Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

P-P-P-P-Pancake Day

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Today is Shrove Tuesday, the last day before the start of Lent (which itself is called Ash Wednesday). In some countries, it’s called Mardi Gras (literally ‘Fat Tuesday’), but in Britain it’s more commonly called Pancake Day.

The tradition is that you would eat up the remaining rich foods in your cupboards before giving them up for lent, and making pancakes was one way to do this. The tradition of eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday persists to this day.

Christine and I aren’t eating pancakes tonight – I’m at home and she’s out, although I did eat a spotted dick instead. We’ll probably have them tomorrow as we’re not Christians and don’t give up things for lent.

As for the video linked above, I’ve usually shared it on Twitter every year but apparently many others have this year too. It’s from the BBC TV series Maid Marian and her Merry Men, which was broadcast between 1989 and 1994. Most of the episodes had at least one song, and this was one of them – another one which seems to have sadly disappeared off YouTube is ‘Call the Dentist’, to the tune of the Ghostbusters theme song.

The series was interesting because it was loosely based on the story of Robin Hood, but had Maid Marian as the strong protagonist, with Robin Hood being a bit of a wet blanket. Even now female protagonists are hard to find in film and TV programmes, so in some respects this 25 year old show was ahead of its time, although other female characters are few and far between so it probably wouldn’t pass the Bechdel test.

It was written by (Sir) Tony Robinson, who also played the Sheriff of Nottingham; Robinson is now better known for his portrayal of Baldrick in Blackadder, and his work on Time Team. Red Dwarf fans may recognise Danny John-Jules in the video as Barrington, albeit with his native accent.

A few years ago I bought all four series on DVD and have recently watched most of them. The series is a bit dated, due to the use of what was then contemporary pop music, and some pop culture references that would be lost on the current generation of children. Whilst primarily a kid’s show, it was also popular with adults – I certainly remember my parents approving of it and it was usually broadcast at a time when adults were coming home from work.

Sadly the DVD box set is a little hard to come by nowadays, as it looks like Amazon no longer sell it directly and its third party sellers are asking for high prices for it. If you do come across it, I’d recommend watching it.

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