Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Legend of Robin Hood (1975)

The Legend of Robin Hood was a six part television series. Broadcast in late 1975 it then promptly disappeared for three decades until a petition campaign by Robin Hood fans encouraged its DVD release. During its absence the series became something of a legend in its own right, and expectations amongst those who had never seen it ran high.
Filmed for the most part on interior sets, the series takes the form of a historical drama, similar in style to other BBC programmes of that era. But that is not to suggest the historical content is totally accurate in regard to the throne of England, nor the original ballads about Robin Hood. This is entertainment after all.Martin Potter makes an outstanding Robin Hood. In this version he is wrongfully outlawed by King Richard himself, who believes Robin deserted him on the brink of departure for the Crusades. Potter is appropriately youthful, aggressive, but with the educated tone of a Saxon Lord. The main plot line involves the scheming Sheriff of Nottingham and Guy of Gisborne as they assist Prince John to take the throne from King Richard. Paul Darrow's Sheriff of Nottingham hints at the actor's subsequent performance as Avon in "Blake's 7" which made him a household name in the UK. David Dixon as the overtly camp Prince John is equally compelling, and not for the last time it is the villains of the piece who almost steal the show. Fans of Robin of Sherwood will appreciate John "Herne the Hunter" Abineri in a major role as Lady Marian's uncle, intent on marrying his niece to Guy of Gisborne in an attempt to bring Saxon and Norman together.
The Legend of Robin Hood was an important stepping stone in the modernisation of Robin Hood. It was not the first production to move away from the concept of "men in Lincoln green tights", but it was a very significant one. The general public or younger Robin Hood fans, seeking the swashbuckling style of Errol Flynn or Richard Greene, will not find it here. Fans of the Robin of Sherwood approach, full of the mysticism of the Pagan Green Man in dark damp forests, might also be disappointed at the lack of witchcraft and the emphasis firmly on changing Kingdoms. But "The Legend of Robin Hood" is recommended and rewarding viewing, full of outstanding performances.

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Blogger robin hood said...

Legend of Robin Hood 1975

Robin Hood - Martin Potter
Lady Marian - Diane Keen
Guy of Gisborne - William Marlowe
Sheriff of Nottingham - Paul Darrow
Sir Kenneth Neston - John Abineri
Queen Eleanor - Yvonne Mitchell
king Richard - Michael-John Jackson
Prince John - David Dixon
Will Scarlet - Miles Anderson
Friar Tuck - Tony Caunter
Much - Richard speight
Littl John - Conrad Asquith

Producer - George Gallaccio
Director - Eric Davidson
Writers - Anthony Stevens, Robert Banks Stewart, David Butler, Alistair Bell, Alexander Baron.

4:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Will Martin Potter's Robin Hood be released in a format viewable on US DVD players? I, too, saw it on PBS in St. Louis around 1976 and have remembered it as beautiful and intelligenct ever since. I long to see it again. Now with the new interest in Robin Hood due to the BBC release, perhaps The Legend of Robin Hood will be released here!

1:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember seeing the BBC version in 1975 or 1976 and liked it. I thought for once it was the story in all its Medieval muck and filth and tangles of intrigue. I still remember King Richard telling Robin that "a king is never winded."

12:06 AM  
Blogger robin hood said...

Hi anon.,

I think it's still a godd piece of work. But if you watch it today (especially after seeing Robin of Sherwood, and the BBC version of 2006 / 2007), the "Medieval muck and filth" hasn't aged all that well. Many scenes now look very "staged" and clean. Not much outdoor shooting at all.

5:12 PM  
Anonymous Tobias said...

I just rewatched it on DVD, after seeing first on German TV more than 30 years ago when i was 7 or 8.

I still had fond memories after all that years, which is why i ordered it at once when i saw it was available.

I especially remembered the sad ending. I think besides Robin and Marian this is actually the only version in which Robin dies (along with most of the others of his men).

A special mention should go to the brother Tuck of this version who for once is not fat.

Tony Caunter gives the role a really unique performance, bein at once catancerous, wise, pious and anty-church-establishment

4:32 PM  
Blogger robin hood said...

Hi Tobias,

"Robin and Marian", which you mention here, is my all time favourite Hood movie.

I like the 1975 TV version. In fact you've given me the incentive to put it on the dvd player again.

But I do think, during the years it was unavailable, it gained a reputation a little beyond its merits. Films have a habit of doing that.

4:56 PM  
Anonymous Tobias said...

Yes parts of it seem very dated, especially the castle and palace interiors.

But the acting is good and it has a more serious tone than most other versions.

Robin and Marian is also one of my favorite versions.

(with me it depends on the mood i'm in)

My three favorite versions are Robin and Marian, the Erol Flyn Version when i'm in mood for swashbuckling and Disney's animated version, which was my first Robin Hood experience when was first screened in cinema and therefor holds a special place in my heart.

6:05 PM  
Blogger mistral-archer said...

I always liked this version, and bought it as soon as it came out on DVD. Having watched it again I was slightly disappointed, I thought Martin Potters portrayal would have been better suited to a stage production of Hamlet, the accent was way to posh considering he was raised by a forester. King Richard was also rather overdone very hammy.

5:14 PM  
Blogger robin hood said...


I agree that it has aged rather badly. It suffers from trying to be a BBC style historical drama.

It certainly has its good points, but I think (as happens with these things), whilst it was unavailable its reputation grew out of proportion.

1:25 AM  
Blogger mistral-archer said...

The BBC should have made an updated version of this rather than the trendy re imagining,killing Marion was a bad idea why not just recast the part. Now I hear that Jonas Armstrong is leaving will, they recast with someone more reliable or is this the end. Jason Connery was just as good as Michael Praid, Jonas Armstrong should not be hard to replace.

5:55 PM  
Blogger robin hood said...

Killing Marian was a downright stupid idea.

There is sense in what you say. These days TV tends not to re-cast so readily as it once did. Richard Green had 2 different Marians and (due to injury), 2 different Little Johns, and too many Will Scarlet's to count!

In more recent times of course Dallas saw major re-castings of key roles.

The answer might be to have a new Marian, but with a different second name. And this one be the real Marian. (Although I thought Lucy was outstanding in the role).

And then as you say, cast a new Robin Hood in the same way it wass done in Robin of Sherwood, where the name is more a title to be passed on.

Better still is maybe to drop the whole thing, and acknowledge they screwed it up big time.

6:05 PM  
Blogger SusanV said...

New book Robin Hood The Forester of Sherwood releasing this month by David Vahlberg.

Enter Sherwood Forest as it might have been, nearly a thousand years ago, with towering oak giants; a primeval place of light and shadows, Earth-magic and ancient, deathless beings from the Otherworld. High adventure awaits the half-Elven Robin Hood and his men (and women) in these mystical woods as they fight to protect Sherwood from the greedy men of his world and Evil from a world beyond.
New characters, including a new love for Robin, Lore-Feather-Fern.

2:41 AM  

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