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Adventures of Robin Hood, The (1955-59)

Courtesy of ITV Global Entertainment Ltd

Main image of Adventures of Robin Hood, The (1955-59)
Weinstein Productions, Sapphire Films, Walton Studios, Official Films, Hannah Fisher Productions for ITV
140 episodes (black and white)
DirectorsTerence Fisher
 Lindsay Anderson
 Robert Day

Cast: Richard Greene (Robin Hood); Bernadette O'Farrell (Maid Marian); Patricia Driscoll (Maid Marian); Archie Duncan (Little John); Rufus Cruikshank (Little John); Alexander Gauge (Friar Tuck); Alan Wheatley (Sheriff of Nottingham); Paul Eddington (Will Scarlett)

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Robin Hood and his band of outlaws fight back against the tyranny of Prince John and the Sheriff of Nottingham.

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The first production from the newly-formed independent company ITP (soon renamed ITC) provided clean-cut escapism for all the family. The Adventures of Robin Hood (ITV, 1955-60) was based on the familiar legend , though Robin was now a foppish, Brylcreemed matinee idol whose lincoln greens appeared dry-cleaned despite his living rough in Sherwood Forest.

The series used several minutes of expansive location filming in each half-hour episode, while BBC productions were still being made live in cramped studios. Fight sequences could now be more elaborate, given outdoor filming and the greater floor space available at Nettlefold Studios in Walton-on-Thames. Such facilities were however not enough to help replicate the feats of derring-do accomplished by earlier movie Robins Errol Flynn and Douglas Fairbanks, with the vacuum largely filled by tongue-in-cheek comedy.

'Repertory' casting saw frequent recasting (three Prince Johns) and character parts filled by the same actors in almost weekly rotation - Paul Eddington played twenty parts before gaining the regular role of Will Scarlett. Archie Duncan (Little John) was replaced for ten episodes when he was injured saving two child actors from a runaway horse.

Along with game shows like Take Your Pick and variety show Sunday Night at the London Palladium, Robin Hood helped capture audiences from the BBC. Shown from the first week of ITV in London, it flew like an arrow into the TV Top Ten. In two-channel London households it was Number One for January 1956 with a staggering 78 per cent audience share. The series also sold well in America.

The theme song by Dick James ("Robin Hood, Robin Hood, Riding through the glen ...") spent eight weeks in the pop charts in 1956, reaching Number Fourteen. Star Richard Greene later featured in a spin-off movie Sword of Sherwood Forest (d. Terence Fisher, 1960).

Alistair McGown

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Video Clips
Extract (5:01)
Peter Proud: BECTU Interview Part 2 (1987)
Sid Cole: BECTU Interview Part 3 (1987)
Robin of Sherwood (1984-86)
Astley, Edwin (1922-1998)
Cole, Sidney (1908-1998)
Eddington, Paul (1927-1995)
Fisher, Terence (1904-1980)
Greene, Richard (1918-1985)
McKern, Leo (1920-2002)
Proud, Peter (1913-1989)
Weinstein, Hannah (1912-1984)
ABC Television
Children's TV Drama
Swashbuckling TV