I’m not expecting a lot of comments on this post because most of you will be thinking “who the hell is Richard Carpenter and anyway didn’t Davey Jones from The Monkees die yesterday?”
But to a few of you, Richard Carpenter will mean something special. And I’m not talking about Karen Carpenter’s brother here either. I’m talking about one of the best British television writers that this country has ever produced. Certainly he’s a writer who has influenced and fed my imagination more than any other... even before I was properly aware of who he was or even if I wanted to be a writer myself.
If you were a kid in the 70’s and 80’s you would have been very familiar with Richard Carpenter’s television work. Catweazle, The Ghosts of Motley Hall, Dick Turpin, The Scarlet Pimpernel and, my favourite show of all time, Robin Of Sherwood to name but a few.
The Ghosts of Motley Hall and Dick Turpin were a major feature of my weekends when I was a kid. Both were on a Sunday evening and would be something me and my sisters would watch at my Nan’s house after spending the day there. They bring back cosy memories of a time when life was much simpler than it is now.
Robin Of Sherwood holds a special place in my heart and was just one of the shows that spoke to me on a spiritual level – as crass and hysterical as that might sound. On some level Richard’s writing and the acting of the cast embodied all that was magical and mythical and British about this country of ours. The on-screen chemistry of the cast spilled over onto the screen and for a lonely wallflower like me it was like a beacon of how wonderful life could potentially be. Years later, reading interviews with the cast, their friendships plainly remain and Richard Carpenter himself is quoted as saying that this forging of friendships and the lasting camaraderie of those involved in the show is one of the things he was most proud of. Robin Of Sherwood went on to majorly influence Kevin Costner’s criminal foul-up of a film and the BBC’s recent Robin Hood.
Most of Richard’s television work is now available on DVD. Robin Of Sherwood has recently been reissued on Blu-Ray – remastered for both sound and picture quality. I have treated myself because it is the one show that I know will stay with me for the rest of my life.
I am saddened that Richard’s passing on the 26th February hasn’t been more picked up on in the press and the national media. His death is a huge loss for both television and British writing per se. Back in the days before CGI and computer generated lighting Richard worked wonders with tight budgets, proper location shoots and real flesh and blood people. His writing was heartfelt and emotive and quietly proud.
Richard, Albion salutes you.