Tony Robinson

Tony Robinson

Infobox Celebrity
name = Tony Robinson

image_size = 200px
caption = Tony Robinson (left) with Mick Aston and Guy de la Bédoyère on a Time Team shoot in 2007
birth_date = Birth date and age|1946|08|15|df=yes
birth_place = Leytonstone, London, England
death_date =
death_place =
occupation = Actor, broadcaster and political campaigner
salary =
Domestic Partner = Mary Shepherd
children = Two (one son, one daughter)
website =
footnotes =

Dr. Tony Robinson (born 15 August 1946 in Leytonstone, London) is an English actor, broadcaster and political campaigner, best known for playing Baldrick in the BBC television series "Blackadder", and for hosting Channel 4 programmes such as "Time Team" and "The Worst Jobs in History". Robinson is also a member of the Labour Party and served on its National Executive Committee. He has written 16 children's books and is currently presenting his own 4-part series, "Tony Robinson's Crime and Punishment" on Channel 4.

Early life

Born in Leytonstone, London, Robinson attended Wanstead High School in what is now the London Borough of Redbridge. His first professional acting role came at the age of 12, as a member of Fagin's gang in the original production of the musical "Oliver!", including a stint as the Artful Dodger when the boy playing the role didn't turn up. [ Unofficial Tony Robinson Website : Biography] ] He then spent five years during which he appeared in a number of West End shows, in film, and on television.

At school, Robinson passed four O Levels (English Language, English Literature, History and Geography) and went on to study for A Levels, but decided to study at a drama school instead. Too young to attend the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Robinson studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama. After leaving, he spent four years in repertory theatre.Chichester Festival Theatre programme 1976 ]

He won an Arts Council bursary to work as a director at the Midland Arts Theatre, Birmingham and founded the Avon Touring Company, a Bristol-based community theatre company, with writer David Illingworth.

He appeared in the 1974/75 season at Chichester Festival Theatre, as 'Angel Chicago' in the nativity musical "Follow The Star". In the 1975 season, he appeared as Hovstad in Ibsen's "Enemy of the People". In 1976, he appeared as Feste in "Twelfth Night", and as Majorin in "Monsieur Perrichon's Travels".

In the early 1970s he starred in the children's educational programme "Sam on Boff's Island", which was about a man who falls asleep while eating his breakfast cereal and ends up transported to an island which looks just like his cereal. He also appeared in the award-winning Horizon documentary "Joey", and in the title role in the BBC production of "The Miracle of Brother Humphrey". He also appeared in the film "Branningan" alongside John Wayne.

He was also one of the "Who Dares Wins" team in the ground-breaking Channel 4 comedy/satirical show during the early/mid-1980s.

"Blackadder" period (1983-1989)

Robinson came to prominence in 1983 for his role in the British historical sitcom "Blackadder", as Edmund Blackadder's dogsbody Baldrick. In the first series, broadcast as "The Black Adder", he was quite astute, whilst his master was an idiot. Later series ("Blackadder II", "Blackadder the Third", "Blackadder Goes Forth") moved the duo through history and switched the relationship: the Edmund of "Blackadder II" was an Elizabethan schemer, whereas Baldrick had devolved into an intellectually challenged buffoon whose catch phrase was "I have a cunning plan" (which he never did). His shortness (5' 4" (1.63 m)) was especially apparent next to his tall co-stars (Rowan Atkinson 5' 11", Hugh Laurie 6' 2.5", Stephen Fry 6' 5"), so Baldrick was frequently the butt of jokes.

In addition to his acting on "Blackadder", he also wrote and narrated several "Jackanory"-style children's programmes, encouraged by Richard Curtis. [ Tony Robinson's Cunning Plan : BBC News Online] ] These programmes would see Robinson bounding about the place acting out all the parts. Programmes in this style included "Tales From Fat Tulip's Garden" (continued in "Fat Tulip Too"), "Odysseus: The Greatest Hero of Them All" (a retelling of the "Iliad" and the "Odyssey"), and "Blood and Honey" (tales from the Old Testament, filmed on location).

In the late 1980s he created the children's comedy TV series "Maid Marian and her Merry Men", a loose retelling of the legend of Robin Hood in which he appeared as the Sheriff of Nottingham. Four series were broadcast on BBC1 during 1989-94. With its modern spin on ancient times, the hugely popular series was considered by many to be a junior equivalent of "Blackadder".Fact|date=July 2007

Beyond "Blackadder" (1989 - present)

After "Blackadder", Robinson became the narrator and one of the lead actors for the British animated series, "Nellie the Elephant", based on a song of the same name. The series ran from 1989 to 1991 and was shown on Children's ITV.

Robinson also presented the early-Saturday evening series "Stay Tooned" for BBC1, which featured a selection of classic Warner Brothers and MGM cartoons. The series ran for several years.

In 1994, Robinson began presenting "Time Team", a TV programme devoted to archaeological investigations limited to three days (the outcome is never guaranteed, varying from spectacular to disappointing). As of 2006, the series has been re-commissioned through 2007, with Robinson being drafted in to present other history-based shows on Channel 4, including "The Worst Jobs in History", researching and re-enacting some of the more horrible jobs of the past millennium. He also took this show on tour around the country along with an autobiographical question and answer session. This first series was followed by "The Worst Christmas Jobs in History" in December 2005 and then a second series of "The Worst Jobs in History" on Channel 4 in April 2006.

In 1999, Robinson returned to star in a one-off "Blackadder" short film to celebrate the millennium, titled "". This short film was shown in the Millennium Dome throughout 2000 and was later aired on BBC One in 2002.

"Tony Robinson's Cunning Night Out", a largely improvised stage show, followed in early 2005 and included a mix of the many themes from his career for which Robinson is famous. He also edited and presented "The Real Da Vinci Code", a documentary for Channel 4's "Weird World" series which countered the claims made by Dan Brown in his novel "The Da Vinci Code".

In addition to telling his own stories, Tony narrated the abridged audio book versions of Terry Pratchett's "Discworld" novels. Nigel Planer, Celia Imrie and Stephen Briggs narrated the unabridged versions. He also provided the voicing for several characters in the videogame "Discworld". Tony followed on this "Discworld" work by gratefully playing a role in the live action television dramatisation of "Hogfather", broadcast on Sky over the Christmas season in 2006.

Robinson also presented Classic FM's "Friendly Guide to Classical Music" which aired on a Sunday at 4pm. The whole 16-episode series was repeated on 26 December, 2006. His favourite piece is "Finlandia" by Jean Sibelius but his appreciation of music is broad. He is quoted as saying "Well, today, my favourite piece is 'Finlandia', but tomorrow it’ll be something by The Killers". He revealed on BBC Radio 2 "Tracks of My Years" that his favourite songs are "I Can Help" by Billy Swan, "Bleeding Love" by Leona Lewis, "Chasing Cars" by Snow Patrol, "Beautiful" by Christina Aguilera, "Unfinished Sympathy" by Massive Attack, "Tangled Up In Blue" by Bob Dylan, "Shoulda Woulda Coulda" by Beverley Knight, "This Woman's Work" by Maxwell, "He's So Fine" by The Chiffons and "Falling Slowly" by The Frames.

Robinson has also recently (2007) narrated television advertisements for car manufacturer Honda, in the humorous style of Tales From Fat Tulip's Garden. The advertisements feature plasticine cars with expressive faces (similar to Thomas the Tank Engine). He also did voiceovers for laundry product Vanish in 2007 and 2008.

Recently he discovered his Jewish ancestry through his grandmother's surname 'Levy'. [ The Daily Telegraph: 'Whoever would have thought that archives could be sexy?'] ] Robinson is currently presenting another series of his own on Channel 4, "Tony Robinson's Crime and Punishment", which started on Sunday 1 June 2008 and is made up of 4 different programmes.

DVD and Live Tour

In the Spring of 2007 Tony visited 30 towns in the UK with his one man show "A Cunning Night Out". The show was such a success that a recording was released on DVD in the autumn of 2007.

Politics and outside interests

Robinson and his former partner Mary Shepheard were active in Bristol Labour politics from the early 1980s.

From 1996 to 2000, he was vice-president of the actors' union Equity, helping with a huge restructuring programme which turned a £500,000 deficit into a small surplus. [ Absolute Speakers - Tony Robinson] ] Since leaving, he was elected to the Labour Party's National Executive Committee, a position he held from 2000 to 2004.

He was also active in the "Make Poverty History" campaign during early 2005, in the lead-up to the G8 summit in Scotland, and is the patron for UK-based charity Street Child Africa.

In 2006 he appeared in "Tony Robinson: Me and My Mum", a documentary surrounding Tony's decision to put his mother into a nursing home, and the difficulty he had with doing so. It controversially showed his mother's death in the home. It also featured stories from other families in similar situations. It appeared as part of Channel 4's short season of programmes entitled "The Trouble With Old People".

He previously supported Tottenham Hotspur F.C. and Stoke City F.C., but now supports Bristol City F.C. [ [ Road to glory strewn with potholes] ]

He also follows Spanish La Liga side Valencia CF, often spending his holidays in the country. [ [ My Hols: Tony Robinson] ] He is honorary president of the Young Archaeologists' Club of the Council for British Archaeology. [ [ Young Archaeologists' Club] ]


In 1999 he was awarded an honorary Master of Arts by the University of Bristol for his services to drama and archaeology.

In 2002 he was awarded an honorary Master of Arts by the University of East London. [ [ Tony Robinson awarded honorary Master of Arts from UEL] ]

In 2005 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Open University for his contribution to the educational or cultural well-being of society [ [ Tony Robinson honoured by Open University] ] and an honorary Doctor of Laws by the University of Exeter for his active involvement in politics. [ [ Doctorate for Time Team presenter] ]

In 2006 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Oxford Brookes University. [ [ Honorary graduates for 2006] ]

In September 2008, he was awarded the James Joyce Award by the Literary and Historical Society of UCD.

elected filmography

*"Brannigan" (1975) - Messenger
*"Blackadder" (1983–1989, 1999) - Baldrick
*"Maid Marian and Her Merry Men" (1989–1994) - Sheriff of Nottingham & creator/writer
*"The Neverending Story III" (1994) - Engywook (male gnome)
*"Faeries" (1999) - Broom (voice)
*"Time Team" (1994–present) - Presenter
*"Britain's Real Monarch" (2004) - Presenter
*"Codex" (2006–present) - Presenter
*"Terry Pratchett's Hogfather" (2006) - Vernon Crumley


External links

* [ Tony Robinson's page] in the Internet Movie Database
* [ The Unofficial website for Tony Robinson]
*" [ Tony Robinson's cunning plan] " - BBC News article dated Friday 26th May 2000
* [ Tony Robinson - Interviews in Sherwood]
* [ Politics Isn't a Pop Concert - Tony Robinson]
* [ "The Worst Jobs in History" (2004)] Television Series
* [ "The Worst Christmas Jobs in History" (December 2005)]
* [] Interview with Robinson November 2005 about 'The Worst Children's Jobs in History': click link in left hand column
* [ "Time Team"] - Television series.
* [ Classic FM Friendly Guide to Classical Music] Started September 2006

NAME= Robinson, Tony
SHORT DESCRIPTION= Actor, broadcaster and political campaigner
DATE OF BIRTH= 15 August 1946
PLACE OF BIRTH= Leytonstone, London, England

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