Nothing’s forgotten. Nothing’s ever forgotten. Those words will be recognisable to any fans of the hit 1980s TV show, Robin of Sherwood, which ran for three years on ITV from 1984 to 1986 and captivated a generation in the process.
With the highest TV budget of the period, Michael Praed made for a dashing Robin i’ the Hood, but one whose fate never looked to be to a happy one, at least as long as he and his followers, including a young Ray Winstone as Will Scarlett, lived in an England ruled by men who put land and money before the welfare of the populace. At least that’s something which we could never say is the case today…
The series came to an abrupt end after the third series, when the company behind it, Goldcrest, went belly up, leaving viewers wondering what might have happened next. Rumours surfaced in the 90s that a film version might appear, but that was scuppered by Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, which “borrowed” a number of elements from Carpenter’s series.
Today I had the opportunity to meet with Clive Mantle, Little John in Robin, thanks to his presence in Edinburgh for the Fringe. He’s here with his stage show, Jus’ Like That, in which he portrays comedian Tommy Cooper, and it’s a fantastic performance that he’s honed to perfection. I wanted to discuss the show but I couldn’t help mentioning Robin of Sherwood and had to ask if there were any plans for the upcoming 30th anniversary.
His response was as follows, and you can hear it in full over on audioboo:
“We wanted to do a television update and we submitted to ITV, 18 months or two years ago, [the idea of] a two hour special or a couple of specials, [with] all the original team, Ray back, Jason [Connery] and Michael [Praed], and ITV turned us down. We couldn’t believe it, especially with Ray on board. Kip Carpenter had written a fantastic idea and when I heard they’d turned it down, I stood there open mouthed and thought “I think that’s a mistake,”. Ray loves it so much that if he had a gap in his schedule and we were all available, I’m sure he’d give it another go.”
So there it is. Everyone wants to make it but nobody wants to fund it. ITV were offered, on a plate, the return of one of its most popular series, plus a star name in Ray Winstone, and they turned it down. It’s no secret that series such as X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent cost pennies to make and pull in large audiences, so it’s understandable that ITV would want to keep churning out the cheap stuff as long as they can.
It does seem shortsighted to give up the opportunity of a ratings winner, certainly a few TV movies that would sell well abroad and on DVD/Blu-ray.
So, what next for Robin of Sherwood? Is the knock-back from ITV the end of it, or could another UK broadcaster step-in? The BBC were keen to repeat the series around a decade ago, until pay negotiations fell through and they ended up making their own. Sky were also in talks to make it in the 1990s, but the Costner version potentially ruined that.
Could a cable channel be the answer, either in a co-production with ITV or a US or European channel?
Could a petition help get the series noticed? A Facebook page? A Twitter account?
I’m open to ideas, as are the cast and crew – please leave your comments below and let’s see if the fans are able to bring back the show they’ve never managed to forget…
Update 17 August 2011: I’ve now uploaded the full Clive Mantle interview in two parts; the first finds us discussing his portrayal of Tommy Cooper in Jus’ Like That and the second is an extended discussion about Robin of Sherwood.