To say that Doctor Who has been a success for the BBC in the Saturday early evening slot is putting it mildly. It’s a bona fide phenomenon. Question is, how to fill the void? Well, more of the same. Kinda. The answer (the Beeb hopes) is Merlin; a thrilling fantasy drama to enchant children and adults alike.
Tune in for a series of magical adventures as we follow the unlikely friendship of a would-be wizard Merlin and Prince Arthur, destined to be the future king. In typical BBC fashion, the drama brings together a cast of acclaimed actors. There’s Richard ‘I don’t believe it!’ Wilson as Gaius, Anthony ‘Buffy’ Head as King Uther Pendragon and multi-award winning actor John Hurt as the Voice of the Great Dragon.
The eagerly anticipated series begins long before Arthur becomes King. Arthur’s father is Uther Pendragon, the tyrannical King of Camelot who has outlawed magic in the mythical city. Gaius is the court physician who takes Merlin under his wing and helps guide him with his magical powers. It’s a rites of passage story that sees Merlin and Arthur on the cusp of adulthood – both on their journey to greatness in a time before history began.
Other stars lined up include Heroes star Santiago Cabrera (Isaac Mendez) as Lancelot and ex-EastEnder/Bionic Woman Michelle Ryan as the wicked sorceress Nimueh. Further guest stars include Eve Myles (Torchwood, Doctor Who) as Mary Collins, Will Mellor (Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps) as Valiant and Julian Rhind-Tutt (Green Wing) as Edwin Muirden. Soon-to-be familiar faces include Colin Morgan as the young wizard Merlin, Bradley James as Prince Arthur, rising star Angel Coulby as Guinevere and newcomer Katie McGrath as Morgana.
What’s really adding to the hype around this show is its purchase by America’s NBC network, one of the so-called ‘big four’ US television channels. It’s the first British series to enjoy that honour for yonks. Usually our shows only feature on PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) or cable as the main networks tend to purchase the rights of UK shows specifically to remake them into US versions (the American version of The Office, for example, airs on NBC). As befitting a drama of this stature, spectacular CGI effects come from The Mill, our very own Oscar-winning visual and special effects team behind Gladiator (are we still swooning over Russell Crowe? Or is that sooooo 2000?) and Doctor Who (are we still swooning over David Tennant? Or is that sooooo 2007?). The brand new 13 part series of Merlin airs on BBC One this September.
Today I am mostly lovin’ – ITV3’s repeats of the excellent Robin Of Sherwood. Who cares if Michael Praed’s Robin Hood has a mullet? For me, this remains the definitive TV version. And I can’t resist Ray ‘the daddy’ Winstone as Will Scarlet.
Today I am mostly hatin’ – Those ‘cactus man’ Oasis adverts are just plain weird. I’m creeped out by them.
MSN Editor Coops
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