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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Blogger robin hood said...

Robin Hood Series 3 Cast:

Robin Hood - Jonas Armstrong
Kate - Joanne Froggatt
Guy of Gisborne - Richard Armitage
Tuck - David Harewood
Sheriff of Nottingham - Keith Allen
Little John - Gordon Kennedy
Much - Sam Troughton
Allan-a-Dale - Joe Armstrong
Isabella - Lara Pulver

3 July 2009 at 18:46  
Anonymous Rav said...

Poor old Kate. I think I must have been one of the most vocal dissenters against Kate, but now that it's all over, I think most of my frustration has disappated as well.

I think there was a number of other things that added to Kate's unpopularity than the one's you've listed.

There was her lack of clear motivation (yes, her brother had been killed, but then so had Djaq's and Allan's; along with Will and Marian's fathers - this was hardly a unique storyline), her irritating tendency to get kidnapped or injured (I think it was seven times in all - in one season she gets captured/hurt more than any other outlaw does in three!) and of course the disasterous idea of making her the "Betty" love interest to Isabella's "Veronica."

But the thing is, I wouldn't have really minded if Robin had a new love interest as long as it was handled properly, that is, more as a "hurt/comfort" relationship than what appeared to be Kate's dreamy eyed hero-worship. Had Kate's husband been killed off instead of her brother, there would have been a more reasonable point of mutual experiences for Robin and Kate to grow closer.

I think there were other factors as well:

1. Miscasting

Kate was obviously meant to be a teenager. The ages of her very young siblings, her unmarried status, her tendency to refer to herself as a "girl" and the general way she behaved and was treated by others all suggested she was about 18/19 years old.

And yet Jo Froggatt is thirty years old and (to be frank) looks thirty. Since Kate's age was never specified, it was a point of confusion as to why a grown woman was consistently behaving like a petulant teenager.

2. Uselessness

Marian was the spy. Djaq was the medic. Kate was the token female, who existed simply to be the damsel in distress, and the temporary love interest of various outlaws. In short: she was boring!

Anything she did that could have been construed as "helpful" was never anything that could have just as easily been achieved by one of the other outlaws. Instead the writers kept pushing her to the forefront of stories with ever-increasing stretches of logic to assure us of her relevancy. The writers seemed to be just as confused by her skills as the rest of us, because the BBC website lists her "weapon of choice" as her "imagination." I still have no idea what that's supposed to mean!

3. Personality

To be honest, Kate never really came across as a very nice person. She undoubtedly cared about her family, and about Robin, but too often came across as a very self-centred, impatient, irritable person.

She was callous toward Much, rude to John and Allan, downright vindictive toward Isabella (above and beyond the call of duty - it obviously stemmed from jealousy), and her tendency to talk back was often the reason for her multiple kidnappings.

The times Jo got to flash her smile were rare, most of the time she stomped around with an angry scowl clamped on her face. And why Jo chose to deliver so many of her lines in such a shrill, snippy tone of voice is anyone's guess.

Perhaps to infuse her character with some passion? Whatever the reason, Jo Froggatt deserved better from the scripts. Like everything in this show, Kate had potential and a great actress in the role. But like everything else, it was squandered.

4 July 2009 at 00:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One thing I liked about Kate was the way she could fly off the handle and become a whirling dervish of anger, to the point that she had to be physically restrained. But she's a TINY little thing! There was always a bit of humor about that, but it's to Joanna Froggat's credit that it was usually more than that.

I was really looking forward to Froggat's interactions with Joe Armstrong because their styles seem so similar, as have the parts they've played in the past. Sure enough, their scenes together were quite good, but there weren't enough of them. I'd like to see them work together on another project in the future.

4 July 2009 at 01:23  
Blogger khandy said...

For me the biggest problem for Kate was that she essentially took Marian's place. It was going to take some fantastic writing to pull this off. Fantastic writing from this show,it wasn't going to happen.

They did not make her a very likable character and as a role model women she was awful.Women generally have more common sensethan men and Kate showed none impatiently blundering in and causing more problemsthan she solved.The death of her brother sums it up well. Gisborne stabbed him in defence if kate had not rushed in he would not be dead. GOG is not going to stand and let somebody stab him and not defend himself.

Her treatment of Much was just simply appalling some of the things she said and did were dreadful. I watched the episode where Kate asks Much to tell Robin they are just friends with my thirteen year old daughter and she was outraged that Kate would hurt Much so badly.

The love story with Robin lacked time to develop and so seemed shallow and Marian fans were never going to stomach this after Marian's death. It would have been so much better to have had her in love with Robin and it either not to have been reciprocated at all or had both of them aganosing over what they see as a betrayal of Marian.

It could have been so much better as it was she was like a poor soap character.

4 July 2009 at 10:28  
Anonymous Rav said...

Actually, in Kate's defense I don't think she behaved too badly in regard to Much. In the third episode in which Much approaches her and states his intentions, she makes it very clear (albeit rather rudely) that she's not interested and that Much doesn't have a chance in hell. Kate never led him on, and she never gave him any reason to think that she cared for him in any way that extended past friendship. Her words to him in episode nine were painfully immature, but they weren't said with any kind of malice.

If Much didn't get the message...well...that's kinda his problem. Once again I point an accusing finger at the writers. Much ended up somewhat stalkative, and I was disappointed that he forgot all about the lovely Eve, out there waiting for him somewhere. Why would he waste time pursuing a female who clearly wasn't interested in him?

4 July 2009 at 11:44  
Blogger evielyn said...

My biggest problem with Kate was that she was always so rude and on the defensive with all of Robin's gang. Why was she so jealous of all of them and especially Much? Robin and him went through so much together in the Hoy Land they were always going to have a affinity with each other and Kate should have realised that.

Marian handled all of the men much nicer and easier, and had time for all of them.
As Khandi says it was Kate's own fault that her brother was killed.

Sadly her chasing of Robin only spoilt her character completely now if they had brought her and Allen together and then had her bereft after his death that would have made for a much better finale!

As usual the script writers led so many golden oppotunities go by.
They have really in my opinion shot the goose that could have laid them the golden egg!!

4 July 2009 at 13:17  
Blogger robin hood said...

Hi Rav,

I think you pretty much endorse what I say. But the "age" aspect is an interesting one, and something i'd not thought of. But she is only 2 years older than Jonas, 1 younger than Joe, and 2 younger than Sam. So that's not a bad match.

And "stalkative"? What a great word.

Hi Khandy,

We agree that Kate was badly written in terms of being a simple "damsel in distress" stereotype.

However, I don't myself think the way Kate treated Much was "simply appalling". I think she was maybe a bit blunt, but better to be straight to the point right from the start, rather than "tease", lead him on, or make him think there was ever a chance. Cruel to be kind and all that.

(Hey, I've known worse in my time!)

Hi Evielyn,

Maybe her "rudeness" was meant to be interpreted as trying too hard to prove herself as one of the gang; able to keep her end up. Marian never had to live amongst them, and when she got chance she bolted back to Nottingham.

"The script writers led so many golden opportunities go by". I think we can all agree on that one.

4 July 2009 at 18:32  
Blogger Jaybadger said...

Robin Hood: looks like you made a Robin hood Series 4 site. Heh. You might as well do something with it.

4 July 2009 at 20:31  
Blogger robin hood said...

Hi Jaybadger,

I did indeed reserve a site / blog for Series 4 "just in case".

But I was so disillusioned with the last few episodes of Series 3 (especially the one with the boys, when they re-wrote Series 1), that I'd already really decided to call it a day.

But even then, I dare say I could have been tempted. But now? I'm afraid the "fan fiction" approach isn't for me.

4 July 2009 at 20:45  
Anonymous Laura said...

You know, I'm going to say it... I liked Kate too.

I started watching Robin Hood with the 3rd series and worked my way back thourgh the first two, so I didn't see Kate as taking Marian's spot, but rather a genuinely likeable character in her own right. Yes, admittedly, the romance with Robin was a mistake. Why they set her up for Much/Alan and then had her get together with Robin is just unknowable. Sure she was a little hot-headed at times, but isn't the spunky female sidekick a good character to have? I think Joanne did the best she possibly could and I would definitely watch her in a series again. Just my two cents ;)

Robin: alas it looks like a series 4 was never meant to be. I'm still reading my way through your other Robin Hood stuff though, so that ought to keep me busy for a bit :)

5 July 2009 at 06:07  
Blogger Jaybadger said...

robin hood:
I won't mind seeing your little RH models having a go! Heh heh!

5 July 2009 at 09:49  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i agree with the people thinkin kate was an rude and enoying character.i never liked her and i certainly never will ;) when will you do a tribute to robin,issy,guy and the rest of the cast?can't wait.btw love this blog!

6 July 2009 at 21:24  
Blogger robin hood said...

Hi everyone,

Just a quick line to say i am still around, and more stuff will be on the way.

Life sometimes has a habit of getting in the way!

9 July 2009 at 01:53  
Anonymous kitty said...

Poor old Kate -Fundamentally she represented nothing whereas Issy was a character in her own right .
Poor old Joanne never stood a chance -her character was never clearly defined , because of that she will always be compared with Marian .

10 July 2009 at 21:18  
Blogger R.A. Fan said...

I don't share with your liking of Kate, but oh well. :)
I do like your blog, however!
I just made a fan blog of my own:
Yay for BBC Robin Hood! :)
(Even if Series 3 was all over the place.)

29 July 2009 at 07:24  
Blogger robin hood said...

Thanks RA Fan.

3 August 2009 at 10:54  

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