Jenny Kane: Coffee, cupcakes, chocolate and contemporary fiction / Jennifer Ash: Medieval crime with hints of Ellis Peters and Robin Hood

Tag: Barnaby Eaton Jones

The Barren Author: staring Richard O’Brien and Sophie Aldred

As many of you will know, I have been lucky enough, over the last few years, to work for the brilliant Spiteful Puppet on several Robin of Sherwood projects.  However, there are far more strings to their bow than that. (See what I did there?!!)

Spiteful Puppet’s latest project is something truly special – and how could it not be, with the incredible Richard O’Brien and Sophie Aldred at the helm!

It is my pleasure, to be able to bring you all the info…. why not take a peep?

(Artwork- by Robert Hammond)

‘Rocky Horror’ legend Richard O’Brien
stars in ‘The Barren Author’
a new six-part audio comedy-drama
inspired by the fantastical stories of Baron Munchausen
His co-star is Sophie Aldred – Dr Who companion ‘Ace’

Forty-seven years after he created the sci-fi stage and film cult favourite ‘The Rocky Horror Show’, Richard O’Brien has taken a rare acting role to star in ‘The Barren Author’, a new 6-part audio comedy-drama inspired by the stories of Baron Munchausen by Rudolf Erich Raspe.

Richard O’Brien recording ‘The Barren Author’ in his native New Zealand

O’Brien plays The Brigadier, who is telling the tale in sessions via video calls to the mysterious Smith (Sophie Aldred). But is she all she says she is, and what – in fact – is she? A publisher, a psychiatrist, or in league with
forces of evil?
The original Munchausen stories about a fictional German nobleman first appeared in 1785 in the book ‘Baron Munchausen’s Narrative of his Marvellous Travels and Campaigns in Russia’.and told of his impossible
achievements as a sportsman, soldier, and traveller including riding on a cannonball, fighting a 40-foot crocodile, and travelling to the Moon.

Sophie Aldred in London

‘The Barren Author’, written by Paul Birch, produced and directed by Barnaby Eaton-Jones, is not a literal
adaptation of the Munchausen stories but takes instead the satirical, provocative and absurd spirit of the original tales and reimagines them for 2020.

Richard O’Brien said: “I find it enjoyable being allowed to play someone who views the truth as a moveable feast. Should I improve on doing so, I shall, most likely, turn my future ambition towards running some great nation; or other.”
Sophie Aldred said:“This was the best fun I could have hoped for in the airing cupboard all lockdown! I loved being the straight woman to Richard O’Brien’s ridiculous character’s funny. I can’t wait to hear the whole thing spliced together.”
Producer/Director Barnaby Eaton-Jones said: “I’ve always loved the madness and satirical bite of the Baron Munchausen tales, and was bowled over by Terry Gilliam’s film version in 1988 as a youngster, but I’d had an idea kicking around for a while of taking the core concept, keeping some of the well-known elements, and updating the tales in a contemporary setting. I wanted to keep the surreal nature and that blurring of fantasy and reality (is it real or is it not?). I am very lucky to share a sense of humour and a close friendship with the writer I asked to adapt my treatment, Paul Birch, and his six episodes really have flown off into a direction that’s extraordinary. The great thing about audio is all of this scope can be achieved, whereas would have been astronomical for television or film! Right from the very start, I could hear Richard O’Brien’s voice in my head as our main character and I was so bowled over that the scripts excited him enough to take on the role (and suggesting his own creative enhancements to them – which is always the sign of an actor properly engaging with the material). Pairing him with Sophie Aldred, who’s a delight as his confidante and possible future nemesis, just created the perfect chemistry for a must-listen-to-tale in six half hour episodes. My fingers are crossed for people loving it enough to ask for another series of escapades!”

You can listen to a trailer for this fabulous adventure – as well as enjoy an article about The Barron Author in the Radio Times!! (yes- the Radio Times!!!)  – Radio Times article:

Richard O’Brien
Richard, who was born in 1942, began his life in the world of entertainment in 1965 when, at the age of 23, he rode horses in British-made movies. He had no desire to become a full-time stuntman and, wisely, took himself off to an evening
drama school, which claimed to adhere to the teaching principles of Stanislavski, Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler and anyone else that had decided to embrace the more ‘naturalistic’ approach to acting, commonly known as the Method.
In 1967, Richard became an ASM and understudy in a musical touring version of ‘The Barretts of Wimpole Street’, retitled as ‘Robert and Elizabeth’. He worked backstage in many West End theatres, most notably the Cambridge Theatre at Seven Dials, where, among other duties, he shone a limelight upon John Hanson who, at the age of 46, may well have been the oldest Student Prince that the world had ever laid eyes upon. In 1969, Richard joined an ensemble group in a joyous
production of Gulliver’s Travels at the Mermaid Theatre. This show was designed and directed by Sean Kenny.
The choreographer was a young Japanese Canadian called David Toguri and, the following year, Richard auditioned for him once again and joined the cast of the British touring production of the American ‘hippie’ musical ‘Hair’. After Hair came ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’, which was directed by Jim Sharman. The following year, 1973, Jim cast Richard in a Sam Shepard
play at the Royal Court Theatre’s Theatre Upstairs. It was here that he met Richard Hartley, his music partner of 40 years. ‘The Rocky Horror Show’ opened in July of the same year and, slowly but surely, became the biggest cult musical of all time.
Other highlights of Richard’s career are, of course, ‘The Crystal Maze’, a game show that warmed the autumn nights for Channel 4; the Child Catcher in the first stage production of ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’; performing for the Queen in the
gardens of Buckingham Palace upon Her Majesty’s 80th birthday, and playing Fagin in a New Zealand production of ‘Oliver!’.
In a career that has spanned nearly 50 years, Richard has acted with some of the biggest and best-known names in the industry and, lately, he has won over a new and younger crowd of fans as the voice of Lawrence Fletcher, the father of
‘Phineas and Ferb’, in the Disney cartoon series of the same name.
He is 78 years of age and refuses to make eye contact with the Grim Reaper.

Sophie Aldred

Sophie Aldred is an English actress and television presenter, best known for her portrayal of Ace alongside Seventh Doctor, Sylvester McCoy.
Aldred was born in Greenwich, London, but grew up in nearby Blackheath. She attended Blackheath High School from 1973 until 1980, before enrolling as a drama student at University of Manchester. She graduated in 1983 and decided to embark on a career in children’s theatre.
In 1987, she was cast as Ace in ‘Doctor Who’. Her tenure on the show spanned the last nine stories of the programme’s original run, which ended in 1989.
Both before and since ‘Doctor Who’, Aldred has had a varied and busy television career, particularly in children’s
programming, where she has presented educational programmes such as ‘Corners’, ‘Melvin and Maureen’s Music-a-grams’, long-running BBC series ‘Words and Pictures’ and also CITV paranormal show ‘It’s a Mystery ‘in 1996. She also played the character Minnie The Mini Magician from Series 8 onwards on CITV’s ‘ZZZap!’ between 1999 and 2001.
Aldred has presented and sung in several BBC Schools Radio series, including ‘Singing Together’, ‘Music Workshop’, ‘Time and Tune’ and ‘Music Box’.
She has also performed on radio and in the theatre. She has also reprised her role as Ace in the charity special ‘Dimensions in Time’ and the Doctor Who audio plays produced by Big Finish Productions. Throughout the 2000s she has worked
extensively as a voice-over artist for television advertisements, and has also provided voices for animated series such as ‘Bob the Builder’ and ‘Dennis & Gnasher’.
Sophie Aldred married Vince Henderson on 12 July 1997. They have two sons, Adam and William.

Paul Birch (Writer)

Based in York, Paul is an award-winning writer, actor, and practitioner. He has made work for and with the BBC, Birmingham Rep, Cheltenham Everyman Theatre, ITV, and York Theatre Royal; to name but a few. His work has twice won him the play-writing residence at Leeds Playhouse and his adaptation of Spiteful Puppet’s ‘Passport To Oblivion’ won the ‘Best Drama Special’ at the 2020 New York Festival Awards. He is the Artistic Director of Out of Character Theatre Company, devising, writing and directing theatre pieces dealing specifically with mental illness.

Barnaby Eaton-Jones (Producer/Director)
Based in Gloucestershire, Barnaby is an award-winning audio writer, director and producer. He revived ‘The
Goodies’ for Audible in 2019 (with Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie, with guest stars Joanna Lumley and Jon Culshaw) and resurrected and toured the classic radio comedy ‘I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again’ for stage; as well as a new series for BBC Radio 4 Extra. He co-adapted, directed and produced the spy
thriller ‘Passport To Oblivion’ (starring George Lazenby, Terence Stamp and Glynis Barber) which recently won Best Drama Special at the New York Festivals Awards in April 2020. He produces, directs and writes the new
‘Robin of Sherwood’ audios (with ITV Global), which features all the original cast of this classic 1980’s television series – Ray Winstone, Jason Connery, Clive Mantle and Nickolas Grace, to name but a few. He is the Creative Director of Spiteful Puppet Entertainment Ltd, who – in 2019 and 2020 – produced the highly successful musical cabaret ‘Musik’, performed by Frances Barber, written by Jonathan Harvey, and with music by the Pet Shop Boys.

Spiteful Puppet

Spiteful Puppet Entertainment Limited has provided audio content for BBC Radio, ITV Global and Audible; as well as
originating theatre work for the Edinburgh Festival, the West End and touring provincial theatres. They have partnered with publisher Chinbeard Books for a range of critically acclaimed books which have encompassed cult television shows and original content. They are primarily known for audio drama and comedy; winning a host of awards for their expertise in this particular field. We always count ourselves very lucky that we get to work with great voice actors, composers, studio engineers and sound designers who enable us to bring our stories to life.

Creative Team
Sound Design Joseph Fox
Music Abigail Fox
Songs Darrel Maclaine
Design and Illustration Robert Hammond
Sound Engineer Nigel Masters at The Boat Shed Studios, New Zealand
Produced by Spiteful Puppet in association with AUK

‘The Barren Author’
Price: £3.99 each episode or £19.95 for all 6
if bought together 

Happy listening,

Jenny xx

Download Today: Fitzwarren’s Well

A brand new Robin of Sherwood story is available to download from Spiteful Puppet!

Fitzwarren’s Well is a full cast (acted not narrated) audio story, staring Judi Trott as Marion.

Fancy a trailer care of the Radio Times? (Yes! The Radio Times!!!) Here you go –

Here’s the blurb-

Will Scarlet is regretting buying new boots as he walks home from Lichfield, desperate to get back to Sherwood. A worried Marion intercepts him with terrible news of a sickness that has laid low the rest of the outlaws.

A journey to the Lady of the Well is their one hope.

But the Lady will only help those she deems worthy… and someone is busy convincing her that they are not.


Richard Carpenter’s ROBIN OF SHERWOOD
By Jennifer Ash

Starring JUDI TROTT as Maid Marion



(Set during Series Three, between ‘Rutterkin’ and ‘The Time of the Wolf’)

Artwork: Anthony Lamb
Sound Design: Joseph Fox
Soundtrack: Arpeggio Creative
Produced & Directed by Barnaby Eaton-Jones

Television series Robin Of Sherwood © HTV/Goldcrest Films & Television 1983. Created by Richard Carpenter, with grateful thanks to his Estate.

Once upon a time a 14 year old girl fell in love with a story. The Robin Hood story.

Almost 34 years later, that same girl has – by some miracle – found herself writing for Spiteful Puppet – the power behind the new Robin of Sherwood audios and books – and adding, in a very small way, to that same story.

It is such a joy! Not only do I get to write lines for characters from my favourite television show – I also get to write for incredible guest stars.

The story of Fitzwarren’s Well evolved from an idea that Barnaby Eaton Jones – Spiteful Puppet’s producer, script editor, budget juggler, and actor – had not long after lockdown was imposed.

He wanted a tale that reflected – but did not copy – our current socially isolated situation.

The story was to involve two of Robin Hood’s outlaws (Marion and Will Scarlet), and two extra characters with whom they could interact – in this case Herne and a man called Fitzwarren. Obviously, we are in lockdown, so only actors with their own audio equipment could be involved in this production.

You will notice from the cast list above however, that rather than having a cast of four, we have a cast of six. This is because, when I was writing the story I accidentally invented the ‘Lady of the Well’ – and once I’d got her in my head, I couldn’t shift her.

Barnaby- being a forgiving sort- magically found the brilliant Sarah Greene (of Blue Peter fame) to provide the Lady of the Well’s voice. It has to be said, she plays the role to perfection.

At this point, I thought I’d finished writing the story – but then I received a phone call saying that the fantastic Mr Ian Ogilvy- on hearing that there was an opportunity to bring Lord Edgar of Huntingdon back for a cameo – offered his services. And so, there I was, suddenly writing lines for another of my acting heroes.

The result was Fitzwarren’s Well – of which I’ll say no more, for fear of spoiling the story.

You can buy your copy of Fitzwarren’s Well for download from Spiteful Puppet – here.


Happy listening,

Jennifer xx


Nothing Forgotten: The Hooded Man Event

This weekend I found myself in a situation I never thought I’d be in. Okay- that’s a sentence I’ve said fairly often since I started this writing lark (especially when I’m being that Kay Jaybee person).

This weekend however, it is totally true.

As I type this I am reflecting on two days sat in a room of stall holders within the beautiful St Pierre Marriott Hotel, nr Chepstow. Why so far from home?  I was attending The Hooded Man event- a celebration of the immensely popular television series from the 1980’s- Robin of Sherwood.

You cannot have escaped noticing if you’re a follower of this blog, that I am something of a Robin Hood fan. I like everything about the legend- and that love was engendered by Robin of Sherwood. I don’t claim that it saved my life or anything, but it set my imagination racing off in a direction previously unexplored- and it hasn’t stopped racing since.

I never thought I’d be in a situation where I’d be able to thank some of the people that sparked that flame of interest in me a shy teenager. A spark that took me on a journey which has been both exciting and unexpected, and has taken me from archaeologist, to medieval historian, to novelist, literary festival organiser, writing tutor and, in the future, who knows what else.

So here I am now- a day after the event- in the corner of the cafe where I write my fiction; thinking about the experience of selling my books to the conference attendees. It is incredible how many people I met that feel their lives have been as influenced by the simple act of watching a television programme. And- if I’m honest- feeling oddly emotional that I did have the chance to say thank you- and that my words were appreciated, and not merely kindly tolerated.

This particular event is especially important for RoS fan’s. For the first time in 30 years, all the surviving cast members have reunited to record an audio follow up the final televised episode, which was first televised in 1986. This new episode, The Knights of the Apocalypse, stars Jason Connery as Robin, and has been produced by the lovely Barnaby Eaton-Jones.

With Barnaby Eaton-Jones

With Barnaby Eaton-Jones

It is thanks to Barnaby that I was at the event, surrounded by those men and women who set my life on its roller coaster course. Jason Connery, Michael Praed, Judy Trott, Mark Ryan, Peter Llewellyn Williams, Clive Mantle, Jeremy Bulloch, Claire Toeman, Michael Craig, James Coombes, Rula Lenska and Marcus Gilbert were all present, and correct, and on fine form. As was the incredible force of nature that is Esta Charkham, the programmes casting director and then producer. The woman has a magic eye for casting- thank goodness!

The cast are all so kind, friendly- and very funny. Mark Ryan (Nasir) has had us all in stitches many times with his- shall we say ‘puckish’ sense of humour! This was particularly the case when the cast performed a ‘cut scene’ from the audio show live on the event stage- I can’t tell you what it was about- but the humour was adult, and it was very very funny. I will not mention Mark’s disco dancing, as that would be cruel…. I will tell you however, that we were all treated- all be it 30 years late to witness the wedding of Little John and Meg of Wickham- thanks to vicar Barnaby!

Wedding of Little John and Meg – (Official event photo)

There were many interview sessions held throughout the day, and although I was unable to attend many as I was busy selling my words to unwitting passersby, those I did see were so much fun. Held together by “The last word in RoS himself”- Andrew Orton- (if you are a fan, and you haven’t purchased his two volume set The Hooded Man– then pop them on your Christmas list the very minute), the cast chats were informative and light hearted, and it was clear that every actor, whether they have gone on to be household names, or whether it was their only acting job, have as much affection for the show as those that came to see them.


My book, Romancing Robin Hood, contains the line ‘It’s all Jason Connery’s fault.’ So when Jason came to my stand, those were the first words I (unintentionally), found myself speaking- which luckily, he found funny. Somehow I managed to intrigue him enough for him to buy a copy. It is a weird feeling when a renowned actor and director asks for my autograph. A situation which repeated itself later, when Peter (Much) also bought a copy. I am – of course- now terrified neither of them will like it!! If I had been thinking straight, I would have asked them for a photograph of them holding my book, but I wasn’t thinking straight. In fact I was thinking, these are two extremely kind men, who have a word-ish creatively that I understand totally, and in different circumstances I would have loved to have talked words with them for much longer. (Yes that is what I was thinking!! Honestly- you doubters you!!!)

As well as having the chance to acquire autographs and photos with the stars; there was plenty of opportunity to eat way too much medieval fayre (with the odd drop of alcohol). There were excellent displays of archery and sword play from Bowlore, Andrew Orton was busy selling his much respected books on the background to the series, and there was the chance to buy fabulous event t-shirts. You could also buy these gorgeous little figures inspired by the show; the event had lots to offer.

The days past have been truly wonderful. They have added greatly to my store of memories and- without a doubt- will form the basis for a new story. Trust me- the people watching alone could fuel a trilogy!

I made some lovely new friends, put faces to the names of Facebook friends, and finally caught up with the lovely Jonathan Greene, who is writing the novel version of The Knights of the Apocalypse. Actually- he was sat next to me writing it for most of Sunday- it was soooo hard not too peep!


A final thank you to Barnaby and his delicious wife, Kim.

When Richard ‘Kip’ Carpenter first penned the catchphrase, ‘Nothing’s Forgotten’ for Robin of Sherwood over thirty years ago, I wonder if he had any idea how pertinent those words would become.

Nothings Forgotten. Nothing is ever forgotten.

Jenny x

RH- RoS 2


Nothing’s Forgotten: An Interview with #KOTA Producer Barnaby Eaton-Jones

I’m delighted to be interviewing the producer of  the brand new Robin of Sherwood audio production today (The Knights of the Apocalypse #KOTA) – Barnaby Eaton-Jones- today!

Got your coffee and cake? Feet up for five minutes? Then let’s begin!


How did you get involved in #KOTA?

I was asked to co-produce by Simon Barnard, of Bafflegab Productions, as I’d been organising the 30th anniversary ‘Robin Of Sherwood’ celebration – The Hooded Man 2014, which made history by being the only event to have both Hooded Men together at the same time and on stage together being interviewed; Michael Praed and Jason Connery. It was I who liaised with Richard ‘Kip’ Carpenter’s estate and suggested we use the unproduced KOTA script, as well as asking all the surviving actors from the show whether they wanted to come on board. Sadly, Simon left the project in late 2015 and I become sole Producer and basically started the production again (re-casting, re-writing, booking new studios, finding a new audio company – Spiteful Puppet – and generally making sure that ITV and Kip’s estate didn’t pull the plug on it, which was very, very close to happening). It was all rather hectic but I think the production become stronger because of it.

Judi Trott and Nickolas Grace

Judi Trott and Nickolas Grace

Have you always like RH/RoS? You’re much too young to have watched RoS when it aired the first time around.

You flatter me! Ha. I am easily old enough to have watched it the first time round. When the show ended, I was hitting my teenage years, and so I recall it all with great clarity and loved every second of it. I think I’d always had a fascination with Robin Hood (I recall reading the ‘proper’ legend, which was anything but, that had been written by Enid Blyton – a simplified version of the most well-known tale – when I was young. But, Robin Of Sherwood was a different chalice of mead. It was rooted in the ’80s but yet seemingly tireless. It was rather ‘adult’ for a teatime adventure slot on ITV (there is talk in the first episode of Will Scarlet’s wife being raped by soldiers, hence his rather unhinged character and desire to fight the Normans). I eagerly awaited ‘Look-In’ (the TV guide for kids), that had a comic strip of the show in it and the odd article and I recall the confusion when Michael Praed’s Robin died and the next series saw the introduction of a new Hooded Man, in the form of Jason Connery’s Robert of Huntingdon. As I got older, I loved the fact that Kip had basically used the two most well-known legends for the outlaw – the first being a Saxon peasant, in the form of Robin of Loxley, and the second being a well-to-do song of an Earl, in the form of Robert of Huntingdon. Artistic leeway aside, with Kip’s interpretation featuring a regular Merry Man in the form of a Saracen called Nasir, I think his vision was pitch perfect for the show and I don’t believe there’s been one better before or since.

Recording of #KOTA

What’s your ‘real’ job?

My two little daughters will say it’s being a silly Daddy. I work from home, so I look after them. But, I basically do anything that’s creative. I’ve been a writer (documentaries on television, published book, published poet, etc), a publisher (Chinbeard Books Ltd), an actor (mostly on stage but a lot of voiceover work and the odd foray into the limelight), a director/producer (I just find projects easier to do if I sort them myself!), a musical tart (writing and performing comedy songs, not-comedy songs and, at one time, spending nearly a decade being Elwood in a 10-piece Blues Brothers tribute I managed), an improviser (my monthly comedy show has returned after a little break, to take a year-long residency in Cheltenham at The Playhouse) and an impressario (I have run The OFFSTAGE Theatre Group since 1993 and we’ve toured here and overseas with many original and ‘classic’ productions). It all sounds highly egotistical but, in a nutshell, my life has been geared to make people happy. I love that. It’s not for me, though of course it does make me happy too, but knowing an audience is having a good time – in comedy or in drama or in music – really fuels me. So, I try not to have an ego. If I do, I certainly keep it in my back pocket.

Colin Baker and Barnaby

Have you always been a ‘creative’ type?

Yes. See above. Ahem. At school, I was known for writing ‘too long stories’ (can stories be ‘too long’? I don’t think so). Often being given a subject and ending up finishing my exercise book and asking for a new one to end it in, as well as illustrating them too. I think that began as early as Infant School, as did my love of standing up and making people laugh. I was probably about 4 or 5 when I was cast as Grumpy in the school play and I only had one line – “I am Grumpy!” – but I still recall the roar of laughter when I said it and the feeling that I wanted to do that again and again.

Barnaby - radio

I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again

 What’s next for you after #KOTA has aired?

I’m currently putting together a tour for the revival of an old BBC Radio comedy series called ‘I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again’ (which starred John Cleese, Graeme Garden, Bill Oddie, Tim Brooke-Taylor, et all). We did a one-off version for charity, to see how it faired and it seemed to work well and attract a big audience. So, we’ve been kindly granted a longer licence by Graeme and Bill to tour with it. Plus, I’ve finally got time to get my publishing company back on track a bit. We’ve got a lot of books finished and ready to be released but I just haven’t had the time. Of course, I also need to be beaten up by my little daughters and make them laugh by falling over a lot.


Many thanks for such a great interview Barnaby- and for the exclusive photographs! I know you are extremely busy getting the #KOTA production ready in time for next months premiere!

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén