“Nothing’s forgotten. Nothing is ever forgotten.”
Ah man. This quote sends shivers down my spine, 30 odd years after it was first uttered on Robin Of Sherwood. Saturday afternoon, visiting the grandparents. Making them switch off the football Pools results to drop into Sherwood for a spellbinding hour of escapism.
This was where I found fandom. I fell headlong into a series that would stay with me well beyond its three short years and one main lead actor skipping off to the bright lights of Dynasty. I suspect that all of us here have had a similar experience. Somewhere, some point in time where fandom grabbed us by the proverbials, introducing us to a sweet and spicy vat of geek goodness.
I was 14 when the first series of Robin Of Sherwood aired. It was easy to dismiss my love of the show being that of teenage lust for the main character. And boy was Michael Praed hot. You just didn’t get fey longhaired chaps standing up for the oppressed on the estate I grew up on. And this redhead was looking for a role model, perfectly cast in Judi Trott’s spirited Marion proving that the women were just as capable as the men.
The show had a deeper substance. There was a subtle darkness to its heart. I’d been drinking in the Arthurian romance novels of Mary Stewart and Marion Zimmer Bradley for a while – flawed heroes with magic at their fingertips. Welcome to folklore. Welcome to death. Because – unlike The A-Team and Knight Rider and other big TV staples aimed at my demographic – people died.
This is the point I tipped over from engaged into a small obsession. Where I needed the posters, the cast interviews, the VHS tapes (even though we didn’t have a video player), the daft little cartoon strips from the kids TV magazine Look-In. I was a FAN.
Fast forward fifteen years and I encountered the Buffyverse. Similar reaction, albeit I didn’t have posters on my study walls. Still took a picture of season 5 Willow into my hairdresser and asked her to cut my hair in exactly the same style. Make me so.
I think that’s when I recognized my geek traits were there for life. These emotional ties forged to what is in effect a make believe world, but one with which you identify so much that it becomes second nature to use it as a reference point for your own life. What would Buffy do? Be more Willow.
Teenagers on my estate would congregate on a communal wall after each episode of Robin Of Sherwood aired. I guess it was our water cooler, in an era when water came from the tap. We would discuss the plot, the villains, the glorious campness of the Sheriff of Nottingham. The darkness and the myths that fascinated us and drove us to discover more about our own folklore.
I found Den of Geek when I was looking to replicate that community wall online. Here there is that same commonality of experience and a thirst to know more, to understand everything that lies behind the programmes, the films and the games that we love. We all know that fandom can be toxic, that bitter schisms can form in opinion and that sometimes it can bring the worst out in people.
But fandom can also be a balm if you step away from the craziness. You look to the origins of Star Trek and how it aimed to encompass all creeds, all races and promote diversity of opportunity. Something that is still being fought for today – 53 years after Gene Roddenberry captured the sentiment so brilliantly with his original Enterprise crew.
This goes back to one of the lessons that Robin Of Sherwood taught me about fairness. That life isn’t fair. There will always be those who seek more than they should by dint of perceived privilege. That sometimes we need the unlikeliest of people to step forward and stick a hand above the trees to say, hey! Enough of this. Give a little back to those most in need. We don’t all have to be Robin. We can be the bumblers, the Scooby Gang – the Friar Tucks and the Xanders of this world – and still make a difference.
So grab a cup of whatever you like and share the biscuits around on our community wall. Shout out about your first fandom. Who, what, when did it capture you? What more recently has ignited the fan spark inside of you? Tell us what brings you joy, past and present.
And thanks as always for reading.