Doctor Who Convention Encounters: Robin of Sherwood Actors

I’ve mentioned a few times attending a convention in Chicago in 1993, called Visions. It was billed as celebrating the 30th anniversary of Doctor Who, the 15th anniversary of Blake’s 7, the 6.5th anniversary of Red Dwarf (really!) and the 10th anniversary of Robin of Sherwood.

(Daily Doctor Who #145)

So, Robin of Sherwood was a fantasy-historical drama created by Richard Carpenter which brought the adventures of Robin Hood for the screen for like the 90th time, but in one of the most engaging formats I have ever seen. It combined a gritty naturalism with an ethereal romanticism to craft a series that in some ways felt more realistic than other portrayals of Robin Hood, but still never lost sight of its action-adventure roots. I was a big fan of the show back in the day, and I might still be if it wasn’t for the huge amount of sorcery, devil-worship and paganism it contained, which ultimately put me off.

Robin of Sherwood was represented at Visions ’93 by three actors, two of which were also Doctor Who guest stars.

The three included Mark Ryan, who played a Saracen named Nasir, one of Robin’s “Merry Men”.

He was deadly fighter who was largely silent, and may possibly have helped to inspire Morgan Freeman’s character in the big-screen Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves movie. Ryan was the only one of these three who never appeared on Doctor Who, although he has had an interesting career that apparently includes writing for DC Comics and voicing some Transformers characters.

He also appeared in an episode of Community as Constable Edmund, the companion for the Doctor Who spoof character, Inspector Spacetime. I’ve also just discovered that I share a birthday with Mark Ryan, although of course he is older than me.

Another convention guest was John Abineri, who played the shaman-like Herne the Hunter on Robin of Sherwood.

He appeared in Doctor Who four times–alongside the Second Doctor in Fury from the Deep, the Third Doctor in The Ambassador’s of Death and Death to the Daleks, and the Fourth Doctor in The Power of Kroll.

Finally, there was Jeremy Bulloch, who played Edward of Wickham, the leader of a local village who helped Robin and his allies from time to time.

On Doctor Who he was in the First Doctor story The Space Museum, and also played Hal the archer in the Third Doctor story, The Time Warrior, and was ultimately responsible for killing the series’ first Sontaran.

Bulloch is potentially best known for neither Doctor Who nor Robin of Sherwood, but rather for playing Boba Fett (his body, anyway) in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

(I have also just discovered that Bulloch made a cameo appearance in Revenge of the Sith as a different character).

Anyway, my friend Matt and I got our photograph taken with the three actors together, which was fun.

L-R: Mark Ryan, me, Jeremy Bulloch, my friend Matt, John Abiniri

You can see that John Abineri (far right) is holding a glass of wine or something, and the mood amongst the three of them was definitely a lively one. They were laughing and giggling with each other, and one of them (I’m not sure which) asked us if we knew that Boba Fett was gay. I had no idea how to respond to that one.

Later, we got their autographs, which was also a funny experience.

Each one of them signed my book, which was nice.

And Mark Ryan obviously is used to adding a little arrow to his.

In addition to the book, two of them also signed photographs. The writing is a little hard to see (black ink against dark backgrounds) in the photos, but you get the idea. Mark Ryan included in his autograph the phrase “Salam Alekum” which is a traditional Arabic greeting.

I assume that comes from his character’s connections rather than his own.

Jeremy Bulloch’s signature on a picture of Boba Fett picture is pretty funny. I think I asked him to write, “May the Dark Side of the Force be with you,” but he went his own way with it.

Recently I was talking to Matt and reminiscing about this day, and Matt reminded me of something. For some reason, he was carrying with him a roll of toilet paper (presumably he was having a runny nose or something and was using it to keep himself clean). The actors thought that was hilarious, and wanted to know why he was carrying a “bog roll” with him.

Photo by Vlada Karpovich from Pexels

Matt and I had never heard of a “bog roll” before, and I have to say that in all of my years of living in Australia since then, and traveling to different parts of the world including England I have not encountered the term since. But they definitely were sold on the phrase and even included it in all of the autographs that Matt got. They’d write something like: “All the best, Mark Ryan. Bog roll.”

Unfortunately, Matt doesn’t know off the top of his head where those autographs are. He said he’ll have a look for them but it’s a busy work time for him (he’s now a university professor and has tons to grade), but he ever finds him I’ll post an update.

2 thoughts on “Doctor Who Convention Encounters: Robin of Sherwood Actors

  1. Robin Of Sherwood has always been the most appealing Robin Hood adaptation for me.

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