Television series in the UK have largely been hit and miss over the past five years. Shows have been marred by shallow storylines, formulaic a-villain-an-episode formats, plus scientific and historical inaccuracies. Let’s face it, real life in England can be pretty drab but suddenly characters were infused with impossible glamour and improbable good looks.
Series such as Spooks: Code 9 and Demons crashed and burned by the middle of their first seasons and you could almost hear the collective sigh of relief when the rapidly deteriorating Robin Hood was canceled after season three.
As UK television producers slowly woke up to the fact that the tables had turned and the US now had the upper hand when it came to powerful, quality television, five must-see shows emerged from the UK.
The BBC’s Merlin takes us right back to the origin of the age old English legend. Magic has been outlawed by King Uther of Camelot as the young magician Merlin arrives to start his apprenticeship with the court physician Gaius. Not realising who he is, Merlin starts a fight with the arrogant and bullying Prince Arthur and eventually lands up as his manservant. Slowly, over the first two seasons, Merlin learns of his destiny and of how he must protect Arthur at all costs. He struggles at times to understand and accept the world around him and must save Arthur’s life repeatedly while keeping his magical abilities hidden.
Merlin stars Colin Morgan as Merlin and Bradley James as Prince Arthur. The are also some very famous names in the cast with Anthony Head (Buffy The Vampire Slayer) as King Uther, Richard Wilson (One Foot In The Grave) as Gaius, and John Hurt (Nineteen Eighty-Four) as the voice of the dragon Kilgharrah.
The BBC announced in a press release in early December that Merlin has been renewed for a third season and the first season of Merlin will be available on DVD in the US from April 20, 2010.