Friday, 3 July 2009

Spotlight on Joanne Frogatt : "Kate".

I really liked Kate, although I am aware that tends to place me amongst a minority where the Hoodies are concerned. But hear me out: I do concede that she represented at one and the same time what was both good and bad about "Robin Hood". The good part is Joanne Frogatt's talent, and the producer's decision to cast her in the role of a rebellious outlaw. The bad part is what that role needlessly came to represent.

Born in Yorkshire, our "fiesty village girl" became an established face on British TV via her three years in our most successful soap opera, "Coronation Street". I never watch it. But I do know her role was that of troubled teenager Zoe Tattersall, having come to the attention of the producers via her portrayal of a pregnant teenager in "The Bill" (another hugely successful U.K. "soap"). The Zoe Tattersall character is credited as being an important influence on "Coronation Street", appearing at a time when the series was being given a more contemporary dynamic. Such "rebellious" and "troubled" roles would then become part of Joanne Frogatt's stock in trade.

Joanne's debut in Episode 2 was awaited with some anticipation. The furor over the loss of Lucy Griffiths still hadn't settled (I don't think it has even now), Richard Armitage had pleaded and been granted a "not guilty" verdict by expressing his own concerns about Marian's murder, and so someone else's head had to role.... Enter Kate.

In my review of that episode I said at the start that Joanne exhibited more energy than most of the rest of the cast combined, who all seemed to be taking a long while to get back into the swing of things. Her broad Yorkshire accent totally fit the bill, and her motivation for ultimately joining the outlaws was sound: Wanting revenge for her brother's murder.

I think the first non-Marian girl outlaw to be added to the Legend (albeit briefly), was played by Billie Whitelaw, in December 1957, during the hugely successful "Adventures of Robin Hood" TV series. So this wasn't a new concept, particularly as we'd had the fabulous Djaq herself in Series 1 & 2. But whereas Djaq (Anjali Jay), had inherited the by now established "Saracen Outlaw" role, and had all that Eastern knowledge and mystique being written into her script, Kate was only being given "anger" and a desire for revenge which made her (understandably) hot headed and impulsive. Joanne Frogatt deserved to be given something more than simply that and a Britney-esque hair slide. The "something more" turned out to be one of the nails in the show's coffin: "Robin's love interest".

Why on Earth, when we all knew Jonas was leaving anyway after 13 episodes, did the producers think it anything like a good idea to have Robin Hood seemingly forget all about his savagely murdered fiance / wife in such record time, AND begin relationships with two other women? It was a complete no-brainer from the start, the effect of which sealed Kate's fate with fans, totally shut down the development of her character, and made Robin Hood appear a much shallower figure than he had in the past. So instead of exploring the possibilities of a romance with Much or Alan (plotlines which would have been enriched all the more by including Joe Armstrong and Sam Troughton), Kate simply became the "girlie liability" of cliche. I think there was so much more to offer than that, especially with an actress of Joanne Frogatt's calibre.

Best Kate moments: Screaming "heretic" and slapping Robin whilst secretly passing him an arrow head so he can cut himself free from the burning stake; Enduring the indignaties of being made to dance by Ruthless Rufus; Chained up and flirting / arguing with Alan A Dale; And (for me at least) any time she ran through Sherwood Forest in that green dress...

Here are some external links about Joanne Frogatt and Kate.

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Thursday, 2 July 2009

BBC axes Robin Hood. It's Official.

Above: "Archer" (Clive Standen), the half brother standing in the wings to take over, is no longer needed...

Yep, that's it folks. The show is well and truly over. After ratings for Series 3 "plummeted", the BBC has decided to axe the show. Here is one link relating the news:

My initial thoughts? I personally am not suprised. I think the makers of this show, rather than feed the Golden Goose, turned it into a Turkey. No matter how great the cast (and they certainly were!), one cannot simply take a centuries old legend and hack it about seemingly at random. The show included some great innovations, such as the Night Watchman, a contemporary "post-brit pop" Robin Hood, and even a traitor Alan A Dale. It also developed other ideas we'd seen in the past, such as the recruitment of Djaq. But then went on to test the patience of its strong and loyal fan base with ever more contradictory story lines.

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