Sam Troughton is just Too Much!
Sam Troughton as Much was a favourite character of mine from the outset. Troughton himself has a gift when it comes to delivering his lines, showing the comic timing of a real pro. A good example would be his comment in Episode 6, as they pass the guards dressed as minstrels. When the guard's curiosity is aroused at the unlikely sight of Little John in all that garb, Much quickly retorts "he's the drummer". And Troughton also knows exactly how to react to the teasing comments directed against him, as when the boys in Episode 3, identifying each outlaw in turn, say "oh you must be the servant".
But of course it's not just the humour that we get from Sam Troughton's character. In a series which featured only two female roles, both reluctant to exhibit their softer side in the male domain of Sherwood Forest, Much was never afraid to wear his heart totally on his sleeve. He would worry terribly about Robin Hood's often reckless courage, as when he was dodging the booby traps in Episode 2, and he would frequently seek reassurance that Robin still cared for his companionship, especially after hearing of the leader's engagement to Marian (the news of which brought unseen tears to Much's eyes). Amidst all this pathos, as Much increasingly deliberated upon his future as "the lone outlaw", it was only ever Djaq who took a moment to express her friendship and gratitude to Much with a simple kiss on the cheek.
And yet, more than all of this, I think there is another reason why Much has been so well conceived in this series:
As stated elsewhere in my Robin Hood blogs, Much was only ever a small but significant part of the legend. Whereas the other outlaws line up like a positive medieval team of super heroes; the giant Little John with his staff, beautiful Marian the spy, Friar Tuck (sadly missing here) with a bible in one hand and a sword in the other, it befell Much (the Miller's Son) to simply be the common man. Much represented what Robin Hood was fighting for; indeed the very reason he became outlawed, when saving Much from the Sheriff of Nottingham's men after being caught poaching.
All that changed of course in series 1 which introduced a new Much; Robin of Loxley's servant and subsequent Brother in Arms. But that's where the new concept gets particularly brilliant, whether by intention or default. As opposed to being the symbol of what Robin Hood's cause should be about (remember "rob from the rich and give to the poor"?), he became a barometer of Robin Hood's worth as a leader. And, I'm sad to say, this Robin Hood was found lacking.
Jonas Armstrong's Robin Hood was a poor leader of men, and one who lost sight of the common man. He neglected to pick up on the signs that Allan A Dale and Will Scarlett had such concerns about their future that Allan even deserted him altogether (both outlaws having already left him once in the past). Little John and Marian also engage in acts of defiance, trying to return to the basic cause of serving the people of Nottingham, but Robin Hood is blinkered in his blind faith that the clue to the future is King Richard. And as he looses sight of the common man it is no wonder he loses sight of Much.
When the outlaws play Djaq's honesty game, whilst preparing to make their last stand, they all nod in agreement when Much expresses his feeling that he has been taken for granted and undervalued. The greatness of Sam Troughton's Much is in the fact that he has learned from the horrors of war, and returned a better man. (Remember the tears in the bathtub at the start of series 1?)
Sadly, this Robin Hood has not. He responds to Much's comment by saying he is afraid to confront those horrors for fear it will impede his abilities to be the leader. He doesn't realise it would have strengthened them. And it is the new Much character through which we now not just illustrate what traditionally Robin Hood was all about, but judge his current failure.
Sam Troughton was absolutely brilliant at realising all aspects of his role.
Find out more about Much (the Miller's Son) on this link