Merlin Takes Over From Doctor Who

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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37 Responses to Merlin Takes Over From Doctor Who

  1. david says:

    I noticed in this article that the writer says that Nimueh is the wicked sorceress. Surely that honour belongs to Queen Mab and Arthurs evil half-sister Morgan Le Fay. Nimueh was the undying love of Merlins life.

  2. Coops - says:

    Hello (no name) – Thanks for the info. I\’m just quoting the BBC press release. Merlin is a drama and there is such a thing as poetic licence…

  3. Marie says:

    It\’s true that Merlin was in love with Nimueh but isn\’t she the one that used his love for her to learn everything Merlin could teach her and then trap him for eternity in an oak tree or sometimes it\’s said a crystal cave?  Surely that would make her wicked.

  4. Samuel says:

    I\’m presuming that the first comment here refers to the \’Merlin\’ starring Sam Neil?
     
    Whilst it is true that in some versions of the Arthurian legends Nimue is Merlin\’s love, it is also true that in many of these versions she uses his love to make him teach her his powers, before trapping him either within an oak tree or beneath a stone. Nimue is also the name for the Lady of the Lake (or one of the Ladies of the Lake, since there is more than one in some versions of the tale).
     
    The Queen Mab represented in the aforementioned Merlin is very different to the Queen Mab of folklore, since the \’real\’ Queen Mab is not a negative entity at all (except where depicted so in the older anti-pagan pro-christianity literature of the time where christianity was the \’new\’ religion on the rise). The portrayal in \’Merlin\’ is an artistic addition to the script since Queen Mab has rarely if ever been associated directly with the Arthurian legends.
     
    Arthur\’s \’evil\’ sister Morgan Le Fay was also not entirely evil, and in many version was reconciled with Arthur before his death (she is one of the three women who bear his body to Avalon).
     
    Finally, indeed there is such a thing as poetic license, but all too often poetic license can also mean \’director/writer/producer\’s whim\’, where a thing is arbitrarily changed because that\’s just how they want it to be, regardless of what the original story might have been. Case in point, the rather strange changes made by Peter Jackson to the Lord of the Rings in his cinematic versions, such as elves turning up for no reason at Helm\’s Deep, or the removal of the entire ending regarding the corruption and enslavement of The Shire by Saruman, thus somewhat missing a good part of the original point Tolkien was trying to make.
     
    But I digress.
     
    This new Merlin series sounds extremely interesting, and will definitely be one I will watch. Will it be \’accurate\’? Undoubtedly not exactly, the same way the most recent outing for Robin Hood was a departure from the \’true\’ myth. Will it be enjoyable? Well, time will tell, but just as both the aforementioned Robin Hood and LotR were \’altered\’, so were they also fantastic to watch.
     
    Remember, accuracy does not always equate to enjoyment, nor the lack of to poor quality.
     
    P.S. I agree, Robin of Sherwood was, and still is, the definitive version.

  5. robin says:

    What do you mean, Robin of Sherwood is \’the definitive TV version\’? It\’s the definitive version full stop!

  6. Burt says:

    Poor TV how it struggles to escape the stagnant pond of forgotten imagination. King Arther / Robin Hood …round and round we go revamp and hype and ..Oh dear not the same old dross again with the latest dropped soap star fronting the bill mixed in with a few CGI effects.
     I hope it is really is good viewing but who cares as it has Merlin and Arthur in another well recognised old England  Fable. So Stateside and Foreign sales are all but Guaranteed……………….$$$$$$$$ 

  7. sarah says:

    i have seen the version of merlin with sam neil in it and in that Nimue was merlins love and in that version she was trapped behind a mountain which was supposed to trap merlin aswell and as for morganshe was coersed in to all those evil thing by mabs henchman, in this new version they have Nimue as the witch with no mention of mab or how merlin found out he had magic powers , i will watch this to see what it is like, has anyone seen the sequal to the sam neil merlin where the lady of the lake traps merlin in a cave comes to him when hee is asleep and then bares his child no referance to  Nimue in this either it was called merlins apprentice if anyone has seen it plz e-mail me

  8. Mohammed says:

    "As befitting a drama of this statue…"??? What statue?! Is the BBC making a TV series based on the UK\’s most famous statues…?!!!

  9. Samuel says:

    Regarding Sarah\’s comments:
     
    Yes, I\’ve seen Merlin\’s Apprentice.
     
    Queen Mab isn\’t mentioned in this one, I presume, because they have no need to add in a \’big evil\’ from outside the Arthurian legends (remember, Queen Mab isn\’t actually in the original myths and legends at all, Hallmark (if memory serves me correctly) simply decided to add her in to their version,  as well as Making the Lady of the Lake and Nimue into two separate entities).
     
    The \’mountain trap\’ in the same version was a trap for Merlin alone; Nimue knew that the place would be sealed off, but chose to let Merlin leave since she knew he would never feel right unless he did all he could to help Arthur.
     
    As for how Merlin \’finds out\’ he has magic powers, he learns the powers and how to wield them – Merlin is a wise, learned man, the king\’s advisor.
     
    The Hallmark version, whilst great fun to watch and very entertaining, has been one of the most altered versions of the original legends, with extra characters who are not related to the original story being added in almost arbitrarily, other characters having their personalities and even identities changed drastically.
     
    Whilst this in no way detracts from the production in terms of story and the enjoyment of the production, it should not be used as a basis for comparison over whether another version\’s characters are correct in their actions or role.
     
    The sequel, Merlin\’s Apprentice, portrays The Lady of the Lake (Nimue in many versions of the original legends) more akin to the way Nimue/The Lady is depicted in the Arthurian mythology in terms of her trapping him, either to gain or once she has acquired his knowledge of magic.
     
    Anyway, I really must stop this…every time I sit down to write a quick response it turns into an essay.
     
    No offence meant by any of the above, and apologies if any has been caused. Not my intention I assure you.

  10. Carn says:

    Yeah, Robin of Sherwood is still fantastic and the best version of the legend.  Praed\’s hair count\’s as a mullet?  I just thought it was long hair.  Seen much, much more mullety hair than that, especially on this strange woman who lives down the road.

  11. IAN says:

    Looking forward to merlin although I hope the bbc dont do to it what they did with robin hood by this i mean ruin a good idea and put a load of old tosh on tv.  You know what I would love to see is a remake of box of delights I remember this scaring the living daylights of me as a child.

  12. Vicky says:

    Nope, still swooning over David Tennant here 😉

  13. ChLoE says:

    docter who rules

  14. Alex says:

    Thought Dr Who had its moments, but in general it bored me. I do hope that this will be less childish – but I doubt it.

  15. Sulis says:

    oooooooohhhh, I like the look of this TV show. Personally I loved Dr Who and Robin Hood, I just took Robin Hood with a pinch of salt. The main thing to remember is that this time slot is for family viewing so can\’t be too grown up or it wouldn\’t be suitable for younger viewers.

  16. Lynn says:

    why cant we just have david tennant back i miss him

  17. Andrew says:

    This sounds good and if it\’s made in wales all the better for the welsh economy and tourism.As Arthur was supposed to be a welhsman and merlin welsh as well and Camelot was reputed to be just outside Newport in Caerleon,so good on you bbc but i still hate paying my license fee !!!!!

  18. kirk_bones says:

    any other series is just a pretender" to the throne".doctor who rocks and will always b king in my house
     

  19. jacqueline says:

    when it comes to early saturday evening family viewing it\’ll take something very special to beat \’THE DOCTOR\’. In our house, where the age range is 52 to 11, we all love it. i know theres the not too well hidden \’message\’ and its often only missing ballerinas dancing the sugarplum fairy, we dont care, we just think its FAB!!

  20. jacqueline says:

    P.S. cant stand the \’cactus man\’ tv ad either. but really lovin\’ BBC olympic monkay trailer – FANTASTIC!!

  21. **qtpie** says:

    Ooh, I can\’t wait for this! I mean the Beeb really need a good saturday evening drama now Doctor Who has finished and boy, that was one heck of a fourth series! My whole household are really missing Doctor Who (I\’m particularly missing the amazing David Tennant brightening up my weekend!!) and we need something in the fantasy genre to liven up bbc one. I really hope it turns out to be a good\’n 🙂

  22. Tia says:

    Santiago Cabrera\’s in it! He\’s the fit one from heroes….  This show looks like it\’s going to be good, I don\’t normally watch saturday night tele, but I\’ll give this show a go, mainly because, for some reason, I have never even heard a story about Merlin! Oh, and I can\’t stand the cactus man advert either. But the worst adverts EVER, are the available car.com ones, or whatever they are called. That woman is the most agravating thing currently on tv.

  23. Tom says:

    I thought michelle ryan was awesome in bionic woman, i hope she\’s as good in this.

  24. Kate says:

    Merlin sounds quite good actually – i normally dont like this sort of oldy oldy style programme but i might give this one try 🙂
    is it just me or has anybody had withdrawal syptoms from doctor who?? i know it sounds weird but they really do need to have more episodes for each series!!
    its not fair on big david tennant fans like me who just cant get enough of him and his amazingness 🙂
    and his GORGEOUS hair!!!
    anyway back to the point…..
    i will definately tune in to merlin to see whether it is a worthy replacement of the brilliant dr who
    xxxxxx
    p.s those cactus kid adverts annoy me so much as well xxx 

  25. Duaa says:

    Doctor whos ending?????

  26. Gandalf says:

    Having read these blogs so far, where to start?
     
    Merlin ….. I hope that this will be more about the wizard and his art rather than his babysitting Arthur.
     
    Doctor Who ….. I agree with the general note, that the series is always too short and they seem to think its fun to finish in the middle of the year and tease you with the Christmas special !?! Is that trying to keep you as a beeb viewer or make switch off for 6 months and read a book?
     
    Bionic Woman ….. Jamie was well written and cast but the bolt on sister did not work. The bionic tech was interesting and stir the imagination for the future but the fight bits were a let down being done in dark shadows and the graphics were unreadable flashes of computer blurb…. how did Jamie comprehend it?
    It a shame, but no wonder it was axed.
     
    LOTR …… Good story but Peter used a chainsaw instead of sissors. Any book fan would be pulling their hair out. I personal enjoyed the way BBC Radio 4 Dramatised it in 13 parts. Much more acurate and all the bits were in the right Tolkien order. If the makers of the Harry Potter films can abide by the books and still ut their mark on the films, why couldnt Peter Jackson?
     
     
    We will have to see if Merlin is a hash or a smash – I watch with interest.

  27. Beccy says:

     
    Merlin looks rubbish sorry to say but you can never replace doctor whos timeslot its just too good,
    however i will watch it to see whats its lie and hopefully prove myself wrong as the actors in it look alright.
    I Just have to say doctor who is he best and i cant believe how short the series\’are hurry up chrimbo!
    Lmao david tennant is amazing and so gorge and i love the cactus kid adverts there mint lol
    well anway bye x

  28. Coops - says:

    Jacky boy, keep it clean please! I have edited your comments accordingly.
    Jacky boy!!15 August 12:31(http://jackbushell1993.spaces.live.com/)this looks embarrasing. like robin hood, except s****r. I can garauntee this is going to nosedive its ratings. PLus, The Mill is doing their special effects? the mill are s**t!! they\’re the worst part of docttor who, and i love doctor who!This is going to have at most, 2 series. Its s**t.

  29. Samantha says:

    this show may be ok but it will never be as great as Doctor who!! bring on 2010!

  30. daniel says:

    I love doctor who its the best it also gives us sumthing to tlak bout in r maths lessons that r so boring but this program sounds alright i love the catus kid adverts there brill

  31. Lydia says:

    The story behind Arthur and Merlin is a great one, it\’s much better than today\’s version of Doctor Who- Obviously fake masks and s**t CGI 
     You would have thought that when Doctor Who Reappered on our screens that it was going to be great, well to tell you the truth folks it aint !!
    Especially David Tennant  or whoever he is , yepp hes good looking but what\’s with the weirdo faces he pulls ?
    The old doctor who\’s were the best, but a little past it\’s sell by date .
    Merlin may not be good , but we deserve to see a good time classic story on our televisions.
    I love the stories and am currently reading \’The Once and Future King by T.H  White, following four epic novels based upon Arthur and Merlin.
    You may think i\’m a bit of a nerd and all , but actually i\’m not, I dont usually read books but over the holidays found this book in my attic and i absolutely love it !!
    Better than Doctor Who anyday!!
    Trust me , even if this Merlin turns out to be rubbish, don\’t turn your back on the great story of arthur (sword in the stone especially) So if you have the chance , please read The Once and Future King , because it\’s an all time classic !!
    Lydia
    aged 14 **
    btw (**)

  32. Unknown says:

    Mary Collins? Edwina Muirden? You have to give it to the BBC; no one makes stupid programmes like they do! These names are inauthentic and \’\’Edwina\’\’ has only English elements! Any moron can tell that \’\’Edwina\’\’ is a feminine form of the English \’\’Edwin\’\’. \’\’Edwin\’\’ was a name used mainly  by English kings, including St. Edwin of Northumbria.
     
    Still the BBC are probably going to make Arthur and Uther kings of England and this is going to be the usual over-hyped drivel that the BBC make.
     
     

  33. Unknown says:

    The story ofg Arthur is overrated and really dull. It mainly rides on the fact that it is associated with Celtic mythology (though a lot of it is more Germanic in nature due to the Franks; Knights, for instance, a Germanic and the name \’Lancelot\’ is made up of Germanic name elements!) and Celtic mythology is popular with all those new age morons who cannot actually tell the Germanic seid or witchcraft from Celtic customs and think that Celts were peaceful hippies (some Celtic tribes were more violent and brutal than some Germanic tribes). Still the legends of King Arthur do have their moments and the original Welsh tales (even though all the Bruthonicism being forced down our throats is irritating) with warriors such as Bedwyr (later Bedivere), Cai (latter Kay), Peredur (latter Percival) and Gwalchmai (latter Goyette).  The Percival grail legends are also wonderful.

  34. Unknown says:

    I AM NOT THAT MUCH INTERESTED IN DOCTOR WHO BECAUSE I THINK IT IS BORING AND DULL SO I AM NOT THAT MUCH BOVVERED!!!

  35. Margaret says:

    NO WAY DR.WHO will NEVER be replaced NO matter how anyone tries

  36. Colette says:

    Now you see to me this doesn\’t sound all to bad.I personally really liked the C4 version that came out years ago with Sam Neill and Helena Bonham Carter in it. It made great TV! I\’m quietly anticipating to see whether or not this will actually meet up with my standards and the hole left by the ending of Doctor Who.However it seems lke a genrally decent cast, except Michelle Ryan who desperately annoys me. And although I\’ve heard this story many times before I\’m hoping that this shall breath a new life into old bones.I doubt however that this shall fuly fill the gap which Dr.Who has left as it really is a fantatic show. And dispite the star being just a bit dishy being an upside to this new series, Billie Piper has gone TOO! Oh, joy of joys! She\’s left with that frankly terriable "I sound like I\’ve got something in my mouth I ned to spit out" cockney accent. Oh it was cringe-worthy! Though I am ready and willing to wait until the christmas special for it to return to our screens.And yes, he may pull funny faces but its all in his eccentric character, truly amusing :DOh, and by the way. Those Cactus Kid adverts? Pure cack. You can\’t even understand what she\’s saying she just kinda drones. I have to turn the friggin\’ TV up to here what shes mumbling. And as for him… CREEPY doesn\’t cover it.

  37. Laura says:

    Cactus man adverts? I have no idea what they\’re about. They\’re just annoying, as far as I can see.

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