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

Tag: #KOTA

Review: Knights of the Apocalypse- Robin of Sherwood as you’ve never heard it before

For those of you who follow this blog, or who know me in what is laughingly called “real life,” you won’t be at all surprised to know that I loved the brand new Robin of Sherwood audio episode from the very start.

“But you were bound to love it!” I hear you cry – well no actually. Robin of Sherwood was a formative and important part of my life, and if this production had not done its predecessors justice, I would most certainly have said so.

RoS 2016 KOTA

The Knights of the Apocalypse stars the original cast of Robin of Sherwood, with Jason Connery as Robin, bar the late and much missed Robert Addie and Jon Abineri.

Addie was ably replaced as Guy of Gisborne by Freddie Fox, and the Lord of the Trees himself, Abineri, had his role taken on by his son. His voice is so spookily similar to Herne’s, that it was nigh on impossible to tell father and son apart.

The Knights of the Apocalypse was written after the end of the original series by the creator of Robin of Sherwood, Richard ‘Kip’ Carpenter, but it was never filmed. In tribute to Kip, who died in 2012, every penny in profit from the sales of #KOTA will go to his favourite charities

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As I donned my headphones- chocolate and drink to my side- ready to indulge in this two part episode of nostalgic heaven, I will confess to a slight increase in heartbeat as the first few sounds hit my ears.

Hoof beats…fast…through shadows…and there were voices…and then…the theme music! (The original series theme music, provided by Clannad, introduced both episodes) A smile passed over my face that felt just as broad as it did every time I settled down on a Saturday evening at 5.35pm, 30 years ago.

Judi Trott and Nickolas Grace

Judi Trott and Nickolas Grace

Listening with closed eyes throughout, I could hear and see every image. The visuals in my head were conjured by the sounds I heard as crisply as it would have been if I’d been watching on television. It was as if time had stopped and, to quote Alfred Noyes, “…the dead where coming back again, the years had rolled away- in Sherwood, in Sherwood, about the break of day….”

Yet, time hasn’t stopped. 30 years really has passed since we last left Robin and his men without Marion, who’d entered a nunnery in a turmoil at the end of the final televised episode. We have been left on a cliffhanger all that time…until now.

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Once Clannad’s theme of ‘Robin…the Hooded Man….’ had faded away, the audio tale begins with Robin giving a role call- yes, all the outlaws are there- even Marion.

I am keen to give no spoilers, and so will hold back from a detailed- or even vague- account of the story. I will say that every cast member was outstanding- that Nasir (played by the ever excellent Mark Ryan), spoke more in these 2 audio episodes than he did in the entire 3 televised shows, and that the show was very much stolen by Nickolas Grace as the Sheriff and Ray Winstone as Will Scarlett- partly because their lines were so clever, and partly because they delivered them with such humour.

Colin Baker and Barnaby

Colin Baker and Barnaby

There was humour, menace, tension, and a wonderful star studded support cast. Michael Craig returned as Robin’s father, the Earl of Huntingdon, and Philp Jackson reprised his role as the Sheriff’s brother, Abbot Hugo. Colin Baker and Anthony Head were superb guest stars. Head really has cornered the market in evil, almost pantomime, villains! It’s the laugh- he just has the evil laugh off to a tee!!

Directed by Robert Young, the original TV director, produced by Barnaby Eaton-Jones,  and put together by the executive producers, Spiteful Puppet Entertainment, who are an award-winning audio production company (BBC Drama Awards, New York Radio Festival); The Knights of the Apocalypse was excellent from start to finish.

There really is only one question left to ask…

When will there be another one?

Oh- and can I help write it/be in it/do something….? OK, so that’s a lot of questions…

If you don’t have your copy yet you can buy one here- https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/robin-of-sherwood-the-knights-of-the-apocalypse#/ and find out my details here – https://www.facebook.com/KnightsOfTheApocalypse/

Happy reading- or in this case- listening, everybody.

Jenny x

 

 

And breathe…

I think it’s fair to say that I’ve had a busy couple of months- but boy they have been so much fun!!!

Writing is, on the whole, a lonely business. You sit at your desk (or coffee shop table in my case), and let fictitious happenings fill your mind, flow through the arms into your fingers and onto the computer screen, or onto the pages of a notebook. These last eight weeks however, very little actual writing has had the chance to form as I’ve been on something of a grand tour book wise.

(Take a deep breath20160430_091519 before you read this paragraph- well, sentence!)

Starting back in April with a brilliant World Book Night event arranged by Annette Shaw down in Dartmouth, travelling on to Chepstow to sell copies of Romancing Robin Hood to the wonderful folk who attended this year’s Hooded Man event (celebrating the 30th anniversary of Jason Connery’s adoption of the role of Robin of Sherwood, as well as the birth of the latest Robin of Sherwood audio adventure, The Knights of the Apocalypse – #KOTA), before heading off to London to be part of the aforementioned #KOTA premiere, and then back to Tiverton to arrange the local literary festival, before I dashed- only an hour after the end of the festival- off again to the NEC in Birmingham to attend a book event and award ceremony for the ‘other me’.

Annette Shaw introduces World Book Night

 

The cast of Robin of Sherwood

The cast of Robin of Sherwood

In amongst all that my latest novel was released as well- not to mention there was real work, life etc to squeeze in.

Now I’m taking a minute (well, a day), to myself to let it all sink in before I start writing my next novel. This new story will be much inspired by my travels with the Robin of Sherwood crew. Called The Winter Outlaw it is to be based, not of RH himself, but a group of historically accountable noble outlaws who admired his stories. (Out Nov 2017)

My fingers are itching to write again- but first I need another cup of coffee!

I’ll leave you with a few more photographs from my recent adventures,

Many thanks for all your support as ever. Writers are nothing without readers,

Jenny x

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With Katie Fforde and the TivLitFest team

With Katie Fforde and the TivLitFest team

 

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

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

 

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Nothing’s Forgotten: The Premiere- Kindness and Camaraderie

With two days passed now since returning from the premiere of the new Robin of Sherwood audio production, The Knights of the Apocalypse, the daily routine of life has settled, and my next novel is getting a little more of the attention it needs if I’m ever going to reach the deadline. Before I get back on with reality- or my version of it at least – there is time for one more #KOTA blog.

The title of today’s blog is well chosen.

I have taken many things away from the #KOTA premiere; the most enduring feeling however- and I’m aware this is going to sound twee – was the sense of gratitude, of friendship, and of pure joy.

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Sat in the audience for the show, watching everything happen around me as I always do, I was struck once again that the actors before me were not just a group of people who were doing their job. These were men and women (well, woman really), who were friends. Some of them have stayed in the acting business, others have branched into other related disciplines, while some have moved on completely, but they have remained friends. That love and loyalty to each other came over in the piece of audio art they (along with Iain Meadows from Spiteful Puppets, Barnaby Eaton-Jones, and the brilliant producer, Robert Young), have created.

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It was during the Q&A session after the premiere had been aired, that this strength of friendship and camaraderie came across most of all. As the audience fired questions, the laughing actors on the stage revealed that, with the exception of Peter Llewellyn Williams (Much) – who was most put out at being the only honest one amongst them- had permanently ‘borrowed’ things from the set.

Judi Trott (Marion) keeps Marion’s hair in  a plastic bag in the wardrobe, Jason Connery has retained some of his outfit, and Mark Ryan (Nasir) has umpteen swords and a throwing dagger above his fireplace in LA….

We learnt that one evening in LA, not too long ago, Jason and Mark rather overdid the whisky, and Jason challenged Mark to a sword fight…we were not privy to know the outcome of this challenge!

We found out that Peter does own more than one jumper- a relief to those of us who attended The Hooded Man event almost two weeks ago.

I also discovered that Peter, who usually works alone these days, had suffered a massively sore throat as a result of all the talking he did at The Hooded Man Event. (I’m the same- I talk to hardly anyone all day- by the time I got home late on Saturday night I was sounding most husky).

I found out that the lovely lady sat next to me in the pub after the event went to Leicester University with me- and was doing the same course! (small world indeed), and it was revealed that, as a group, the RoS fans are not the best singers, despite the efforts of one of our number to keep us in tune.

Last of all I discovered that it’s a really really bad idea to run across London if you’ve accidentally packed a pair of jeans that are a size too big and you don’t have a belt…anyway…

Before I go, thanks again…

To  Iain Meadows for his splendid sound production- and for taking the time to chat to me despite being up to his eyes in things to do.

To the cast who made everyone feel as if they’d known us all their lives.

To Barnaby for being such a fine wearer of red glasses.

To Kim for her most excellent photography.

And to you, loyal blog reader, for putting up with me going on about Robin Hood rather more than I normally do!

Jenny x

Nothing’s Forgotten: The Premiere of The Knight’s of the Apocalypse #KOTA

Where to start? Thirty eight years after the beginning seems like a good place.

Two years ago, a producer of many a radio show, Mr Barnaby Eaton-Jones, ran an event called The Hooded Man. This was a celebration of the 1980’s television show, Robin of Sherwood, which finished approximately thirty years ago. That event, in 2014, was attended by many members of the original cast, and it set Barnaby a-thinking…an audio version of the final episode that Richard ‘Kip’ carpenter had been scripted but which had never been filmed…ummm…

KOTA prem notice

To cut a long story short, the cast said yes – and this weekend just past saw the audio premiere of The Knight of the Apocalypse (#KOTA), in the Guy Whittle Auditorium, within the Royal Society of Medicine building on Wimpole Street, London.

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Starring Jason Connery as Robin, the entire cast (except for the much missed Robert Addie, who has been ably replaced as Guy of Gisborne by Freddie Fox, and John Abineri, who has passed the torch of Herne the Hunter onto his son- who sounds so much like his father it is truly spooky), #KOTA carried on the story a little time after the final televised episode (The Time of the Wolf).

Unbelievably I, along with many other fans, found myself at the premiere. I must pause here to thanks Annette for organising the post and pre drinks venue- the Cock and Lion pub- where I met my fellow premiere revellers. And who should I find the moment I walked through the door, partaking of a drop of sustaining juice before they metaphorically donned their outlaw attire , but Peter Llewellyn Williams (Much) and Mark Ryan (Nasir).

We moved from the pub to the main venue, where champagne a plenty greeted us, along with the most splendid Barnaby Eaton-Jones.

With a film crew from the BBC keeping tabs on us (but not ITV curiously), we progressed- a little merrier than before- to the main event, and the auditorium itself.

In the presence of Jason Connery (Robin), Judi Trott (Marion), Peter Llewellyn Williams (Much), Mark Ryan (Nasir), Robert Young (producer), Iain Meadows (sound producer), and Barnaby himself, we settled down to giggle our way through a behind the scenes film of the recording.

I’m not going to tell you about the audio itself, because that would ruin it for you. I will tell you that the cheer that went up with the HTV music played, and the theme tuned sang out was probably heard far beyond nearby Bond Street. If you’d like to hear #KOTA for yourself, then you can order your copy here- https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/robin-of-sherwood-the-knights-of-the-apocalypse#/

After the show was over, a Q&A session followed, but I’ll tell you more about in the next blog tomorrow…

All too soon it was over, but there were still photos to be taken with the cast before we all returned to the Cock and Lion pub. I found myself sat with the delightful Mr Connery and some friends talking about life, the universe, and his latest film Tommy’s Honour, which opens the Edinburgh Festival in June- check it out. I’ve seen a bit, and it’s awesome.

What an incredible day we had- and now…well…now I’ll write another blog (but first I’d better do the ironing!)

Jenny x

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.

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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!

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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: Booking at The Hooded Man Event

What a year it’s turning out to be! There are days when I can’t believe my luck. Here I am, black coffee at my side (of course!), a packet of chocolate buttons on standby, a new book deal with WHSmith to sell my forthcoming novel, Another Glass of Champagne, in its airport, railway station, and service station shops, and two new novel contracts on the starting slopes- and, to add the cherry to my virtual cupcake, I have been invited to sell my part modern/part medieval novel, Romancing Robin Hood at this years celebration of all things ‘Robin of Sherwood’ – The Hooded Man II event.

romancingrhposterPROOF2

 

If you are a regular to this site, you’ll know that I have been running a series of blogs about Robin of Sherwood, which is being revived as a one off audio show called, The Knights of the Apocalypse. (#KOTA). If you’ve missed them, you can find the blogs here- Blog 1, Blog 2, Blog 3

I am looking forward to attending The Hooded Man event at Chepstow on 30th April- 1st May. I’m also a bit nervous!! This is a massive event, with people travelling from all over the world to attend- and I’ll be on my own with a pile of books!! However- I am SO excited. What an opportunity! Maybe- at last- I’ll be able to thank, in person, the people who set my life on its path of historical research and fiction!

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And what better day than this- 2nd April 2016- to announce that I’ll be attending this RoS event- as it was on this very day, at 5.35pm, 30 years ago, that Jason Connery first took his longbow as Robin Hood, in the opening episode of series three- Hernes Son (Part1) Where do the years go?!

I look forward to seeing some of you at the event!!

Happy reading,

Jenny x

 

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!

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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.

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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

Nothings Forgotten: The Enduring Appeal of Robin of Sherwood #KOTA

Last week, I put up a blog about what led me to write my part contemporary fiction (or RomCom if you prefer), and part medieval crime novel Romancing Robin Hood– my instant and unwavering love for the legend of Robin Hood, which struck when I first watched Robin of Sherwood on the television as a young teenager. You can read blog here- link https://jennykane.co.uk/blog/nothings-forgotten-the-robin-of-sherwood-effect/

This passion for the legend, and the simultaneous admiration for those who wrote, produced, and starred in Robin of Sherwood has recently been ignited further with the news that the cast have reunited to form an audio show, which follows the sort on from where the television left off, over 30 years ago!

Details of this new episode- The Knights of the Apocalypse (#KOTA) – which stars the original cast (with Jason Connery as Robin) can be found here- https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/robin-of-sherwood-the-knights-of-the-apocalypse#/

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Thanks to the kindness of the producer of #KOTA I have been allowed to promote my work a little on the various Robin of Sherwood fan sites- and I have been overwhelmed with the love out there for a show that has been missing from our screens for such a long time.

So- what is it about Robin of Sherwood that ignited the imaginations of so many- to the extent that, all these years later, an annual Hooded Man get together is still held every year in Chepstow, and the tickets for the premiere of #KOTA sold out in only a few hours.

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Dan Rendell – (CoModerator of the Robin of Sherwood Facebook site and former convention organiser)

I am sat here on a warm, sunny day in 2016, asked to write a few words re. Robin of Sherwood’s enduring appeal. A few words cannot possibly do justice to a show which has managed to shape much of my formative years, provide such pleasure, enjoyment, and focus. It has picked me up on not so great days, prompted warm fire-side discussions about comradeship, history and legend, and given me life-long friends, propelling my own personal journey of discovery.

How do you repay a man – the legendary screenwriter Kip Carpenter, for providing hours worth of storytelling of this legendary English folk hero? How to thank the actors, the crew, the directors and the money men who all sprinkled their magic ; let people push the envelope of their skills, having the freedom to do their best work – research, set the mood, and to sit down and lend their feedback to the stories so that they grew ‘richer’ than ever expected.

I think because we’re dealing with such legendary material and archetypes, this is the main reason we are still here today talking about a tv series. There’s a rebel in every one of us, not one of us hasn’t dreamt about trying to right wrongs and make a difference. Who hasn’t run through woods, walked through empty arched doorways, dreaming, and then shouting aloud high from up in the battlements of a forgotten castle ruin. No matter the age, we are forever young.

Robin and his men got to do these amazing things whilst battling the forces of evil week after week. Primitive English folklore ran through the very fibres of the stories making it multi faceted and lending a mythic reality that felt earthy and “right.”

Whilst the flesh may die, ideas are bulletproof. We saw our hero die, and then “reborn,” to go on to more exciting adventures. It kept moving and kept evolving, following the same gang of close knit brothers-in-arms, each with their own unique story to tell, their personal demons, and all fiercely loyal.

Music, art, history and myth rolled into a neat package that warmed our hearts, albeit for just three years, has managed to do that for thirty and is in no apparent hurry to be forgotten as we come full circle and start a new (old) story, in a brand new medium.

It’s a series that will stay with me for the rest of my days.

RH- RoS 2

Christine Alexander– (Manager of the official RoS fan club, Spirit of Sherwood, for over 25 years. Organiser of the longest running RoS convention, Weekend in Sherwood)

“I think Robin of Sherwood has an enduring appeal. When you watch the show, you are transported to Sherwood, and it never feels dated. I think the reason it has had such a loyal following all these years, in addition to the amazing quality of the writing, acting, and cinematography, are the strong themes of friendship, loyalty, and fighting for what is good and right, against all odds. There is this brave group of men and women who have joined together to fight for what they believe in. Peasant, noble, soldier, lady, farmer, pagan, Muslim, Christian, they come together in all their beautiful diversity. Mirroring the wonderful friendships on the series, some of the best friends I have made are through our common interest in Robin of Sherwood.”

Fay Jessop– (Teacher, author, and lifelong RoS fan)

“For me, the enduring appeal of RoS is down to a couple of things. Firstly, it’s always felt timeless, but still very much of its time. By that I mean that, as a seven year old I loved it for the adventure and the black and white, good versus evil that I saw, and as an adult, when I came back to it, I saw it more in shades of grey, as my more grown up mind (allegedly!) saw the characters as grown ups. I wanted to be Marian when I was seven; galloping on horseback through the countryside behind Robin and wearing a crown of flowers to wed. Then, twenty odd years later when I came back to RoS, I wanted to be Gisburne’s stable hand (but then I do love a good antagonist!).

The look of and feel of RoS is at once both the epitome of the 1980s and totally timeless – the landscapes, the soundtrack, the acting still feels fresh today (even if the pace is a little slower than what today’s kids would be used to), and holds up for a modern audience. It was shot, and edited, with such love, and you can see that in every single scene. HTV brought Kip’s vision of mysticism and medieval politics to the screen so beautifully, and that fusion of magic and more earthly struggle was really potent.

Finally, and this is going to seem weird, rediscovering RoS, and realising, twenty years on, that a lot of it was shot on my doorstep helped me to fall in love with Somerset. I’d watched it as a kid in Hampshire, but at age 14 my family relocated to Somerset. That wasn’t a great age to move across country! Somehow, all of the teenage angst I’d felt about this eventually went away when I discovered RoS again some years later – I was so excited to find out that Crooks Peak (where Loxley buys it) was actually a mile or two down the road (and visible from the upstairs windows of where I live now!), and Brent Knoll is just down the M5, that it helped me to lay a lot of ghosts to rest, lose a lot of the sadness at moving away from where In was born, and learn to love this beautiful, distinctive part of the world I’ve called home for twenty five years. It might have taken a long time, but seeing it on film, and appreciating the landscape around me, certainly helped!”

***

Micheal

I could fill this blog with many many more testimonials very similar to those above. I’d like to thank Dan, Christine, and Fay for taking the time to send their thoughts to me, to share with you today.

I’ll be back soon with more #KOFA and Hooded Man news…

Jenny x

 

 

Nothings Forgotten: The Robin of Sherwood Effect

It never ceases to amaze me how the small things in life ultimately have the ability to have such a massive impact on us later. Often we don’t even notice it happening until we suddenly look back and see that if “this hadn’t happened, then that wouldn’t have happened….” and on the chain goes, link after link, until you find yourself where you are right now.

For me the chain began with a single link thirty-ish years ago.

I was a very shy teenager- self-conscious- awkward- the stereotypical wall flower. (Part of me still is!!) When I was thirteen I became ill- nothing life threatening, but exhausting. As a consequence I was unable to go to school for several months. My parents- to whom I will always be grateful- went to the nearest Radio Rentals and hired one of those new fangled video recorders so I could watch television whenever I liked during the day.

User comments

The very day they signed that rental agreement, an episode of Robin of Sherwood aired on ITV (an HTV and Goldcrest production). That episode was called Adam Bell, and was the ninth episode of the third series- I watched it over and over again.

For the first time in my life I had fallen in love.

RH books 2

Not with any of the cast as such- I fell for the legend.  It truly wasn’t the tight tights that had captured my heart – it was the story. The whole story. All of it. I wanted to know everything- EVERYTHING- that could possibly be known about Robin Hood. No film, book (nonfiction or fiction), was safe from me.

RH- E Flynn

Errol Flynn- The Adventures of Robin Hood

My walls disappeared under posters of RH- any posters- from Errol Flynn, to Richard Greene, to the statue up in Nottingham, to the gorgeous Ray Winstone who played Will Scarlet (Okay- you have me there- I had – still do- have a soft spot for Ray Winstone- there is such a twinkle in those eyes!!!)

The interest became an obsession (In RH not Ray Winstone). When I was better my parents took me to Sherwood- I learnt archery, I read medieval political poems and ballads- I wanted to know the truth- did he exist or didn’t he?

I did a project on RH for my A’ level History. Then I went to university and did a specialist course in Medieval Castle and Ecclesiastical Architecture…I was a medieval junky!! It seemed only natural to do a PhD on the subject- and that is exactly what I did! And all because I’d watched an episode of Robin of Sherwood.

Robin Hood Statue- Nottingham

Robin Hood Statue- Nottingham

By this time (in my early twenties), I was pretty certain how and why the RH legend had begun- but I wanted to know who had influenced it into the form we know today, and how the real recorded crimes and daily life of the thirteenth and fourteenth century had effected those stories… (forget thinking RH was around with Richard I or King John- it ain’t happening!!)

It was my PhD that taught me to write- (a tome of epic proportions that is still knocking around my old Uni library gathering dust, while e-versions of it are scattered around many American Universities).

Rather than finish off my love of RH- my PhD polished it to perfection!! (Although nothing could make me like the Russell Crowe film- it made me want to scream it was so bad.)

Ray Winstone

Ray Winstone

I guess it was only a matter of time before I decided to write a novel about a Robin Hood obsessed historian.

Blurb-

Dr Grace Harper has loved the stories of Robin Hood ever since she first saw them on TV as a girl. Now, with her fortieth birthday just around the corner, she’s a successful academic in Medieval History, with a tenured position at a top university.

But Grace is in a bit of a rut. She’s supposed to be writing a textbook on a real-life medieval gang of high-class criminals – the Folvilles – but she keeps being drawn into the world of the novel she’s secretly writing – a novel which entwines the Folvilles with her long-time love of Robin Hood – and a feisty young girl named Mathilda, who is the key to a medieval mystery…

Meanwhile, Grace’s best friend Daisy – who’s as keen on animals as Grace is on the Merry Men – is unexpectedly getting married, and a reluctant Grace is press-ganged into being her bridesmaid. As Grace sees Daisy’s new-found happiness, she starts to re-evaluate her own life. Is her devotion to a man who may or may not have lived hundreds of years ago really a substitute for a real-life hero of her own? It doesn’t get any easier when she meets Dr Robert Franks – a rival academic who Grace is determined to dislike but finds herself being increasingly drawn to…

You can buy this crime/romance/modern/medieval novel from all good retailers, including-

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Romancing-Robin-Hood-Jenny-Kane-ebook/dp/B00M4838S2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407428558&sr=8-1&keywords=romancing+robin+hood

http://www.amazon.com/Romancing-Robin-Hood-love-story-ebook/dp/B00M4838S2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1409936409&sr=8-1&keywords=romancing+robin+hood

So here I am, 30 years from watching that initial episode- the parent of two children who also love Robin of Sherwood– and the story continues to have an effect.
Two weeks ago I had the good fortune- thanks to a fellow writer (bless you Fay!!!)- to come across a lovely chap called Barnaby Eaton Jones, who has managed the impossible. He has produced a brand new episode of Robin of Sherwood!! With the original cast (Jason Connery as Robin) he has put together (with the help of a brilliant cast and crew), an audio version of what happened next after the heart breaking end of series three.
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I’ll be blogging more about this new episode- The Knights of the Apocalypse (#KOTA)- in the near future. But if you want to check out what’s happening- and see some incredible cast pics- take a look here-
– the Sheriff of Nottingham has a message for you!
One thing has always bothered me- I believe in the importance of saying thank you. I have always wanted to thank the cast, crew, and writers of Robin of Sherwood. They set me on a course that has taken me from a shy child to an adult who has learnt how to handle that shyness, and given me a career I love. It’s difficult to do this without coming across like a crazed fan or some sort of hyper fan-girl (I’m neither- just a regular fan!)- but now I have that chance.
Thank you all.
Perhaps if I hadn’t watched RoS, I’d be doing something totally different with my days!?
“Nothing’s Forgotten. Nothing is ever forgotten.”
RH- RoS 2
Happy reading

Jenny

xxx

 

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