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Robin of Sherwood Blu-ray

Sunday, 14 November 2010 19:40

It seems incredible that Robin of Sherwood is now over 25 years old. It certainly has not aged at all, and it’s clear to see why it was regarded as a benchmark of quality television drama in the 1980s. It is arguably the definitive interpretation of the Robin Hood legend. And it’s only right and proper that this BAFTA-winning series now gets a release in High Definition via Blu-ray technology.

Michael Praed stars as Robin of Loxley in Richard Carpenter's influential and highly acclaimed re-working of the classic myth. What I always loved about this series, putting the attractions of Mr Praed on one side, was that Mr Carpenter managed to successfully weave the legend that we all know with a nice bit of magic and mysticism which was perfectly believable. The idea that Robin was the ‘son’ of Herne the Hunter and, armed with Albion, one of the Seven Swords of Wayland - “charged with the powers of light and darkness” - led his not-so-merry band to fight their Norman oppressors was an attractive one.

Robin of Sherwood - Michael Praed debuts on Blu-rayAs with everything in this series, historical accuracy was paramount and those who know their English folklore will know that the ‘real’ Herne the Hunter actually inhabits Windsor Great Park - he is rumoured to appear at times of national crisis.

Similarly, Wayland the Smith who made Robin’s sword, is also credited with creating Excalibur, the magical sword of King Arthur.

The locations are what really makes this series shine, shot predominantly in Northumbria – “Harry Potter” fans will no doubt spot that Nottingham Castle looks an awful lot like Hogwarts School of Wizardry – mainly because both are, in fact, Alnwick Castle.

The series also uses various locations in and around Bristol, notably Wells Cathedral, St Michael’s Mount, Malmesbury Abbey and the wonderful countryside of the Blaise Castle Estate and Castle Coombe. Everything about Robin Of Sherwood looks and feels real.

Filming began in early Spring of 1983, and it looks in places very, very cold - you can almost see the cast shivering in places. You also get that wonderful lush, fresh green of the forest which added to the realistic costumes makes you almost believe you are in 12th Century England.

With a haunting theme from Clannad, strong scripts and outstanding performances from Ray Winstone, Clive Mantle, Judi Trott and Nickolas Grace, to name but a few, Robin of Sherwood was, and remains, a worldwide hit. With new HD transfers taken from the original film elements, the first two series are presented here at a quality level never previously seen.

The two DVD commentaries are good and well executed, although one of my favourite DVD commentary bug-bears raises its head – Robert Young and Paul Knight, when commenting on “The Swords of Wayland”, are silent for long periods of time, because they are actually watching the episode rather than commenting on it (mainly because they hadn’t seen the episode since they filmed it). I really wish DVD producers would take the time to send copies of the episodes to those who are commenting on them, before they record the commentary. It’s not fair on the talent, and it’s not fair on the viewers.

The documentaries are extended versions of those on the ordinary DVD releases, and so allowances should be made for the fact that some were recorded over ten years ago – the late Robert Addie appears in one, for example. However, there is a nice little ten minute short which is new -”The Prophecy Fulfilled” featuring Philip Jackson, Richard Carpenter and George Baker which was recorded this year, and also “Robert Young Remembers The Swords of Wayland” and “Robert Young Remembers The Greatest Enemy” in which the esteemed Director talks enthusiastically about the experiences and the filming of these two memorable episodes.

This series might be fast approaching its 30th Birthday, but for me, and for countless others, there will never be a Robin Hood as good as Michael Praed, or a series that captured the imagination as much as Robin of Sherwood did.

Extras on this Blu-ray release are as follows:

  • “The Making of Robin of Sherwood” - exclusive documentary
  • Enhanced Dolby Surround soundtracks
  • Original Mono soundtracks
  • ‘Music only’ tracks for selected episodes
  • Commentary with Richard Carpenter and Ian Sharp on “Robin Hood and the Sorcerer” and “The King's Fool”
  • Commentary with Robert Young and Paul Knight on “The Swords of Wayland”
  • Expanded version of The Electric Theatre Show documentary from 1983, recomposed in HD
  • “The Prophecy Fulfilled” documentary (10 minutes)
  • “Robert Young Remembers The Swords of Wayland” featurette (6 minutes)
  • “Robert Young Remembers The Greatest Enemy” featurette (6 minutes)
  • Series out-takes
  • PDF material - including Richard Carpenter's original treatment
  • Extensive High Definition stills gallery (HD)
  • Textless and foreign titles

Robin of Sherwood: Michael Praed is out now from Network as a Blu-ray set (3 Blu-ray Region B discs and a DVD), with a ‘PG’ certificate, a running time of 650 minutes approx, and a RRP of £49.99

A Robin of Sherwood Complete Series DVD set (also including the Jason Connery era) has also been re-released consisting of 8 discs, with a RRP of £59.99.

You can get both sets for less at www.culttvstore.com  



Michael Praed as Robin of Loxley

Judi Trott as Lady Marion

Ray Winstone as Will Scarlet

Clive Mantle as Little John

Mark Ryan as Nasir

Phil Rose as Friar Tuck

Peter Llewellyn Williams as Much

Robert Addie as Sir Guy of Gisburne

Nickolas Grace as Robert de Rainault, Sheriff of Nottingham

John Abineri as Herne the Hunter

Philip Jackson as Abbot Hugo de Rainault

Jeremy Bulloch as Edward of Wickham


Written by Richard Carpenter

Produced by Paul Knight

Executive Produced by Patrick Dromgoole


01/02. “Robin Hood and the Sorcerer” (01/02 on Blu-ray)

Young Robin watches his home village of Loxley being burned to the ground by Norman soldiers and his father Ailric is brutally murdered by the Sheriff of Nottingham. Fifteen years later, Robin, fostered by the local Miller, is caught poaching together with his young foster brother Much and sent to the dungeons of Nottingham Castle. After having escaped with Much and three other prisoners, Robin is chosen by Herne the Hunter to help protect the helpless against the Normans who have taken over England.

Guest Starring: Anthony Valentine   (Simon De Belleme), Mark Audley (Dickon), Paul Duggan (Tom Fletcher), Stuart Linden (The Old Prisoner), Geoffrey Greenhill (Miller), Betty Francis (Much’s Mother), Toby Lee (Young Robin), Wayne Michaels (Aileric), Gillie Roper & Kim Hicks (Belleme’s Women), Harry Herring (Clerk), Thomas Henty (Flambard).

Director: Ian Sharp

Original LWT Transmission: 28 April 1984


03. “The Witch of Elsdon” (03 on Blu-ray)

Jennet rejects the advances of Sir Guy of Gisburne, and is accused of witchcraft by him. She is imprisoned in Nottingham Castle with her husband. The Sheriff realises that Jennet has been set up by his steward and thus gives her the opportunity to save their lives in return for a small favour - an offer that Jennet cannot refuse.

Guest Starring: Angharad Rees (Jennet of Elsdon), Cornelius Garrett (Thomas of Elsdon), Martin West (Martin), Steven Osborne (James), Stuart Linden (The Old Prisoner).

Director: Ian Sharp

Original LWT Transmission: 5 May 1984.


04. “Seven Poor Knights from Acre” (04 on Blu-ray)

Returning from Palestine, Crusaders have a holy symbol stolen. The thief runs into the Sherwood outlaws, making the crusaders mistake them for his accomplices. Much is taken prisoner.

Guest Starring: Steven Osborne (James), Martin West (Martin), Duncan Preston (Heinrich von Erlichshausen), Colin Rix (Potter), Peewee Hunt (Fat Merchant).

Director: Ian Sharp

Original LWT Transmission: 12 May 1984


05. “Alan A’Dale” (05 on Blu-ray)

Short of cash, the Sheriff decides to get married to the young Lady Mildred de Bracy, for which he will receive a considerable dowry from her father. John goes fishing at Wickham, and a broken-hearted singing stranger makes his way through the Forest.

Guest Starring: Peter Hutchinson (Alan A’Dale - voiced by Simon Shepherd), Stephanie Tague (Lady Mildred de Bracy), Martin West (Martin).

Director: Ian Sharp

Original LWT Transmission: 19 May 1984


06. “The King’s Fool” (06 on Blu-ray)

Rescuing Chevalier Deguise, the outlaws discover this is King Richard in disguise, returning from the ‘holy land’. Richard will pardon Robin and his friends if they will go to fight in the wars in Normandy. Robin agrees, but his allies are not so keen, realising something is not right with the King’s promises.

Guest Starring: John Rhys-Davies (King Richard), Martin West (Martin), Doc O'Brien (Mercadier), Gary Waldhorn (Hubert Walter).

Director: Ian Sharp

Original LWT Transmission: 26 May 1984


07. “The Prophecy” (09 on Blu-ray)

John is taken prisoner and befriends Mark who, after they are rescued, joins the outlaws. Prince John's imminent arrival in Nottingham means Gisburne begins to repair the castle walls. Prince John brings with him a masked prisoner, who is a ghost from the past.

Guest Starring: Philip Davis (Prince John), Simon Dutton (Mark/Henry of Skipton), George Baker (Sir Richard of Leaford), John Nettles (Peter de Leon), Philip York (Captain), Stuart Linden (The Old Prisoner), Michael Loney (Guard), David Bartlett (Little Boy), David Sivier (Brother Cedric), Jamie Ripman (Messenger)

Director: Robert Young

Original LWT Transmission: 9 March 1985


08. “The Children of Israel” (11 on Blu-ray)

The Sheriff is in debt to Joshua de Talmont, the money-lender. Reluctant to settle, Gisburne is tasked to arrange a riot in which all Jews in Nottingham will be killed. Gisburne has plans of his own, having fallen in love with de Talmont's daughter Sarah. Robin and Will have a disagreement, resulting in Scarlet quitting the outlaws.

Guest Starring: Katharine Levy (Sarah de Talmont), Adam Rosenthal (Samuel de Talmont), Amy Rosenthal (Esther de Talmont), David de Keyser (Joshua de Talmont), Pavel Douglas (Captain), Paul Wilce (Poacher), Daniel Gregory (Head Man), Odette Bennett (De Talmont’s Servant), Richard Bonehill (Swordsman).

Director: Alex Kirby

Original LWT Transmission: 16 March 1985


09. “Lord of the Trees” (10 on Blu-ray)

It is ‘The Time of the Blessing’ in Sherwood and neighbouring villages. Gisburne is in charge while The Sheriff tours the county. He is alarmed by the increase in poaching and invites Bertrand de Nivelle to put a stop to the crime spree.

Guest Starring: Oliver Tobias (Bertrand de Nivelle), Claire Toeman (Meg of Wickham), Ian Brimble (Forester), Mark Lewis (Walter), Patrick Gordon (Guillaume), Nicholas Brent (Alehouse Keeper), Jacob Powers (Pot Boy), Jill James (Widow), Leigh Samuels, Jaz Abineri & Deborah Cranston (Meg's Friends).

Director: James Allen

Original LWT Transmission: 23 March 1985


10. “The Enchantment” (12 on Blu-ray)

Lilith the witch has Robin under a spell, and he steals Herne's Silver Arrow. They head for Castle Belleme, where Lilith brings Baron de Belleme back to life. Gisburne is jealous of The Sheriff's new assistant Ralph, and therefore goes in search of the Baron's hidden jewels, while seeking a chance to murder Ralph.

Guest Starring: Gemma Craven (Lilith), Anthony Valentine (Baron de Belleme), Trevor Clarke (Ralph of Huntingdon), Maria MacDonell (Young Witch).

Director: James Allen

Original LWT Transmission: 30 March 1985


11/12. “The Swords of Wayland” (07/08 on Blu-ray)

Uffcombe is being visited by mysterious kidnapping riders, ‘The Hounds of Lucifer’. They have also robbed a local church, injuring its priest. Gareth of Uffcombe travels to Sherwood to ask Robin and his outlaws for help.

Guest Starring: Rula Lenska (Morgwyn of Ravenscar), Conrad Phillips (Philip), James Donnelly (Gareth of Uffcombe), Norman Bowler (Adam the Miller), Anthony Steel (Earl Godwin), Nick Brimble (Earl Godwin's Captain), Dallas Adams (Peter Verdelet), David Trevena (Sheriff), David Cain (Cedric), Ingrid Hafner (Mary), Vic McGuire (James), Morlais Thomas (Ragged Man), Marcus Gilbert (Lucifer), Roger McKern & Ned Kelly (Guards).

Director: Robert Young

Original LWT Transmission: 6 April 1985


13. “The Greatest Enemy” (13 on Blu-ray)

The King orders The Sheriff to vanquish Robin once and for all. At stake is his Sheriffdom. Setting up an ambush at Wickham, with bloodhounds ready to follow the outlaws back into the woods, Robin ends up alone, surrounded by hostile forces. Can he save his merry band and continue to protect the people of England?

Guest Starring: Robert Daws (Hubert de Giscard), Robbie Bulloch (Matthew of Wickham), Steve Dent & Mark Lewis (Arabs).

Director: Robert Young

Original LWT Transmission: 13 April 1985


Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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