Son of a gun, Armstrong Jr is on a role
WHEN Joe Armstrong agreed to play Allan A. Dale in the BBC’s Robin Hood, he didn’t realise filming would be more like boot camp than a TV series.
First was a month-long stint in the specially created ‘‘Hood Academy’’ where the cast, headed by Jonas Armstrong (no relation) as Robin Hood and Lucy Griffiths as Maid Marian, were given aerobic training and drilled in archery, horse riding and sword fighting.
That was followed by three months filming in Budapest where the cast and crew worked, ate and lived together 24 hours a day.
Armstrong says the on-screen rapport reflects the close ties that have developed between cast members.
‘‘We’ve been very fortunate that there are no big heads among us. I think the producers deliberately went for unknowns so that none of the actors brought egos with them.’’
In series one, Allan A. Dale was little more than a larrikin, but the character has darkened in the second series. Fed up with his meagre existence and lack of recognition, he betrays Robin to aid the Sheriff of Nottingham.
It’s a turn of events welcomed by 29-year-old Armstrong.
‘‘In the first series he was just a cheeky guy out for himself trying to make a bit of money so it was all quite straightforward. In this series he’s been put in more interesting situations — ones where he’s forced to think about things on a deeper level.’’
Before Robin Hood Armstrong had guest roles in some of the UK’s most a c c l a i m e d TV shows, including The Bill, Waking the Dead, Midsomer Murders, Foyle’s War, and Rose and Maloney.
‘‘I’m lucky because it’s been a steady progression from very small parts to Allan A. Dale,’’ he says.
One of three boys, Armstrong is the son of renowned UK actor Alun Armstrong, best known to TV audiences as Brian Lane in New Tricks.
‘‘I was aware that my dad was an actor, but it wasn’t something that was pressed on us at all,’’ Armstrong says. ‘‘We were just all out playing football most of the time.
‘‘Dad was very honest that acting isn’t the glamorous job that a lot of people like to think, and you have to be very lucky to do well. So it was all painted quite realistically.
‘‘Once I had made my decision, I think he quite liked it that ultimately someone was going to do it and he could pass on some of his wisdom.’’ Robin Hood, PG ABC, Sunday, 7.30pm Adventure Duration: 45 min