Robin Hood: Spotlight on Lara Pulver as Isabella Gisborne
Isabella Gisborne (alongside the earlier Night watchman) was one of the only true innovations this version of Robin Hood has been responsible for. (Discarding the idiotic idea of murdering Marian). Not only because she is a female Sheriff of Nottingham, but also because she is Guy's sister. This idea, affording as it does the opportunity for a love affair between Robin Hood and both a Gisborne AND a Sheriff, could well go on into subsequent screen versions of the legend. (I for one hope it does).
The introduction of the character was well conceived. Whilst we'd all been following the "new love interest Kate" stories in the media, Isabella was sneaking in from left field, and straight into Robin's arms (not to mention his lips), within two episodes of their meeting. (See episode 6). Was this too soon for the Lucy fans (of whom I am one)? Yes, of course it was. But this is comic book time. And so it was that most Hoodies, still smarting over losing Lucy and taking a dislike to Kate, warmed to this woman who took a promiscuous purse from her garter for the outlaw leader. Yet more revelations about Lady Gisborne were to follow.
"Too Hot to Handle" (episode 7) was for me one of the best in Series 3, and is the one in which Isabella Gisborne shows her true colours. Whereas Robin Hood's scripted relationship with Marian had fairly studiously avoided any and all "adult" connotations, one needed little imagination to interpret Isabella's sharing of a bowl of strawberries, or offering to take her dress off (albeit in a good cause!), as anything other than sexy. In this respect, Lara Pulver shook Jonas out of what had seemed to become his action hero "comfort zone". And not only that. No sooner are Isabella's passionate advances rejected, than she flies into an uncontrollable rage, revealing her true nature not simply as a Gisborne, but as a victim, having been “sold like a piece of meat” by her own brother. It really is a great character, rich in potential, and Lara Pulver portrays her superbly.
There are other memorable moments which define her: In episode 8 Isabella's ambitions have her throw herself in front of Prince John, taking a hit from Guy's arrow, rather than lose the Prince who might support her as the new Sheriff. And then the all telling conflict with Meg (episode 9), who she sees at first as a victim much like herself, only to swing wildly to the other extreme after observing Meg's love for Guy, which reminds her of a happiness she herself was deprived of by the marriage Guy sold her into.
And sadly, that was it. After episode 9 it was all over for Isabella Gisborne, just as it was effectively all over for the show itself. Episode 10 attempted to redraft the entire show, the consequence of which was only too apparent in already falling viewer ratings. Lara Pulver would give another great performance in episode 12, plotting against Kate in one final attempt to break her away from Robin, but the suggestion made in episode 10 that Robin Hood already knew Isabella from childhood (and had just failed to recognise her so far in the series), simply undermined a lot of her character's credibility. And there would be one further insult to injury.
Isabella Gisborne deserved her own final exit; her own iconic "death scene". Even if it was as ambiguous as Keith Allen's had been (making a 4th series possible), Lara Pulver had done more than enough to merit that. But in the end she had to share the spotlight with the unnecessary return of Vasey.
The first female Sheriff of Nottingham was Mrs. C. M. Harper, who had previously worked on the Nottingham Council. She held office for the year 1931/32. No doubt her methods were somewhat more democratic than our Izzy Gisborne's.
For much more information and pictures about the Sheriff of Nottingham, follow the links on THIS PAGE.