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11th November 2022

Merlin (2008-2012) revisited: Magic and mystery

A decade after its airtime, Merlin has not lost its magic and remains “the perfect comfort show to distract from real life with its medieval setting and magical elements”.
Merlin (2008-2012) revisited: Magic and mystery
Colin Morgan as Merlin. Credit: BBC

Running for five seasons from 2008 to 2012, BBC’s Merlin was a light-hearted fantasy drama that captured the hearts of many. Featuring quintessential magical and medieval elements (dragons, trolls, tournaments, etc.), it was the perfect show to watch on a Saturday night… in fact, it still is.

Loosely based on the tales of King Arthur, the show follows the life of young Merlin (Colin Morgan) as he grapples with his wizarding powers in Camelot. Faced with magic being illegal under the rule of King Uther (Anthony Head), Merlin has to hide his powers. He develops into a powerful wizard while also being the manservant to the arrogant Prince Arthur (Bradley James). With the guidance of Gaius (Richard Wilson) and The Dragon (voiced by John Hurt), Merlin undergoes countless adventures against various fantastical creatures.

Merlin’s most endearing aspect is the undeniable chemistry between all the actors. Especially the friendship between Arthur and Merlin, which develops into a lovable bromance. The iconic love story between Guinevere (Angel Coulby) and Arthur is portrayed beautifully. Guinevere, who begins as a servant at court, becomes every bit the great Queen of Camelot. Despite its light-hearted reputation, Merlin has its fair share of villains, too. The most memorable is Morgana (Katie McGrath): although she first appears as a well-liked member of court and a sister figure to Arthur, she soon becomes a powerful sorceress who rivals Merlin with her powers.

Since the show ended, Merlin has become a cult classic with a devoted fan base. After all, it was nominated for multiple awards and won a BAFTA for Best Visual Effects in 2011. Merlin remains the perfect comfort show to distract from real life with its medieval setting and magical elements. Even its iconic introduction (“In a land of myth and a time of magic…”) will set your heart alight with nostalgia.


All 5 series of Merlin are available on BBC iPlayer.

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