Fans of the recent BBC series of Robin Hood might be surprised to read that it was Sam Troughton’s (Robin’s manservant, Much) Grandfather Patrick, who was the very first actor to play the part of the legendary outlaw on the television of the 1950’s. Sam was ten years old when his Grandfather died.
Patrick Troughton (1920-1987) is probably best remembered for being the second Dr Who in the cult Sci-Fi series, which was his favourite role. But he was one of Britain’s most versatile, recognisable and finest dramatic actors, with a career that lasted 40 years in films and television. Which incidentally included a short part in Walt Disney’s Treasure Island (1950) as a pirate called Roach.
Television was Troughton’s favourite medium and as a very fine swordsman, this made him an ideal choice for the part of Robin Hood. Alongside him was Kenneth Mackintosh as Little John, Wensley Pithey as Friar Tuck, Philip Guard as Will Scarlet, John Brestin as Alan A Dale and Dudley Jones as Much. An interesting choice for the role of the Sheriff of Nottingham was David Kossoff, with Maurice Jones as his evil side-kick Guy of Gisbourne.
Sadly it has been reported recently that only one episode of this historic series has survived. At that time, most live shows were broadcast and discarded, with most of them being lost forever. But fortunately the BBC was starting to experiment with a specially adapted monitor that recorded televised material. As a result of this experimentation, an entire episode of Robin Hood, (Episode 2, The Abbot of St Mary’s) survives in the BBC Archives. This is probably the earliest example of those pioneering ‘telerecording’ experiments.