The first in an ongoing series devoted to medieval-themed TV.
It was announced last year that NBC would air BBC1's new serial MERLIN (2008-) this television season but specific dates and times were unspecified until recently. I could not find the original press release (c. 12 March 2009), but here are the details from SciFiWire.com:
Merlin is a new 13-part drama series that updates the story of the infamous sorcerer of Arthurian legend. In the mythical city of Camelot, in a time before history began, Merlin (Colin Morgan) is a young man with magical powers who arrives in the kingdom and quickly makes enemies, including the heir to Uther's crown, the headstrong Prince Arthur (Bradley James). Guided by Uther's wise physician, Gaius (Richard Wilson), Merlin is soon using his talents not just to survive but also to unlock Camelot's mystical secrets. Merlin was created and produced by Shine Television (executive-produced by Julian Murphy and Johnny Capps) for the BBC and FremantleMedia Enterprises.
NBC includes the following information on its web site (more specifics can be found on Wikipedia, ThePendragon.co.uk, and on the BBC's official site; the first season is also available on Region 2 DVD from Amazon.co.uk):
LEGENDS ARE BORN
Series Premiere Sunday, June 21st 8/7c
"Merlin" is a new 13-part drama series that updates the story of the infamous sorcerer of Arthurian legend for a new audience in the mythical city of Camelot, in a time before history began. In this fantastical realm, Merlin is a young man gifted with extraordinary magical powers who arrives in the kingdom and quickly makes enemies, including the heir to Uther's crown, the headstrong Prince Arthur. But guided by Uther's wise physician Gaius, Merlin is soon using his talents not just to survive but also to unlock Camelot's mystical secrets.
Merlin is an exciting fantasy series set in the mythic city of Camelot, but inspired by 21st century storytelling. Before Merlin and Arthur became legends, they were ambitious young men looking for adventure, hoping to live up to their families' expectations, discovering love and finding their own true destiny, making mistakes along the way. This innovative, action-packed drama has cross-generational appeal and paints a picture of Merlin and Arthur's early life that audiences have never witnessed before.
Starring Colin Morgan as Merlin, Bradley James as Prince Arthur, Anthony Head as King Uther, Richard Wilson as Gaius, Katie McGrath as Morgana and Angel Coulby as Gwen, "Merlin" is an imaginative new twist on a legend that is as old as time. "Merlin" was created and produced by Shine Television (executive-produced by Julian Murphy and Johnny Capps) for the BBC and FremantleMedia Enterprises. FME holds the exclusive licensing, home entertainment (excluding U.K.) and distribution rights to "Merlin" and has invested in the series alongside Shine Television and BBC One.
According to Merlin's official website, the serial has also recently been renewed for a second season:
Will there be a second series of Merlin?Merlin has been re-commissioned for a second series by Ben Stephenson, Controller of BBC Drama Commissioning and BBC One Controller Jay Hunt.
Starring Colin Morgan, Bradley James, Anthony Head and Richard Wilson, Merlin has enchanted family audiences in one of the most competitive slots on TV since the transmission of the first episode on 20 September 2008, averaging an audience of 6.2 million viewers for the first 8 episodes, with a 28% average share. Merlin also has an average audience of 1.8 million viewers for the narrative repeat on Sundays.
"We are thrilled that audiences have entered into the magical world of Camelot and Merlin has been such a big hit on Saturday nights. It has performed outstandingly well. The cast have entertained and enchanted a whole new generation with this fresh and modern retelling of a classic British legend." said Julie Gardner, Head of Drama BBC Wales.
Johnny Capps and Julian Murphy, Producers, Shine Television said: "We are absolutely delighted to be returning for a second series. All the principal characters are destined to experience more magical adventures next year. The story of Merlin is a much loved tale and it's so exciting that our updated version has captured the hearts of audiences and brought the magic and myth of Camelot alive."
Also returning are Richard Wilson as court physician Gaius, Anthony Head as King Uther Pendragon, Angel Coulby as Gwen, Katie McGrath as Morgana and John Hurt as the voice of The Great Dragon. Guest stars are still to be announced but series one featured brilliant names including Michelle Ryan, Santiago Cabrera, Eve Myles, Will Mellor and Julian Rhind-Tutt.
Spectacular CGI effects are created by The Mill, the Oscar-winning visual and special effects team behind Gladiator and Doctor Who.
Merlin is executive produced by Johnny Capps and Julian Murphy for Shine Television and BBC Executive Producers are Julie Gardner and Bethan Jones. The second series will begin filming next year on location in Wales and France. No dates have been confirmed for transmission.