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Merlin’s presence has not been required on set today, and Colin Morgan is here in jeans and a T-shirt that boasts an allegiance to none-more-cool US indie band the Postal Service. Europe has been a place of battles and political intrigue for centuries.
RY: I did a guest part in a show called “The White Queen,” which is a BBC and Starz co-production, based on a Philippa Gregory novel. And then just trying to decide what I want to do next, not that it’s always down to me, but just looking for the next good job.
I think it’s coming out in London in the summer and coming to Starz in the U. When you’ve done a big show like “Merlin,” you want to keep up and try and make sure you do good things.
Co-creator and storyteller-in-chief Murphy heads up the drama department at Shine, the production company responsible for Merlin. It’s the balance between humour and action and fun and a bit of darkness and scariness. Not only does this den-on-wheels give the actor somewhere to relocate himself inside the story, it also generally guarantees him some much-prized privacy.
It’s him, along with his co-heads Julian Jones and Johnny Capps, who came up with the idea, pitched it to the BBC and wrestled up sufficient funding (Murphy says the Beeb’s cheque doesn’t cover the budget of the show which “costs a lot to make – more than something like Spooks”). Something that’s funny on the page, once you put people in costume, surrounded by tents, you cross a Monty Python line very, very quickly.” He pales slightly at the thought of it. Outside a moment ago, two middle-aged French women with lit cigarettes, oversized sunglasses and high-heeled leather boots (one had a shiny black pair, the other hot pink) wandered onto the set and asked a crew member for Bradley’s phone number.
Originally meant to fill the Tardis-shaped hole left when Who wasn’t on the air, Merlin has surpassed all expectations.
It’s now one of the corporation’s biggest exports, and the only BBC series ever shown on United States network television.Legendary Sir Agravaine – Knight of the Round Table; second son of King Lot of Orkney, Lothian and Morgause; friend of Mordred and nephew of Prince Arthur – is sitting in his caravan, reading a book on horses. Today, cast and crew find themselves on location at the beautiful, towering Château de Pierrefonds in Picardy, France. Described by co-creator Julian Murphy as “Merlin and Arthur before they were famous,” the teatime saga Merlin is currently filming its fourth series, which will be broadcast next month in an incredible 180 countries.“Just to tell you you’re doing a good job,” he insists. He takes the envelope reluctantly and holds it by his side. “It’s never anything nasty or offensive.” The instant we leave his caravan, a crew member hands Morgan an A4 envelope that’s covered in pictures of him. “Do you want me to kick a bit more sand in your face in the next take? The prone knight spits some grit from his teeth, shakes his head and replies, witheringly, “You know, you’re very off-putting.” Ignoring the boysy banter, beautiful Angel Coulby – a Guinevere who is all smile and freckle and luxuriant curl – is deeply absorbed in a thriller, her train-ticket bookmark clutched in her right hand as she scans the text. “It hasn’t caught my interest much,” she says, “but I’m ploughing through it anyway.” Being the romantic interest in a show whose last series pulled in nearly eight million viewers in Britain alone means that she’s now frequently recognised. From Coulby’s high seat, there’s a clear view over the wall of the castle grounds, where a line of people can be seen sitting on a grassy bank peering out at the (non)-action via the LCD screens of their little snappy cameras.