Merlin - Season 5

“It’s definitely the most ambitious series yet,” says actor Colin Morgan, who plays the titular Merlin in BBC One’s medieval fantasy. “They’ve pushed our characters into manhood, and this is the Merlin I’ve been waiting for.” At the end of series 4, the wizard dealt a fatal magical blow to Arthur’s villainous uncle, Agravaine de Bois, who was in league with Morgana. Things have altered dramatically since then, and when the show returns later this year, Camelot will have jumped forward three years. Arthur has settled into his new role as King of Camelot with Queen Guinevere at his side, and Merlin is continuing along his new path…

“We left Merlin at the end of the last season tipping over into a darker side, and I think that’s a reference for me for the rest of this season,” Morgan continues. “I think he is so confident in himself now, and in who he is and what he is destined to do. He has a resilience and power that drives him for this season. He gives as good as he gets.”

This, apparently, is going to lead us to some of the “most important scenes there has ever been in terms of Merlin’s magic.” Could this mean that the secret is finally coming out? Morgan teased: “Arthur is forced to confront magic a lot in this series, and that could change everything, for Merlin and for everyone.”

What do you think that means? Is the time right for Merlin to reveal his magical mojo?
Up until now, Merlin has been Arthur’s faithful servant and friend, but that looks set to change when series 5 returns later this year. “Their relationship definitely becomes a lot more strained, I think, because Arthur is the King now, Guinevere is the Queen,” reveals actor Colin Morgan (Merlin). “We are seeing Gwen becoming a real source of influence on him, and we see that become a real rock-steady duo.”

He explained that part of Gwen (Angel Coulby)’s role will be reminding Arthur (Bradley James) that he shouldn’t be galloping off on his horse at the first sign of a mission anymore; he must rule Camelot. That won’t stop Merlin from leading him astray, though….

“Merlin is an influence on him but in a completely different way, in the way that he is so much in the know about how things should be,” Morgan continues. “But magic is a huge blockade. Their relationship is kind of what it’s always been, but something’s changed. They have put us in situations that are the toughest we’ve ever faced, but there is still room for what we’ve always had which is a bit of banter.”
I guess Merlin's magic will still be a secret for quite a while then. I hope it comes out in this series though.

King Uther was cruelly killed off in Merlin’s last series when Morgana’s curse meant that any magic used to save him would do the exact opposite, but now he’s set to return in Series 5 for an exciting guest appearance.

“It was sad because Julian [Jones] and I love Tony [Head], he’s great fun to have in the cast,” says co-creator Johnny Capps, “and we talked to Tony and said, ‘We want to bring you back in some form,’ and we were going to bring him back towards the end of last season, but the way the story arcs went it felt more appropriate to bring him back in Season 5.”
The point where he returns, Capps reveals, will be “at a point in Arthur’s life where he is absolutely missing his father, and at a moment where he is having a bit of a wobble as king and needs some advice.”

How he returns is being kept a closely guarded secret, however, but Capps has told us he will get to interact with Merlin. “He gets to play some key emotional scenes and he has this amazing scene with Merlin,” he says. “They have a good conversation, a conversation that they should have had a long time ago about Arthur.”

The appearance will only be for one episode, but it will resolve some unfinished business for the former King of Camelot. “It’s nice because Uther comes back and is able to have those emotional scenes that he probably didn’t have because he died sooner than he should have.”

Well, at least not permanently. pfft. :)

Hhhmmm... pretty face for mordred.

Were you nervous on your first day on the set of Merlin?

Alexander Vlahos: For want of a better word, I was bricking myself. The level of banter and familiarity with the cast is unlike anything, so to come in as the new kid was a little daunting. The jokes, especially with the knights, left me going “What the hell are they talking about?”

Was there any additional pressure that comes with the character?

Asa [Butterfield], who played Mordred originally, did such a good job, and he was so well-loved, so I try and live up to what he did. I watched all of Asa’s work as Mordred to try and make sure I don’t mess it up. There’s a big time jump, though, so I’m having to fill in what happened. The audience aren’t stupid, they know it’s a different actor playing the part, so I’m having to bring a little bit of me to it.

Are you mimicking any ticks Asa had?

There is one thing that he does that I wanted to get in as quick as I could and then that be it, almost like a little nod, and even if the audience didn’t pick up on it that’s fine, but Asa has this great thing where the last time you see him he has this brilliant smile and then he drops it within a second and looks as evil as anything. I wanted to bring that in as a nod to the past and from then onwards it would be my approach to Mordred.

Will your costume be very different?

There were lots of photos of Asa and his iconic cloak, and I quite clearly said I wanted to get away from that. If I’m drawimng parallels with him acting-wise and costume-wise, it’s like we’re trying to cheat the audience into believing it’s the same person playing him. I wanted him to be who I pictured him to be when I read the script. He’s older, had life experiences and I’m pleased with the introduction, it’s not as you expect at all. I know a lot of people are drawing comparisons to Agravaine and thinking Mordred’s going to fulfil that same role, but wait and see is what I’m saying…
Of course, I am stuck in this backwater called Colorado, and we only get the BBC America episodes a year later. I've always thought the series was a "children's" show, and it played fast and loose with Arthurian legend (viz. Excalibur), but I like the way it is getting darker as everyone grows older.
Merlin is set to work his magical mojo on Facebook users as Bossa Studios (creators of BAFTA-winning Monstermind) have developed a game based on the hit TV series. “It’s like a second window into the universe,” explains creator-in-chief Imre Jele, “but we also provide extra content so we’re not reproducing what you’ve already seen in the show but we’re adding new stories, characters and experiences to that.”

Players can create their own characters, a knight or a wizard, and fight alongside Merlin and Arthur, meeting other main characters as they solve who’s behind a new menace in Camelot. “The game will match the universe of Season 5,” he continues, “but we were trying to avoid spoilers for Season 3 and 4, which might still be broadcasting in some countries.”
The game will be available worldwide and users can play with their friends since it is real-time co-operative. “So, for example, if I arrive to an area which is infested with giant spiders, I don’t have to fight them alone, I can have my friends joining and we can do that together,” he explains. “That is something that’s fresh and new on the browser platform so it’s very exciting.”

When designing the art style for the game, Merlin showrunners Julian Murphy and Johnny Capps said they wanted it to resemble what the animated version of the show would be like. “We set out to have a version where the universe and the characters are recognisable, but at the same time they have this unique art style, which is sophisticated and has a lot of content,” Jele adds, “it’s not childish but not a gritty, boring look either.”

There is already an active online community for Merlin and Jele plans to tap into that for the continuing development of the game. “We will take the best and most loved content of Series Five and expand on that,” he says. “We can add new content, so if we know that everyone loves a certain character, we can give them their own storylines and make it so that people can play alongside them in the game. This means we have a very close relationship with the community, and it will be an ongoing one.”

The official launch of Merlin: The Game will coincide with the premiere of Series Five of Merlin on BBC One this autumn.
Merlin returns to BBC One on Saturday the 6th of October, and here's what the show's creator-producers had to say about series five...

“A little bit more sophisticated, a little bit darker”, that’s the promise for season five of Merlin from the show’s producer and co-creator Johnny Capps.

Not that Merlin’s makers are forgoing their younger audience, “It’s important to us that it’s still an action-adventure show for the family, but the inevitable change comes as the characters get older and their statuses change and the stakes and stories get darker. As we move more into the mythology of Arthur and the Round Table, those stories are quite dark…”
He’s not wrong. Some of the original stories are too adult in fact, to be tackled in the Saturday teatime series. “We’ve not done the Morgana/Arthur/Mordred incest story. That’s where the line is drawn” jokes Capps. Fellow Merlin creator Julian Murphy adds “The interesting story is Gawain And The Green Knight. We’ve talked about doing that and we’ve never done it, because in the end, deep, deep down it’s about sexuality and things you just can’t tackle head-on. We’ve never done that story simply because it’s about sexuality.”

Sexuality, a PG-version of it at any rate, isn’t exactly lacking in the opening episode of Merlin’s fifth series. Its 44 minutes are witness to at least one heaving bosom (Gwen’s) and a gratuitous but entirely welcome number of close-ups on a naked male torso (Sir Gwaine’s - something for the mums, there). Merlin even does a bit of flirting himself before duty calls him away from Camelot, but with whom? That would be telling.

Arthur’s Bane (Part One) is the first half of the double episode that brings Merlin back to our screens on Saturday the 6th of October. We’re not in the business of giving away spoilers here, but the episode is comfortably one of the show’s best-looking instalments, and its reintroduction of an old foe sets in motion what looks to become a season-long arc.

Capps and Murphy say they’ve taken a new direction with this series of Merlin, making the guest appearances sparser to concentrate more fully on the stories of their four leads – Arthur, Merlin, Gwen, and Morgana. Unlike “…the old days when we used to have a massive guest lead - virtually one an episode in the first two series”, says Capps, season five has been designed to allow room for the ensemble’s stories. And not just Merlin’s, “…the other thing we decided to do this year was not just to tell the story from Merlin’s point of view, but to tell multi-stranded stories, which is a bit of a departure.”

What can we expect in terms of character arcs for the fifth series? Gwen, who can be seen sitting at Arthur’s Round Table and giving strategy advice in the first episode, has come a long way from her series one maid’s duties. Actress Angel Coulby explains, “In this series you see her proving herself as worthy queen, which I always thought she would be as she had all those characteristics. When she’s left to her own devices she copes pretty well”.
According to Murphy, Morgana (Katie McGrath) “…is a much more damaged character, and that’s taken her to a more extreme place than she’s been before.” Arthur on the other hand, is “…still learning the job. Though we did consciously want Arthur to have more gravitas and more authority.”

How about the show’s namesake? “Merlin too, is much older,” says Murphy, “He’s not the innocent naïve Merlin that he once was, because he can’t be. He still has a kind heart, but there’s experience now. Living in a world in which he’s had to keep his identity quiet has had an effect on him."
Speaking of which, what of the question fans have been asking since the show began: will Arthur finally learn Merlin’s magical secret? A non-committal answer comes from the producers, obviously wanting to keep the show’s biggest reveal under wraps. They will tell us though that Merlin and Arthur’s friendship is still very much the heart of the programme, “There’s still the fun that the two characters have in their comic dynamic, but they’ve moved on in the way they relate to each other and they almost, in some situations as the series develops, become equals.”
On the subject of fun, there’s to be no big comedy episode in the vein of last series’ A Servant Of Two Masters this time around Capps divulges, though he assures fans “There’s always enough comic fun in an episode, always that counter-balance […] to make sure you have a good laugh and you jump out of your seat.”

If the new Merlin is darker then, can we expect more violence? “It is a delicate balance,” says Murphy “because the better you get at shooting action, the more violent it becomes. There were five or six very, very good shots [in Arthur’s Bane] in fact, that were cut out because we just couldn’t use them.”

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Thank you for posting this ctg, very interesting reading and I hadn't come across the date it was going to be back on TV before now so I'm extra grateful for this!
Do check the 5.01 thread and you'll see more info on the broadcast. The only thing I don't know is what the first two-parter is about, and I'm really anxious to know find out.
Gawain and the Green Knight sounds excellent. *hoping for a gay Gawain scene*

Looking forward to this actually, I hope it's a lot darker.
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