Friday, 12 April 2013

Childhood Heroes: Marion of Leaford

This is the first of a series of posts about both fictional characters and real people that were inspirations to me as a child. I think it's quite fun to look back at the people who influenced me as a child and think about why I was drawn to them. As will become apparent, quite a few of them are fellow redheads. This is definitely one reason why I was drawn to them, but ultimately I think they are all really interesting and worth a revisit! Many of the people in this list still inspire me to this day, but all of them have definitely shaped who I am. 
Our Merry Men!

First up, we have Maid Marian. To be a bit more specific, we have Judi Trott's Marion of Leaford from Robin of Sherwood
Let's just take a moment to be awed by her flawlessness.

I absolutely loved this show when I was little! (Still do actually...) Our holidays consisted of visiting castles and battle re-enactments, meaning I tended to gravitate towards stories that were to do with Medieval times so this show was absolutely perfect. There really are so many things about it that I love. The music was just perfect; to this day I get emotional hearing Marian's Theme. It has that nice mix of embracing the pagan elements but also seeming to have more of a realistic medieval feel than other adaptations have. Ray Winstone as Will Scarlett lead to the realisation that my first baby photo looks eerily like him (maybe one day you will get to experience the horror that is that photo, I don't feel like we know each other well enough yet!). Michael Praed was my favourite Robin, but I feel like they handled the transition to Jason Connery really well. And the line "nothing is forgotten, nothing is ever forgotten" kills me. EVERY.TIME.


My Queen!

But most of all, I loved Marion. The first thing that made an impact on me was obviously her pro-active nature. When she joins the merry men, she is part of them. She wields a bow, she fights, she steals, she is fully and completely one of them. But through all of this she is still feminine. She is this beautiful, red-headed woman who wears gorgeous dresses and is still very much a woman, but she can kick-ass and take care of herself. Bearing in mind I used to run round wearing a princess dress and conical hat but yielding a sword this really appealed to me. (Can we also take a moment to just look in awe at how gob-smackingly beautiful Judi Trott is? SERIOUSLY). It would have been very easy for her to be a passive character who is defined by her love for Robin and stays on the sidelines. But instead she was a full character with skills of her own. ( FYI- One of those skills being bee-keeping. Who doesn't like honey I ask you?) In fact, she often subverts the Damsel in Distress trope by being the decoy and tricking their opponents into underestimating the situation. That's not to say this is a completely unproblematic female character. There are quite a lot of instances where she is tied up, brainwashed etc. However, these are more things that I've noticed as I've re-watched the series. At the time, I think these aspects went over my head slightly. She still remained this awesome, strong woman that inspired me to go running around the garden with my bow and arrows (shout out to the parents for buying such great toys!). 
Merida eat your heart out, Marion is my original ginger archer!

Sadly the show had to end as the production company ran out of money :( However, with hindsight I actually quite liked the way Marion's story ended with her rejecting Robert's proposal and deciding to be a nun. I like that she was making choices for herself. Especially seeing as the potential storyline for the next series involved [spoiler?] Guy of Gisburne trying to rape Marion and mistakenly killing her, leading to half-brother Robert hunting him down and killing him. I honestly don't think I would have coped if that had happened!So instead I am very happy with it ending with her making decisions for herself and deciding the route her life will go down. I also liked that she wasn't too feisty a character. Don't get me wrong, I love my feisty ladies! But being a more easy-going person myself, I think it made me connect with her even more. Even with her easy-going nature she still stands up for herself and is assertive (punching Owen of Clun in the face after he forcibly tries to kiss her anyone?). As a child, I wasn't overly concerned with romantic relationships, but I do like the one between Marion and Robin. There is a potential argument that Michael Praed has contributed to my love of tall, dark-haired men... WHAT.


We could have had it aaaaaalllllllllllll!

Have any of you seen this series? Or have I managed to tempt some of you to give it a go! Do you have a different favourite Marian? Let me know in the comments!

P.S. One particular holiday highlight included visiting Chepstow, castle of Simon de Belleme from the first episode. Not that I got overexcited or anything...And yes, I am listening to Clannad writing this. THERE WAS NO OTHER OPTION!

2 comments:

  1. I always loved Nazir... dark, mostly silent, very capable - and the twin swords were so cool!

    Does anyone remember the funeral part when they all silently fired burning arrows into the lake in remembrance?

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  2. Fun fact for you! Nasir actually meant to die in his first episode, but the cast and crew liked Mark Ryan so much that they made him into a regular character!
    Oh I remember that moment vividly. Also the moment where Much can't believe he's dead because he said they'd see each other again....oh dear it's all too sad!

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