BBC One is to mark the launch of their new Robin Hood series with a Jonathan Ross presented special looking at the enduring popularity of a home-grown hero who’s a global icon.
With the help of leading experts on the subject, Jonathan explains how the Robin Hood who first appeared in medieval ballads was really just a working-class troublemaker. And he traces the gradual transformation of Robin to the figure that’s familiar today.
He also looks at how Tudor playwrights sent him upmarket when they decided that our hero should be a nobleman, and then how Robin became a man who robbed from the rich to give to the poor.
All that was before Sir Walter Scott transformed him into a Saxon freedom fighter, who battled evil, foreign Normans.
Along the way, Jonathan introduces some of the bizarre ways in which Robin Hood has been portrayed through the ages. This is a character that’s been portrayed by everyone from Keith Chegwin to Kermit the Frog and from Errol Flynn to Eric Morecambe.
There are clips from Spanish Robin Hood movies; a Canadian cartoon series which took Robin Hood into outer space; Star Trek – The Next Generation; and a recent – and very lavish – German stage production called Robin Hood – Das Musical, with the merry men camping it up in Sherwood Forest to some Teutonic tunes.
Jonathan also explores the background to famous versions such as the 1938 feature film The Adventures Of Robin Hood and the long-running television series starring Richard Greene, before hearing from some of the leading characters from the popular Eighties show, Robin Of Sherwood.
He also goes on location with the cast and crew of the new BBC series, meeting stars including Jonas Armstrong (who plays Robin Hood), Lucy Griffiths (Marian) and Keith Allen, who explains his take on the villainous Sheriff of Nottingham: "e;Imagine the Germans had conquered Britain and Captain Mainwaring had become a Nazi…"e;