“It's a part of the world that means a huge amount to me,” revealed Sherwood writer and executive producer James Graham during a TCA press conference for the new BritBox series, now streaming. “I grew up in the community where the two murders that this story is inspired by took place.” That’s right, Sherwood is not a series about a folklore hero who robbed from the rich and gave to the poor, but a murder mystery set in the same forest that gave rise to those legends. “It was remarkable that the overlapping symbolism with the first murder set into place with somebody using a crossbow and then as an outlaw, disappearing into Sherwood Forest. And that was commented upon at the time…. It is a show about history and the past. And I think narratives and mythology and folklore do feed into this story to expand it, slightly outside the traditional crime drama.”
Sherwood is a fictional dramatization of two unrelated murders that occurred at the same time in 2004, with both killers hiding out in the legendary forest at the same time.“With this story, there's so much that you can research,” shared Academy Award nominee Leslie Manville, who discussed how playing a character inspired by historical events may change her approach. “There's so much background to absorb and find out about that period in fairly recent history. And that all becomes a good layer to add onto the normal, usual job of creating a character. You know, 'cause the characters are not famous. People don't know them as such. So it's that juxtaposition of getting the history right and then putting your character on top of it.”
“I am constantly fascinated by human behavior which is probably why I'm an actress,” explained three-time SAG winner Joanne Froggatt about what attracts her to the murder mystery genre. “Just constantly fascinated with why people do things, how people get through certain events in their life, why people behave in certain ways, good or bad, what gets them to that point in their life? Is it nature, nurture? I just find that whole unanswerable question absolutely fascinating. Anything with extreme behavior sort of fascinates me.”
“When you've got somebody like James Graham who wrote it, who one has so much faith in as a writer, you know he's done all of the homework,” two-time SAG winner Kevin Doyle about his trust in bringing to life the character of Fred Rowley as written. The two murderers in the series were former miners who lost their jobs. “I imagine some of us can remember those dark days back in the early 80s when that [miner’s] strike took place and the long-term effects that it's had on communities such as we try and portray. And we were always reminded that the people who experienced what we show are still with us and are still experiencing the repercussions from those events. So it was very easy to remember that responsibility.”
James Graham was touched by the responsibility the cast felt towards their characters and the story as a whole. “The story is a lot about identity,” the visionary behind Sherwood revealed. “I know it is a murder mystery, it is a thriller, but in a similar way to a lot of the left behind communities that people talk about in the U.S. and what’s motivating the sense of loss there, Nottinghamshire lost a huge amount in terms of losing its industry. “so that’s a very serious way of saying actually there wasn’t much else to do except go into the forest and pretend that you were an outlaw robbing from the rich to give to the poor.” In the series, the community goes on a manhunt in dense Sherwood Forest to find two murderers hiding in its dense canopy of trees. “That culture is still I think a proud part of what forms part of the Nottinghamshire identity.”
You can stream Sherwood now on BritBox.