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1975 - Legend of Robin Hood

Film
Title The Legend of Robin Hood
Year 1975
Type Television series
Country UK
Company BBC TV/Time-Life Films
Episodes 6
Duration c. 50 to 54 min. each
Malcolm Rogers as the bishop of Durham.
Diane Keen as Lady Marion.
Lady Marion again because she is so beautiful and so very English.
Conrad Asquith as Little John, before handing Robin a staff.
Pamela Binns in a memorable if minor role as the Mad Woman.
David Dixon as prince John enjoying a chicken's leg.
And again, David Dixon as prince John.
Martin Potter as Robin Hood, earl of Huntingdon, in a characteristic moment.
Miles Anderson as Will Scarlet.
Tony Caunter as Friar Tuck.
Richard Speight as Much.
And Much not much later.
John Abineri as Sir Kenneth Neston, Lady Marion's father.
Paul Darrow as the sheriff of Nottingham, peeling an egg.
William Marlowe as Sir Guy of Gisborne.
David Ryall as the abbot of Grantham.
Geoffrey Russell as Longchamp.
Michael-John Jackson as Richard I.
David Dixon – not Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees – as Prince John, in the bath.
Yvonne Mitchell as Queen Eleanor.
BBC World Ltd./2 Entertain Video Ltd., © 2006. DVD 1, menu.
BBC World Ltd./2 Entertain Video Ltd., © 2006. Packaging, front.

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2014-07-20. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2017-05-06.

This 1975 six part BBC television series, first aired in the UK from 23 November to 28 December 1975, is somewhat more realistic in tone, costumes, and décor than earlier productions. Several critics have found Martin Potter's Robin Hood dour, but then perhaps they prefer Hollywood style over-acting. It is, on the other hand, incontrovertible that David Dixon as Prince John has an uncanny similarity to Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees as he looked around the time this TV series was made.

Plot

Episode 1

Setting out on crusade with Henry II, the Earl of Huntingdon leaves his infant son Robert with a foster father, John Hood, and a teacher/tutor, Father Ambrose. Years later young Robin sets out to London to claim his inheritance at Richard I's court. En route he saves Lady Marion Neston from being kidnapped while on her way to be married to the Norman lord Sir Guy of Gisborne. Robin is recognized as the new Earl of Huntingdon by Richard the Lionheart. The king chooses him as his squire to go on crusade with him and turns down – at least for the time being – Guy of Gisborne's request for permission to marry Lady Marion. At court Robin again meets Marion who is to be lady in waiting to the queen. On his way back to his estate Robin is about to be attacked by a band of outlaws as the episode ends.

Episode 2

The leader of the outlaws turns out to be Will Scarlet, son of the former steward of the manor of Huntingdon. On Robin's resinstatement as earl, the Abbot of Grantham has left Huntingdon castle completely empty. At the castle Robin and Scarlet are introduced to a hung over Friar Tuck, left behind fast asleep in the wine cellar by the abbot. He subsequently helps the outlaws retrieve Robin's possessions from the soldiers guarding the barn where the abbot has stashed the loot.

Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine expresses some sympathy for the unhappily betrothed Marion during a brief interview. Her son, Richard I, about to go on crusade, decides to leave his potentially disloyal brother Prince John in England, well provided for with the income from several counties and an exchequer of his own. Later the queen decides to go to her native Aquitaine while her son is on crusade.

Walter, a tenant of the Earl of Huntingdon and father of young Much, has been hanged by the sheriff of Nottingham to prevent him from revealing a plot he has accidentally got wind of. The plot, lead by the sheriff of Nottingham and backed by Sir Guy of Gisborne and the abbot of Grantham, has as its object to have Richard I killed by a monk onbooard his ship enroute to the continent and subsequently put an initially less than enthusiastic Prince John on the throne.

Robin and Marion meet, talk and kiss. Shortly before embarking on the crusade, Robin, made squire to Richard I, receives news about the plot from the outlaws who have been spying on the abbot of Grantham. Dressed as a monk, Robin at the monastery overhears the abbot of Grantham dying from a stab wound reveal the plot to his confessor. Robin is taken prisoner by the sheriff who has had him under surveillance. Producing Robin's signet ring in evidence and in order to further his own marriage plans, Guy of Gisborne tells Richard I that Robin renounces his allegiance and declines to follow his king to the Holy Land as he finds the notion of crusading "misguided". In anger, the king finally grants Sir Guy leave to marry Marion. Robin is immediately dispossessed and outlawed.

Set free by his men, Robin reveals to Richard I the details of the plot to kill him. A guard is told to search the intended assassin and kill him should a dagger be found on his person. Rather than reinstate Robin as earl and annul his outlawry, the king, still angry, tells Robin to absent himself, adding crytically (and prophetically) that perhaps he can find a way to serve him in England while he is away on crusade.

Episode 3

Robin Hood, who has taken to the forest, is being chased – unsuccessfully – by three of the sheriff's men. Sir Guy of Gisborne has taken over Robin's Huntingdon Castle, is plotting to acquire his earldom and is about to marry Lady Marion. He hints to Marion's father, Sir Kenneth Neston, that king Richard might die on his crusade to the Holy Land.

In the forest, the outlaws meet Friar Tuck, who invites them to set up their headquarters in his cave. The sheriff's men turn up but are sent scurrying away by Tuck's claim that the pit in front of his cave is full of vipers. Prince John is gaining allies. Two of Robin's men, carrying a poached animal, are attacked and beaten by Little John and Roland, his bloodthirsty companion.

The sheriff and Guy of Gisborne decide Robin must be killed: not only has he made his pursuers look foolish, he also overheard the abbot's confession about the plot against king Richard.

Robin seeks out Little John to warn him to leave the outlaws in peace. The famous staff fight on the river ensues; the two become friends. Little John tells Robin that Marion is about to be married to Sir Guy of Gisborne. Robin turns up at Huntingdon Castle in disguise and with a horse and cart but is caught and thrown into a cell. Sir Guy intends to have him hanged. Robin contrives to signal his presence to Marion, who is in the castle. The two meet in Robin's cell. He tells her he did not desert the king but was kept prisoner. She slips him a knife, with which he later manages to set himself free, aided by his men who shoot the castle guards.

Back in the outlaws' cave, Robin suspects he was betrayed by Little John as there was a price on his head. The outlaws again seek out Little John, who tells them the traitor was in fact not he but Roland, who has been killed for his treason. During confession, the Bishop of Durham advices the distressed Lady Marion to gain time by kaing a vow not to marry until king Richard has conquered the holy city of Jerusalem.

The village in which Little John lives is deserted, the houses were burnt down by the sheriff's men. An apparently mad woman living nearby tells the outlaws that all the villagers were forced to migrate to a place called Argentum. Latin for 'silver', Argentum turns out to be a silver mine where prince John and his cronies are forcing the villagers to work. Twenty silver bars is the result for prince John so far. The outlaws attack and kill the guards there. They confiscate enough silver bars from prince John to cover the rebuilding of the slave labourers' village, leaving the remainder for king Richard's crusade.

Episode 4

Sherwood Forest the outlaws are starving, not daring to kill a deer because the forest is teeming with foresters. At Ralph Gammon's suggestion the outlaws set out for his home village in the hope of obtaining food there. A wounded fugitive hotly pursued by two soldiers takes hiding outside Friar Tuck's cave. He is to be branded because he has not paid his taxes. On discovering the fugitive, the soldiers start beating him, but Friar Tuck intervenes, disposing of one with his staff and killing the other with a rock. Robin Hood and Ralph Gammon arrive at the scene where the latter recognizes the now unconscious fugitive as Cedric from his home village. Friar Tuck, now himself a killer on the run, joins the two outlaws. Instead of returning the three outlaws' greetings, two women with their children washing clothes in a river start running, clearly afraid of them though they would normally have given a warm welvome. At Ralph's home village the outlaws find children and women sick with hunger. The fields have just been harvested, but as it turns out, one-third of the harvest has had to be handed over to the sheriff for King John's crusade to the Holy Land, while another third was confiscated in taxes, and the sheriff's men have taken what was left. All is misery in the village. A villager Robin and Ralph talk to becomes agitated on learning the identity of Robin Hood: if the sheriff's men knew Robin is in the village they would burn it down.

Robin and Tuck bring The starved children to the mansion of Lady Marion's uncle, Sir Kenneth Neston, where they will be cared for Marion. On the way back to their cave Robin and his men run into a few of the sheriff's men who are vanquished in the ensuing fight. Back in the cave Robin decides that the outlaws must support themselves by levying a toll on all travellers through the forest. Sir Guy and the Sheriff will be killed should they be intercepted in the forest. The first victim is a merchant of Nittingham town.

When a survivor tells Sir Guy and the Sheriff about the attack on the Sheriff's men, they decide to double the reward for catching Robin Hood. They believe the villages will know where Robin can be found, so they must learn "how hard life can be unless they talk". The villagers are immediately told their taxes will be doubled, and they are harassed and beaten by the sheriff's men. However, the outlaws are on the spot, and the sheriff's men are stripped to their underwear and left tied up dangling from a branch.

In the forest the outlaws relieve the cellarer of St Mary's Abbey of his moeny and the sacks of foodstuffs his horse is carrying. Will Scarlet and Robin bring the food to the starving villagers. The outlaws intercept Sir Richard of the Lea who is brought to the outlaws' cave. He tells the outlaws he was on his way to the abbot of St Mary's, York, to tell him he cannot pay back the 400 marks he borrowed on the surety of his land. Sir Richard is found truthful when he says he cannot pay for the outlaws' food and hospitality. Robin lends the knight the 400 marks and sends Will Scarlet with him to St Mary's to repay the debt. Meanwhile, at the abbey the abbot can hardly wait to acquire the knight's lands, whereas the prior takes a much more merciful attitude. On arrival, the knight pretends he is unable to pay his debt. The abbot shows no mercy. The knight then puts the money on the table, rebusking the abbot for his avarice and heartlessness.

Back with the outlaws Will gives Robin a message from Sir Richard of the Lea. In three days Sir Guy and the sheriff of Nottingham will be in York to discuss some treasonable plan with the abbot of St Mary's. At the meeting the abbot is promised the archbishopric of York in return for his support of a plan to put Prince John on the throne. The abbot's personal fortune is to be brought to Nottingham for safekeeping, Sir Guy, the sheriff and their men are to act as guards during the transport. The abbot agrees to persuade Lady Marion to agree to marry Sir Guy. She is, however, adamant that the wedding cannot take place now but must be postponed until King Richard returns from the crusade.

The outlaws attack the money transport passing through the forest and are victorious after a brief fight with the guards. However, Will Scarlet is killed. Sir Guy and the Sheriff escape only to be told by the aboot of St Mary's at Nottingham that he will not support the conspiracy now that they have lost him his wealth. Sir Richard of the Lea takes the abbot's treasure to King Richard's collectors handing it to them in the name of Will Scarlet. Robin will not let Sir Richard pay back his debt. The knight instead presents the outlaws with one hundred bows and an arsenal of arrows with which to arm the villagers.

Episode 5

After King Richard has been taken prisoner by Duke Leopold of Austria, a nationwide collection is started in order to find the 150,000 marks required for his ransom. Friar Tuck and Little John rob two monks travelling through the woods. One of them is found in possession of a letter which reveals that money collected for the ransom is to be sent to Prince John's minions, the sheriff and Sir Guy of Gisborne, at Nottingham Castle. Longchamp accuses Prince John of stealing the money. While Robin has a rendezvous with Lady Marion in the forest, Gisborne turns up at Sir Kenneth Neston's castle and threatens to kill him unless he lets her have Lady Marion. Prince John and King Philip of France have arranged with Duke Leopold of Austria that he is to keep King Richard in prison indefinitely in return for a sum considerably larger than the ransom. Prince John is then to become king of England. Robin Hood is asked to come to Sir Kenneth Neston's castle, where he meets Queen Elinor and tells her about Prince John's devious plan. They arrange that Robin is to steal the money and bring it to Queen Elinor, who will then personally go to Austria to pay the ransom. The outlaws enter Nottingham Castle through a secret passage, tie up the Sheriff and Guy of Gisborne and make off with the ransom money. Just outside the castle they are attacked by the Sheriff's men who take Little John prisoner. The latter is to be hanged at dawn because as he steadfastly refuses to tell the sheriff from which port the ransom money is to be shipped to Austria. Meanwhile Guy of Gisborne kills Sir Kenneth Neston and abducts Lady Marion. The outlaws save Little John as he is about to be hanged. Tom, Sir Kenneth Neston's servant boy, tells the outlaws his master has been killed and Lady Marion abducted by Sir Guy of Gisborne.

Episode 6

The outlaws learn that Sir Guy of Gisborne has taken Lady Marion to Huntington. Sir Guy desperately wants to marry Lady Marion, but she could never marry her uncle's murderer. Robin challenges Sir Guy to mortal combat. Sir Guy, at first unwilling to accept a challenge from a 'vagrant', accepts after being accused of cowardice by Lady Marion. Robin kills Sir Guy and frees Marion from captivity. Robin, Little John and Marion set out for her uncle's castle, which she has inherited on his death. King John and the sheriff of Nottingham will have Robin hanged for killing Sir Guy.

Two men pretending to be members of Robin Hood's band murder the good and righteous bishop of Durham. As the rumour spreads, Robin's men become unpopular, leading a villager to inform the sheriff's men of the whereabouts of two members of Robin's band, Ralph Gammon and Much, who are promptly caught and hanged. Robin and John learn this from an inn-keeper in Nottingham. Prince John and the Great Council have Longchamp removed from office. He is imprisoned in the Tower by Prince John, who has been made regent. Friar Tuck arrives at the outlaws' cave, seriously ill. Queen Elinor and King Richard return to England, telling Prince John the official line will be that he had fallen under the influence of bad advisers while his brother was away. They will be punished, not the prince.

Friar Tuck dies before berries that could have cured him can be fetched. The false outlaw who killed the bishop of Durham is turned over to Robin Hood who discovers that he acted on the orders of the sheriff of Nottingham. King Richard orders the sheriff to surrender Nottigham castle, but he refuses to do so. Robin Hood and Little John bring the false outlaw to King Richard to tell the king that he acted on the sheriff's orders. The sheriff attempts to makes his escape from Nottingham castle through the secret passage but is caught by the outlaws and King Richard. Sir Guy is sentenced to death.

Robin goes back to Huntingdon castle, where he has arranged for Lady Marion to meet him. However, he is soon taken to bed with the illness that killed Friar Tuck. A servant boy is sent to fetch the berries that can cure the illness, but on returning with them he is intercepted by Sir Guy of Gisborne's sister, who instead of a preparation made from the berries administers a strong poison to Robin. He staggers out into the woods, where he dies. A little boy who was the last person to see Robin Hood alive runs to town to tell people Robin Hood is lying ill in the forest. Little John, accompanied by a grief stricken Lady Marion, shoots an arrow: "Where this arrow falls, there he'll lie".

Cast and credits

Cast

Role Actor Ep. 1 Ep. 2 Ep. 3 Ep. 4 Ep. 5 Ep. 6
Abbot of Grantham David Ryall
Abbot of St. Mary Kevin Stoney
Alaric Frank Vincent
Bishop of Durham Malcolm Rogers
Blondin Martin Duncan
Boy Giles Davis
Brett Andrew Secombe
Blondin Martin Duncan
Brother Bertram Roy Spencer
Castle Guard Micholas McArdle
Cellarer John Malcolm
Clerk Terence Woodfield
Crone Lovette Edwards
Earl of Huntingdon Anthony Garner
Edric Dennis Bond
Father Ambrose David King
Friar Tuck Tony Caunter
John Hood Trevor Griffiths
Lady Marion Diane Keen
Landlord Godfrey Jackman
Landlord Geoffrey Evans
Little John Conrad Asquith
Longchamp Geoffrey Russell
Mad Woman Pamela Binns
Mad Woman Pamela Binns
Merchant Hugh Martin
Military Prior Roy Marsden
Monk Harry Jones
Monk of Peterborough Anthony Heaton
Monk of Peterborough William Ridoutt
Much Richard Speight
Norman Sergeant Tony Doyle
Norman Soldier John Caesar
Norman Soldier Geoffrey Greenhill
Norman Soldier Roy Pattison
Old Woman Sheelah Wilcocks
Priest Geoffrey Larder
Prince John David Dixon
Prior Christopher Banks
Prioress Patricia Franklin
Queen Eleanor Yvonne Mitchell
Ralph Gammon Stephen Whittaker
Richard I Michael-John Jackson
Robber James Coyle
Robber Chief Robert Russell
Robin Hood Martin Potter
Roland Sidney Kean
Serving Girl Brigid Erin Bates
Sheriff of Nottingham Paul Darrow
Sir Brian de Champfleur Tony Steeedman
Sir Cedric Usher Michael Fleming
Sir Guy of Gisborne William Marlowe
Sir Kenneth Neston John Abineri
Sir Richard of the Lea Bernard Archard
Soldier Derek Ware
Tailor Gordon Reid
Thurkill William Simons
Tom Austin King
Villager David Monico
Waiting Woman Joyce Windsor
Will Scarlet Miles Anderson
Woodcutter Michael Stainton
Wrestler Malcom Weaver

Credits

Function Name Ep. 1 Ep. 2 Ep. 3 Ep. 4 Ep. 5 Ep. 6
Costumes Roger Reece
Designer David Spode
Director Eric Davidson
Fight Director William Hobbs
Film Cameraman Elmer Cossey
Film Editor Peter Evans
Film Sound Stan Nightingale
Make-Up Jean Steward
Music composed by Stanley Myers
Producer George Gallacio
Production Assistant Margot Hayhoe
Production Assistant Nick John
Script Editor Alistair Bell
Scriptwriter Alexander Barron
Scriptwriter Alistair Bell
Scriptwriter David Butler
Scriptwriter Robert Banks Stewart
Studio Lighting Brian Clemett
Studio Sound John Delany

Technical data and formats

  • Colour
  • Mono audio.

International transmissions

Country TV station Title Start date End date Weekday
UK BBC The Legend of Robin Hood 1975-11-23 1975-12-28 Sunday

DVD

Sources

Background