An Interview With Richard Todd

In October 2006 the BBC broadcast a new series of Robin Hood. Filmed in Budapest, with a Hungarian crew, these 13 part episodes were yet another evolution of the legend. With a fairly young, mostly unknown cast, it was aimed at the early Saturday evening, family viewing slot, left vacant by the hugely successful Dr Who series. It was written by Dominic Minghella and starred Jonas Armstrong as Robin Hood, Lucy Griffiths as Maid Marian and Keith Allen as the Sheriff of Nottingham. It received mixed reviews but was successful enough to be granted a second series, which is currently in production (although filming has been held up due to Jonas Armstrong having fractured a metatarsal in his foot during a fight scene).

One of the special guests invited along by the BBC in Lincolnshire to see the pilot episode of their new series, was the man who had played Robin Hood for Walt Disney 54 years earlier, the veteran British actor Richard Todd.

This is the interview Richard Todd gave with Rod Whiting of BBC Radio Lincolnshire about making Walt Disney’s ‘The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men.’

Richard Todd
: This went much against my instincts because I was an actor and you see I thought, Robin Hood, No! No! No! I don’t want to do that, hanging by my tail from trees and all that sought of thing. And Walt Disney came over to England and we had lunch together and he told me that he wanted a quick witted, quick thinking, quick moving, welter-weight. I really had a ball on that film. It was nothing like what you are able to do today. It doesn’t hold a candle to this in many ways.

Rod Whiting: What do you think about the new programme?

Richard Todd: From what I have seen it’s excellent. I told you. We couldn’t hold a candle to it. In the days when I made Robin Hood. Yeah! I think it’s extremely good. It’s very intelligent, its bright, its beautifully photographed, it has tremendous production values. Whether it will be intriguing for audiences, I wouldn’t know. As I said just now, I’m a bit old fashioned and I think I’m still a child at heart. I want to see Robin Hood! You know the Robin Hood that I have been nurturing in my mind for the odd ninety years. Or whatever it is I’ve been alive.

Rod Whiting: Not some chap with a beard then?

Richard Todd: (laughs) No! No! No! What happened to Friar Tuck? Does he come in sometime?

Rod Whiting: I think he will. I think he will at some stage.

Richard Todd: And Little John?
Rod Whiting: Yes. I think he’s about to make his appearance.

Richard Todd: Oh Good! Good!

Rod Whiting: Joan Rice was Maid Marian in your film.

Richard Todd: Yes.

Rod Whiting: And you know I was horrified to read that the biography of Joan Rice is nothing more than ‘A pert English actress....’

Richard Todd: She wasn't an actress.

Rod Whiting: Right.

Richard Todd: Poor little girl. I mean goodness knows why Walt and the others chose her. She was a waitress in a Lyons Corner House in London. She had never acted. She was a pretty little thing. She was a nice little thing. She tried her best. She did her best. It wasn’t there.

Rod Whiting: But you did have a chap called Bill Owen in the film.

Richard Todd: Oh a lot of other people that would be remembered today.

Rod Whiting: Peter Finch?

Richard Todd: Peter Finch, James Robertson Justice, James Hayter.

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