|LONG JOHN SILVER||SCARLET PIMPERNEL||THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO||ROBIN HOOD||SIR LANCELOT|
|THE BUCCANEERS||SWORD of FREEDOM||IVANHOE||WILLIAM TELL||RICHARD THE LIONHEART||SIR FRANCIS DRAKE||ROBINSON CRUSOE|
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DINOSAUR TV FILMED HISTORICAL SERIES
My favourite of these series must be The Adventures of Robin Hood. This series from Sapphire Films, and eventually distributed by ITC set the standard which other imitations vainly tried to emulate. Next best ITC series was surely The Adventures of Sir Lancelot, with William Russell bidding fair to outshine even the one and only Richard Greene. William Tell was a later addition to the genre, and I'd rate this nearly a success. The Buccaneers, changing horses in mid stream, never quite grabbed me, even though Robert Shaw made a swashbuckling hero. Sword of Freedom and the Count of Monte Cristo were, for me, the weakest, of these ITC series. The last of the line, as it were, Sir Francis Drake, had spirit, as well as a better budget, but exuded little charisma from its star who was always a trifle wooden.
Of the others, Roger Moore made a fine contribution with his Ivanhoe, and Richard the Lionheart was enjoyable, and perhaps the most historically authentic, if that matters.
Though not made in Britain, I have included Long John Silver in this section, because, well, because how can Robert Newton be forgotten?
So why did the genre die, in effect, after Sir Francis Drake? No filmed historical drama series were made after this one for a while, perhaps it was because the settings required bigger budgets than producers could afford. Or perhaps this was combined with the fact that the accent was now on hour long filmed series, and it was felt that the target audience of mainly children wouldn't concentrate for so long. Or was it simply because the formula was past its sell-by date? Surely not. Couldn't we have enjoyed The Vikings, or William The Conqueror, or The Canterbury Tales, or Bonnie Prince Charlie? Question- From the currently missing series Gay Cavalier, identify the well known actor on the left
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1 The Coming of Robin Hood - a brilliant opening story that sets the tone for the series. The return of Robin, hero of the Crusades,"away too long," who finds a Norman, the foppish Sir Roger inhabiting his castle. King John's representative, a certain Sheriff, declares Robin an outlaw after Robin saves a forester (Alfie Bass) from brutal punishment, and falsely accuses Robin of killing Sir Roger also. "A grave injustice," but Robin seeks out these "Englishmen forced to live like animals," and joins them
2 The Moneylender - Robin teaches outlaw Will (Bruce Seton) to only rob the wicked, like debt collector Sir Herbert (Leo McKern) whose excessive interest charged to his payees is returned to the debtors, much to their surprise. As Herbert is in the pay of the Sheriff, he angrily tries to round up the outlaws, wounding Will and killing, he thinks, Robin, by burning him alive in a hut. But though Will dies, he passes his mantle on, "follow Robin"
3 Dead or Alive - Introducing a "seven foot oaf... they don't make men like this." Having offended the Earl of Bedford, John is offered his freedom if he can catch an outlaw. He rounds up Robin himself, but when the treachery of the Sheriff's men becomes transparent, John helps Robin escape
4 Friar Tuck - "a stalwart fellow with a sword" needs Robin's aid to prevent an evil lord's arranged marriage between Mildred and Sir William (Leslie Phillips). Some verbal trickery by the friar dissuades the vacillating Sir William from the union. As a result Mildred is promptly married to her true love, thwarting the Sheriff and putting Friar Tuck in his bad books
5 Maid Marian - Robin "meets his match" as Marian joins the outlaws in an attempt to hand Robin over to the sheriff- after all she knows he has robbed her jewels. As Peter, she infiltrates the outlaw band, none seem to penetrate her disguise! Robin is lured into a trap and his public hanging is joyfully declared by the sheriff. When she learns her jewels have been returned, she pays a last visit to Robin in the dungeon, and secretly lets him escape
6 The Inquisitor - "The fat brown friar" is kept out of the way in the priory dungeon since the archbishop is coming to Nottingham. Tuck mustn't be allowed to tell of Robin, who however, rescues the Friar from torture by the Inquisitor. Robin poses as said torturer and takes Tuck into the presence of the archbishop to give his "confession"
7 The Knight Who Came to Dinner
8 The Challenge - Giles Black is a champion, and "as one gentleman to another," the Sheriff arranges with Sir Richard an archery contest with the outlaws. Of course Robin is victorious and you can bet the Sheriff's really no gent, and shows his hand when Robin and Little John are attacked as they leave Sir Richard's castle, "you blundering idiots." Robin escapes back into the castle, which the Sheriff besieges, to the despair of Sir Richard, a nice comedy role for Ian Hunter. Friar Tuck doesn't mind the long siege, since he's guzzling Sir Richard's provender, and Robin isn't dissatisfied since Marian is with them. A desperate Sir Richard finds a way for their escape, to the Sheriff's dismay, "that fiend Robin Hood, shall I ever get my hands on him?"
9 Queen Eleanor - The redoubtable Queen Mother is collecting funds for the Crusade, even receiving a "handsome" contribution from the Sheriff himself. Of course, he plans to snatch it back with interest and even blame Robin's men to boot. But wily Robin gets those fake outlaws arrested and the money is safely transported away
10 Checkmate - Naughty Count de Waldern (Leslie Phillips) thinks he's teaching Lady Marian how to play chess, but what he really wants is to play Love. On the other hand, she's really there to string him along whilst Robin rescues the Count's prisoners from his "impregnable" castle
11 A Guest for the Gallows - Will cannot pay the Sheriff's exorbitant taxes. "I'd like to strangle him," growls Little John- of the sheriff. Robin lures the sheriff into a Sherwood trap, "you're Robin Hood!" A simple exchange is agreed, in this story with some style, the Sheriff of course never keeping his word, "shoot your blockheads!" One nice touch is the document the Sheriff is forced to sign by Robin, at the bottom look for the name, "A Wheatley Sheriff"
12 The Ordeal
13 A Husband for Marian
14 The Highlander
15 The Youngest Outlaw - Arthur, King Richard's heir, has escaped from Walden Castle to join the outlaws. Robin has to return him to his mother, only Robin seems a bit thick and hands the lad over to an imposter, who is bent on the lad's demise
16 The Betrothal - Old Sir Richard has lost, inevitably, in a tourney, but can't raise the cash payment to Sir Miles. To impress Gladys (Jennifer Jayne) and her dad Sir Hugh, to persuade him to marry Richard's effeminate son Claude, Robin & Co pass themselves as nobles, but the scheme backfires when Sir Hugh selects Robin as his future son-in-law. A swordfight sorts out the honours
17 The Alchemist - Outlaw Rolf's "old crone" of a mother is to be burnt as a witch. Robin is "so sentimental" that the sheriff is certain he will try to rescue her. He does, but not as the sheriff expects, but with a cat, some toads and "all the furies of hell"
18 The Jongleur - John orders an extra tax, eagerly gathered by the sheriff. For singing his protest, Master Bartholomew (Peter Hammond) is arrested, but he gets away and hides with Robin. After learning to be a jongleur, they enter the earl's castle where the tax money is stored. However Bartholomew is a spy and Robin is arrested and all but killed. A contrite jongleur rescues him from a dungeon, and they even have time to rob the tax collection before sneaking off, "don't let them get away!"
19 The Brothers - the old identical brothers motif. The serf Guy is in hiding from you know who, Tuck and Robin find a safe place for him at Whitby Abbey. So the nasty sheriff arrests his brother David. But a simple switch of the two in the dungeon, gives the bemused sheriff a wonderful line. His new prisoner, Guy, claims exemption under church law as he's become a monk, and so the poor sheriff is thwarted once more
20 The Intruders
21 The Sheriff's Boots
22 Errand of Mercy - Many of the poor people are down with St Anthony's Fire, so Robin creeps into Nottingham with some herbs for Anselm the Apothecary (Hal Osmond). The sherrif gets wind of Robin's mission and surrounds the area- "what a pleasure it'll be to hang him!" However Robin eludes capture when the sherrif's soldiers, "cowardly dogs," refuse to go near the plague victims. But with Robin injured, it looks like curtains. Indeed, out of the gates he is carried, in the Death Cart.... but then a miraculous recovery!
23 The Vandals
24 Richard the Lionheart
25 Ladies of Sherwood
26 Will Scarlet - The "louts" of Sherwood clash with Will of Winchester (Ronald Howard), whom the Sheriff is after, once he has been discovered under the bed of Olivia, the Sheriff's niece. After the usual treachery from you know who, Will decides to join the band
27 The Deserted Castle - "This is serious, Robin"- is John planning an alliance twixt himself and France? The Queen Mother orders Robin to scupper it. French emissaries are rerouted to an empty castle where Robin poses as the sheriff, insulting his foreign guests who nevertheless agree to his outrageous terms. The real sheriff besieges the castle, but the queen saves the day
28 The Miser- a pleasant fairy tale of Sir William who, facing extra taxes from the Sherrif, demands his peasants pay up. The money is delivered to Nottingham- "I am not amused," declares the sheriff, when he finds only buttons. For Robin has intercepted the payment and redistributed it to the poor peasants. Sir William is persuaded that buttons can be magicked into silver and collects every button he can find in his castle, a nice ruse by Robin to relieve Sir William of his ill gotten fortune
29 Trial by Battle- Sir Gyles has posed as Robin to try and rob the King's Commissioner. Robin saves the day and Marian shadows the loyal servant of King Richard to Nottingham Castle, where he is murdered. Marian has been framed by Sir Gyles and even the bad Sheriff can't really believe her guilty- but the evidence is against her. She elects trial by battle, and her champion is... you can guess!
30 Children of the Greenwood- Young Oswald and Alice are taken in hand by nasty Sir Giles, when Arthur their dad, falsely accused of murder, has to become an outlaw. But they escape and are reunited with dad. However they can't stay with the outlaws. Oswald performs "an exploit" to impress Robin, this is to capture Sir Giles himself. Luckily Arthur is found to be innocent so they can return home. Not that much to do with Robin Hood in all this
31 The May Queen- With Sir Richard Donnington killed in the Crusades, his son Gilbert inherits his castle. It all looks rosy, for he is to marry Genevieve. However her ambitious father (John Longden) is eager for power and tries to break Walter with the aid of the Count de Clifford, and of course the Sheriff. On May Day, on the Field of Honour the Count's Champion will do battle with Walter, it will be a very one sided contest, but wait a minute...
32 The Wanderer - local physicians disagree with Joseph the healer over their diagnosis of Sir Walter's ailment, and persuade the sheriff to ban treatment of any families of the outlaws. When Derwent's son is injured, Robin gets Joseph to help the lad, and Robin is nearly caught (again!) by the sheriff. The pair have a sword fight
33 The Byzantine Treasure - Gold and jewels are the latest rich capture for The Outlaws. But they are in for disappointment, for they belong to Queen Eleanor, so Robin takes the booty to the impoverished castle of Sir Richard of the Lea, where the Archbishop will later collect it. Unwisely Sir Richard shows off his temporary riches, and "Norman vultures," in the shape of the sheriff's deputy are hovering
34 Secret Mission - From France, the irascible Peregrinus (Patrick Barr) has come, and seeks out Robin Hood. So does the sheriff who amazingly offers a free pardon if the outlaws will fight Prince John's cause. No way! Peregrinus comes in useful, intercepting a list of supporters of the prince, being sent to him. Then the stranger reveals his identity...
35 Tables Turned - Suzette and Francois are captured in error by Derwent- they are only children, and they enjoy a whale of a time with the outlaws. When Robin returns them, it is he who is captured. Marian informs the outlaws who ride to the rescue, only to discover the children have already got him free
36 The Traitor- The ransom for imprisoned King Richard has been collected and of course stolen. Robin follows the thief who cunningly arrests Robin for stealing it, and Robin is sentenced to the gallows. Though it's a trick to get the outlaws to rescue him, and be captured themselves, a maid saves Robin who is able to take the treasure to its rightful place
37 The Thorkil Ghost- On Hallowe'en, it's up to Robin to lay the ghost that's frightening Harold, and with a friendly hunchback, bloodcurdling screams and a torture chamber this is not your usual Robin Hood jollity. Why even nice Barbara Mullen is playing a villainess!
38 The Wager - Robin bets Friar Tuck that he can get more gold by begging than the friar can by praying. After gambling his Sherwood Green for a beggar's clothing, Robin robs some dishonest beggars. Tuck bamboozles two rogue Norman monks at a shrine. Of course, Robin repays the beggars' loot to a poor widow and narrowly avoids capture. But Tuck is "not ashamed of his efforts"
39 The Prisoner- Prince John is to be crowned king on the morrow, so Robin and Marian gallop to London to rescue Blondel, King Richard's envoy whom John has imprisoned. He has the proof that Richard yet lives. Donald Pleasence steals the show with his portrayal of John, a demented fop
Robin Hood menu
118 Goodbye Little John
119 The Oath
120 A Race Against Time
121 The Edge and the Point
122 The Champion
123 The Debt
124 The Parting Guest
125 The Bagpiper
126 The Pharoah Stones
127 A Touch of Fever
128 Six Strings to his Bow
129 The Devil You Don't Know
130 The Lady-Killer
131 A Bushel of Apples
132 Tuck's Love Day
133 The Loaf
135 The Flying Sorcerer
136 Bride for an Outlaw
137 Double Trouble
138 The Truce
139 The Charm Pedlar
140 The Reluctant Rebel
141 Hostage for a Hangman
142 Hue and Cry
The Devil You Don't Know
A poignant moment as the Sheriff bows out, giving his new deputy Ralph a last lesson in how not to catch Robin Hood.
Alan-a-Dale has been taken prisoner.
Thus Alan Wheatley bows out of the series with some dignity, "there he goes- the old fox"