“Nothing’s forgotten. Nothing’s ever forgotten.” If that phrase brought shivers to your spine and memories of sword fights, Clannad’s mystical music, and a hero and heroine with hair to die for, then the chances are you are either a child of the 1980s or the child of one! Robin of Sherwood, the classic HTV series, is certainly not forgotten by the fans who flocked from all over the world to Weston super Mare for the highlight of our collective year: The Hooded Man 2019.
This was a one day convention, organised by the multi-talented actor, writer and producer, Barnaby Eaton-Jones. Previously conventions have taken place over a weekend but this was an experimental one day event, focusing on just one particular episode – series 3’s ‘The Sheriff of Nottingham’. (Information about Barnaby’s events can be found at: https://www.thehoodedman.co.uk/ or on Facebook.)
What follows is my own personal and entirely unofficial view of the convention. I really loved it and would recommend these conventions to any fan. My particular highlights were the interviews with actors Nickolas Grace (the Sheriff); Mark Ryan (Nasir) and Valentine Pelka (Sarak); and Clive Mantle (Little John) and his partner, Carla Mendonca (Agnes Farrow in the new audiobook ‘The Trial of John Little’.) Chaired by the excellent and thoughtful interviewer, Tim Rideout, these interviews drew out wonderfully humorous and entertaining reminiscences from the actors about working with guest stars such as Lewis Collins as well as the rest of the Robin cast. The interviews were usefully intercut with footage from the episode, which reminded us of the unexpectedly successful attempt by the normally macho star of The Professionals, Lewis Collins, to out-camp Nickolas Grace (fortunately his many double-entendres went over my (very) innocent head back in 1986!)
Alongside the interviews were opportunities to have photographs taken alongside the actors (for an extra, small fee) and to have them sign memorabilia (again, for a very reasonable fee.) This is only my second RoS convention so I still have a few to collect and so I was delighted to get a photograph with Nickolas Grace, which he then signed. He is one of the loveliest people I have ever met, and kept saying how grateful he is to the fans for still loving the show. Everyone I spoke to agreed we could happily have listened to his reminiscences of his colourful life for hours!
Other highlights of the day were an exciting demonstration of sword fighting by Mark and Valentine, with audience participation; and a fascinating talk on costume design by cosplayer A J Machin and her husband. (See Youtube account called ‘Dragons and Unicorns’ for videos of her work.) I also found fellow fans welcoming and friendly; it felt very much a family affair. Talking of costume, there was also a display of original costumes by collector Jonathan Deval, who generously donated a pair of Judi Trott’s dainty size 4 boots to be auctioned for charity.
Half a percent I wasn’t so happy with were items in the programme which focused on other interests of the cast, such as tarot or novel-writing, which really fitted only very tangentially with the theme of the event. However I appreciate that the people involved have to make a living so this is only a minor niggle. The final half a percent must go to the venue, which had fairly uncomfortable chairs and kept people waiting at breakfast time, but this was by no means the fault of the organisers.
So overall, a great day and I am already looking forward to Hooded Man 2020 – yet to be announced but hopefully details will be forthcoming soon. In the meantime fans can treat themselves to the new audio adventures, at: https://spitefulpuppet.com/product-category/robin-of-sherwood/
Many thanks to Barnaby Eaton-Jones for producing these as well as organising the conventions – I am not sure how he has time to do everything he does (although I suspect his wife Kim could answer that!) but it is much appreciated by the fans.