Who Shot the Sheriff?

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"Who Shot the Sheriff?"
Robin Hood episode
The Sheriff orders De Fourtnoy to carry out more killings.
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 3
Directed by Richard Standeven
Written by Paul Cornell
Production code 103
Original air date October 21, 2006
Episode chronology
← Previous
"Sheriff Got Your Tongue?"
Next →
"Parent Hood"

"Who Shot the Sheriff?" is the third episode of the 2006 Robin Hood television series, made by Tiger Aspect Productions for BBC One. It aired on Saturday October 21, 2006 at 7.15pm. The title is a reference to the song "I Shot the Sheriff" by Bob Marley, which is also alluded to in the episode's dialogue when the Sheriff tells an assassin that he has in fact only shot a deputy. The casting of Kwame Kwei-Armah is an instance of colour-blind casting.


A tax collector is assassinated by a mysterious archer. The villagers suspect Robin Hood is the culprit, and the Sheriff of Nottingham uses this to turn the people against the outlaws, while Robin suspects the mysterious Night Watchman, who leaves food and medicines for the poor.

Several more assassinations turn public opinion against Robin and the outlaws, who are on the run from Guy of Gisbourne and his squads of hunting dogs. The Sheriff realises that Robin is not the culprit but blames him anyway, going as far as ordering De Fourtney to kill several more innocents to blame them on Robin.

Robin makes a deal with the Sheriff to catch the assassin, who is after the Sheriff, in exchange for calling off the dogs. The next day the Sheriff is attacked while visiting a village. Robin finds the Night Watchman and discovers that it's really Marian. The real assassin is revealed to be a castle guard who holds a grudge against the Sheriff and the tax collector. The Deputy (incidentally the Sherriff's lookalike) is killed and the real Sheriff has Gisbourne murder the assassin and, separately, De Fourtnoy. Robin regains the trust of the villagers.



The Guardian newspaper's Saturday listings magazine supplement The Guide previewed "Who Shot The Sheriff?" on the day of transmission, with reviewer Jonathan Wright giving the episode a generally positive assessment, feeling that the more serious tone of the episode compared to the first two worked well. "If the change of pace initially jars, it ultimately works thanks to a well-constructed script from Paul Cornell."[1]

The Radio Times magazine's previewer David Butcher had mixed feelings on the episode. While accusing it of having a "subtle-as-a-thumbscrew subtext"[2] and accusing the central character of being "the first swashbuckler in history who never hurt a fly and shies away from a fight whenever he can."[2] However, he did comment on "some nicely charged encounters"[2] between Robin and the Sheriff, and his overall verdict was that "It's lacking in tension (there's a blindingly obvious twist) but not in enjoyment, as Keith Allen (the Sheriff) and William Beck (Roy) steal their respective scenes and show the rest of the cast what acting looks like."[2]


"Who Shot The Sheriff?" gained an average audience of 6 million viewers according to the unofficial overnight ratings information.[3] This gave the episode a 27% share of the available television audience in its slot, placing it second in the ratings at the time behind The X-Factor on ITV1, which had an average of 7.2 million viewers and a 35% audience share.[3] This was the second week in a row in which Robin Hood had been beaten in the ratings by The X-Factor, and the second successive week in which the programme's viewing figure had fallen.


  1. ^ Wright, Jonathan (2006-10-21). "Television: Saturday 21 - Pick of the Day" (The Guide supplement). The Guardian. 
  2. ^ a b c d Butcher, David (2006-10-21–2006-10-27). "Today's Choices – Saturday 21 October". Radio Times (BBC Worldwide) 331 (4307): 66.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  3. ^ a b Deans, Jason (2006-10-23). "X Factor on song in ratings war" (Requires free registration). Guardian Unlimited. Retrieved 2006-10-24. 

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