As you probably know, I am currently grappling with a six-part radio adaptation of T H White's Arthurian romance and like the legends of King Arthur, every generation seems to acquires its own Robin Hood: Douglas Fairbanks, Errol Flynn, Richard Todd, Sean Connery, Kevin Costner, Russell Crowe or their small screen counterparts like Richard Greene (left)
who, in ITV's The Adventures of Robin Hood
between 1955-1960, started my
life-long obsession with men in tights!
With a band of outlaws who included Archie Duncan as Little John, Alexander Guage as Friar Tuck and Bernadette O'Farrell (and later Patricia Driscoll) as Maid Marian and with cameos from such later-film-and-TV-stars as Robert Shaw, Patrick Troughton, Jane Asher, Leo McKern, Joan Sims, Paul Eddington, Harry H Corbett and Wilfred Brambell, Greene swashbuckled his way through 145 episodes of wrong-righting and derring-do.
The theme song was on every kid's lips, mine included...
Those 30-minute black-and-white adventures so fired my imagination (and those of my contemporaries) that Robin Hood became our chief playtime game at primary school which, since I was then living in what was comparative countryside, meant that we played it among the trees, bushes and undergrowth of the un-walled, un-gated school grounds. Those were the days...
I have to admit that I was instrumental in organising these games: devising scenarios and designating roles and it tells you a lot about me that I cast myself not as Robin Hood
but as the Sheriff of Nottingham!
With my school mac thrown over my shoulders and buttoned under the chin to form a cloak, I modelled my portrayal on that of Alan Wheatley
who played Richard Greene's nemesis with a cold, softly-spoken sneering menace that also had about it, I now realise, more than a touch of theatrical camp!
My prize possessions, aged 6, were my collection of Robin Hood sweet cigarette cards and my first Robin Hood Annual. Although the latter was long ago lost (when my late mother purged my annuals and gave them to a cousin) I can still turn the pages in my mind's-eye.
As for my set of plastic Robin Hood figures collected from packets of Kellogg's cereal (and equally thoughtlessly disposed of), they were so precious that when, a year or two back, a set turned up in a book-dealer's catalogue, I simply had
to buy them...
Anyway, all this is but an excuse for me to give you a chance to hear another vintage Sibley radio programme, Robin Hood: Back to the Greenwood. It was
first broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Kaleidoscope
on 16 February 1991,
the year that two new Robins – Kevin Costner and Patrick Bergin –
donned the Lincoln green to make their cinematic debuts.
Contributors to the programme include: Sean Connery, Alan Frank,
John Irvin, Richard Lester, Mike McShane, Jeffrey Richards, Patrick Bergin and Richard
This blog post is, in part, reprinted from an earlier post in November 2006.