Everyone's heard the story of Robin Hood and his band of merry men who lived in Sherwood Forest and robbed the rich to feed the poor. However, Maid Marian and her Merry Men gave a new twist to the old tale, by making Marian the leader of the gang. In this children's comedy, Robin Hood is a useless, foppish wimp, while Marian bullies the local villagers into joining her against the evil King John.
Of course, Robin and Marian aren't the only members of the merry men, there are also the 'thick as two short planks' Rabies, the rasta Barrington, and Little Ron (who is, in fact, a dwarf).
The show was written by, and starred, Tony Robinson (of Blackadder and Time Team fame) and ran on CBBC for four series, starting on 16 November, 1989, with the final episode of the last series being shown on 16 February, 1994. In total, 26 episodes were made and there have since been repeats on CBBC. The series has also been adapted into a stage show, touring British theatres.
Much of the comedy in each episode arose from songs penned by Nick Russell-Pavier and David Chilton. They were often sung by either the Sheriff of Nottingham or Barrington and include 'Colin's Release', an appeal to free Colin the chicken, and 'Father Bloopy' - about a Father Christmas figure.
Although set in the times of Robin Hood and filmed in Sherwood Forest and Worksop, the show slipped in canny references to modern living. For example, one episode included a parody of 'The Crystal Maze' called 'The Maze of Mystery', with Robin wearing a bald wig and playing a harmonica. Other parodies included the 'Free Colin' campaign, based on 'Comic Relief'.
Maid Marian and her Merry Men won numerous awards, including some from BAFTA and the Royal Television Society. It also won the highly-rated Prix Jeunesse Variety Award at the International Children's Programme Festival in Munich.
- Maid Marian (Kate Lonergan) - The title character and leader of the merry men. Probably Sherwood's first feminist.
- Robin Hood (Wayne Morris) - A useless wimp of a man, who is a bit of a fashion victim.
- Barrington (Danny John-Jules1) - A Rastafarian, and the 'cool' guy in the group. Sings a lot.
- Rabies (Howard Lew Lewis) - The most stupid merry man, who can always be relied on for a humorous misunderstanding.
- Little Ron (Mike Edmonds) - A dwarf, with a stereotypical dwarfish (read: angry and violent) temperament.
- King John (Forbes Collins) - A bully of a man, which is all you need from a king really.
- The Sheriff of Nottingham (Tony Robinson) - The brains of the show, always thinking of a way to defeat Marian and her men, but inevitably ending up defeated and often covered in mud.
- Gary (Mark Billingham) - One of the sheriff's henchmen and not a very clever one at that.
- Graeme (David Lloyd) - Another henchman, also not very clever.
- Gladys (Hilary Mason) - An old woman of the village, seems to be an unofficial leader. Often ends up being helped by the merry men whether she likes it or not.
- Guy of Gisborne (Ramsay Gilderdale) - King John's nephew, who seems to have a mental age of four and likes skipping around, singing about flowers.
- Rotten Rose (Siobhan Fogarty) - A villager and Maid Marian's real enemy - they've been fighting ever since their schooldays.
- Snooker (Robin Chandler) - A villager, and the inventor of a game that involves pushing balls round a table.
The Theme Song
Everyone who watched the programme loved the theme song and at one point CBBC put the lyrics on-screen so viewers could sing along, karaoke-style:
Why don't you carry on with what you're doin'
'Cause there's always trouble brewin'
You've got to find a way
To make a better day
Why don't you carry on with your merry men
And make heroes out of each of them
You've got to find a space
To make a better place
Oh Marian, oh Marian
Series One (1989)
- 'How the Band Got Together' - originally shown on 16 November
- 'Robert the Incredible Chicken' - 23 November
- 'A Game called John' - 30 November
- 'The Miracle of St Charlene' - 7 December
- 'The Sharp End of a Cow' - 14 December
- 'The Whitish Knight' - 21 December
Series Two (1990)
- 'The Beast of Bolsover' - 15 November
- 'The Worksop Egg Fairy' - 22 November
- 'Little Brown Noses' - 29 November
- 'Rabies in Love' - 6 December
- 'Rotten Rose, Part One' - 13 December
- 'Rotten Rose, Part Two' - 20 December
Series Three (1993)
- 'The Big Baby' - 7 January
- 'Driving Ambition' - 14 January
- 'Keeping Mum' - 21 January
- 'They Came From Outer Space' - 28 January
- 'Robin and the Beansprout' - 4 February
- 'The Great Mud Harvest' - 11 February
Christmas Special (1993)
- 'Maid Marian and Much the Mini-Mart Manager's Son' - 24 December
Series Four (1994)
- 'Tunnel Vision' - 5 January
- 'Bouncy Sheriff' - 12 January
- 'Raining Forks' - 19 January
- 'The Wise Woman of Worksop' - 26 January
- 'Robin the Bad' - 2 Febuary
- 'The Nice Sumatran' - 9 Febuary
- 'Voyage to the Bottom of the Forest' - 16 Febuary