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Series / Maid Marian and Her Merry Men

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Ye Goodies. L-R: Barrington, Little Ron, Rabies, Marian, Robin. Not shown: Ye Baddies note 

"They've got the power, they've got the weapons. All we've got is a Rasta, a wally, and a bearded avocado."

Maid Marian And Her Merry Men was a children's Sitcom made by The BBC, based on Robin Hood and written by Tony Robinson, who also played the Sheriff. Calling it a kids' version of Blackadder is trite, obvious and (to a certain extent) true. However, it's much more Denser and Wackier.

The concept was that Robin wasn't a noble outlaw hero at all, but a clueless yuppie who had inadvertently got involved with the revolutionary schemes of Maid Marian, presented here as the real brains behind the operation. Joining them were Little Ron (a vertically-challenged bruiser), Rabies (a large and very stupid peasant) and Barrington (a Rasta, despite Rastafarianism not existing yet). Much to Marian's exasperation, none of them were particularly reliable, least of all Robin, who spent most of his time designing their outfits (except when he started believing the hype and thinking he was the leader).

Prince John, technically the leader of the forces of oppression (or "Ye Baddies", as the credits had it), was usually portrayed as an unstable Psychopathic Manchild, leaving the actual scheming to his Dragon, the Sheriff of Nottingham. The Sheriff's two Mooks, Gary and Graeme, were almost as stupid as Rabies.

Since Marian and the Sheriff were the only intelligent people within walking distance (the villagers were just as bad), they were usually the only ones the other felt they could talk sensibly with, even though they were on opposing sides. Somehow, this never made the Sheriff look like a Punch-Clock Villain; he was just biding his time until he could catch the whole gang.

Later series added two new Baddies: Rotten Rose Scargill, Marian's Rival Turned Evil with a crush on Robin, and Guy of Gisbourne, John's childlike, and borderline deranged, nephew.


  • Action Girl
  • Anachronism Stew: Despite the show being set in The Dung Ages, the show is packed to the brim with modern concepts and references right down to Marian having a Rasta in her gang.
  • Anti-Climactic Parent: Marian never admitted to her mother that she was an outlaw. This leads the main characters to keep up the charade of being The Merry Dentists. However, when Marian is captured, her mum leads the rescue effort and ultimately reveals she has her own geriatric gang of outlaws.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Zig-Zagged Trope: Sometimes Marian escapes being Covered in Gunge evern when the other Merry Men don't, sometimes an episode opens with her getting mud thrown at her, and ends with her getting the biggest gunging of all.
  • Big Bad: King John
  • Britain Is Only London: Averted, with the series being possibly the only example of Britain is Only Nottinghamshire. Throughout the course of Maid Marian there is a grand total of three locations: Nottingham Castle (apparently the most important place in England, as the king lives there), Worksop and Sherwood Forest. Justified, as sitcoms generally work better over limited spaces.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: The Sheriff (whose hobbies include lying, cheating and poking small children with sticks) and Prince John.
  • Catchphrase:
    • "UNDERSTAAAND?!" (King John as coda to his latest threat to do something nasty if the Sheriff fails in carrying out his orders.)
    • "Wait a minute!" (The Sheriff's most-used phrase when he has an idea or notices that something's off. Often followed up by "Wait a <random adjective> minute!")
  • Celebrity Impersonator: Parodied in an episode where they discover there is a celebrity impersonator of Robin Hood, whom the Sheriff hires to frame Robin. That's right, professional celebrity impersonators in The Dung Ages.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Since this was a kids' show, never actually shown, although there were plenty of threats of it happening (mostly from John to the Sheriff, or from the Sheriff to Gary & Graeme).
  • Cool Old Lady: Gladys
  • Covered in Gunge: This tended to happen to people a lot
  • Crowd Song: At least Once an Episode, often with Lampshade Hanging.
  • Did You Get a New Haircut?: Marian did get a new haircut, but when she asked the boys if they noticed anything different about her, Barrington replied "Yeah, your bum's getting a bit big. You ought to diet." (Rabies: "What colour?") At the end of episode, when Marian is Covered in Gunge, Rabies asks if she's had her hair done again.
  • Diseased Name: Rabies
  • The Ditz: Guy of Gisbourne.
  • Dreadlock Rasta: Barrington. Specifically described as a Rasta on several occasions, despite living centuries before Rastafarianism existed. He sometimes acts as a sort of narrator for the ongoing events.
  • The Dung Ages: Mud is seen as both a currency and a dietary staple.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The first season is the only one with a complete story arc (beginning with the band forming and ending with the return of Richard). It also has more references to familiar stories of Robin Hood; later on, as the characters developed, the series became less of a Robin Hood parody and more of a sitcom with a Robin Hood theme.
    • In the first episode, the Sheriff displays a childish sadism that would be more typical of King John in later episodes — the later Sheriff typically acts villainous out of fear (for what the King might do to him), greed (for what he personally can get out of a situation) or sheer annoyance from being Surrounded by Idiots rather than gleeful For the Evulz.
    • Episode 1 also depicts Nottingham Castle as being more heavily populated than usual: we see a doorman and there is a mention of torturers in the prison; later in the series, it appears that all of the castle's duties are handled by Gary, Graeme and the Sheriff. In the same episode, the Sheriff also makes references to a "Mrs. Nottingham," but there's no indication anywhere else in the series that he's married or has any sort of family.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Sometimes even the Sheriff was disgusted by some of King John's characteristics.
    King John: I will do such disgusting things to you that even the torturers will say "UUUUGH!" and ask to leave the room!
  • Everyone Meets Everyone: The first episode is even called "How The Gang Got Together".
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: Robin Hood was mistaken for being the leader of the merry men, even though it was Marian.
  • Five-Man Band: While the Merry Men do fit the traditional roles of the Five-Man Band, they tend to swap around the roles a little depending on the situation and story. In fact, the only character who sticks to one role is Little Ron, who's The Big Guy.
    • The Leader: Marian takes up this role. She's the unquestioned leader of the gang, even if people occasionally think Robin is.
    • The Lancer: Barrington, who's laid-back, easy-going and usually the closest thing to a second-in-command the Merry Men have — though sometimes Robin, who gets more starring roles, fulfils the role.
    • The Big Guy: Little Ron's the toughest and scrappiest of the group. Though Rabies is the physically biggest and strongest and will often share the role of The Big Guy with Little Ron.
    • The Smart Guy: Marian is definitely the smartest of the group, but on occasion Barrington will play The Smart Guy.
    • The Load: Robin. He's cowardly, ineffectual, and self-centered, but he's also the friendliest and most soft-hearted. And occasionally Gentle Giant Rabies, who's very sweet-natured and loving, plays this role.
  • The Fool: Robin. Actually, most of the cast...
  • Fourth Wall Psych: During the 'telethon' in the episode "Little Brown Noses".
  • Gentle Giant: Rabies
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: King John gets this treatment, as per usual for Robin Hood adaptations, but in this case it also happens to Richard I. The two monarchs are portrayed as being as bad as each other, the only difference that Richard is more popular - and so goes about his evil in a smug, swaggering manner, as opposed to John's shady bullying.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: The show features one in each camp, the titular heroine to Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham. Both double as the Only Sane (Wo)man of their respective sides.
  • Important Haircut: Marian cuts her hair at the beginning of series four, in an attempt to look tougher. The DVD commentary states that the actress had cut her hair for a play in between seasons, and didn't have time to grow it again.
  • Jive Turkey: Barrington. Gladys, on occasion.
  • Kangaroo Court: King John's idea of justice involves having the charges read out to him and then immediately shouting "Guilty!" Lampshaded by Barrington, who winks at the fourth wall while giving ironic praise for the English judicial system.
  • Keep Away: Used as a spoof of Rugby. Just to add to the spoof, they're using an actual egg. With running commentary by Graeme.
  • Large Ham: John, who is something of a BRIAN BLESSED expy, sans beard.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Most of the characters, though Marian and the Merry Men get two wardrobe upgrades — after the third episode of the first series they begin dressing mainly in green to "coordinate with the trees," and from the second season on their outfits have become more detailed, distinct and individual. The one exception to the trope is Robin, who has lots of outfits, and from the second season onwards seldom wears the same one two episodes in a row.
  • Medieval Morons: Similarly present here, where Marian and the Sheriff are the only characters with two brain cells to rub together.
  • Minion with an F in Evil: Gary and Graeme. They're inept to the point that Marian and co quite like them when they're not pursuing them on Nottingham's orders.
  • Namesake Gag: The episode "A Game Called John" revolves around the invention of a game that involves moving balls around on a cloth-covered table, which is named in honour of Prince John until he decides he doesn't want it and gives it away, with all naming rights, to a random peasant — whose name turns out to be Snooker.
  • Only Sane Man: Marian for Ye Goodies and the Sheriff for Ye Baddies.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: For all Marian's preaching about being freedom fighters the merry men mainly spend their time doing school activities and dysfunctional flat sharing. Lampshaded by Little Ron.
  • Polar Opposite Twins: Subverted, everyone expects Richard the Lionheart to reclaim his kingdom and sort everything out but he turns out to be John's Just As Evil Twin.
  • Pseudo-Santa: In "The Big Baby", the Sheriff invents a holiday called Bloopy as an excuse to insist the peasants give King John gifts. The central figure is Father Bloopy, who the Sheriff explains in song:
    He lives far away in Big Nose Land, with a hundred big-nosed boys,
    Who hammer away with their noses all day, to make all the Bloopy toys.
    And in his stable he has got sixteen hippopotumuses,
    And he harnesses them to a silver sleigh, 'cos he doesn't like using buses.
  • Purely Aesthetic Era: Virtually everything that happens. Despite being set in The Dung Ages, it still manages to have (among many other examples) a Rastafarian (identified as such), a telethon, belief in space aliens and sell-by date laws. One episode contains numerous references to Paul McCartney and his then-wife Linda.
  • Rival Turned Evil: Rotten Rose.
  • Screen-to-Stage Adaptation: The programme was adapted for a stage musical by Tony Robinson, Mark Billingham and David Lloyd. It toured several British theatres. The theatre programme for the production at the Bristol Old Vic featured new artwork by Paul Cemmick, showing Tony Robinson dreaming the production after being hit in the head by a football. The script for this production was later published in book format by Longman literature in 1992, as part of a series of BBC TV (and radio) plays to be used in classrooms at Key Stage 3 level (roughly ages 11–14). The book includes support material and activities for this purpose.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Silent Treatment: Near the end of the episode "Tunnel Vision", Gary and Graeme decide to express their dissatisfaction with the mess the Sheriff got them into by collectively ignoring him. The Sheriff has coincidentally just come into possession of an artifact claimed to make its owner invisible, and thus is led to believe that the artifact actually works.
  • Stalker with a Crush. Rose again.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: King John's torture victims are horrified by the idea of leaving the torture chamber and going to live in the world with all its stress and fast carts and modern technology (like pointy sticks).
  • Terrible Trio: The Sheriff, Gary and Graeme.
  • Those Two Guys: Gary and Graeme.
  • Tickle Torture: Happens in the first episode.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Robin.
  • "The Villain Sucks" Song:
    • The Previously on… song for "Rotten Rose Part 2" doubles as a song about how evil Rose is.
    • "Much the Mini-Mart Manager Son" in the episode of the same name is about how devious he is.
  • Visual Pun: In one episode, the Sheriff is collecting taxes. This includes a large carpet (the carpet tacks) and a small mint (the Tic Tax).
    • "Don't forget the VAT!" (value added tax)
    • In the song "Pancake Day", the lyrics include the line "...and don't forget to add a little flour" - this is punctuated by Robin plucking a little flower from the ground and adding it to the pancake mix.
  • You Mean X Mas: Invoked and parodied. The Sheriff of Nottingham and his henchmen, Gary and Graeme, invent a public holiday called "Bloopy" in order to get out of trouble with King John, and every single cynical thing ever said about Christmas applies to Bloopy as well.