Telly for Anglophiles | Merlin
Merlin is a British fantasy-adventure television programme by Julian Jones, Jake Michie, Julian Murphy and Johnny Capps. It began broadcasting on BBC One on 20 September 2008. The show is based on the Arthurian legends of the wizard Merlin and his relationship with Prince Arthur but differs from traditional versions in many ways. It is produced by independent production company Shine Limited. After Series 1 was successful, U.S. broadcaster NBC began airing it on 21 June 2009; but, after a decline in viewers, it was moved to the cable network Syfy, where it began broadcasting Series 2 on 2 April 2010. On 19 September 2009, Series 2 began airing on BBC One.On 5 September 2010, BFI Southbank in London previewed Episodes 1 and 2 of Series 3 for its September Film Funday programme.
Merlin was influenced by the U.S. show Smallville, about the early years of Superman. After failed attempts to bring the programme to life, development of the current Merlin began in late 2006, with physical production beginning in March 2008. The series received a generally mixed reception when it began its broadcast. Critics were upset with the flat dialogue and the modern look to the series. One critic, in particular, called the whole concept “bland”. The series première drew an overnight average of 6.65 million 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 first 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 also the fifth most watched programme on BBC iPlayer in 2008. The third series of Merlin began on 11 September 2010, and showed an increase in viewers. The third series ended on 4 December 2010.
A ten-episode fourth series was confirmed on 25 October 2010 (though it was rumoured to air in early 2012, later than its usual slot in autumn) so that it would not clash with the BBC’s other prime time drama Doctor Who which would possibly run during the same period. In March 2011, this was revised, and the fourth series was extended to the standard 13 episodes. It was confirmed at the 2011 Comic-Con in San Diego that the fourth series will again be broadcast in the United States on the Syfy Channel “in early 2012.” In UK, the fourth series began on Saturday 1 October 2011.
Johnny Capps and Julian Murphy, Executive Producers for Shine TV, confirmed on 24 July at the 2011 Comic-Con Merlin panel that BBC has commissioned a fifth series. Filming for the fifth series began March 2012 in Pierrefonds, France and in Wales. 13 episodes have been ordered.