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Merlin is a British television drama series that began in 2008. It is based on the Arthurian legends of the mythical wizard Merlin and his relationship with Prince Arthur, but differs significantly from traditional versions of the myth. Produced by independent production company Shine Limited for BBC One, the programme was designed to run in the same Saturday evening family drama slot as other UK series such as Doctor Who and Robin Hood. The second series began airing on 19 September 2009.

Production

The idea for the program was conceived by Shine producers Julian Murphy and Johnny Caps, who had previously worked together on Hex, a fantasy series produced by Shine for Sky One. The BBC had been keen on showing a drama based on the character of Merlin for some time; a little over a year before the Shine series was initiated, writer and producer Chris Chibnall had been developing a project aimed at a BBC One Sunday night slot, but this was ultimately not commissioned. The Shine version of the project was put into development in late 2006, commissioned by Controller of BBC One Peter Fincham and BBC Head of Fiction Jane Tranter, with Fincham keen on having more series on his channel which embodied "three generation TV – that's TV you can watch with your grandparents and children. There's not enough of that about."

Merlin was also influenced by the US show Smallville, about the early years of Superman, according to Shine producers, Julian Murphy and Johnny Caps, who said that Smallville helped provide the idea that Merlin would see a "Camelot that existed before its golden age". Caps said:
"Just as in Smallville we wanted to subvert expectations.
Camelot is a land where magic is banned [and] Merlin ... is a young boy who works as Arthur's manservant and has to hide his abilities."


This influence was apparent throughout the first series as the storyline forced Merlin to hide his abilities and make excuses for the supernatural acts he was responsible for, just as Clark Kent was made to for the first 3–5 seasons of Smallville. Critics have pointed to this repetitive and awkward plot device as a weakness of both series.

The series went into production in March 2008, with filming taking place in Wales and France (at the Château de Pierrefondsmarker). The series was produced by Shine in association with BBC Wales, whose Head of Drama Julie Gardner served as executive producer for the BBC. Gardner had extensive experience of working on the BBC's Doctor Who, and said that show's chief writer Russell T Davies had been an important influence on the tone and style of Merlin. CGI special effects for the series were provided by The Mill, which had also worked on Doctor Who and its spin-offs. Consisting of an initial series of 13 episodes, Merlin began transmission in the UK on 20 September 2008. In advance of this, a special trailer was prepared for release on television, in cinemas and on line.

On 13 December 2008, the BBC announced that it had re-commissioned Merlin for a second series, which began filming in Spring 2009 and ended Autumn 2009.

A short promotional video for the second series on Amazon reveals that "series 3 [is] coming soon" though there is no official announcement as yet. Also, in "A Family Affair", an episode of Merlin: Secrets and Magic, Anthony Head stated that we would see themes introduced in "The Sins of the Father" explored in greater detail in season 3, suggesting that a third season in being planned. The third series of Merlin is expected to be available in high-definition in line with the BBC's stated policy of moving all television production to HD by 2010 .

Cast

Main cast

  • Colin Morgan as Merlin: The series protagonist is a young, remarkably talented sorcerer who attempts to keep his powers secret and will one day become the greatest wizard in the world. He is also Arthur's friend, despite the initial animosity between the two.
  • Bradley James as Prince Arthur: the headstrong, arrogant and reckless but kind and good hearted son of King Uther, and future King of Camelot. Merlin must protect him from harm. Arthur becomes friends with Merlin, and the pair have saved one another's lives on numerous occasions.
  • Richard Wilson as Gaius: Camelot's court physician, Merlin's Uncle and one of the few who know Merlin's secret. Gaius used to be a sorcerer himself, and is something of an alchemist and magical scholar. He has a dry sense of humour and sees Merlin as the son he never had.
  • Anthony Head as Uther Pendragon: Arthur's father and current king of Camelot. Uther is depicted as a ruthless and sometimes cruel man, but he cares deeply about his subjects and friends. However, he is frequently blinded by his hatred of all forms of magic.
  • Angel Coulby as Guinevere : Morgana's humble maid servant, and her friend. She has an open, friendly personality but is occasionally antagonistic with Arthur.
  • Katie McGrath as Morgana: King Uther's ward and the daughter of his late best friend. Morgana is best friends with Gwen despite their class differences and is also secretly a "seer" - a person who has prophetic powers.
  • John Hurt as the voice of the The Great Dragon: Merlin often visits the Dragon when in a predicament, because the Dragon claims he knows Merlin's destiny. The Dragon is also one of the few who know Merlin's secret. The Dragon appears omniscient at times, and his motivations are unknown beyond his desire to be released from the dungeons of Camelot.


Guest appearances

Recurring characters



Series 1



Series 2



Crew

Directors working on the first series include James Hawes, Ed Fraiman, Jeremy Webb, David Moore, and Stuart Orme from which Moore and Webb have officially returned for series two. Directors working on the second series include Metin Huseyin & Alice Troughton. Further directors are yet to be announced. Writers working on the first series include Julian Jones, Howard Overman, Ben Vanstone, and Jake Michie, for which all have returned for series two. Writers working on the second series include Lucy Watkins. Further writers are yet to be announced.

Plot

Merlin has magical powers and arrives at the city of Camelot, after his mother arranges for him to become an apprentice of Gaius. He discovers that the king, Uther Pendragon, has outlawed magic and has imprisoned the last dragon deep under the city. The dragon informs him that Merlin has an important destiny to protect Uther's son, Arthur, who will bring forth a great Kingdom. When he meets Arthur for the first time he discovers that he is arrogant and a bully, but after he saves Arthur's life, he is rewarded with a job in the Royal Household as Arthur's manservant and they develop a friendship. Arthur is unaware of Merlin's magical ability, as Merlin has to keep it a secret.

Morgana is Uther's ward with the power of prophetic forsight, which frightens her and which she keeps secret. Gwen is her main servant, but also a close friend.

Other characters from Arthurian legend have appeared. Lancelot longed to become a knight, but unable to do so because of his birth as a commoner. Mordred has appeared as a Druid boy who formed a bond with Morgana (in some legends Mordred's mother) and it has been predicted by the dragon that Mordred will be the cause of death of Arthur (in the legend this occurred at the Battle of Camlann). Mordred and the Great Dragon referred to Merlin by his Druidic name, Emrys (the Welsh form of Ambrosius); Ambrosius Aurelianus was a historical figure whom Geoffrey of Monmouth partially merged with Merlin ). Geoffrey of Monmouth himself has appeared as the court genealogist. Excalibur is an ordinary sword that becomes enchanted by the Great Dragon.

Broadcast

In April 2008, American broadcast rights were purchased by NBC, where it was shown on Sundays at 20:00 (ET), starting 21 June 2009. This makes it the first British drama in over thirty years to be shown on US network television, as opposed to PBS or cable. The distributor, FremantleMedia Enterprises, also sold broadcast rights to CTV in Canada, Network Ten in Australia, RTL in Germany, Canal+ in France, M-Net in South Africa, and MICO in Japan. The series also airs in Italy, Malaysia, Norway, Portugal, and in Sweden, as on demand through the web.

American and Canadian broadcasts generally coincided during the first series, with NBC and CTV occasionally showing two episodes back-to-back.

Country TV Network(s) Series Premiere Weekly Schedule (local time)
Channel Ten 26 April 2009 Sundays, 12:00 (replays), 18:30
Bulgaria bTV 26 September 2009 Saturdays, 14:00
Canada CTV 21 June 2009 Sundays, 20:00
Denmark DR 1 20 June 2009 Saturdays, 20:00
France Canal+ Family

Canal+ (replays)

NRJ 12 (replays)
11 April 2009

15 July 2009

September 2010
Saturdays, 20:45

Wednesday and then Sundays 08:00



Israel HOT Summer

HOT Zone
10 July 2009 Friday, 10:00

Saturdays, 10:00
Germany RTL 17 October 2009 Saturdays, 15:55
Italy Italia 1 15 December 2008 Tuesdays, 21:10
Malaysia Hallmark Channel 1 March 2009 Tuesdays, 21:00
Netherlands Nederland 3 28 March 2009 Saturdays, 19:20
Norway TV2 18 January 2009 Sundays, 20:00
Poland Polsat 7 March 2009 Saturdays, 17:15
Portugal SIC Radical 28 June 2009 Sundays, 20:00
Romania Pro TV 13 June 2009 Saturdays, 18:00
Russia TV3 Russia 23 October 2009 Fridays, 20:00
Spain Antena Neox

Antena 3 (replays)
22 May 2009

27 June 2009
Fridays, 22:30

Saturdays, 21:30

Saturdays & Sundays 10:00
Sweden SVT1

SVT2 (replays)
18 January 2009

Sundays, 18:45

Mondays, 22:30
Taiwan PTS 21 January 2009 Everyday, 20:00
Turkey CNBC-e 6 September 2009 Sundays, 20:00
Ukraine 1+1 6 June 2009 Saturdays, 12:45
United Kingdom BBC One 19 September 2008 Saturdays, various times
United States NBC 21 June 2009 Sundays, 20:00
Vietnam HTV7 12 July 2009 everyday, 17:00
Japan NHKmarker BS2 5 October 2009 Mondays, 20:00


Ratings

The series première drew an overnight average of 6.65m (30%) viewers in the 19:00 slot (and a final consolidated figure of 7.15 million) despite being scheduled against popular ITV series The X Factor. The series as a whole had an average of 6.32 million viewers, which is fewer than Doctor Who attracted during its first series, and slightly more than those received by Robin Hood. Merlin was the fifth most watched programme on BBC iPlayer in 2008. In Australia the show premiered on the Ten Network. The show became Ten's 3rd highest rated program for its first week with 1.406 million. Ratings had stabilized for its second and third airings with 1.306 and 1.372, respectively. In its fourth airing, the show rose to its highest viewership of 1.500 million and was the 10th most watched program of the week. Despite the ratings rise, the show was Ten's fourth most watched program behind MasterChef Australia, Talkin' 'bout your Generation, and NCIS.

Series 1

# Episode UK US Canada Australia
Viewers

(mlns)
Ranka Rating Share 18-49 Viewers

(mlns)
Rank

(timeslot)
Rank

(week)
Viewers

(mlns)
Rank Viewers

(mlns)
Rank

(week)
1
"The Dragon's Call"
7.15
#6
3.2
6
1.3/5
5.46
#3
#14
1.10
#4
1.406
#13
2
"Valiant"
5.40
#11
3.2
6
1.4/4
5.24
#2
#14
1.306
#14
3
"The Mark of Nimueh"
6.30
#8
2.8
5
1.0/3
4.29
#2
#28
0.99
#8
1.372
#14
4
"The Poisoned Chalice"
6.48
#9
2.6
4
1.1/3
4.25
#3
#28
1.500
#10
5
"Lancelot"
5.37
#14
2.7
5
1.1/4
4.29
#2
#19
0.83
#13
1.338
#17
6
"A Remedy to Cure All Ills"
6.00
#11
2.3
4
0.9/3
3.65
#4
#30
0.90
#15
7
"The Gates of Avalon"
6.45
#8
2.6
5
1.1/4
4.27
#4
#25
0.95
#13
8
"The Beginning of the End"
6.25
#11
2.7
5
1.1/4
4.21
#4
#21
0.87
#16
9
"Excalibur"
6.47
#9
2.7
5
1.1/3
4.46
#3
#20
0.83
#17
10
"The Moment of Truth"
7.03
#8
1.9
4
0.8/3
3.06
#3
#31
0.70
#18
11
"The Labyrinth of Gedref"
6.71
#7
2.4
4
1.0/3
3.95
#5
#31
12
"To Kill the King"
6.31
#8
1.9
4
1.0/3
3.22
#3
#32
0.74
#20
13
"Le Morte d'Arthur"
6.27
#8
2.3
4
1.1/3
3.92
#5
#32
CiN
"Merlin in Need 2008"
9.83
#4


a Rank is for BBC One and not for all television.

b Rank is for all television.

Series 2

# Episode UK
Viewers (mlns) Rank (All Week)a Rank (All Day)b
14
"The Curse of Cornelius Sigan"
5.77
#11
#4
15
"The Once and Future Queen"
5.94
#11
#5
16
"The Nightmare Begins"
6.09
#8
#4
17
"Lancelot and Guinevere"
5.69
#6
#5
18
"Beauty and the Beast: Part One"
5.53
#10
#5
19
"Beauty and the Beast: Part Two"
6.14
#7
#3
20
"The Witchfinder"
5.62
#12
#4
21
"The Sins of the Father"
6.16
#7
#3
22
"The Lady of the Lake"
5.60*
TBA
TBA
23
"Sweet Dreams"
5.16*
TBA
TBA
24
"The Witch's Quickening"
TBA
TBA
TBA
25
"The Fires Of Idirsholas"
TBA
TBA
TBA
26
"The Last Dragonlord"
TBA
TBA
TBA
CiN
"Merlin in Need 2009"
9.80*
TBA
TBA
* denotes overnight ratings


References

External links




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