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Maid Marian And Her Merry Men

Maid Marian And Her Merry MenForget anything youve ever read
  about Robin Hood and Maid Marian —
  well almost!
and enjoy the mucky
  antics of the astonishing characters
  who grace the screen as Maid Marian
  And Her Merry Men
comes to DVD...”

CREATIVE RAP INTRODUCES Maid Marian And Her Merry Men — the television series that was consistently number one in the children's television ratings throughout its four series. Not only was it popular with children of all ages, but it also became 'must see' cult viewing among young adults and students.

Ignore the legends of Robin Hood — according to Maid Marian And Her Merry Men, Robin (Wayne Morris) is a celebrity-struck wimp and it is Marian (Kate Lonergan) who is the heroine outlaw who robs from the rich to give to the poor. Robin just grabs all the credit. Suitably dirty faces and tatty make-shift clothing give the series an air of starving-peasant reality but the history books have been rewritten with a large pinch of tongue-in-cheek irreverence.

To give you an idea of what to expect: "I think royalty are great, don't you?" sighs the 'trendy' tailor Robin of Kensington. "They're so natural and… Cred." The fair maiden is unimpressed. "There's peasants starving to death out there," Marian says, "while you get rich making enormous pairs of pants for the Royal bottom!" Royals, she remarks, are "a bunch of millionaire half-wits who spend our money and moan about our architecture." Phew!!

The Sheriff of Nottingham (the multi-gifted Tony Robinson, who also wrote the series) behaves like a strict headmaster — after he is shot by an arrow, he demands: "If the boy who did this has any guts at all I want him to own up now because if he doesn't everyone in this entire forest will have to stay behind until he does." Tony got his big break playing Baldrick in Blackadder and he is now the presenter of the successful series Time Team. He also played the part of Vernon Crumley in the BAFTA Award-winning Hogfather.

A silly romp, perhaps, but Maid Marian And Her Merry Men is a highly-amusing, slapstick comic departure from the legend of Robin Hood — and great fun. Little Ron (Mike Edmonds) is fantastic and as vertically challenged as his name suggests and the evil King John (Forbes Collins) doles out torture a-plenty in the form of 100 lines — "I hate lines!" complains Barrington (Danny John Jules).

The publicity blurb was: "Shun your Shakespeare; chuck your Chaucer; destroy your DVDs of the Ango-Saxon Chronicle! You've got to make shelf space for the complete box set of Maid Marian And Her Merry Men. Never has so much fun and lunacy been crammed into one small cardboard container… Marvel at Tony Robinson's hilarious cavortings in the days before he got boring and started digging holes in the mud; watch the hysterically laid-back Danny John Jules and realise there is life after Red Dwarf… run away terrified from snailiens from outer space."

Testament to the series' popularity with the critics is the fact that Maid Marian And Her Merry Men won a BAFTA, an RTS Award and the International Prix Jeunesse. With an excellent cast and witty writing, the series has been compared to Blackadder, Red Dwarf and The Young Ones, and it has secured a huge fan-base in the seventeen years since the first series was transmitted.

With the help of her merry men — a dwarf, a Rastafarian, an ugly dolt by the name of Rabies (Howard Lewis) and yuppie Robin — Marian fights oppression and creates the outlaw's haven in the woods from where they can take on the cruel King John and the villainous Sheriff. "We'll be famous forever," she says, "and people will name pubs after us!" And she adds that they can spend their time "doing incredible brave things — like getting our ears pierced" before reminding them: "We've spent all morning clobbering Normans so you'll never be able to go home again!" I guess you do have to be a bit crazy to enjoy this fun foray into the past, but then you wouldn't survive without a warped sense of humour!

Clever storylines involve the Sheriff being forced to invent something to make King John famous; decorating the torture chamber for festivities; eating from Mud-U-Like; a sedan-style seat with L-plates; A Song For Worksop ("If Rabies thought some rubbishy singer with about as much talent as the entire cast of Home And Away was better than me, that's fine," sniffs Marian of Rotten Rose); and Marian's mother coming to stay, believing her daughter to be a dental receptionist.

As the series progresses, it becomes more sophisticated — including the opening graphics. Series Two includes the Beast of Bolsover, Brown Nose Day and more from Rotten Rose (Siobhan Fogarty); Series Three includes giant jelly babies and aliens and Marian has to contend with some exceptionally thick villagers. She also falls hopelessly in love with a total idiot!

In Series Four, the final series, Rabies grows wings and Robin finally finds some backbone and turns nasty. The peasants get together to celebrate High Forks Night (chanting "Remember, Remember, the 27th of April").

Brilliant moments include the Sheriff of Nottingham singing to Marian's mother — with a full peasant chorus — as he tries to lull her into a fall sense of security in order to trap Marian: "From the moment I saw you I swore you would make me foolhardy; How I wanted to loosen your hair and to take off your cardy…" And the World Archery Championship 1195 that is "sponsored by Perkin Warbecks, makers of fine torture implements". The pancake day demonstration is also masterful.

Maid Marian And Her Merry Men also features Ramsay Gilderdale as Guy of Gisborne; Mark Billingham as Gary; David Lloyd as Graeme; Hilary Mason as Gladys; Lionel Taylor as the Gatekeeper; Robin Chandler as Snooker and the fantastic Patsy Byrne as Marian's Mum. The music is well matched by David Chilton and Nick Russel-Pavier; the series is produced by Richard Callanan; and the Director is David Bell.

Maid Marian And Her Merry Men — Special Edition Box Set, Series One, Two, Three & Four, is released by Eureka Entertainment on 22 September (2008). Catalogue Number: EKA50034 | Barcode: 5060000500349 | RRP: £49.99 | Certificate: PG | Running Time: 608 Minutes.

Special Features: Audio Commentaries | Quiz — Written By Tony Robinson | Maid Marian Karaoke | Trailers | How The Germans Saw It Featurette | Hunt The Chicken — Interactive Game | Christmas Special | Tony Robinson, Mark Billingham and David Lloyd On Creative Writing — Featurette | Improvised Sketches | Exclusive Booklets Written By Tony Robinson | Easter Eggs.

"Forget anything you've ever read about Robin Hood and Maid Marian — well almost! — and enjoy the mucky antics of the astonishing characters who grace the screen as Maid Marian And Her Merry Men comes to DVD" — MotorBar