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Tony Robinson

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| birth_place = Leytonstone, London, England | death_date = | death_place = | occupation = Actor, broadcaster and political campaigner | salary = | spouse = | children = Two (one son, one daughter) | website = | footnotes = }}

Tony Robinson (born 15 August 1946 in Leytonstone, London) is an English actor, broadcaster and political campaigner, best known for playing Baldrick in the BBC television series Blackadder, and for hosting Channel 4 programmes such as Time Team and The Worst Jobs in History. Robinson is also a member of the Labour Party and served on its National Executive Committee. He has written 16 children's books and is currently presenting his own 4-part series, Tony Robinson's Crime and Punishment on Channel 4.

Early lifeEdit

Born in Leytonstone, London, Robinson attended Wanstead High School in what is now the London Borough of Redbridge. His first professional acting role came at the age of 12, as a member of Fagin's gang in the original production of the musical Oliver!, including a stint as the Artful Dodger when the boy playing the role didn't turn up. He then spent five years during which he appeared in a number of West End shows, in film, and on television.

At school, Robinson passed four O Levels (English Language, English Literature, History and Geography) and went on to study for A Levels, but decided to study at a drama school instead. Too young to attend the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Robinson studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama. After leaving, he spent four years in repertory theatre.

He won an Arts Council bursary to work as a director at the Midland Arts Theatre, Birmingham and founded the Avon Touring Company, a Bristol-based community theatre company, with writer David Illingworth. These programmes would see Robinson bounding about the place acting out all the parts. Programmes in this style included Tales From Fat Tulip's Garden (continued in Fat Tulip Too), Odysseus: The Greatest Hero of Them All (a retelling of the Iliad and the Odyssey), and Blood and Honey (tales from the Old Testament, filmed on location).

In the late 1980s he created the children's comedy TV series Maid Marian and her Merry Men, a loose retelling of the legend of Robin Hood in which he appeared as the Sheriff of Nottingham. Four series were broadcast on BBC1 during 1989-94. With its modern spin on ancient times, the hugely popular series was considered by many to be a junior equivalent of Blackadder.

Beyond Blackadder (1989 - present)Edit

After Blackadder, Robinson became the narrator and one of the lead actors for the British animated series, Nellie the Elephant, based on a song of the same name. The series ran from 1989 to 1991 and was shown on Children's ITV.

Robinson also presented the early-Saturday evening series Stay Tooned for BBC1, which featured a selection of classic Warner Brothers and MGM cartoons. The series ran for several years.

In 1994, Robinson began presenting Time Team, a TV programme devoted to archaeological investigations limited to three days (the outcome is never guaranteed, varying from spectacular to disappointing). As of 2006, the series has been re-commissioned through 2007, with Robinson being drafted in to present other history-based shows on Channel 4, including The Worst Jobs in History, researching and re-enacting some of the more horrible jobs of the past millennium. He also took this show on tour around the country along with an autobiographical question and answer session. This first series was followed by The Worst Christmas Jobs in History in December 2005 and then a second series of The Worst Jobs in History on Channel 4 in April 2006.

In 1999, Robinson returned to star in a one-off Blackadder short film to celebrate the millennium, titled Blackadder: Back & Forth. This short film was shown in the Millennium Dome throughout 2000 and was later aired on BBC One in 2003.

Tony Robinson's Cunning Night Out, a largely improvised stage show, followed in early 2005 and included a mix of the many themes from his career for which Robinson is famous. He also edited and presented The Real Da Vinci Code, a documentary for Channel 4's Weird World series which countered the claims made by Dan Brown in his novel The Da Vinci Code.

In addition to telling his own stories, Tony narrated the abridged audio book versions of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels. Nigel Planer, Celia Imrie and Stephen Briggs narrated the unabridged versions. He also provided the voicing for several characters in the videogame Discworld. Tony followed on this Discworld work by gratefully playing a role in the live action television dramatisation of Hogfather, broadcast on Sky over the Christmas season in 2006.

Robinson also presented Classic FM's Friendly Guide to Classical Music which aired on a Sunday at 4pm. The whole 16-episode series was repeated on 26 December, 2006. His favourite piece is Finlandia by Jean Sibelius but his appreciation of music is broad. He is quoted as saying "Well, today, my favourite piece is 'Finlandia', but tomorrow it’ll be something by The Killers". He revealed on BBC Radio 2 "Tracks of My Years" that his favourite songs are "I Can Help" by Billy Swan, "Bleeding Love" by Leona Lewis, "Chasing Cars" by Snow Patrol, "Beautiful" by Christina Aguilera, "Unfinished Sympathy" by Massive Attack, "Tangled Up In Blue" by Bob Dylan, "Shoulda Woulda Coulda" by Beverley Knight, "This Woman's Work" by Maxwell, "He's So Fine" by The Chiffons and "Falling Slowly" by The Frames.

Robinson has also recently (2007) narrated television advertisements for car manufacturer Honda, in the humorous style of Tales From Fat Tulip's Garden. The advertisements feature plasticine cars with expressive faces (similar to Thomas the Tank Engine). He also did voiceovers for laundry product Vanish in 2007 and 2008.

Recently he discovered his Jewish ancestry through his grandmother's surname 'Levy'. Robinson is currently presenting another series of his own on Channel 4, Tony Robinson's Crime and Punishment, which started on Sunday 1 June 2008 and is made up of 4 different programmes.

DVD and Live TourEdit

In the Spring of 2007 Tony visited 30 towns in the UK with his one man show A Cunning Night Out. The show was such a success that a recording was released on DVD in the autumn of 2007.

Politics and outside interestsEdit

Robinson and his former partner Mary Shepheard were active in Bristol Labour politics from the early 1980s.

From 1996 to 2000, he was vice-president of the actors' union Equity, helping with a huge restructuring programme which turned a £500,000 deficit into a small surplus. Since leaving, he was elected to the Labour Party's National Executive Committee, a position he held from 2000 to 2004.

He also follows Spanish La Liga side Valencia CF, often spending his holidays in the country. He is honorary president of the Young Archaeologists' Club of the Council for British Archaeology.

AwardsEdit

In 1999 he was awarded an honorary Master of Arts by the University of Bristol for his services to drama and archaeology.

In 2002 he was awarded an honorary Master of Arts by the University of East London.

In 2005 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Open University for his contribution to the educational or cultural well-being of society and an honorary Doctor of Laws by the University of Exeter for his active involvement in politics.

In 2006 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Oxford Brookes University.

Selected filmographyEdit

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit













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