Saturday, December 08, 2007
Lincoln green Janine
GUEST! Robin Hood, BBC1, 7.00pm
We're not quite sure how this second series of Robin Hood went from being an object of scorn and derision to being the week's most eagerly-anticipated televisual highlight for at least one lowculture correspondent. Possibly it was the scene in the first episode when a shirtless Allan appeared to be oiled into submission by Guy of Gisbourne that did it. Perhaps it was the realisation that every anachronism (and there's quite a few, to be fair) will be explained away by Djaq saying "It's Saracen medicine / science / technology / genetic engineering / broadband / commercial space travel" etc. Maybe it's just all the lovely fires.
Or maybe it was when the celebrity guest roles started coming thicker and faster than ever before. The vastly improved (really!) second series has seen a number of expectedly and unexpectedly brilliant appearances from 21st century actors playing medieval nobility, clergy and peasant filth, including Dexter Fletcher, Josie Lawrence, Tony Slattery, Ralf Little, David Bamber, the particularly amazing Denis Lawson and, last week, Mathew Horne showcasing his stand-up skills as a glitter-encrusted, pigeon-fancying, completely unflappable Fool. This week, however, it gets really exciting, with an appearance from none other than Charlie Brooks, aka EastEnders' very own Quite Evil Janine Butcher/the Butcher/Evans, as a 'forest person' (tramp?) whose path the Sheriff of Nottingham crosses when he accidentally wanders into Sherwood Forest during a lengthy sleepwalk.
Of course, the Sheriff's absence causes a few problems back in Nottingham, what with Prince John having agreed to burn the city to the ground if any harm befalls him, and ultimately Robin and Marian have to - gasp! - work alongside Guy to track the Sheriff down before Nottingham is torched at sunset. Will they find the Sheriff in time? Will Nottingham survive? Can Robin and Guy really work together? Those are the sort of questions we're all supposed to be asking ourselves, obviously, but what we're really wondering is whether Charlie Brooks will get more lines in this than she did in Bleak House. (Centre stage on the Radio Times three-page fold-out cover, and then she only got about five words throughout the whole eight-hour series!) And if Charlie's not a draw for you, next week Lynda 'ITV' Bellingham guest stars as Queen Eleanor. Will she play it 'mumsy' or 'gangster'? Tune in to find out! Go on, it finishes in a few weeks. Oh, you really are all going to have to start watching this properly at some point, you know.