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Finding Fame in the Forest

Robin Hood –Theatrical Agent , may seem an unlikely role for Nottingham's outlaw hero but a glance at the galaxy of celebrity names whose career path has taken them "through Sherwood Forest" shows that the legendary archer far outshines Simon Cowell as a star maker! The impressive list of well-known actors who have appeared in Robin Hood-related productions on television and the big screen contains many familiar names who subsequently went on to become high profile national and international stars.

The 1950's TV series "The Adventures of Robin Hood" catapulted Richard Greene into one his best-known roles and other actors who appeared in some of the 165 episodes included Donald Pleasence (You Only Live Twice/Halloween), as Prince John; Paul Eddington (The Good Life and Yes Minister), as Will Scarlet and Bill Fraser and Alfie Bass from The Army Game and the Carry-On films. Jane and Peter Asher also appeared as young siblings in one episode and while his sister later grew up to become an early girlfriend of Beatle, Paul McCartney, Peter was one half of the Sixties chart-topping duo Peter and Gordon and later moved to America as a record producer /manager for Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor. The successful series (which grossed millions of pounds world-wide) also helped make a name for impresario Sir Lew Grade's ITC production company. Vocalist Dick James had a hit record with the title song, then later became a music publisher for the Beatles and Elton John and also created his own DJM record label!

In 1984, award winning film producer David Putnam's Goldcrest Television company and HTV made another ground-breaking Robin Hood television series "Robin of Sherwood" that, with its hints of Celtic folklore and mysticism became hugely popular with a cult following and a cast of relatively unknown actors who went on to greater things. Starring Michael Praed (Dynasty) as the original Robin; Ray Winstone (Sexy Beast/The Departed) as Will Scarlet, it also featured Phil Davis (Quadrophenia/Whitechapel) as Prince John. Other names who made an appearance include John Rhys Davies (Lord of the Rings); Richard O'Brien (The Rocky Horror Show writer and Crystal Maze presenter); Clive Mantle (Casualty); Nickolas Grace (Heat and Dust) and Anthony Valentine(Performance). When Michael Praed left the cast to join the American drama series "Dynasty, the scriptwriters pulled off a clever and seamless switch by successfully introducing Jason Connery (son of the Bond actor, Sean Connery) as the replacement Robin Hood! . Scriptwriter/author Anthony Horowitz (Foyle's War) was also offered one his first breaks by the series creator, Richard Carpenter, to write for some of the episodes - an opportunity for which he has frequently expressed his gratitude and from which he believes he learnt many valuable lessons that helped hone his scriptwriting skills.

When the BBC and Time Life jointly made a new "Robin Hood" television drama serial in 1975, actress Diane Keene starred as Maid Marian. She subsequently went on to star in the original screen version of "The Sweeney" with John Thaw and Dennis Waterman; later played opposite "The Professionals" star Lewis Collins in the comedy series "The Cuckoo Waltz" and currently appears on daytime television in the BBC's afternoon drama "Doctors".

The next BBC Robin Hood television series was first broadcast in 2006 and as well as featuring some popular names such as Keith Allen (the Sheriff of Nottingham ) and Richard Armitage (Guy of Guisbourne), some new young actors got a break including Jonas Armstrong (Robin); Lucy Griffiths (Marian) and Sam Troughton (Allan-a-Dale) who was the son of actor Patrick Troughton, one of the first ever television Robin Hood's in 1953, who also played an early Doctor Who and appeared in the cult supernatural film "The Omen"

Of course, the global popularity of the Robin Hood legend is not just confined to television and several stars have also made early career appearances in big screen versions of the story. Two years before her breakthrough role in "Bend It Like Beckham, a young Keira Knightley starred as Robin Hood's daughter in "Princess of Thieves" (2000) and actor /presenter Keith Chegwin had played a young Robin in the Children's Film Foundation movie "Robin Hood Junior" (1975). Fifties Western star Roy Roger's famous golden palomino stallion "Trigger" also made his early big screen debut as Olivia de Havilland's horse, when she played Maid Marian in the classic 1938 movie "The Adventures of Robin Hood".

From the very early traditional, medieval folk plays, the Robin Hood story has always had a prominent place in popular drama and entertainment for the masses. Even established stars cannot resist the temptation to accept a role in a Robin Hood related production if offered the chance, so consequently the formidable roll call of talented actors who have shown off their acting skills "in Sherwood's leafy glades" includes: Douglas Fairbanks; Errol Flynn; Basil Rathbone; Richard Todd; Peter Finch; James Robertson Justice; Peter Cushing; Robert Shaw; Sean Connery; Audrey Hepburn; Richard Harris; Patrick Bergin; Uma Thurman; Kevin Costner; Alan Rickman; Morgan Freeman; Mel Brooks; Carey Elwes; Russell Crowe; Cate Blanchett ; William Hurt and Vanessa Redgrave.

Former screen Tarzan, Lex Barker has also played Robin Hood many times in versions made by various European film studios and numerous lesser known actors and actresses have appeared in the many spin-offs and adaptations of the legend such as "The Bandit of Sherwood Forest" (1948) with Cornel Wilde; "Rogues of Sherwood Forest"(1950) with John Derek; "Son of Robin Hood" (1958)with David Hedison (later to star in the television series "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea") and "Sword of Sherwood Forest"(1960) where Richard Greene brought his popular television interpretation to the big screen in a full-length movie!
Even former Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan played Robin Hood in the touring production of War Horse author Michael Morpurgo's stage play "Robin of Sherwood".

All of which proves beyond doubt, that in his own unique way, Robin Hood really has fulfilled a significant role as a successful theatrical agent – extraordinaire!!