“In a land of myth and a time of magic, the destiny of a great kingdom rests on the shoulders of a young boy. His name…Merlin”
For five series, sixty-five episodes, John Hurt’s enigmatic voice, in the character of Killgarrah the Great Dragon, has introduced each episode with those words. On 24th December 2012, BBC One’s Merlin spun its magic for the last time. Fans will certainly miss this as they shall undoubtedly miss the series as a whole. Sixty-five episodes is a great feat indeed, though it may seem relatively tame in comparison to other series. It is often the case that a TV show is not deemed to have “made it” until it reaches at least 100 episodes. However, Merlin at its end certainly seems to have had an epic adventure. This is a series that certainly feels like it has evolved. From its conception in 2008, being thought of as little more than a light-hearted children’s interpretation of the Arthurian legend, the stories have become more intertwined, darker at times, and by their end, much more grown-up.
It is easy to forget some of the tales Merlin fans have seen over the years, yet there have been many, some with their faults, and others wonderful to behold, and this is naturally due in no small part to the magnificent cast. Colin Morgan leads the “youth” portion of the team, who have all started as relative new-comers, and have grown into wonderfully established actors, their characters well ingrained into the hearts and minds of the audience, and I for one would not have it any other way. That is not to mention the plethora of guest stars the show has seen over the years, and throughout the series has been tempered with more mature, established and perhaps slightly more legendary faces such as Anthony Head and – despite speculation around when and if Gaius would be killed off – Richard Wilson.
And testament to Merlin as a widespread appreciated TV phenomenon is its popularity, which has steadily grown from day one. In the UK alone, series one, often showing Merlin having to put up with the arrogant Prince Arthur whilst concealing and evolving his magic, averaged 6.3 million viewers. Fast-forward to series five, where Merlin the sorcerer and King Arthur lead a united front against the sinister Morgana and her dark magic minions, and UK viewing figures were approaching 8 million. Not to mention massive international support from the likes of the USA, Canada and most of Europe. This has been noted and greatly appreciated by all involved in Merlin – one can see that, as time went on they strived to outdo themselves with every episode, often giving audiences titanic battle scenes, beguiling drama, bewitching special effects and climactic cliff-hangers.
Though I admittedly did not obsessively follow Merlin from day one, I became quickly aware of it as it grew and was hooked, and fated to see it through to the end. Its ending was bittersweet for me, as I was sad to say goodbye to the characters which, though the roster having slightly changed and evolved greatly, had stuck with me and many millions more for five years. I would have happily had five more, yet I was glad to see that Merlin did not fail to end with wonderful, and tragic, resolution and sheer oodles of epic glory.
So, it is just left for me to say thank you Merlin, for delighting me and your many other legions of fans with your adventures. And I for one shall now journey on…to buy the series on DVD and relive the magic.