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28 October 2014

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Maid Marian and Her Merry Men

Maid Marian and the Sheriff of Nottingham

Long before fronting Time Team, Tony Robinson proved there was much more to him than Baldrick by both writing and starring in this hit children's sitcom.

Robinson was already a successful children's writer, penning a popular series of zany retellings of Odysseus's adventures and in 1989 he turned his attention to the legend of Robin Hood.

Wayne Morris as Robin of Kensington

Claiming to be the true story of Sherwood Forest, the story offered a revisionist (and feminist) account of the outlaws’ struggles, with Maid Marian as the brains of the outfit and Robin as a posh but cowardly tailor from Kensington whose unwarranted reputation nevertheless terrifies the Sheriff of Nottingham (played by Robinson).

Marian's idealistic plans to rob the rich and feed the poor always cause unexpected results, usually because of the incompetence of her merry men: comprising Robin, the unhygienic Rabies, Barrington (a Rastafarian) and vertically-challenged Little Ron.

Forbes Collins as King John

Like Marian, the sheriff is also surrounded by well-meaning fools such as his soldiers: Gary and Graham, as he desperately tries to please the tyrannical but immature King John.

Robinson's scripts were always bursting with wit and imagination, injecting something of the spirit of Blackadder and often involving deliberately anachronistic, explanations of historical events.

The writing was ably supported by both the impressive design and the regular inclusion of funny, original songs.

Tony Robinson as the Sheriff with his soldiers

A talented cast, including trained dancer Danny John-Jules, brought these musical interludes to life and they undoubtedly made Maid Marian even more appealing to its intended audience.

Unusually for a children's sitcom, there were no child characters among the main cast but even so kids flocked to a show that was offering a fun take on history, directly aimed at them.

Running for four series it was a triumph for Robinson in a notoriously difficult genre, both garlanded with well-deserved BAFTA and RTS Awards at the time and still warmly remembered today.

Cast

Tony Robinson
The Sheriff of Nottingham
Kate Lonergan
Marian
Wayne Morris
Robin
Danny John-Jules
Barrington
Mike Edmonds
Little Ron
Forbes Collins
King John
Mark Billingham
Gary
David Lloyd
Graeme
Hilary Mason
Gladys
Ramsay Gilderdale
Guy of Gisborne
Siobhan Fogarty
Rotten Rose
Robin Chandler
Snooker

Crew

Tony Robinson
writer
David Bell
director
Richard Callanan
producer

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