This was less a documentary to find the real Robin Hood, and more ajustification for the contortions the legend underwent in RidleyScott's movie.
Mike Loades, a military historian, said Robin lived between 1180 and1280, giving absolutely no reason for this, and the program continuedbased on his dates. J. C. Holt, the leading Robin Hood historian, saysin his book that, due to social circumstances described in the ballads,it is VERY unlikely Robin was active before 1200. Also, the earliestrecord we have of outlaws starting to use the alias "Robin Hood" comesfrom a 1262 Easter Memoranda Roll. Assuming that they were emulating anoriginal Robin Hood, the program should have been looking between 1200and 1262. Except then the Third Crusade (Richard set out in 1190, peacewas reached in 1192) would not have rated inclusion, and the ThirdCrusade was a big part of the movie.
None of the ballads says Robin went on crusade. The one ballad thatmentions Richard I does not mention the crusade, or John, or MagnaCarta. (Which was not about equality under the law but, among otherthings, protecting the nobles' inheritance from a corrupt king.) Whywas Mike Loades saying Friar Tuck could have been on crusade, when weknow Tuck was not a part of the original legend, but added in thesixteenth century, like Maid Marian, through the May Games? Theoriginal Friar Tuck was most likely Robert Stafford, a thief active in1417.
Information was not well presented. For example, one man said thatScarlet was the "fop" of the group. He did not say that this wasbecause "scarlet" used to refer to an expensive fabric. Anotherhistorian stated that "Scarlet" was derived from "Scathelocke" or"Scarlock," meaning to break locks (an obvious outlaw alias). But noone put these two statements together to explain that Will was notactually a fop (or necessarily a red head - scarlet evolved to mean redbecause this was an expensive dye), but only collected these traitsbecause of later corruptions of his name.
One historian said that Marian's character has changed over time tomirror how society has viewed women. It would have been interesting tohear how the seventeenth century ballad about Marian's hour-long swordfight with Robin factors into that theory.
The quarterstaff demonstration was interesting, but irrelevant. NeitherRobin nor his men were said to use staves until the eighteenth century.
Graham Black of Nottingham Trent University shared, in my opinion, thebest information. He talked about J. C. Holt's best Robin Hoodcandidate, outlawed in 1226, who was then completely ignored for therest of the program.
Most of the documentary was spent talking about the history behind themovie, not the man. (And that history was not always accurate.) RussellCrowe should stop saying that giving to the poor was the legend's corevalue and why it survived. That value was not added until the sixteenthcentury, along with Richard I and rumours of Robin's nobility. If thedocumentary were objective, it would point out things the movie gotwrong, like almost everything about how Richard I died, or the factthat John's Isabella was twelve or younger when he married her.