Maid Marian and her Merry Men

Maid Marian and her Merry Men
Maid Marian and her Merry Men
Maid Marian and Her Merry Men Series 1 DVD.jpg
Series 1 DVD cover
  • British Sitcom
  • Family Entertainment
Created by Tony Robinson
  • David Chilton
  • Nick Russell-Pavier
Country of origin United Kingdom
Language(s) English
No. of series 4
No. of episodes 26
Producer(s) Richard Callanan
Cinematography David Gautier
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time 25 minutes 1x 50 Minutes
Production company(s) BBC
Original channel BBC1
Original run 16 November 1989 (1989-11-16) – 16 February 1994 (1994-02-16)

Maid Marian and her Merry Men is a British children's sitcom created and written by Tony Robinson and directed by David Bell. It began in 1989 on BBC One and ran for four series, with the last episode shown in 1994. The show was a partially musical comic retelling of the legend of Robin Hood, placing Maid Marian in the role of leader of the Merry Men, and reducing Robin to an incompetent ex-tailor.

The programme was much appreciated by children and adults alike, and has been likened to Blackadder, not only for its historical setting and the presence of Tony Robinson (as well as early, uncredited, script editing work being undertaken by Richard Curtis), but also for its comic style. It is far more surreal than Blackadder, however, and drops even more (deliberate) anachronisms. Like many British children's programmes, there is a lot of social commentary sneakily inserted, as well as witty asides about the Royal family, buses running on time, etc.

Many of the plots featured, included or revolved around spoofing particular things, including films such as Jurassic Park and It Came From Outer Space, and television programmes, including The Crystal Maze and the long-running televised fundraiser Comic Relief. There were also frequent references to other Robin Hood incarnations, most notably ITV's Robin of Sherwood (and in particular that series' Clannad soundtrack is lampooned in the episode "The Whitish Knight") and the contemporary film adaptation Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. The latter actually features Howard Lew Lewis (Rabies) among its cast - hence his doubly witty line in the episode "They Came from Outer Space", which episode also passingly satirises the film for casting the lead with an American accent (Kevin Costner).

The show was such a success, there was an adaptation produced for the stage, a cartoon strip by Paul Cemmick which was serialised in the Daily Telegraph's children's paper "The Young Telegraph" (also available as a series of collections) and the programme was repeated on BBC One in 2001. Series 1 was released on video in 1990, with three episodes each on two tapes (a couple of slight variations in cover design exist for each), and all four series are available on DVD.

During the summer of 2009, G.O.L.D. repeated the entire 4 series.



  • Maid Marian (Kate Lonergan): a passionate and idealistic freedom fighter. Although the most intelligent of the gang, she often lets her idealism blind her to the realities of situations, most notably the rest of the gang's incompetence. She also isn't very patient, but she will always defend anyone who she feels is wronged. She often has mud in her hair.
  • The Sheriff of Nottingham (Tony Robinson): a devious plotter obsessed with collecting taxes. Given the first name 'Arnold' in the episode "Keeping Mum", ostensibly only to produce a later pun. While he is dedicated to stopping Marian, they sometimes find themselves in sympathy with each other regarding the complete stupidity of everyone else.
  • Robin of Kensington (Wayne Morris): an extremely vain tailor and a yuppie. Became seen as the leader of Marian's gang by accident, and remains because he sees it as a cool image to cultivate. His most significant contribution to the outlaws was nevertheless to insist they all wear green to "co-ordinate with the trees".
  • Barrington (Danny John-Jules): the resident Rasta Merry Man, who would often rap during the episodes' songs. He often acts as a kind of semi omniscient narrator (in a similar manner to Alan-a-Dale in more traditional versions).
  • Little Ron (Mike Edmonds): a very very short, insanely angry and violent Merry Man. Known to face the wrong way in ambushes. A parody of Little John.
  • Rabies (Howard Lew Lewis): another Merry Man, very strong, and very stupid, although with his heart in the right place.
  • King John (Forbes Collins, who also played John's brother, Richard the Lionheart, in the episode "The Whitish Knight", and Queen Eleanor, Guy of Gisbourne's mother, the joke being that all Royals look alike): a violent and unstable monarch. He is narcissistic and insecure, and becomes very angry at the thought of being unpopular with the peasants. His brother, who was thought to be a wise ruler who would bring England back to a Golden Age, is identical.
  • Gary and Graeme (Mark Billingham and David Lloyd): guards of the King's castle, and the Sheriff's henchmen. They're "bestest mates" and extremely affable, but in the tradition of clever villains with idiot sidekicks, not very clever most of the time. They are often very friendly with the Merry Men, who tend to return the sentiment - except when Gary and Graeme are doing what they're paid for. Graeme has a brother called Kevin. Graeme tends to enjoy things like torture and teasing the villagers more than Gary does, though Gary will challenge Graeme for the chance to do executions.
  • Guy of Gisbourne (Ramsay Gilderdale): the king's wet-behind-the-ears nephew, village idiot, and mummy's boy. Aged 27 but acts like a 4-year-old, has an imaginary friend and occasionally dresses in a tutu.
  • "Rotten" Rose Scargill (Siobhan Fogarty): rival to Maid Marian and both Marian's best friend and worst enemy. She's Robin Hood's biggest fan.

Secondary characters

  • Gladys and Snooker (Hilary Mason and Robin Chandler): two villagers of Worksop. Gladys is an elderly (and extremely stupid) peasant, fond of telling stories and legends, and hanging out with Barrington. She is Worksop's "wise old woman", but admits to being underqualified. Snooker (who also gets called "Stinker") is another extremely stupid peasant, who appears to be about 40. Named ostensibly for a single joke, his greatest claim to fame is apparently inventing a game involving a long stick, a table, and a number of coloured balls. Together, they serve as the mouthpieces of the village, but are generally no more intelligent than the peasants they speak for.
  • Nettle (Kerry Potter): a young female villager, who is definitely the equal of Marian in intelligence.
  • Chickweed (Karen Salt): a very young peasant girl.
  • Hayley (Carly Britnell), another young intelligent female villager. She had a comet named after her after she vomited as it shot across the sky. ("Hayley's Vomit".)
  • The Beast of Bolsover: a reference to the nickname of Dennis Skinner, then - and still - the Labour Party Member of Parliament for Bolsover and member of the Socialist Campaign Group. (Tony Robinson is a well-known Labour Party supporter, and was elected to the Labour Party's National Executive Committee in 2000.[1]
  • Eric "The Newt" Teasel: an archer, appearing in the episode "Robert The Incredible Chicken". From Epping Forest.
  • Cowpat: a pretty young village woman. She is a friend of Rose, and one of Robin's many fans. She appeared in "Rotten Rose (Part One)".
  • Clough: a tall, red haired and bearded village man, from Nottingham forest and sometimes seen about Worksop. Participated in the archery contest. The character name is a clear reference to Brian Clough, manager of English football team Nottingham Forest at the time.
  • Nigel Pargetter: semi-regularly appearing but uncredited peasant (actually Martin [Wills] O'Toole) who fell victim to a number of misfortunes, including being punched in the head several times, being crushed by a radiator during Bloopy, and having a large cucumber lodged in his head by Robin's lookalike. Named after a well-known character in long-running BBC Radio 4 soap opera, The Archers.
  • "Little Girl" (Kellie Bright): often found close to Gladys in the first series.
  • "Mad Prisoner" Christopher Nichol


The memorable music and songs for Maid Marian and Her Merry Men series were composed by Nick Russell-Pavier and David Chilton. Each episode contained either one or two songs, which were mostly originals but were sometimes parodies. According to commentaries on the DVDs, the actors were frequently dubbed in their singing voices, both by themselves and (more often) by professional singers in post-filming studio sessions. Gary, Graeme, Guy and Barrington almost always sing their own songs, however.

Series One: 1989

  1. How The Band Got Together: Mud (sung by Barrington)
  2. Robert The Incredible Chicken: The Story So Far (sung by Barrington)
  3. A Game Called John: Pancake Day (sung by Barrington)
  4. The Miracle Of Saint Charlene: Gotta Get Across (sung by Barrington, Marian, Robin, Rabies and Little Ron)
  5. The Sharp End of a Cow: Popular (sung by the Peasants)
  6. The Whitish Knight: The White Knight / The Whitish Knight

Series Two: 1990

  1. The Beast of Bolsover: Ambush! (sung by Barrington)
  2. The Worksop Egg Fairy: What Is Happening Here? (sung by Barrington); Bop For An Egg (sung by Barrington)
  3. Little Brown Noses: Against The Law (sung by Barrington); Colin's Release Song (sung by Marian, Robin, Barrington and Rabies)
  4. Rabies In Love: Rabies In Love; Wedding Today (sung by Nettle and the Peasants)
  5. Rotten Rose (Part One): Robin Hood (sung by Rose, Gladys and Cowpat)
  6. Rotten Rose (Part Two): Rotten Rose (sung by Barrington)

Series Three: 1993

  1. The Big Baby: Father Bloopy (sung by The Sheriff, Gary, Graeme and the Peasants); Don't Worry 'Bout The Pain (sung by Barrington, Marian, Robin and the Peasants)
  2. Driving Ambition: Take Action (sung by Barrington, Robin and Rabies. Note line by Marian "Stop Miming"); A Friend Like Rose (sung by Marian and Barrington)
  3. Keeping Mum: Pierced (sung by The Sheriff and the Peasants), Call The Dentist (sung by Barrington and the Peasants), Hurrah for the State of Luxemburg (sung a cappella by Gary and Graeme)
  4. They Came From Outer Space Only Child (sung by Marian, Barrington, Rabies and Little Ron); Naked To The Visible Eye (sung by Barrington and the Peasants)
  5. Robin and the Beansprout: I Wish They'd Put Their Heads Outside (sung by Barrington, Marian and Little Ron); Chop Suey (sung by Robin)
  6. The Great Mud Harvest: White Suit (sung by Robin and the Peasants)

Christmas Special: 1993

  1. Maid Marian and Much the Mini-Mart Manager's Son: Much The Mini-Mart Manager's Son (sung by Barrington); Deception (sung by Barrington and Much - note the line 'It's not him that's singing...')

Series Four: 1994

  1. Tunnel Vision: Double Trouble (sung by Barrington and Robin)
  2. Bouncy Sheriff: Friends Or Foes? (sung by Rose, Marian, The Sheriff, Gary, Graeme and the Peasants)
  3. Raining Forks: Vacation (sung by The Sheriff, King John, Robin, Barrington, Gary, Graeme and the Peasants); High Forks Night (sung by Barrington, Robin and Guy)
  4. The Wise Woman of Worksop: Here Comes Pixie Paul (sung by Rabies, Barrington and Little Ron)
  5. Robin The Bad: Thicky Stupid (sung by Robin); A Selection Of Amusing Things (sung by The Sheriff and the Peasants)
  6. The Nice Sumatran: The King Of England Is A Pig (sung by the coronation choir); Party People Party (sung by Barrington); Take My Heart (sung by Snooker)
  7. Voyage to the Bottom of the Forest: You're So Lazy (sung by Marian, Robin, Barrington and Little Ron); The Story Of Workflop (sung by The Sheriff, Gary and Graeme)


Maid Marian and her Merry Men won several awards, including the 1990 BAFTA for Best Children's Programme (Entertainment/Drama).[2] It was also nominated for the same award in 1991, losing to Press Gang.[3] The programme also won at least one award from the Royal Television Society, as well as the prestigious "Prix Jeunesse Variety Award" at the International Children's Programme Festival in Munich.[citation needed]


The programme was set in the very real Nottinghamshire town of Worksop, which, along with Mansfield, is one of the two closest modern day towns to the Major Oak, although the whole show was shot in Somerset. The outside scenes were filmed in woods near Minehead and the castle scenes in Cleeve Abbey in Washford.

Episode guide

Video and DVD releases


  • Series 1 was released in two volumes of 3 episodes each. In keeping with other BBC video releases of the time, such as Blackadder, each volume was named after an episode:
    • "How The Band Got Together" featured episodes 1-3.
    • "The Miracle of St Charlene" featured episodes 4-6.

Subsequent series were not released on video.

DVD (Region 2)

  • Series 1 - Released on 20 March 2006.[4]
  • Series 2 - Released on 24 July 2006.
  • Series 3 - Released on 23 October 2006. (Includes the 1993 Christmas special "Much, the Mini-Mart Manager's Son".)
  • Series 4 - Released on 19 February 2007.
  • Series 1-4 Box Set - Released on 22 September 2008.

Comic books

Written (and adapted) by Tony Robinson, illustrated by Paul Cemmick. Published by the BBC and Penguin Character Books Ltd. between 1989 and 1992.

Other materials

The programme was adapted for a stage musical (by Tony Robinson, Mark Billingham and David Lloyd) which toured several British theatres. The theatre programme (for the production at the Bristol Old Vic) featured new artwork by Paul Cemmick, showing Tony Robinson dreaming the production after being hit in the head by a football. The script for this production was later published in book format by Longman literature in 1992, as part of a series of BBC TV (and radio) plays to be used in classrooms at Key Stage 3 level (roughly ages 11–14). The book includes support material and activities for this purpose.

See also


External links

Fan sites

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