also a slave of the Baron's, until, when ordered to kill Robin he was instead freed from the enchantment which held him. Much was the son of the Miller who adopted Robin after the death of his father. When the Miller was killed by Gisburne, the sheriff's man, Much had no thought other that to stay with his remaining family - Robin. These few made up the core of Robin's outlaw band, but from time to time they were joined by others. A few were lost in the opening episode, and others were villagers who were called for in times of emergency to boost the numbers. The outlaws were only rarely left alone and unsupported in their efforts.

By the end of the second season, Michael Praed had been lured away by being offered a leading role on Broadway, and the production team had to think about what to do next. Jason Connery, son of Sean, was chosen as his replacement. When it came to the switch between Michael Praed and Jason Connery, it was decided not to have a regeneration scene because of Doctor Who's unique portrayal of this method of cast-changing. There was also the choice of closing down the production until such time as Michael Praed may or may not become available again, but the decision was eventually taken to kill off Praed's Robin in the last episode of season two. The production team then had the job of finding and introducing the new Robin Hood.

Richard Carpenter said in an interview at the time, "I thought it better to give Michael a good exit and kill him, because heroes aren't invincible, and the greatest act of courage is self-sacrifice. In this case he sacrificed his life for Marion and Much." He freely admitted that the inspiration for this scene came from the film For Whom The Bell Tolls. An element which helped towards a successful transition was the fact that there are two original legends of Robin Hood. One is of the yeoman's son of a Saxon village Thane, as was Michael's Robin. The second is of the nobleman - the Earl of Huntingdon's son. This legend developed in the 16th century. "Both legends are credible to a writer, so we warmly embraced the second legend and used a new face. We've called him Robert of Huntingdon, and he remains Robert until the third episode, when he says to Marion, 'I didn't want to call myself by your dead husband's name.' To which she replies, 'But the people need you.' He then naturally accepts his name and his role, a doomed man cut off without a shilling.

By Season Three's end, Goldcrest, the British film company which provided most of the massive financial support needed for such an ambitious series, was in trouble. Some of its more recent films had suffered poor attendance and reviews, and it decided to withdraw from the series. Richard Carpenter had already written much of the next season's stories, and for some time he struggled valiantly to find a new backer, and there was even talk of a movie, with initial story lines being drawn up. But it all came to nothing, and what had been a brave and mostly successful foray into medieval England didn't reappear, although, as with much of British science fiction and fantasy, the entire three seasons were released onto sell-through videotape in the late 1980s, and sold very well.



Robin Hood Michael Praed (Seasons 1 & 2)
Jason Connery (Season 3)
Judi Trott
Little John Clive Mantle
Much Peter Llewellyn Williams
Will Scarlet Ray Winstone
Tuck Phil Rose
Herne the Hunter John Abineri
Nasir Mark Ryan
Sheriff of Nottingham Nickolas Grace
Guy of Gisburne Robert Addie


Creator: Richard Carpenter
Executive Producer: Patrick
(Season 1), Paul
(Season 3)
Producer: Paul Knight (Season 1),
  Esta Charkham (Season 3)
Music: Clannad

Season One

Robin Hood And The Sorcerer

w Richard Carpenter
This first double-length episode introduces the regular cast and sees them pitted against the evil Sheriff of Nottingham and his henchman, Sir Guy of Gisburne, for the first time. The sorcerer, the Baron de Belleme, bewitches and plans to sacrifice Marion. A new outlaw band from the woods of Sherwood intervene and eventually cause Belleme’s death, although they suffer casualties of their own along the way. Belleme’s servant Nasir, released from the Baron's power, decides to join the outlaws as an ally.

Ailric of Loxley Wayne Michaels
Simon de Belleme Anthony Valentine
Tom Fletcher (outlaw) Paul Duggan
Dickon (outlaw) Mark Aubley
Old Man in cell Stuart Linden
Abbot Hugo Phillip Jackson

The Witch Of Elsden

w Richard Carpenter
A frightened herbalist is forced by the malicious Gisburne to befriend, and then poison, the outlaws.

Seven Poor Knights From Acre

w Richard Carpenter
The Knights Templar, a group of warrior monks feared throughout Europe, believe the outlaws have stolen their sacred emblem. They attack and capture Much, whom they threaten to execute, unless the emblem is returned to them. But the outlaws have to find it first.

Alan A Dale

w Richard Carpenter
This figure from the Sherwood legends makes his only appearance in this story. He rides into Sherwood Forest seeking the love of his heart, a girl who has already been betrothed to the Sheriff.

The King's Fool

w Richard Carpenter
King Richard returns to England and pardons the outlaws, accepting their renewed pledges of allegiance. But one by one they realise Richard has no particular regard for them and make their way back to the Forest. Robin discovers it was all a political move, and the remaining outlaws are soon betrayed. In escaping, Marion is shot in the back by Gisburne. She seems to die, but is healed by Herne in the stone circle, and the outlaw band is reunited.

King Richard John Rhys Davies



Season Two

The Prophecy

w Unknown
The year is 1189. Prince John returns to Nottingham with a mysterious prisoner whose identity is closely guarded. Herne prophecies the death of King Richard and the existence of the strange prisoner. "One close to you," he tells Robin. When the outlaws free this mystery person they discover he is Marion's father, Sir Richard of Leaford, who must travel to France to warn the King of John's treacherous activities. But Richard is dead, and John is proclaimed King of England.

Sir Richard George Baker
King John Philip Davis

The Children Of Israel

w Unknown
The Sheriff owes a great deal of money to a Jewish merchant, and so uses the precedent of the massacre of Jews in York to stir up a riot under cover of which he intends to murder the man, and so avoid his debt. Gisburne and the Sheriff pursue the merchant, Joshua de Talmont, and his family deep into Sherwood, where they are confronted by Robin Hood. But it is the power of de Talmont's sacred book which totally defeats the Sheriff.

Lord Of The Trees

w Unknown
While the Sheriff is away, Gisburne hires a band of ruthless Flemish mercenaries led by former companion-in-arms Bertrand de Neville. Their task is to finish Robin Hood. It is the time of 'The Blessing', an ancient harvest rite ministered by Herne the Hunter. As no blood can be shed during the festival, Robin has to rely on cunning, and some magical help, to frustrate Gisburne.

Bertrand de Neville Oliver Tobias
Edward of Wickham Jeremy Bulloch

The Enchantment

w Unknown
Lilith, an evil enchantress, bewitches Robin, and manipulates him into stealing the sacred Silver Arrow, symbol of freedom, from Herne's cave. With it she raises her master, the Baron de Belleme, from the grave. At the same time the Sheriff is seeking for the Baron's lost treasure. A battle between good and evil follows, once Robin is freed from Lilith's power, and the best that can be hoped for is a draw. The Baron, defeated but not destroyed, remains in his ruined castle to fight another day.

Baron de Belleme Anthony Valentine
Lilith Gemma Craven
Edward of Wickham Jeremy Bulloch 

The Swords Of Weyland (Part 1)

w Unknown
This story witnesses the programme's furthest venture into the supernatural, with the Devil himself making an appearance. The outlaws leave Sherwood, travelling to a distant village to help the inhabitants against the Hounds of Lucifer, eerily clad horsemen who are terrorising the area. After a battle in the village in which the outlaws victoriously cut down the horsemen, they are discovered to be servants of a powerful satanic coven ruled by Morgwyn of Ravenscar. To the outside world, Morgwyn is Mother Abbess of Ravenscar Abbey, but in reality her coven is scouring the countryside for the seven sacred swords, swords cast by the smithy Weyland, and which are imbued with mystic powers.

Morgwyn of Ravenscar Rula Lenska

The Swords Of Weyland (Part 2)

w Richard Carpenter
Albion, Robin's sword given to him by Herne and one of the seven swords of Weyland, falls into Morgwyn's clutches when she bewitches the outlaws to turn against Robin. The swords have all been collected, and the gathering of the coven is called. Robin manages to break into the Abbey free his companions, and as Satan appears they disrupt the ceremony and destroy the coven. Morgwyn is ridden down by her own followers for her failure.

Morgwyn of Ravenscar Rula Lenska

The Greatest Enemy

w Richard Carpenter
King John threatens the Sheriff with loss of office, should he fail to finally dispose of the wolfshead Robin Hood. Eventually, in what seems to be a relatively simple hunt, the outlaws are captured, all bar Robin, Marion and Much who are flushed out of Sherwood to make an armed stand on a rocky hilltop. Their arrows wreak havoc amidst the heavy forces besetting them, but it is obvious they are outnumbered. While he forces his friends to leave, Robin makes the greatest sacrifice of all to cover their retreat.

Then, in the depths of Sherwood, Herne meets a hooded man.

     Herne: I am Herne the Hunter and you are a leaf driven by the wind.
     Hooded Man: Herne is a spirit. And you...
     Herne: I am a man.
     Hooded Man: Yes, a man.
     Herne: Answer me this then. What brought you here?
     Hooded Man: There was a voice...
     Herne: And what did this voice say to you? Tell me.
     Hooded Man: It said, "Nothing's forgotten. Nothing is ever forgotten."
     Herne: So he is free...
      Hooded Man: Nobody's free. What does it mean?
     Herne: The Hooded Man shall come to the forest, there to meet
       with Herne the Hunter, to be his son and do his bidding. String the bow.
     Hooded Man: Why?
     Herne: To give it purpose. And you must have purpose and prove yourself.

The outlaws still held captive are then released by the hooded man. The Sheriff's men, believing a ghost is amongst them, watch wide-eyed, holding their fire. In the safety of the Forest, the outlaws pay their final respects to their dead leader, and are joined by the hooded man.

The Hooded Man ?
King John Philip Davis
Edward of Wickham Jeremy Bulloch



Season Three

Herne's Son (Part 1)

w Richard Carpenter
Robin is dead. The hooded man who was chosen by Herne to rescue the outlaws turns out to be Robert, the young son of the Earl of Huntingdon. Only after a year passes and Robert meets Marion, having to fight Owen of Clun to protect her honour, does he finally come to terms with his destiny, and accepts leadership of the outlaws.

Gulnar Richard O'Brien
Sir Richard of Leaford George Baker
Earl of Huntingdon Michael Craig
Owen of Clun Oliver Cotton

Herne's Son (Part 2)

w Richard Carpenter
Marion has been kidnapped by Owen of Clun, a Marcher Lord, and the new Robin sets out to gather the scattered band of Merry Men together in order to rescue her, and save her father from ruin by the Sheriff. But already Guy of Gisburne is becoming suspicious of the leader of the outlaws' identity. Owen thinks he has won a great prize in Marion, but his druid, Gulnar, has other ideas.

Gulnar Richard O'Brien
Sir Richard of Leaford George Baker
Earl of Huntingdon Michael Craig
Owen of Clun Oliver Cotton

The Power Of Albion

w Richard Carpenter
Marion is sent for when Robert is badly wounded, but the Sheriff, anxious to discover the identity of the new Robin, arrests her on her return. It is now up to Robert to enter Nottingham in an attempt to dupe the Sheriff, save Marion and retrieve Albion.

Earl of Huntingdon Michael Craig
Sir Richard of Leaford George Baker

The Inheritance

w Anthony Horowitz
In an old castle lives a young girl, Isadora, and her father Agrivaine, who is guardian of a priceless treasure. Agrivaine foresees his own death in the Tarot cards, but a more immediate danger worries him. Raven, a one-eyed ruffian, leads a ragged group of bandits who specialise in pillaging anything of value. Isadora seeks the help of Agrivaine's godson, Robert. As Raven and Robert fight to the death, Raven catches a glimpse of the priceless treasure he has come for.

Isadora Catherine Harrison
Agrivaine Cyril Cusack
Raven Derrick O'Conner

The Cross Of St Ciricus

w Richard Carpenter
After a lucrative robbery Robin and the outlaws make their way to Croxden Abbey to give away their loot. En route they come across the victim of a robber band. Lady Gisburne, the estranged mother of Sir Guy, thinking she is dying, is confessed by Tuck, and reveals an unexpected relationship between Robin and her son. At the Abbey, the theft of the sacred Cross of St Ciricus provokes a confrontation between Sir Guy and Robin, but that's not the only problem, as Scarlet and Much, thinking they have caught leprosy, reveal.

Cromm Cruac

w Anthony Horowitz
A wounded Much is taken to a strange village, where the people have no children and the fruit grows out of season. Strange things start happening to the outlaws, and they eventually discover that the village is in the hands of the evil Gulnar, formerly Owen of Clun's druid. The sorcerer's black magic is too strong for Robin to defeat alone, and so a formula must be found to break the spell and enable the outlaws to defeat Gulnar and his cronies.

Gulnar Richard O'Brien

The Betrayal

w John Flanagan and Andrew McCulloch
A harsh winter has settled upon England. Since the Sheriff is doing so badly the King himself comes to Nottingham to collect his taxes. He brings with him Roger de Carnac, a ruthless man who devises a simple but effective plan to destroy Robin's reputation and deal with the outlaws once and for all. Dressed as outlaws, de Carnac's men commit atrocities in the local villages. But this gives Robin an idea along the same lines.

King John Philip Davis

Adam Bell

w Anthony Horowitz
Much is held hostage by the Sheriff in return for his nephew held in Sherwood by Adam Bell, an ageing outlaw who, in his time, was a popular figure with the English people. Only a change of heart in the old villain can prevent Robin's attempt to mediate from ending in tragedy.

The Pretenders

w Anthony Horowitz
King John has taken a new wife, Isabella, a twelve-year-old girl. The forsaken Hadwisa is outraged. The Sheriff of Nottingham is bed-ridden, bitten by his dog, leaving the hapless Gisburne free to meddle. Arthur, a young nobleman, saved by Robin from the Duke of Gloucester's soldiers, wants to join his band. The powerful Duke and his daughter Hadwisa are plotting against the King, and there is no natural heir to the throne, only a mysterious Pretender, a young nobleman. The Gloucesters plan to murder young Queen Isabella while she is making a pilgrimage near Nottingham, using the outlaws as unwitting accomplices. Gisburne is taken into their confidence, delighted at the idea of killing two birds with one stone. Only the Sheriff, an abler politician than Gisburne, is furious, for he knows that if the Queen dies they will all surely hang.

Duke of Gloucester William Russell
Queen Hadwisa Patricia Hodge
Queen Isabella Corey Pulman


w Richard Carpenter
Lord Edgar is plotting against his brother, Robin's father, and connives for the Earl to be accused of treason. Robin has to find a way to reveal his uncle's deception to the King and save the outlaws from the executioner's axe.

Lord Edgar Ian Ogilvy
Earl of Huntingdon Michael Craig
King John Philip Davis

The Sheriff Of Nottingham

w Anthony Horowitz
King John decides to replace the Sheriff, but the new Sheriff is Philip Mark, better known as 'The Butcher of Lincoln'. His Saracen sidekick, Sarak, is not much better. Mark takes hostages from the local villages, planning to kill them one by one until Robin surrenders. But Robin has other plans. Sarak also has plans, this time of revenge against Nasir.

The Time Of The Wolf (Part 1)

w Richard Carpenter
Gulnar returns, leading an evil band of wolf worshippers, the Sons of Fenris. King John is raising an army against the Welsh and takes all the villages' winter food stocks. Unwilling to let them starve, Robin leads a large-scale raid on the Sheriff's store of requisitioned grain, but while this is going on, the women and children are kidnapped and taken by the wolf-men to their lair at Grimston Abbey.

Gulnar Richard O'Brien
Edward of Wickham Jeremy Bulloch

The Time Of The Wolf (Part 2)

w Richard Carpenter
Robin and his band have been captured by the wolf-men whilst mounting a rescue bid. The Sheriff has blamed Gisburne for the loss of the grain, and Sir Guy is now a hunted man. He flees to Grimston Abbey, looking for sanctuary, but falls in with Gulnar instead. When the Sheriff is captured and held prisoner there, and Marion believes Robin to have been killed, events take some sorting out when the outlaws finally escape. But by the time they reach Marion, she has made an irreversible decision...

Gulnar Richard O'Brien
Edward of Wickham Jeremy Bulloch


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