Nothing’s forgotten. Nothing is ever forgotten.
Celebrating 35 years of
Robin of Sherwood.
Exclusive Guest Interview
As the sunlight splinters in a thousand pieces upon the forest floor, we once again find ourselves in Sherwood. This is an ancient land, a strange one where the morning mist hints at the myths and legends that this green canvas inspires.
We are continuing with our celebrations of all things Robin of Sherwood today, and it is my very great pleasure to welcome Jason Connery onto the blog. For those who are fans of the show, and for those of you who are checking out the show for the first time, Jason took on the iconic role of Robin Hood in 1986.
Hi Jason, welcome to Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots. It is so fabulous that you could join us today and talk about Robin of Sherwood.
When the credits rolled at the end of The Greatest Enemy, which saw the death of Michael Praed’s beloved character Robin of Loxley, the fans were left with a promise of a new Hooded Man and a continuation of the story.
How did you come by the role of Robert of Huntingdon?
I was called by my agent who said they were re-casting “Robin” for Robin of Sherwood and they were looking for someone quite different from Michael, as they had an idea for a completely different character, that actually Robin was an amalgam of different people and that one of the stories was of an Earl’s son.
Straight away there was a notable difference between your character and Michael’s, and you certainly brought something wonderfully new to the series. Were you a fan of the show before you became a part of it?
I knew of the show, but had been working in the theatre quite a bit and so I was on stage on Saturdays, and recording shows was not big back then!!
What was the first day on set like?
Well there was quite a lead in to the first show, I had been practicing all sorts of fighting with the other Merries, so I had got to know them a bit before starting. The first episode I did was actually Adam Bell and it was lovely to start with a story about a man who used in some ways to be a Robin Hood character back in the day and Bryan Marshall was lovely to work with, so my first day, although scary was so much fun!
"Adam Bell" was a fantastic episode, and Bryan Marshall made a fabulous antagonist. I think we can all agree that you brought something very new to the story in your characterisation of Robin. How much influence did you have on how you portrayed him?
Kip Carpenter the writer was such an amazing man so full of fun and he loved to tell stories obviously, he was very open to us all bringing ideas, and he and I did spend a lot of time with Judi talking about how she and I would get together as it was incredibly important that she had time to get over her lose. We also spoke a lot about how I was to bring the Merries back together and not just round them up and off we go, they needed to really want to follow a new leader.
Which leads me very nicely into the next question. In the opening episodes of Season 3, Robert finds himself in some very sticky situations. Not only does he have to fight Lord Owen of Clun, but he also has to fight several merry men — including Will Scarlet, as he tries to convince them of his worth. The fight scenes were superbly choreographed and very memorable. Of all the weapons that Robin uses, which one was the most challenging to get to grips with?
Luckily, I had done some sword fighting in past jobs so that was okay, but I did get bashed on the head with Clive’s staff in the fight scene we had in the opening double episode, forgot to cover for the top shot!! Which of course Clive thought was hilarious!! But I think in some ways the hardest was firing the bow and arrow at speed, if you don’t nock the arrow exactly right, it all goes wrong very quickly and if your Robin and it goes wrong, your street cred goes out the window!!!
It would not do for Robin to miss his target! I have had a go at using a longbow and it not easy, you, of course, made it look simple! There are some very memorable villains in Robin of Sherwood. Your character’s nemesis was, with the exception of the Sheriff of Nottingham and Sir Guy of Gisborne, Gulnar — played by the fabulous Richard O'Brien. Who was your favourite villain in the series and why?
There were so many villains in ROS, it’s tough to name one, of course Richard O’Brien came back a number of times so we did get to know him better than the rest of the guest stars and he was great fun to work with always looking for different ways to stir up the magical side of his abilities. Another great Villain was Valentine Pelka who played Sarak, he was the strong silent type and his swordplay did his talking, great fight between him and Mark Ryan.
The sword fight between Mark and Valentine was amazing. What was your most memorable scene while filming?
I will say one of the most memorable was getting my eyebrows and full fringe burnt off my face when standing over the lake in Cromm Cruac, there was just meant to be a small fire explosion over the lake, but it was a lot bigger than intended, the look on the make-up girls face when she saw me was “Memorable”!! But honestly there was so many, it was such a joy to go to work everyday. I am friends to this day with all the Merries and many of the rest of the cast and crew. It was quite early in my career and I thought all jobs were like that but actually they aren’t and I do feel so blessed to have been part of the show and the people in it.
Oh, my goodness, I can see why that would be memorable! Apart from the singed hair and eyebrows, did Robin of Sherwood change your life in any way?
It did in so many ways. I had never worked with such an array of people and for an extended amount of time. I was on television every Saturday for a while and experienced being a known face, which was very new to me, I had seen it with my Dad but had not experienced it myself, it opened up my career to many other jobs and I traveled all over the world, but best in some ways, it gave me some of the closest friends who I adore to this day.
Moving away from Robin of Sherwood very briefly. What made you decided to come away from working in front of the camera, and become a director?
I really feel it is a natural transition, I love telling stories and to be able to do it from not just one perspective but from many and encompass the whole story is a lot more work and commitment but incredibly rewarding.
You are also very supportive of the next generation of filmmakers, and you are a patron of The Bath School of Acting. How important is it to you, to encourage future filmmakers?
I do think it’s important. Back in LA I started something called “Short Mondays” where film makers could show their shot films and then do a Q and A afterwards. I did a play with Tristan Carter who runs The Bath School of Acting and he asked me to be involved, I think passing on anything that might be of use and connecting people together is the framework for a successful society.
Let’s head back to Sherwood...
I am sure many of Robin of Sherwood’s loyal fans know that in recent years you and several members of the cast have worked with Barnaby Eaton-Jones and Spiteful Puppet to bring us a Robin of Sherwood audio drama. What was your initial reaction when you were asked if this was something you would like to be a part of? What was it like to be back almost thirty years later, playing Robin?
I was quite surprised about how protective I felt about the show and also the fans that love it. I didn’t want to do something that was a pale copy of the original, in fact we all talked about that a lot. The script used was an actual “Kip” script that was never made, and we all knew Barnaby from the conferences, so there was a level of trust. The most rewarding part was actually watching the fans faces listening to the 5 minute promo that was played when we all met up, it was very moving to see them all close their eyes and hear new words being spoken for the first time, by characters they knew and loved.
Thirty-five years on and Robin of Sherwood is still enjoyed by so many people. What kind of legacy do you hope Robin of Sherwood will leave for future generations?
Of course when you make a show, you hope people like it, but you never think “will they like it in 35 years time”!!! If people continue to garner enjoyment from the show, I couldn’t ask for anything more. When we do conventions and fans bring their children, who they have introduced to the show and they also love it, even if they are quite confused about why I don’t look anything like the Robin they have watched on ROS!!
|Jason Connery (Robin) , Mark Ryan (Nasir) , Clive Mantle (Little John), Peter Llewellyn Williams Much), Phil Rose (Friar Tuck).
Thank you so much Jason, for taking the time out to talk about Robin of Sherwood with us today!!
Now, dear readers, it is over to you. What is your favourite episode of Robin of Sherwood and why?
Pop your answers in the comments.