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The idea that Herne would choose a spiritual son to represent him came in handy when, at the end of the second series, Michael Praed decided to leave the show to pursue a career on Broadway.
In a stroke of genius, some scenes filmed at castles in disrepair were stocked with background actors playing construction workers, to give the illusion that the castle was half built instead of half falling down.
Where earlier versions of the story often included King Richard as a positive, noble figure, and his brother Prince John as the villain taking advantage of the opportunity for power while Richard is away on a crusade, Robin of Sherwood’s King Richard only cares about war and power and manipulates Robin for his own ends, proving that even a seemingly benevolent coloniser still doesn’t have the colonised’s best interests at heart.
These kinds of down-to-earth political stories, with Robin and the gang usually saving peasants from greedy nobles or churchmen – and slaughtering a few of the sheriff’s guards along the way – made up a good chunk of the show’s material, but there was plenty of room too for supernatural stories – witches, demons, sorcerers and curses all featured – and more personal ones, like Marian’s fight to be considered an equal by the other outlaws, Little John’s ongoing romance with Meg, and the revelation of Robert and Gisbourne’s unexpected personal connection.
(The team on Robin of Sherwood were masters of low-tech but effective solutions – the Sheriff of Nottingham’s gold regalia was allegedly made of spray-painted biscuits.) , Michael Praed and Robert Addie had to race each other to the single shower between takes to use the meagre supply of hot water.
In fact, the mud wrestling scene was a catalogue of disasters – Robert Addie’s fake chain mail (made of spray-painted string) shrank in the water and almost choked him, Michael Praed nearly drowned, and the whole scene had to be reshot after the original tape was somehow destroyed.
All these pieces can be used in piano exams from 2015. Piano Anthology: Grades 1 & 2 (LL278, £8.95) Available from music shops or from the LCM Online shop.