Maid Marian And Her Merry Men (CBBC, 1989-1994)
This is a children’s sitcom with an historical twist, which is not surprising as it was based on a story that happened rather a long time ago, and it became one of the most popular CBBC shows of its era, and rather deservedly so. Maid Marian And Her Merry Men was written by Tony Robinson, who learned a thing or two about how to make a classy historical sitcom following his memorable contribution to Blackadder (and that’s planned to be reviewed soon too).
The show was set in Sherwood Forest back in the olden and rather smelly days, but it was a spin on the usual Robin Hood story, as Maid Marian was the one who was in charge of everything, meaning that Robin wasn’t the hero here. There were lots of other various good and bad characters including Barrington, Rabies, Little Ron, King John, and The Sheriff Of Nottingham who was played by Robinson himself.
There were lots of memorable moments, including plenty of great songs, and many people consider the episode that was rather similar to The Crystal Maze to be among the highlights. Maid Marian And Her Merry Men is a rare example of a children’s sitcom that was sharp and witty enough to have been shown in a later primetime and be enjoyed by older viewers, and there was eventually a repeat run on Gold.
There were some very amusing outtakes, including the one where Barrington walked into a tree. The show also went on to win several awards and has definitely deserved its status as a cult classic. But it didn’t end with the TV version, there were also some books released, along with a stage version starring Robinson that was taken around theatres across the country where everyone was suitably entertained and had a right old knees-up.
Another way in which Maid Marian And Her Merry Men is a little different to most children’s shows is that it has been well served by its DVD release. All 26 episodes in four series (including a Christmas special) have feature in an eight disc boxset, and there are plenty of extras too, including some of the cast getting back together to reminisce about working on the show, along with a 32-page comic book.
The show was repeated for a long time after it ended, still being shown on the CBBC Channel as late as 2007, and around this time some of the cast members appeared in the studio to be interviewed about their experience, seemingly hoping that viewers wouldn’t realise that the show had finished over a decade earlier by this point and they now all looked much older.