“Robin of Locksley arrives home from the Crusades to find his people starving and brutalised under the oppression rule of the new Sheriff of Nottingham. He quickly discovers that the only way to reason with this ruthless tyrant is with bow and arrow – even if it means sacrificing his title and his lands and consigning himself to life in the forest.
Soon the defiant Robin and his faithful, if slightly unenthusiastic manservant Much gather a band of talented outlaws including ingenious engineer Will Scarlett, man-mountain Little John and Allan A Dale, a fantastic liar. But can they match the cunning and brute force of the Sheriff and his bullying sidekick Sir Guy of Gisbourne?”
Clip ep1, S1:
Welcome to the swashbuckling world of Robin Hood full of love, passion, romance, action and adventure. A place for fans new and old.
Robin Hood lived a life of three series on BBC One between 2006-2009. It was created by Dominic Minghella and Foz Allan in association with Tiger Aspect Productions for the BBC. The considerable success of Doctor Who had proved that there was an appetite for more family tea time drama. Filmed in Budapest, Hungary, Robin Hood aimed to attract a Saturday family tea time audience whilst Doctor Who was off air being filmed.
In order to differentiate Robin Hood from previous interpretations of the legend, the show was reimagined, with a modern twist. The ‘maid’ part of Marian’s name was dropped and a wonderful, strong female character was created. This, along with a young cast and costumes with a modern feel, aimed to connect the show with a younger audience. The first episode of Robin Hood was broadcast on the evening of Saturday 7th October 2006.
The first episode of series one drew an impressive 8 million viewers, ending with an average of 5 million viewers.
Having been well received, cast and written with gripping stories, Robin Hood was commissioned for a second series to be broadcast in 2007.
Robin Hood returned on 6th October 2007 and the first episode attracted an audience of just over 6 million viewers. The plot and characters were developed further, with darker villains and higher stakes. The finale was shown back to back and like series one, received an audience of over 5 million viewers.
Robin Hood returned for a third series. However after the explosive finale of series two, one of the shows key writers and creators, Dominic Minghella, took the decision to leave. Unfortunately, it was decided that Robin Hood was not to be aired in 2008, with Doctor Who and the BBC’s recently successful Merlin taking place instead. While Doctor Who took a break in 2009 in anticipation for David Tennant’s regeneration, it was Robin Hood‘s chance to prove that it still deserved a place in the now rather competitive tea time drama slot.
BBC Drama as it stood 2008/2009
Sadly Robin Hood suffered. The departure of Francis Tempest also led to a huge fundamental change in the costume design which made Robin Hood feel like a completely different show. Having been away for over a year, it almost felt alien. New characters were introduced and whilst some were good, others seemed like bad replacements for previous strong characters. They didn’t feel needed. There is no doubt that some direction was lost with the departure of Dominic Minghella. His contribution was greatly missed and it would have been interesting to see his version of the third series.
Despite big changes and challenges, Robin Hood fought hard. It delivered some beautiful episodes. Although some character development was lost, the strength of the writing and acting was still evident in places. The music was still amazing, particularly for the series finale. It was still Robin Hood.
However Jonas Armstrong’s announcement on 7th August 2008 that he would be departing Robin Hood, towards the final third of the third series, delivered a further blow to the shows survival. With this in mind, the show began to take some bold moves in its story telling in order to launch into a series four (my dream). This was a risky strategy and may well have worked had Robin Hood survived beyond series three.
Yet despite the obstacles Robin Hood faced in its third series, it did seem that there was a light at the end of the tunnel regarding its future. The Stage reported in January 2009 that Sally Wainwright, who at the time was a television writer, creator and producer, had been asked by the BBC and Tiger Aspect to ‘reinvent’ Robin Hood beyond series three. Noting that she would aim to keep the character of Robin Hood in some way, Wainwright acknowledged that she had been approached after she submitted a thirteen part series titled The Ballad of Black Nell which was never commissioned. The Stage article echoes that of two later published by the Guardian in April and June 2009. One reported on the potential decision to move Robin Hood production from Hungary to Scotland, whilst the other mused over the potential of Clive Standen’s Archer beyond series three.
Whilst these articles have led to conclusions that a series four, directly linked to the previous series, was being considered, I think it more likely that the option of a spin-off was being looked at more closely. With a different writer and producer taking the helm; production potentially scaling down by moving to Scotland; and no Robin Hood, I think a different show in its own right was coming to fruition. Perhaps some of the cast would have returned, with huge potential for new characters and story lines. However the reality is we will never know, because despite its phenomenal finale, despite tugging at the heart strings for a series four, it was felt that Robin Hood had come to an end.
Although Robin Hood‘s popularity remained strong, with an audience of over 6 million for episode one of series three, Robin Hood suffered a final blow. On 27 June 2009, The finale to the third series was abruptly shoved onto BBC Two with a third round Wimbledon Andy Murray match having been moved to BBC One. With the show being broadcast 15 minutes later than originally scheduled, it struggled to compete with the popular Andy Murray match. The finale of series three attracted a disappointing 2.43 million viewers.
Three weeks after the original broadcast of the series finale, Radio Times noted the considerable response they had received from disappointed viewers over the controversial handling of the finale. Although fans had thoroughly enjoyed the final episode of series three, there was a consensus that the finale had been handled clumsily by the BBC. Wittingly commenting that they had received no response from tennis fans praising the BBC for keeping Andy Murray on BBC One over Robin Hood, Radio Times reassured unimpressed fans that the finale would be given a repeat on BBC One on Saturday 11th July 2009. It would get its chance to shine in the prime time slot it had occupied for the last three years.
Yet it was too little too late. The decision had already been made to axe Robin Hood before the re-run even aired. After failing to perform in difficult circumstances, it seemed the show itself was blamed rather than the way in which the finale was handled. News outlets began reporting the BBC’s decision to cancel Robin Hood over 2 and 3 July 2009.
Although there would have undoubtedly been other factors involved in Robin Hood‘s cancellation, we all know how heavily viewing figures weigh in on the survival of a television show. Hence Robin Hood being cancelled just five days after the finale originally aired.
To this day, I still believe that finale deserved better. There is no denying that poor viewing figures for the finale contributed to the decision to axe the show. But I do not think it was fair to expect such a consistently popular show to be expected to compete with the likes of a prolific Andy Murray Wimbledon match. Were children ever going to win the battle for the television remote if Mum, Dad or the majority of the family wanted to keep watching the tennis? Only adults and families that were not overly interested in the tennis would have been willing to tune in for Robin Hood. I am sure if Robin Hood had been broadcast with its usual competition, it would have faired better.
The viewing figures for the finale alone should not be allowed to form a judgment on the future popularity and potential of Robin Hood. Whilst we can only speculate about how influential the poor viewing figures for the finale were in leading to Robin Hood‘s cancellation, one thing remains certain: the finale deserved better. Although Robin Hood got a re-run, a judgement on its future should have been made after the repeat had aired, not before. At the very least, the viewing figures for the BBC Two and BBC One airing should have been combined to enable a fairer assessment than they got. After the romantic and adventurous journey Robin Hood had taken families on, it faced an undeserved dismal end.
However Robin Hood continues to live in the hearts of those that saw through the tough challenges series three faced. Although Robin Hood was created just before the era of box set binging and large, loyal fan bases, it still proved an almighty force. All three series are invaluable, telling a crucial part of the Robin Hood story fans continue to love. The success of a show should never be solely measured by its viewing figures, but by the messages and emotions it conveys. For me, the quality of the music, costumes, writing, casting and acting are more important.
It is a show that I will never forget.
As the show has been off the air for ten years now, I would like to share as much content as possible. Therefore I cannot guarantee a complete spoiler free experience. The best places to stay away from will be ‘Stills’ in ‘Pictures’, some of the videos (although I will attempt to split these into spoiler free and non spoiler free), the episode reviews and a limited selection of the character descriptions (I have made sure to keep many of these spoiler free as if you were new to the show). If you do not mind the spoilers, then feel free to go on ahead. However if not, then I would recommend a quick binge of the show so you can enjoy all the content of A Different Kind of Hood spoiler free!
Robin Hood remains an integral part of British identity and is a story that has been told for centuries. With new adaptations constantly being passed on through generations, there is no doubt that Robin Hood is a legend so deeply rooted in British culture that it is often overlooked. I encourage you to explore the ‘History’ page in the menu for more information on the general legend of Robin Hood.
For now, I invite you to explore a different story. A story that is not new its creation, but an adaptation that is timeless. This is not the story of Robin Hood as you know it. Discover a different kind of hood.