ITV turned down the return of Ray Winstone and Robin of Sherwood

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.


49 thoughts on “ITV turned down the return of Ray Winstone and Robin of Sherwood

  1. Thats a tragedy I wasn’t aware of that – I am surprised that ITV turned it down especially with (now) big names on baord also. THey could have made a mint – if it was scuppered by costs why didn’t they try syndication or US money both Doctor Who and Torchwood have made a success of that formula.

    Perhaps Auntie might consider it it would eminently more popular than their attempt.

  2. A frankly bizarre decision from ITV. The only rationale I can put on it is that this was pitched sometime around the time that Sean Bean made that Sharpe comeback, and perhaps that didn’t do it for ITV in the ratings.

    That said, on a purely commercial basis, assuming that rights issues could have been sorted, I’d have thought that this was a guaranteed cash-generating opportunity. Especially given the international appeal of the original series.

    Since the BBC took on Upstairs Downstairs, they’d have been the obvious port of call. Unfortunately, it’s probably a little too soon after their own recent Robin Hood series for them to make another one. And there was the recent Ridley Scott film that may also have put some off. Not that it stops broadcasters making relatively frequent Austen, Bronte or Dickens adaptations of the same small collection of novels.

    I’d have thought that, given the upcoming anniversary (scary though that is, since I vivdely remember it coming on-air and reading episode guides in magazines like Starburst) it’s worth a re-pitch. Sky also seems to be investing more money of late in original programming, and I’d have thought it could be a good fit for them.

    The time feels right to invest in the recently released BluRays of the first couple of series – even though I still own the DVDs and have previously owned VHS tapes. I also owned the cassette of the Clanad soundtrack – subsequently replaced by CD. And I think I had at least one novelisation.

    Here’s hoping someone sees the light…

  3. That really was a shortsighted decision ITV. i seem to remember it being bandied around and ITV turned it down because the BBC Robin Hood was running and they felt two shows on the same “subject” was too risky. They would pull in a lot of revenue from Robin of Sherwood and it was a huge international hit and still has a large and strong fanbase running now.

  4. This is all true!
    I was actually sitting with Ray in Soho when he agreed to do it and we all jumped at the chance to work together again. We all thought it was an amazing idea and a wonderful story by Kip. Good old Clivey for reminding folks that; “Nothing’s forgotten.”
    We’re all humbled at how important the show was to those of us involved in the production and the effect it’s had on peoples lives all around the globe.
    Cheers Clivey!
    Mark Ryan

    • not only tv, but a great dvd market as well. many people i know own more than one copy of RoS! and thanks to the cast for offering to come back. with all the fanfic out there on several websites, this show isn’t going away! thank you for trying…miss josh emmett

  5. Thanks for all the comments, I’ve not been too surprised by the amount of people who have read this post as it’s a show that is close to many of us.

    Yes, it’s nearly 30 years old and yes, there’s an argument for spending money on new drama rather than bringing back old hits, but there’s clearly a market for nostalgia and one which is willing to dig into their pockets to buy the DVDs. Considering that the series was sold around the globe, it’s not just us in the UK that would tune in.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment Mark, I’d like to think that by at least getting this into the open somebody might pay attention at a TV station somewhere. Would you consider pitching it again, perhaps to another broadcaster?

  6. This is a tragedy, that such an incredibly well loved show would be rejected like that! How short-sighted do you have to be to not realise how amazing an opportunity this would be to do! I’ve met many members of the cast and crew, including Clive, Mark & Kip, and they’re all so passionate about the work they did, and how well it’s still received today by old & new audiences alike! ITV, you have no idea of the scale of the mistake you’ve just made!

  7. Sometimes, the people calling the shots seem to be…. out of touch with the people actually watching stuff. A shame, since I always thought ITV and BBC had better sense and better taste than American stations,

  8. What a shame! I would love to see this fantastic show given another chance to shine.

    Even after all this time it’s still the best interpretation of the Robin Hood legend out there.

    ITV are extremely foolish to turn down this opportunity. I can only hope someone else will have more sense!

  9. I am astounded that they turned it down. How could they miss an opportunity like this ? This series is an absolute classic and has had a profound influence on my life. I really hope that they can get it of the ground 🙂

  10. I agree with those that think Robin Of Sherwood was the best or their favourite version of the legend. I saw it as a child and love it even more on recent DVD viewings. I love the blend of historical drama and action with the more folklore and supernatural elements. The show did a brilliant job of creating atmosphere and foreboding, along with it’s genuine camaraderie among the cast. I have been very disappointed and underwhelmed by both the very poor recent BBC Robin Hood and the very disappointing Ridley Scott movie of recent years. I would love a chance to see the best version of the legend given a last hurrah or a proper ending and would love for the cast and team behind the great series to have a fitting onscreen reunion. When I see headlines about “ITV Rejects New Robin Of Sherwood”, I can’t help turning it in my mind into “ITV Are Morons!”

  11. I can’t believe that ITV would pass up the opportunity to take up the reins of a TV show that to this day remains as popular as it was when it first aired.
    Robin of Sherwood still had so much more to offer when the plug was pulled by Goldcrest.
    Can ITV not see that the attempts by TV and film at bettering it for its realism and mystical elements just can’t hold a candle to it?
    I hope that they can be persuaded to rethink their decision. Personally, I think, they need their head’s read.

  12. Echoing all the above, short sighted of ITV and also terribly sad that it wasn’t aired again by the BBC 10 years ago and introduced to a new generation. As Karen says, nothing has held a candle to it since, there is no other interpretation of the legend to touch it. It hasn’t dated, you wouldn’t know it was 30 years old!

    I’m still mourning the loss of it 30 years on :O(

  13. During the last couple of decades I’ve dreamt many times that the original cast would come together again for new series or a movie. Reading that it actually had become that close have made me dream again. Calling it a dream come true if it ever happens, is not just a saying for me but indeed the truth.

  14. Here in New Zealand ROS had a huge following and the complete series were shown twice in prime time at a stage when there wete only two channels. I know that the weapons experts at Wetaworkshop ( Hercules, Xena, Lord of the Rings, Avatar) are rabid fans, great to talk to who have made many notes on ROS as a gold standard. I know that they would love to have a go at a portrayl. They are based in Wellington, as is Peter Jackson the director who would surely have been a fan and a co founder of Weta. When Mark Ryan is in NZ in October he should call in to Weta Workshop. Imagine Lotr style ROS…

  15. Yes, this is very disappointing news. However, to be completely fair to ITV, they did show repeats several years ago on the ITV3 network.

  16. Bring it back…bring it back. One of the biggest crimes on TV is that this fantastic series was not allowed to end the way it should have done. I know that Kip really wants to end this the way he wants it. Please give them a chance ITV.

    Colin Rose

  17. I was so disappointed when I listened to the interview with Clive and learned that the cast’s proposal to create another Robin of Sherwood story was turned down by ITV. The original series have touched the romantic heart of several generations of fans and many agree it was the best adaptation of Robin Hood story ever. It is wonderful that Kip Carpenter is on the board for this idea and created a story that would bring all the Marry men back to beloved Sherwood. Let’s hope that RoS fans around the globe spread the word about the possibility of more Robin Hood adventures and let ITV know how succesful the new story would be.

  18. I am a fan from Mexico where the show was very popular in the 80´s. The idea of seeing together the original cast for new episodes and/or a series closure is just unresistable, imagining seeing again Michael Praed, Jason Connery, judi trott, clive mantle, ray winstone, mark ryan, peter llewelyn, nicholas cage, phil rose, together after so many years and with a story accordingly written by Richard Carpenter just gets my imagination going! Robert Addie would be certainly missed. I have bought the DVD´s, will buy the Blu-Ray and would love to see a new series/movie made. If this doesn´t happen maybe they could give us a book with the story at least. I really hope this can happen soon, the chemistry between the actors seems fantastic, and the treatment of the Robin Hood legend was just so good that I believe no other version has come close to what was achieved with this one. Young idealists, with a concience, prepared to fight for their beliefs. We need more of that moral in the world!

  19. Please Show Courage I can not image that the decided this to turn it down. Bring back Robin of sherwood 25 years after……remember this was not the worst series. Probally one of the best ever made. So please GIve it a try one more time. Back the original cast with the silver arrow and the quote it’s not over it would be never be over from the sherrif. Bring back barron the belemme. Give it an update for a new generation but with the original cast both pread and connery and with the music of clannad again. Bring back the cave. I also believe in it. I think if the would give it a try by an spin of or someting like 4 or 6 episodes or an 2 hours movie The have made de best choice ever made.

  20. Robin of Sherwood was and still is THE BEST interpretation of Robin Hood I have ever had the pleasure of seeing! I’m absolutely shocked that ITV turned down the chance to continue this great series and give it the proper closure it is so deserving of!! You know it’s a great show when you find yourself watching the DVD’s and Blu Ray’s of it more than any other show on DVD and Blu Ray and any other show on T.V right now for that matter! I’m from Canada and have been a fan since the 1980’s when it ran on my local PBS station. I hope some other source will come up with the funding if ITV doesn’t change their minds. I’m always hoping for it to come back. Please, someone bring it back! Michael Praed and Jason Connery will FOREVER be my Hooded Man! I will remain optimistic for it’s long over-due return. ROBIN OF SHERWOOD RULES!!!

  21. I remember watching the series religiously with my siblings in the eighties on NTA in Nigeria. It was really something to run back home early from school for. Please bring it back (Original Cast please)

  22. Such a shame ITV turned them down. 😦 My favourite show ever, incredible cast, enchanting stories, it was just perfect.

    I really wonder what Carpenter’s story idea was and I sincerely hope we get to at least read that some day…

  23. I will only echo the sentiments above and say that RoS was probably the most profound series I have ever watched. The stories were truly original, the cinematography breathtaking, and the cast suberb. I am also not surprised that it was turned downed by ITV (or any other company for that matter). All that seems to be important in TV is making two types of shows: extremely cheap (in every sense of the word) reality shows or police procedurals. I am a fan of the latter only because they seem to be the only shows on TV that have any production value.

    I live in the US where reality TV is the norm (I could probably count dozens of these shows per week). We even import and produce US versions of UK reality shows. Trying to encourage studios to create less intelligence-inhibiting fare is laudable, but, I fear, futile.

    Even so, I will still join the movement to attempt someone to revisit taking a chance on this commendable series.

  24. I was/am a huge ROS fan. I still have some of the show on VHS, then I bought the PAL DVD’s when they were released (even though I live in Canada) and now own the NTSC version of series. I even started writing a fanfic which brought all the cast together (including Michael) because that’s how much I wanted a reunion. None of the Robin Hood series and movies produced since then have come anywhere near touching ROS.

    So yes, I’d be totally on board for a reunion mini series with Kip writing it! Just do it!

  25. Bring back Robin of Sherwood ! Still the best representation of Robin Hood thats ever been, before or after ! Herne the Hunter waits in the greenwood to this day, nothing is forgotten, nothing is ever forgotten. Herne protect you, blessed be !

  26. This is great news This was by far the best of the Robin Hood myth I own a theatrical sword fighting company ( which owes much to Legends of Sherwoo. Lets bring it back!

  27. This is great news This was by far the best of the Robin Hood myth. I own a theatrical sword fighting company ( which owes much to Robin of Sherwood. I suggest this show to all my actors. Lets bring it back!

  28. Why not create a short and realise it on youtube? They can then judge the response and audience reaction giving them hard facts to wave at the TV stations whist giving fans a teaser of what could be to come?

  29. Dear colleagues of ITV, your deciscion not to continue RoS series (The return of the past) with the old crew
    may not be the last spoken word. Please! There is a whole world of fans still waiting to continue, not everyone
    of them is still active to pray and post messages to you, but they allwould appreciate the return of the real
    RoS Cast and Story. Even CLANNAD, which made the soundtrack for RoS, is still going on tour across europe
    and keeping the mystery of Mr. Carpenters story alive. This is part of the need to continue RoS.

    If you need to save money for the production, so please call me for to join for less the
    costs you might think. And i am sure there will me much more professional people like to
    join to get this project to run famous again by lower budget. 😉 HANG ON !!!
    Greet’s from Berlin/Germany

  30. Dear colleagues of ITV, your deciscion not to continue RoS series (The return of the past) with the old crew
    may not be the last spoken word. Please! There is a whole world of fans still waiting to continue, not everyone
    of them is still active to pray and post messages to you, but they all would appreciate the return of the real
    RoS Cast and Story. Even CLANNAD, which made the soundtrack for RoS, is still going on tour across europe
    and keeping the mystery of Mr. Carpenters story alive. This is part of the need to continue RoS.

    If you need to save money for the production, so please call me for to join for less the
    costs you might think. And i am sure there will me much more professional people like to
    join, to get this project to run famous again by lower budget. HANG ON !!!
    Greet’s from Berlin/Germany

  31. Hi. Everyone is right it’s such a shame how could they leave the last episode with the guys all standing on the ebridge. oh. l have only just come across this and maybe to late for my info. you see l was looking for a leather Tunic. like jason wore in ROS. also l wrote a follow up to RoS. but no-one was interested. but it’s criminal them not doing more l’m a hug Fan of RoS. cant BBC do something. Please l hope some-one will take over. l loved all the actors great job .well l’ll leave it there.

  32. I loved the show! My son is hooked on it now. It would be awesome to bring all the characters back, been waiting for years. I love Ray and miss Praed and Connery!

  33. Why the heck can’t we get all the fans (must be thousands) to donate a sum and get this made? Heck, isn’t that what Kickstarter is for?? Surely this would make it very attractive for, say, the BBC to take up? Nothing to lose – and no time to waste – who would be the guys to get this up on Kickstarter?

    I’m a huge fan and would give £50 for starters.

  34. I am both staggered & perplexed at ITV’s refusal to fund a final episode of Kip Carpenter’s awesome, magical Robin Of Sherwood. This epic series still retains a huge fanbase and there is a strong desire to see a final instalment. RoS established a ‘Gold Standard,’ in terms of quality television, which has never even been matched, let alone eclipsed. The recent BBC interpretation was woeful. I first watched RoS as a 13 year old and I was entralled by it. I am 42 now, and I still enjoy the series immensely. Anybody who watched this superb series in the 1980’s, has been effected by it in some way. It is lamentable that ITV have rejected a final episode. There is a tremendous shortage of quality television around these days. How fantastic would it be to see the ‘Old Gang’ back together again? On that note, I am going to sign off and watch, ‘The Children Of Israel.’ Get a grip ITV!!!

  35. Thanks for all the comments on this post, I’m glad there’s still such interest in RoS returning!

    Sadly the death of Richard Carpenter in 2012 probably signals the end of any potential return to ITV for the series, unless someone like Anthony Horowitz, who wrote later episodes and who currently has Foyle’s War back on ITV, decides to champion it.

    With 2014 marking the 30th anniversary of the series, it’d be nice if ITV celebrated it in some way.

  36. Could someone contact Anthony Horowitz by twitter . Anthony Horowitz to ask for writing a script robin of sherwood in a way he did the inheritance but than the search to the the silver arrow at castle of belemme. and pread as herne and with anthony valentine original cast. Maybe he would like it to write a follow up 20 years later.

  37. I don’t know if it’s of any interest, but a new audio version of Robin Hood has been made…It’s not Robin of Sherwood, but it is a very different take on the legend, with the Sheriff as the good guy, and it stars Lee Ingleby. I only mention it because I am a huge Robin of Sherwood fan and that has given me a lot of love for the legend, in fact, so much, that all is interesting when it comes to Robin.

    I’ve put a link here because some of it is free to listen too…

  38. Can’t you try channel 4????? I grew up in the 80s and this was my favourite programme I used to watch most evenings with my mum on VHS!!!!! Especially Michael praed yum yum!!!


  40. Wow that’s so sad that they turned it down. I was born in Canada in 88 and used to watch re runs in the early 90’s as a kid. I’d love to get the dvd’s but they’re hard to find in Canada. Best Robin Hood ever hands down. I’ve never got into any of the other adaptations because none of them hold a candle.

  41. If they can pump millions into revamping Dr Who,then surely they can bring back Robin of Sherwood! The BBC series with Jonas Armstrong and Keith Allen came nowhere near touching this portrayal of one of England’s much loved legends in the way that Ray Winstone and co did!
    And the music score from Clannad was amazing!
    Wake up TV execs and smell the cappuccino! Stop ramming crap like X Factor and Strictly down our throats and bring back proper entertainment!!!

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